Lovers Lane
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Dawn bringing

| April 19, 2011

Almost as if they’re New York and Los Angeles, the Chicagoland’s suburban and city metal scenes have more differences than simple geography.

Most of them are more perceived (trailer trash vs. hipster tourists) than substantial, however, and like most of the factionalism in local music circles, they do more harm than good. But it’s the meathead state of things that has Sacred Dawn playing its A Madness Within release party out near Harlem Avenue instead of at Reggie’s, Memories, Empty Bottle, or even Red Line Tap. In fact, you could consider it a coup for the club that did book them, as the band look to become one of Elgin-based Dark Star Records’ biggest distributed acts. (The band officially release things via Qumran.) The songs themselves boast a technical, instrumental mastery surrounded by the classic-metal feel of Dio or Saxon. Elements of metalcore show their ear for contemporary sounds, though it’s the only acknowledgment of punk rock, as everything else is clean and tidy in the mix. (Friday@Bobby McGee’s in Chicago Ridge.)

Whoever first labeled local duo The Hit Back “electro-folk” had no idea what else to say about the band, nor did anyone who repeated it. It’s not a negative reflection on Who Are These Weird Old Kids, Jesse Hanabarger and Seth Weidmann’s debut; their sound just isn’t the sort of thing that fosters ridiculous demand at South By Southwest showcases or gets your tracks hacked and remixed on audioblogs. With some negligible blips and swooshes as window dressing, the gist of the group is romantic, semi-hushed piano pop. It doesn’t scream “look at me” as much as plead “stay a while,” flexing a maturity for people tired of next-big-things. (Friday@Beat Kitchen with Tommy & The High Pilots and John Henry & The Engine.)

Call it a delay, hold-up, pause, or whatever, but there happened to be a brief period of inactivity before A Lull finished their full-length debut. Confetti (Mush) hasn’t been entirely absent, however, getting a full workout while the band toured about with Cold War Kids as winter ended (if winter ever ends, that is). The highly anticipated set bears the circuitous vocal harmonies and pounding drums that have become their hallmark, though where some people would be happy to accuse “Animal Collective!” because of all the layering, the stream tends to feed more from TV On The Radio, Beta Band, and even Menomena. One odd takeaway is the seeming nonexistence of discord. “Spread It All Around” portends cacophony with its screeched intro, but quickly resumes the click-clack drumsticks and propulsive vocal rhythms that define the preceding tracks. (Friday@Schubas with Yourself & The Air and Heypenny.)

— Steve Forstneger

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