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Around Hear: May 2013

| May 1, 2013


On its third project, This Is Grand, The Dirty Rooks join forces with the production team of Mike Hagler, Jon Langford, and James Elkington for a bluesy, Brit rock-flavored record circa the ’60s or ’70s. Not only does the horn-heavy group nail the feat with flying colors, its smartly constructed songs are sharp enough to fit alongside any of today’s top retro revivalists. (
– Andy Argyrakis

Listening to South Bend, Ind.-based trio Driven‘s latest full-length, Abstract(ion), one definitely hears a sound rooted in grunge yet laced with more improv/prog aspirations – say, as if Nirvana were crossed with King Crimson. Not necessarily danceable, mind you, but still within a recognizable rock structure/melody. Topping it off are vocals that bring to mind Gavin Rossdale, perhaps making this band a thinking person’s Bush? (
– David C. Eldredge

Guerilla describes its music as a mix of garage rock and punk, but the evidence is mixed on the quartet’s three-song EP, The Devil’s Tit. The quick title track leans more toward speed metal with garbled vocals and is pretty much a throw away. Things improve quite a bit with the melodic rock of “Garbage,” while the descriptive “LA Sun” is a slow and compelling portrait of life on the streets of Los Angeles. (
– Terrence Flamm

Given the wide availability of free/inexpensive close-to-pro-level DIY production software, the sonic quality of local metal vets Hemi‘s first live (culled from gigs at both Abbey Pub and Double Door) recording, The Chosen Ones: Live In The Fire, is a surprising disappointment. Flashes of guitar aside, the mix is virtually non-existent – resulting in mostly indecipherable, mushy vocals and drums reduced to a metronomic crash. The eight cuts jump in fits and starts, seemingly assembled with neither rhyme nor reason.Β  A definite step backward for the band, unfortunately. (
– David C. Eldredge

Similar in spirit, if not in sound, to comic-folk artist Pat McCurdy, Homer Marrs trades in ludicrous lyrics, offbeat themes, and impeccable melodies on his four-song EP, Prom King. You’ll find the zinging songs stuck in your head, despite (or, is it because of?) the ridiculous lyrics. “Bear411” makes hideous rhymes from silly lines, sharing an irreverent sensibility that Al Bundy would appreciate. (
– Patrick Conlan

Aurora, Ill.-based quartet Kadooge starts each of the three tracks on its self-titled debut EP with a basic hard rock arrangement before shifting into more active and elaborate instrumental passages. Lead vocalist/guitarist Pat Goode conveys his emotionally-charged lyrics with a strong voice while guitarist Quentin Dover frequently takes off on new adventures. Bassist Aerie Dover and drummer Tony Montana also help listeners navigate the shifting tempos on the engaging “No Surprise” and “Broken Up In Pieces.” (
– Terrence Flamm

The results of Soft Speaker‘s sessions with Cooper Crain (of Cave) proved so productive that they yielded both an EP and full-length album. In terms of the long-player, Turkish Mindbathers, the indie rockers come out swinging with the electric blues swagger of “Showdown,” the jangly strut of “Expressions (For Men),” and the mid-tempo chug of “Greenhouse Instance” – all wound snugly with the troupe’s melodic sensibility.(
– Andy Argyrakis

Sometimes the whole can be less than the sum of its parts, and regrettably that’s the case with Burn Like A Field, the debut of acclaimed singer-songwriter Emily Hurd’s new band, Stone Blind Valentine. The bluegrass-infused instrumentation doesn’t effectively augment her exquisite voice, and while players Colby Maddox and Gregg Ostrom are skilled, their accompaniment isn’t exceptional. “Extra Extra” is arguably the best of the dozen cuts, but nothing compares to hearing Hurd on her own. (
– Jeff Berkwits

Chicago hip-hop artist Sycosis is a working man’s rapper. His Tri-Polar mixtape offers instantly sing-able choruses aplenty. From “Black Whip,” which extols the virtues of a favorite ride, to “About My Business,” which challenges listeners to move beyond merely smoking and drinking, Sycosis shows he can deliver a memorable hook. Void of sparkling production and without sugarcoating the subject matter, he takes listeners on a socially conscious insider’s tour of his hometown inΒ  “My City.” (
– Jason Scales

Ursa, Ill., (pop. 627) isn’t known for its music scene (or much of anything else), but that hasn’t stopped resident misfits Tieken from putting out an impressive 14-song set. Hints of Rob Zombie and vintage Alice Cooper permeate Not So Innocent, most powerfully on tunes like “The Cutting” and the inventive “Narcis-Cysts.” To paraphrase The Boss: From small towns, mama, big things may one day come.
– Jeff Berkwits

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