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Local CD Reviews

| October 31, 2008 | 0 Comments

“Around Hear” is a monthly feature where a stable of IE writers review albums sent to us by local musicians. If you are interested in having your CD (must have a minimum of three songs) reviewed and are Illinois-based, mail it and any other media materials to 657 A W. Lake St., Chicago IL, 60661. Everything that meets the aforementioned guidelines will be reviewed in the order received. This may take several months.

After performing in various incarnations for seven years, The Brother Whys cemented its current line-up and recorded I Wrote This With Our Bare Hands. One third the Pixies, another part Built To Spill, and pieces of the Smoking Popes permeate the project, starting with the laid-back melodic indie popper “Thumbtacks,” the multi-layered experimentation of “Charts And Maps,” plus the post punk power of “River Black.” Add polished, but not overly glossy, production and this co-ed six piece’s priorities are finally in place. (www.myspace.com/thebrotherwhys)
– Andy Argyrakis

Camera focuses on 1980s synth bands for its main inspiration on the thoroughly enjoyable six-song EP, Fire & Science. Tracks range from the tribal beat of “The Lasting Impress-ion Of Emperors Pass-ed” to the shimmering shoegazer of “One Neo Eon.” Singer/guitarist David Syvilian’s clipp-ed, foreign-sounding vocals on “Wicked Wic-ked Games” are fun, and his twanging guitar playing is Cramps-worthy. (www.myspace.com/camerachicago)
– Terrence Flamm


Kenny Coleman is a man of many musical talents, all displayed on his nine-song Simply Kenny. While the title isn’t strictly true – guest musicians on sax, bass, keyboard, guitar, and vocals – Kenny is credited as writer/ arranger/producer of the largely instrumental, slow-burn jazz and funky blues numbers. Lengthy guitar and sax solos lead the way, with layered percussion never faltering. (gereyjohnson@35thst.com)
– Jason Scales

In creating an unconventional pop album, Bear Traps And Sack Lunches, Cries Tiger has made an excellent feel-good record. “The Good Depression” and “Poisoned Arrows” are big, exuberant party hits with a healthy dose of Mighty Mighty Bosstones coursing through their boozy veins. “Hate to feel the pain/but love to be the victim” is just one the many brilliant couplets in “To The End Of The Driveway,” a supremely catchy tune that begs for repeated listens and shout-along enthusiasm. (www.myspace.com/criestiger)
– Patrick Conlan

One-man band Eddie Dixon recorded his solo debut, Well . . . That’s Just Perfect, in his native Mississippi using a scattered bunch of instruments ranging from a tambourine to a toy piano. The result is a set of slow-rolling tunes that are equally bluesy and quirky. Dixon’s slight Southern drawl and sludgy soul sounds are especially pronounced on the melodic whistle-along, “I Ain’t Mad.” Chicago has got a great import on its hands. (www.myspace.com/eddiedixonmusic)
– Max Herman

As part of The Vatican III, Brian Fife melds traditional church hymns with lounge music, but on Acceptance, Fife’s third CD credited to Brian Fife & Band, piano-driven rock takes center stage. Less flamboyant than, say, Elton John, Fife tickles the ivories with intense precision on the title track while “The Forgotten Generation” crackles with a buzz reminiscent of The Who. “A Time To Love” serves as the album’s signature ballad, oozing with ’70s easy-listening sentiment perfect for a Time Life infomercial. (www.brianfife.com)
– Janine Schaults

After slightly more than a year playing together, foursome The Gorilla Press offers its nine-song, eponymous debut of mostly atmospherically washy rock that betrays both the enduring influence of Pink Floyd and the more contemporary impact of Coldplay. Production is first-rate, and the deft musicianship (especially keys) is no doubt reflective of the band members’ continuing university musical studies. While the overriding melismatic, harmonic sense of the music masks any lead-vocal shortfalls, there’s no hiding the not-so-supporting, flat female vocals. (www.myspace.com/gorillapressmusic)
– David C. Eldredge

Clearly not afraid of genre experimentation, Lovers In Arms returns with its third self-released full-length, Strength For The Weary. Listening to its more singer-songwriter-oriented material, though, it’s obvious the band is most comfortable in that arena, specifically on songs like the sweet and tender “Say You Will” and the heartfelt duet “Strength For The Weary.” However, when Lovers delves into funk on numbers like “Oh My Brother” and jazz on “The ‘L,'” the results are less impressive. (www.loversinarms.com)
– Dean Ramos

The Kent McDaniel Band mixes blues standards with originals on Live At Custer Street, recorded at last year’s Custer Street Fair in Evanston. Kent McDaniel’s deep voice and energetic guitar playing enable him to cover John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom” and Willie Dixon’s “I’m Ready” while getting solid support from bassist Dorothy McDaniel and drummer Vic Varjan. His own songs aren’t as strong, but this CD captures the ambience of an outdoor summer performance. (www.kriya-records.com)
– Terrence Flamm

Category: Around Hear, Columns, Monthly

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