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Around Hear Page 3

| June 28, 2007

Those who have Pete And J‘s Dressed For Conversation playing in the background might mistake the pair for a present-tense Simon & Garfunkel. Though that may be a turn on for fans of the folk duo, the similarities are so close (especially on the ballads “Sweet Cecilia” and “Sentimental Love Song”) that it comes off as a detriment. Rather than establishing an original sound, the guys purely ride Paul and Art’s coattails. (
– Andy Argyrakis

It’d be nice to say Reel Jem’s debut, For Real, was a true gem, but truth be told it’s more dud than diamond. Cuts like the title track and “Closer” offer an amiable ambience, blending Monica Leigh’s passable voice with soft jazz and soul-influenced sounds, but none of the 10 tunes ever really gel. So-so songwriting, bland arrangements, and occasionally forced vocal calisthenics mar the effort, resulting in a warm but ultimately wanting package. (
– Jeff Berkwits

The Short Punks In Love moniker belies this guitar/percussion-driven duo’s otherwise smart, jangly songs that wax poetic on topics ranging from cats to sweaters and all points between. Much more endearingly sounding – say, Jonathon Richman crossed by early Velvets – than hard-edged punk, their occasional DIY production staggers and vocal lapses among the nine cuts of their debut CD immediately recede because one is otherwise thoroughly engaged by the sage observations and inventive turns of the songs. (
– David C. Eldredge

Detroit born but Chicago bred, Pat Smillie nicely blends blues and soul on the 12-song Down By The River. Respectful covers of classic melodies such as “25 Miles” and “Back To Memphis” nicely counterbalance skillfully performed R&B originals like “Broke Down Chevy” and “Snaggle Tooth.” The disc proves without a doubt why Smillie and his band have been a revered local fixture for more than a decade. (
– Jeff Berkwits

Reminiscent of Mike Ness’ solo recordings and early Ben Lee, Sundowner (Chris McCaughan of The Lawrence Arms and Jenny Choi) release Four One Five Two, a folk punk album filled with gruff-yet-tender songs about friendship and heartache. Both youthful and world weary at the same time, McCaughan’s vocals and aching acoustic guitar are complemented perfectly by Choi’s moving cello, keyboard, and backing vocals, resulting in a brooding, introspective disc every bit melancholy and poignant. (
– Dean Ramos

Former Boyzz From Illinois and B’zz guitarist Mike Tafoya returns with the Lost Boyzz and his first recorded music in more than a decade. On Life Tafoya shows like a seasoned bluesman; his playing is even more asymmetric and organic these days on the dynamic Southern rock rush of “Boogie With Me” and the dirty Delta blues of “Spread Your Love Around.” Drummer Chris McCoy and bassist Erik Osland supply inspired ’70s style boogie for Tafoya’s guitar pyrotechnics, however Life occasionally fails to capture the essence of The Lost Boyzz’s dynamic live show. (
– David Gedge

Vocalist/keyboardist Toby Rhodes gives Toby & The Tremors an R&B edge on their second CD, Hotel Blue. Rhodes writes most of the band’s material and gets solid support from his mates, particularly guitarist Kevin “Stik” Paul. “Soul Shakin” is a classic road song while the slinky “Mr. Nobody” and hard-hitting “Voodoo Charm” are sure to get a crowd dancing. Hotel Blue closes with a rousing version of “Barefootin’.” (
– Terrence Flamm

Tub Ring take a cue from My Chemical Romance on The Great Filter (The End), a bombastic genre hop that finds modern rock hooks in its search for an identity. Most surprising is “The Charismatic Smile,” which boasts new range from lead singer Kevin Gibson. An anthem erupts after some mild electro-bungling: “And that’s when you smile,” he accurately suggests. The vets sound inspired by Rammstein on “Life In Transition,” a would-be industrial bruiser if they could only settle down. But that wouldn’t be very Tub Ring of them, would it? (
– Mike Meyer

The country-flavored slowcore songs on Utah Carol‘s latest release, Rodeo Queen, are instantly welcoming, thanks to the playful harmonies and fetching melodies created by vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Grant Birken-beuel and vocalist/keyboardist JinJa Davis. “Come Back Baby” evokes Neil Young’s “I Am A Child” while “Sam’s Ranch” abandons Utah Carol’s usual homespun approach for a techno arrangement. The catchy “Twilight Time,” with its picturesque lyrics, is another highlight. (
– Terrence Flamm

On Sex And Exes, Welcome To Cambridge cover familiar rock territory with aplomb and energy. Jagged riffs drive the explosive “Comatose”; the squealing falsetto and weak lyrics on “Stay” are never quite convincing, but the thick guitars, emo-rock melody, and shout-along chorus sustain enough power to redeem the track. For an effective switch, the quiet “What I Meant” is a mild-mannered ballad, with acoustic strumming filled out with subdued drumming and funky bass. (
– Patrick Conlan

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Category: Around Hear

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  1. Scott says:

    Yep, the Lost Boyzz album is simply incredible. Kick ass guitar on this album. And like the review states, the band is even better live.

  2. Jane C says:

    I was wondering if Tafoya from the Boyzz was ever going to put out another record – it’s good to hear he’s making music again!

  3. Maybe I do agree with David Gedge’s review of Tafoya’s Lost Boyzz. At first I thought I didn’t. What does he mean the CD doesn’t capture the essence of the live show? Hmmm. Possibly it doesn’t because they’re two totally different entities. The CD is the condensed version of the totality of Tafoya’s artistic Life. Captured in time. The live show is the freewheeling let-it-rip rock and roll we love to love. Tafoya’s show at the House of Blues in Chicago blew me away. At first I thought the band was lip sincing. But it was real audio audacity. The CD is great.

  4. Matt says:

    Lost Boyzz Kick ass! I want to see more of these guys playing live! Hopefully a world tour is in the works! I love the album “Life”, it is awesome! Tafoya’s Lost Boyzz are the shit!

  5. Tommy says:

    Tafoya’s Lost Boyzz Rock N Fkin Roll! I saw them at House of Blues with Eddie Money and they were fantastic! Going to see them at Penny Road Pub as well. This band is my favorite at the very moment! l

  6. Jake says:

    I saw that same House of Blues show and Tafoya’s Lost Boyzz really impressed me. Wow.

  7. Richard says:

    I am gonna tell you right now, get used to the Lost Boyzz. They are gonna be around for a long time coming, the best is yet to come. Go out and see them for yourself, you will be blown away by this guitar wizard they have. Penny Road Pub , I can’t wait!

  8. Jimmy says:

    Ok, this band right here is the best fkin band out in Chicago right now. Remember when bands actually wrote quality songs for the hearts and minds? Well if you are looking for that, this is the band for you.

  9. El says:

    Thank God the eighties didn’t kill off all the rockers! It’s great to hear Michael and crew rockin’ hard on Life. Ballsy, bluesy, hard driving music to make you smile, pump your fist in the air and say YEAH!!! Mmmmm… tasty stuff. Go out and catch their live show… you’ll be glad you “found” Lost Boyzz.