Lovers Lane
Copernicus Center

Won’t you be, won’t you be my neighbor?

| April 27, 2011

A trio of local record-releases (Cameron McGill, The Part Five, Scattered Trees) pound the Chicago coast this weekend, bringing stormy emotions, windy verbage, and thunderous applause something.

Cameron McGill‘s face doesn’t melt quite like Peter Gabriel‘s on the cover of Is A Beast, but the vandalized pic does a better job of indicating the type of music within. Lyrically, McGill can be a downer. Luckily, this isn’t always the case with his music. On the opener, “Houdini,” he more or less declares that he’s of no use when alone, and then underscores that solitude with the title of the next cut, “I Don’t Believe in Magic (But All My Friends Just Disappeared).” The former, however, kicks off with majestically tumbling drums under a layer of buzzing major chords. The latter calls in falsettoed “ooo-oohs,” and lightly swings. While a cuttingly direct wordsmith, McGill (and his band What Army?) deftly changes backdrops with each cut, ultimately playing the singer/songwriter card on “Sad Ambassador.” (Friday@Schubas with Miles Nielsen and Adam Arcuragi.)

Quenchers’ residents The Part Five (alternately The Part V) play similarly fast-and-loose with the feel of The Tightening (Cardboard Sangria). As if sampling from the taps, the album moves from style to style though with enough of a base recipe to establish an identity. Openers “The Throughs” and “Reginald Wilfer” both possess skittering drum beats, though one’s a bundle of post-punk energy while two’s foreboding undercurrent makes it an unlikely (and successful) marriage of Fugazi and The Kinks. Elsewhere are clunky, post-rock melodies, references to rockabilly and Modest Mouse, splashes of organ, and, fittingly, an intermission entitled “Interlude And Sorbet.” (Saturday@Quenchers with Geronimo and Dick Wolf.)

Composed in mourning, it makes perfect sense that Scattered TreesSympathy (Roll Call) carries some weight. One of the album’s key moments, “A Conversation About Death On New Year’s Eve,” isn’t the sort of composition you’d normally attribute to an exciting young band. The same can be said for “Love And Leave,” the single whose video riffs on Star Wars. “Four Days Straight” and “I Swear To God” brandish driving, rock rhythms, but by the end of “On Your Side,” you’ll have so completely curled around the album you’ll think of them as distant memories. (Saturday@Schubas with Loneliest Monk and Chaperone.)

Girl-group punks Hollows don’t have a new record yet, but a happenstance run-in with The Tammys’ whacked-out “Egyptian Shumba” on YouTube (a song Hollows have covered) made hyping this weekend’s show sound like a good idea. Though the official Tammys version has been blocked by Warner Bros., this alternate take does a good job explaining how unbelievably wild that song is. Hollows are very capable of assuming the legacy. (Friday@Subterranean with Michael Lux & The Bad Sons, Soft Speaker, and Dozens.)

If none of this interests you in the slightest, and you need something with major-label backing that criss-crosses the country with ease, there’s always Deftones. The nu-metal veterans drop another slab of grinding, Pantera riffs and airy, anthemic choruses on Diamond Eyes (Reprise). The band’s mastery of its own formula can be demoralizing, just as its bold rewrites (isn’t that the riff to “Walk”?) and nicking of the Korn playbook can be fatiguing. (Saturday@Riviera with The Dillinger Escape Plan and Funeral Party.)

— Steve Forstneger

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