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Around Hear: July 2009

| July 1, 2009 | 0 Comments

Local Band Reviews

lubri
Lubriphonic

Lock five skilled blues musicians from the heart of Chicago in a room and ask them to jam for a couple of hours, and what do you get? Hopefully an all-out blues-soul-funk experience — and in the case of Chicago newcomers Lubriphonic, that’s exactly what’s delivered. The quintet lets all its influences — from Blues Traveler to Buddy Guy — pour through the 13 tracks that comprise Soul Solution. Dirty, groovy, and soulful all at the same time, Lubriphonic keeps the spirit of Chicago blues alive and well. Appearing: July 25th at Taste Of Lincoln Ave. in Chicago. (www.lubriphonic.com)
Carter Moss

Despite a name implying the presence of a full-blown band, The Jerrys is just one guy, Jerry Schwartz, playing quaint melodies with a retro flair. His new EP, What The World Could Use A Lot More Of, features five songs of self-proclaimed “treblepop,” including the humorous “Polly Urethane” and a straightforward cover of “Nowhere Man.” With a total running time of just under 15 minutes, the effort is concise and captivating. (www.itsthejerrys.com)
Jeff Berkwits

With an ear for both cinematic expansiveness and relaxed immediacy, Jeff Neville‘s Romantic War Novel (Tableturn) highlights his extensive musicianship. Composing and playing all of the instruments, Neville layers a beautiful piano melody and blurry, shimmering guitar in the sweet reminiscences in “What She Said To Me.” He skillfully reflects the solemn piano coda that closes the jazzy turns in “Your Stubborn Pride” through watery echoes in the tender ballad “Tonight.” Appearing: July 7th at Double Door in Chicago. (www.myspace.com/jeffneville)
Patrick Conlan

On Memphis And Chicago, The Pale Figures split the CD between songs inspired by each city. For the former (recorded with Roland Janes of the Jerry Lee Lewis Band), expect a fairly legitimate throwback to the early Sun Records days, especially the swingin’ rocker “Portrait” and the country-infused “I Don’t Have You.” Though the Steve Albini sessions in the Windy City would sound more cohesive on a separate album, they’re loaded with intriguing alt-rock explorations and distortion-drenched explosiveness. (www.palefigures.com)
Andy Argyrakis

Following a stint in San Diego, Americana act Ben Ripani returned home to Chicago and released his 2008 solo debut Hope Street — an album rife with rich instrumentation and soulful vocals. Some songs here are stripped to only the acoustic guitar to showcase Ripani’s poetics, which certainly hold up. But the best moments capture both his production and songwriting prowess, like the head-bopping “Get A Hold Of Me.” Appearing: August 22nd at Yakzie’s in Chicago. (www.benripani.com)
Max Herman

The energetic funk rock on The Short Attention Span‘s Pay Attention is propelled by Mike Stankiewicz and Paul Parello Jr., both of whom fill the guitarist/vocalist role. Their rapid-fire playing on “Apple Tree” recalls Red Hot Chili Peppers, while “Me Me Me” is more hard rock. Bassist RJ Neumann and drummer Jorge Tobias also impress, especially when Neumann takes center stage on the instrumental “Extended Faith.” Appearing: July 17th at Silvie’s in Chicago. (www.myspace.com/theshortattentionspan)
Terrence Flamm

It seems Soft Targets is experiencing a sophomore slump, as its second full-length outing, Soft Targets Must Be Destroyed!, lacks the vitality of its debut. Here and there the band’s powerful post-punk sound comes through, especially on “Excitement!” and “Faulty Wiring,” but most of the 10 tunes simply sound strident. Appearing: August 6th at Quenchers in Chicago. (www.soft-targets.com)
Jeff Berkwits

