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Around Hear: August 2013

| July 31, 2013

For All I Am

After years of lending his vocal talents to other bands, Jim Bassett has finally decided to release his own solo debut. Lockdown contains a curious collection of musical genres that don’t necessarily fit together, though Bassett’s vocals are obviously meant to be the glue. But tracks that range from horn-drenched Latin easy listening to Meatloaf-scale grandeur to piano-driven balladry to old-fashioned country stompers might leave the listener confused. Bassett isn’t afraid to try, however, and seems to have a great time doing it. (
– Carter Moss

Technically speaking, Butterfat Mastermind’s Real/Imagined came out in 2004 as a free giveaway to fans at shows, but nearly a decade later, it finally earns a much-deserved proper release. In actuality, the project could’ve very well come during one of the more trippy moments in the late ’60s, owing much to The Beatles’ Revolver or the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Combined with the spacey sounds of the more recent past like The Flaming Lips or Sparklehorse, Real/Imagined ensures a colorful groove from start to finish. (
– Andy Argyrakis

With the overwhelming glut of generic melodic metalcore bands flooding the market, it’s exhausting, and often fruitless, finding one worth your time. Fortunately, For All I Am rewards the effort. Skinwalker (Equal Vision) is an all-out blistering assault that’s both crushingly heavy and uncommonly catchy. Slithery guitar blasts sluice through thundering, nimble rhythms on “Make History,” and the vocal layering – guttural death growls aerated with shimmering cleans, throat-shredding howls, and hoarse bellows – is dynamic and varied on “Mind Trap” and “Living Dead.” (
– Patrick Conlan

Billing yourself as “Chicago’s only burlesque rock ‘n’ roll band” certainly helps set you apart from the scores of other indie rock acts and may even raise some curious eyebrows, but it also risks aiming at a pretty tiny niche audience. The Fox & The Hounds are ready to take that chance with its eponymous debut, which contains 13 tracks that are far more burlesque, jazz, and pop than anything resembling rock, except for the occasional electric guitar hook. Frontwoman Kendel Lester brings passion and theatricality to her dramatic vocals, but the band’s music is unlikely to appeal to anyone beyond die-hard fans of show tunes. (
– Carter Moss

Firmly entrenched in the alt-’90s heyday – when ragged guitars roared and soaring melodies were widely celebrated – Hospital Garden crafts a rollicking blend of pop and rock that recalls, at times, Superchunk and Jawbox. Mover (Forge Again) has angst-filled anthems (“Super Empty”), fuzz-bomb balladry (“Null,” “Pragmatics”), and cranked-up crunchers (“Berlin,” “Crypt And Code”), all laced with stinging feedback and punchy vocals. The simplicity and rawness are refreshing and gives Hospital Garden’s music compelling impact. (
– Patrick Conlan

Clearly a disciple of Paul Westerberg and Mike Watt, singer-songwriter Eric Kmiec teeters the line between straight-up alternative rock and punk throughout his Eric Kmiec Presents Eric Kmiec EP. Though he wavers in confidence when it comes to vocal delivery, there’s a definite charge in both electric and acoustic contexts, along with instant charm to his sardonic sense of humor on “Dance To The Internet” and “Propaganda Song For Bob Dylan To Sing.” (
– Andy Argyrakis

Muda‘s futuristic urban soundtrack Down The Haze (Trenchant Dubs) is a bewitching brew of glitchy electronics, bubbly, burbling IDM keyboards, and inspired hip-hop rhythms. “Green Lazers” sounds exactly like the title, with a noir thriller undercurrent pulsing behind the whooshes. Only “Toofoozzy” stretches past the three-minute mark and most cuts are under two, leaving faint trails and imparting sketchy, experimental marks rather than indelible impressions.
– Patrick Conlan

Singer-songwriter Mark Taylor epitomizes confessional rock on “I Can Say I’m Sorry,” just one of 11 tracks on No Closer To Home. His warm vocals are the focus of each blues-based arrangement, using acoustic guitar, a little percussion, occasional organ (as on the title track), and electric and pedal steel guitar leads. It’s intimate stuff in a down-on-my-luck way, but honestly expressed. (
– Jason Scales

Founding member of Thanatos, singer/guitarist Patrick Ogle offers slow, acoustic dirges on the band’s first release in a decade. At times, The Exterminating Angel lives up (or down?) to Ogle’s contention that “this is the dreariest of records.” Still, his vocals and lyrics compel on songs like “Homage To Catalonia (based on the Spanish Civil War and featuring Chris Connelly of Ministry) and “They All Fade,” on which Ogle notes, “I return to you more in fiction than fact.” (
– Terrence Flamm

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Category: Around Hear, Columns, Monthly

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