Throttle Fest
Metro | Chicago
El Sombrero

Taking the Electric Highway to Bear Creek

Rockie Fresh

Don’t be fooled by that pretty face. An outlaw resides deep inside Brandi Carlile. Instead of robbing banks or trains, she steals hearts. A voice of multiple personalities fills her arsenal. Whether cracking with ache, yodeling with determination, or drawling with resignation, it sucker punches the jilted. On Bear Creek (Columbia), Carlile reteams with songwriting partners and bandmates Phil and Tim Hanseroth (“The Twins”) to co-opt gospel (“That Wasn’t Me), freak folk (“Just Kids”), and Western swing (“Hard Way Home”). The spitfire rush of the Charlie Daniels Band’s “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” and murderous zeal of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” merge on kick-drum thumper “Raise Hell.” High-pitched mandolin accompanies “Keep Your Heart Young,” which reads like advice Peter Pan and his Lost Boys might dole out a generation after departing Neverland for good. “Save Part Of Yourself” predicts the outcome if Mumford And Sons ever settle into an even keel. The album’s cover depicts a sojourn in the woods and the 13 rootsy songs within would warm any outdoorsman sleeping under a blanket of stars. (Saturday@Chicago Theatre.)

You don’t just slink back to your old stomping grounds after signing a deal with a major label deal. What’s the saying? Go big or go home. Rockie Fresh is not about to let his homecoming go unnoticed. The 21-year-old, known as Donald Pullen to his former classmates at Homewood-Flossmoor High School, is doing a victory lap of sorts to celebrate Rick Ross‘ Mayback Music Group welcoming the up-and-coming rapper into the fold. As the youngest and sole Chicago addition to the collective, Fresh pushes fluid rhyming schemes up against a wall of chug-a-lug beats. The show’s set pieces will pay tribute to ’80s flick Back To The Future as Fresh looks ahead to his upcoming mixtape, Electric Highway. (Saturday@Metro with Casey Veggies, Lunice, Phil Ade, YP, and King Louie.)

– Janine Schaults

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