Tenniscourts‘ earnest pursuit of pop perfection continues unabated on Dig The New Sounds Of . . . , with its Cheap Trick-edged, Oasis-esque sound solidly propelling the band through its 12 carefully crafted originals. While clever lyrics, solid solo-instrumental turns, and smart production override formulaic tempo tendencies, the much more layered, complex cuts “Crystal City” and “The Grove” stand apart as the band’s aspirational apogee. Appearing: July 16th at The Burlington in Chicago. (www.thetenniscourts.net)
David C. Eldredge

Having (by its own admission) turned full circle away from the debut’s introspective sound, AthensWhat Would We Wear Were We Werewolves announces its rejuvenating break from the past with a witty opening take-off on ’80s-techno dance rock “The Future” and then settling into three of the tastiest cuts of deconstructed guitar-rock R&B this listener hasn’t savored since Beefheart and/or the earliest Peter Green-driven Fleetwood Mac. Sideshow, carnival-esque cut “The Farthest Sons” further rounds out the band’s new sound, making this CD an impressive reach of a group worth watching/listening. (www.myspace.com/athensinchicago)
David C. Eldredge

Scott Waterhouse provides a great 1960s lounge vibe on his new nine-song CD, A Spot In The Shade. “Today’s The Day” and “The Blue Lilac” could easily have been lifted from a vintage Burt Bacharach LP, while cuts such as “Walk The Walk” and “Vicious Cycle” provide a more contemporary yet still historically reverent jazz flair. Now and again the instrumentation is a tad synthetic, but the music remains uniformly enjoyable and evocative. (5th Wheel Productions, 503 South Bench St., Galena, IL 61036)
Jeff Berkwits

Veteran singer/guitarist Peter Blast recruits Enuff Z’Nuff bassist Chip Z-Nuff and New York Dolls guitarist Steve Conte among others for his latest garage rock opus, A Plush Horse . . . With A Monkey On A String. Blast’s vocals are almost cartoon-like at times, but there’s no denying the firepower of his guitar playing, especially on the spirited “The Last Word.” The melodic “Lay Down Here” proves Blast is also adept at weaving psychedelic pop music. (www.peterblast.com)
Terrence Flamm

Unusually named, but treading over familiar territory, Doctor, This Virus Is Silence weaves strands of post rock into a core of riveting indie rock on An Existence In Terms Of Yes Or No. Huge, claustrophobic guitar punctuates the scorching burner, “A Series Of Trials,” and a tightly coiled dynamic structure balances the dramatic sweep of the sprawling “Dream Up, Setting And Location.” (www.dtvis.com)
Patrick Conlan

harlanflo
Harlan Flo

While Harlan Flo is more than competent musically, this power-blues outfit adds very little to the genre that Eric Clapton hasn’t already. More often than not, one is simply left wondering why female vocalists Amanda Riva, Kat Swanson, and Sophie Hall aren’t given more time behind the microphone, as they are the absolute highlights of this record. Unfortunately, however, they are hardly enough to make up for the fact that Wheels Of Time is a rather bland listening experience, overall. Appearing: July 10th at Muldoon’s in Wheaton. (www.harlanflo.com)
Dean Ramos

Hollus vocalist Jamison Acker describes the band’s goal for its latest release, Joker And The Queen, as “to make timeless tunes that sounded good in our living rooms,” which translates into evoking Led Zeppelin III and early Rod Stewart. Acker’s rough vocals and Michael Lux-Saur’s guitars guarantee success, particularly on the acoustic-based “Horseman” and the hard-rock stomp of “Fever Song.” There are few slow moments, but overall, this is a solid collection of classic rock. Appearing: July 28th at Double Door in Chicago. (www.myspace.com/hollusmusic)
Terrence Flamm

Honeyglass fit in the venerable tradition of blistering hard rock fronted with angelic female vocals, bearing a striking similarity to early ’90s rockers Echobelly. On Through The Honeyglass, C.J.’s soaring vocals provide an effervescent counterpoint to the crunchy guitars and hooky melodies that are perfectly tuned for mass-media appeal. The acoustic ballad “Have A Good Night” shows it has the requisite tenderness as well. (www.honeyglassmusic.com)
Patrick Conlan

