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Local CD Reviews

| December 29, 2006

Prior Ahab Rex CDs have been praised in this column and the latest, Blood On Blonde, earns similar thumbs up (even though they, once again, retread four tracks from an ’04 disc). That leaves six great new tunes that bend the caustic with the sweet, bobbing and weaving from jazzbo to agit/agro and all points in between. Inspired guest drumming by Martin Atkins on “The Queen Of Softcore” is worth the price of admission alone. Now if they would only stop repeating themselves so much. (
– David C. Eldredge

Veteran ad man Bruce Bendinger favors breezy, bossa nova type arrangements on Can’t Sing. Don’t Care. Songs From The Hip. Satires, like “Bonzo Boogie,” “Everybody Lives In San Francisco,” and “Ad Man,” aren’t particularly sharp, but the melodic “Everybody’s Goin’ Home” proves Bendinger actually can sing. Other highlights among the 23 songs include “Chi Town Shuffle,” with its Andrews Sisters-style backing vocals, and the romantic “(Nothing As Soft As A) Woman In The Rain.” (
– Terrence Flamm

Amid chirping bells, Ben Schulman swoons “I just can’t wait to get back in bed/bundled up in covers and snuggled up with you” on the last song of Grown In You, the second full-length from Branches. The line is an apt characterization of the album’s general mood. Bells tinkle like a Fisher-Price beginners’ piano on most songs to the point of overkill, but imbues a lullaby sensation. The quartet don’t veer from the indie, lo-fi road paved before them. They’ll need to ignite a spark of passion to branch out. (
– Janine Schaults

Chicago-based quartet Buddy Nuisance attempt to take their mandolin-infused power pop to the next level on their latest EP. Everything about the production, from the smooth harmonies to the perfectly layered instrumental tracks, screams exactly that – “produced.” While it’s hard to find any flaws in their presentation, it’s also hard to find any real emotion, energy, or memorable melody. (
– Carter Moss

The Black Crowes may be doing a bit of a reshuffling these days, but the reliable Bullet Called Life have hit their stride six years in with Home Sweet Home. These South Siders celebrate the blues within their tight, jammy rock. “The Train” rides a vintage Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ vibe all the way to the bar. “I Hope You Get The Chair” adds a touch of live smokestack sound, culled from a recent Double Door blowout. (
– Mike Meyer

How do you save a steel plant in danger of being shut down? One overlooked approach is to hire the grandson of a famous American balladeer to record an 80-minute bluegrass album to tell the story. That’s the project Acie Cargill (grandson of Hattie Mae Tyler Cargill) tackled with Calumet. While Cargill certainly succeeds in making his views clearly known, he forgot to actually make it musical. His grating voice over sad excuses for guitar chords ensure most listeners will never hear his message, because they’ll turn it off after the first track. (No contact given)
– Carter Moss

Give Deep Cricket Night credit for approaching things a little differently. With just guitar, cello, and hand drums/percussion, this four-piece has a unique take on acoustic rock. Of course, with such minimal instrumentation, there’s not much for some of these average songs to hide behind. Plus, even though the creepy cello and somber chord structures can be engaging, they are at times a little heavy handed. (
– Joseph Simek

Garage rock debuts usually lack one of two things: real intensity/emotion or real melodies. Chicago foursome Elliot’s Mess seem to have discovered how to achieve both – at least most the time. Their debut journeys through 11 tracks of guitar-drenched rock (done ’70s-style) and emotional ballads. They even top it all off with an ode to classic rocker Neil Young with a “Rockin’ In The Free World” cover. And even though the lead vocals are lacking at times, it’s obvious these guys know their way around a rock song. (217-778-3381)
– Carter Moss

While there is definitely some catchy, straightahead pop/rock on Farkus‘ four-song, self-titled EP, overall there’s a blandness that permeates the disc, despite the strong opening number, “Chance,” and the sweet charm of “Angeline.” The final two tracks, “Wash” and “Believe, however, sink the ship, as it were, resulting in an overall forgettable release. (
– Dean Ramos

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Category: Around Hear, Monthly

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Comments (4)

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  1. Mike Semrad says:

    Hello IE-

    I was just curious how we might get a mention/review on the Illinois Entertainer music section? We all love the site and one of our bands, Haywood Yards, has just released their first debut record and is headlining Martyrs(3855 N. Lincoln ave.) on the 27th of January. I would love to know how I might go about getting you some info for a spot or a review before that show.
    Thanks so much and all the best-

    Mike, Black Dirt Records Chicago

  2. Nate Crooner says:

    I believe Mike Semrad is in a band called Haywood Yards is he not. Why would he not mention that in the posting? I guess because it needed to sound like an excited buzz from a devoted fan. Ugh. The ego.

  3. Mike Semrad says:

    No sh*t. “I said one of our bands”….I AM in the band and run the label. Ugh…that’s why I emailed you. Ego’s called marketing.


    Mike from Haywood Yards and Black Dirt Records

  4. Adriene says:

    yeah, it’s not about ego – it’s about trying to politely do business and get our music out there.