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Around Hear: June 2009

| June 1, 2009


BeaujolaisLove At Thirty (Parasol) revolves around divorce, with melancholy tracks like “Nightmare In A Healthy Brain” and “Please Don’t Let This Be True” over-sharing Joe Ziemba’s (The Like Young, Wolfie) dark emotions. The project is instead at its peak when throwing the toaster in the tub like “Friday The 13th: The Loft” and “I Do Go In The Woods Alone,” which may not iron out the indie rocker’s issue, but are nonetheless relatable to anyone in the aftermath of a break-up. (

— Andy Argyrakis

Atomic Shop, the self-titled debut from Chicago singer/songwriter John Kuczaj, is unfortunately the type of debut singer/songwriters should attempt to avoid. Kuczaj’s vocals are barely on-key and, sadly, the lyrics aren’t much better. Kuczaj does aim for humor on half the tracks, like “Co, Bondo & Beer” and “(Oh No) The Cubs Suck Again,” but such songs just make it harder to take him seriously. (

— Carter Moss

Blackdog is unabashedly a blues band — and a working one at that, with a number of regular gigs booked in Northern Illinois/ Southern Wisconsin. On its self-titled, seven-track album, the band goes beyond its name to give props to its muse, Led Zeppelin, with a dead-on impression on opening track “Travel Song.” Otherwise, the four-piece (with two alternating lead singers) belts out convincing Delta blues with occasional Hendrix-inspired solos. (

— Jason Scales

Braced by his “Secret Stash” core bass/ drum duo (along with special guest turns), Frank “Bang” Blinkal amply displays the considerable guitar chops he honed as part of Buddy Guy’s band from 1999 to 2004. On And They Called It Rock And Roll‘s eight not-R&B-charged, but Southern boogie/jam/balls-out rock originals Bang’s earthy vocals are well grounded to his gritty power trio’s playing and wide-range of guitar turns lead one to only imagine what must be great witnessed live. (

— David C. Eldredge

Minimalist/indie/chamber/world outfit Conductive Alliance makes inspired and unclassifiable music on its self-titled EP. It is acoustic, hypnotic, and eclectic, with each song taking on its own character. It must be one of the more unique acts playing around the city and would stand out on any stage. The CD package only lists one day of recording for the EP, meaning this all went down live in the studio, which is impressive. Groove out on “Silver,” “Turtles,” and “Harmonics.” (

— Mike O’Cull

Deep Cricket Night continues to strengthen its arsenal of amiable, intimate folk-pop songs with Before Morning. The lush arrangement of rich bass and warm cello provide a thick, strong foundation for Lance Drake’s clear, strong vocals in “Through The Arches.” Their glistening, sprightly interpretation of Echo And The Bunnymen’s “The Killing Moon” captures the sublime spirit of the original while allowing space for an infusion of original character. (

— Patrick Conlan

In the early days of rock ‘n’ roll, the AM airwaves were filled with tunes that could easily have been performed by The Del Moroccos. The group’s first full-length, Blue Black Hair, blends rockabilly riffs, garage-rock grit, and old-fashioned R&B on rollicking numbers like “He Knocks Me Out” and Ronnie Dawson’s classic “Action Packed.” It’s a raucous and entirely entertaining 13-song recording. (

— Jeff Berkwits

The acoustic-leaning rock of Chicago quartet Dexter is well-suited for a snug venue a la Uncommon Ground. On Locus Of Control, folky tunes like “Day You Die” are the type of tracks best appreciated in a quiet atmosphere, given the placid yet promising resonance. While some songs lack punch, overall, Dexter does a decent job exploring the mellower side of rock. (

— Max Herman

It’s hard to imagine a Chicago-based band known as The Dirty Blue producing music that might be classified as (gasp!) Brit-rock, but that’s exactly how the Chicago trio loves to describe itself. Channeling everyone from real-early-Fleetwood Mac to Arctic Monkeys, the band’s latest offering finds itself trying (too hard) to be a little of everything (Brit-rock, indie, blues), which leaves them falling short of everything. It’s a talented band that needs to clean up its focus and identity. (

— Carter Moss

Farkus sounds like a band well into honing its sound, rather than what it is: a band releasing its first work after reuniting by way of Champaign. Mellow alt-rock dominates the six-song Thought You Should Know. Shoegaze is punctuated by broad strokes of arena guitar outbursts on “Supposed To Be” and “New Love And Prescriptions”; “Windsor Noose” is an acoustic confessional. (

— Jason Scales

Instrumental albums often face the challenge of avoiding monotony and remaining compelling without the benefit of lyrics or vocals. Enter Chicago’s electronic jam-band The Infrasonics. On their sophomore effort, Surface To Air, the foursome has composed 13 tracks of gorgeous electronica-drenched rock that skillfully blends the expansiveness of Explosions In The Sky with the imagination of ’70s classic rock and just a touch of Beastie Boys funk. You can’t dance to it, but you certainly won’t fall asleep to it, either. (

— Carter Moss

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Category: Around Hear, Columns, Monthly

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