Dan Hubbard And The Humadors exude a workingman’s sensibility on a self-titled CD filled with easy-going rock songs about finding love and a purpose in life. Hubbard’s expressive vocals are appealing, and having three back-up vocalists results in some impressive harmonies. “You’re All I Need” provides some Buddy Holly-type fun and “Run For Our Lives” has a melodic country & western arrangement. Appearing: July 25th at Taste Of Lincoln Ave. in Chicago. (www.danhubbard.net)
Terrence Flamm

Chicagoland/Wisconsin headbangers Jungle Rot go the safe route in claiming veteran status on What Horrors Await (Napalm), their sixth full-length since forming in 1994. “Worst Case Scenario” and “The Unstoppable” mount the comeback with sleepy half-time death metal (“You cannot stop me,” the latter’s chorus sluggishly insists). The vets fully rise on “Straightjacket Life,” a tarantula-on-fretboard feast from the psych ward, with an old-school breakdown so heavy it kills “10 million.” That’s more like it. Appearing: July 24th at Nite Cap in Chicago. (www.myspace.com/junglerot)
Mike Meyer

Salsatonico Bailando La Danza De La Venganza, Maladicto‘s sensational debut album, is a brilliant, blood-riling fusion of pulverizing American hardcore and swaggering Latin grooves. The breakdown and feedback hook in “Calvario” provides a smashing sonic soundtrack befitting Manny Nieves’ incendiary lyrics. It adds Brazilian heat to “Lamento Latino” and “Cumbiatron” with hip-shaking rhythms and thumping percussion. (www.myspace.com/maladicto)
Patrick Conlan

“I’d rather speak my mind than die a bitter old man,” proclaims nasally MC Phillip Morris on his sophomore LP, The Process Of Addiction Has Its Costs. Like his 2007 debut, no topics are off limits, but this time he cleverly covers a wider range of subjects, including venting about 9-to-5 life and challenging the common notion of patriotism. And with his raps being coupled with crisp, sample-based beats from himself and producers like Coolout Chris, this album consistently sounds fresh. Appearing: July 16th at Double Door in Chicago. (www.myspace.com/phillipmorris)
Max Herman

It’s fitting that rhymer Prob Cause a.k.a. Prob C returned home to Chicagoland from Boston with his new band. On the five-song EP You Don’t Know/The Half, Prob C And The DH continue the local live hip-hop tradition sparked by groups like Abstract Giants and Treologic. With a part-funk/part-jazz foundation, this group’s laidback beats are always robust and on-point, even when they aren’t entirely innovative. And on singles such as “The Realness,” the eager Prob Cause proves he sounds best rhyming over organic instrumentation. Appearing: July 23rd at Morseland in Chicago. (www.sonicbids.com/probcandthedh)
Max Herman

Though the melodies are four-years old, the reissued Hello Soldier!!! from Push-Pull remains notable. The band’s punk-infused panoply of 11 pop tunes (plus a gospel-tinged bonus cut) is effervescent and intelligent, especially such odes as “Baseball” and “Don’t Panic” (a rough-and-tumble tribute to author Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy” series). It’s a refreshing break from similar recent yet often less enjoyable fare. (www.myspace.com/pushpull)
Jeff Berkwits

Strikingly desolate and fragile, while at times recalling the likes of Victoria Williams and Mazzy Star on Last One Standing, make no mistake Ashley Riley has an utterly gorgeous voice and a sound all her own. Sometimes warm and affectionate on songs like “Bad Habits,” Riley is more often heartbroken and regretful, which (on her) comes off beautifully as tracks like “Way Back” and “Good Excuse” illustrate. Appearing: Every Wednesday at Blocks Brewery in Decatur. (www.ashleyriley.com)
Dean Ramos

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Category: Around Hear, Columns, Monthly

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