Lovers Lane
Copernicus Center

Around Hear: October 2013

| October 1, 2013
Sex Therapy

Sex Therapy

Sex Therapy play a brand of self-dubbed sexually therapeutic rock on its debut full-length release, Letters to Frank. It’s not clear who Frank is, but on the song “Anne,” vocalist Cassy Baxter warns that “karma’s a bitch.” Her quivering, curled-lip vocal delivery and well-placed screeches combines the raspiness of Janis Joplin and the quirkiness of Debbie Harry in an intriguing and empowering manner. “Beautiful Mess” possesses a psychobilly country twang while “Sink” displays a swanky rhythm section with twangy guitar riffs. The ten tracks that grace Letters To Frank are short but sweet, eclectic little ditties with a timeless quality. (
– Kelley Simms

The six-man group Clara May sounds best on American Desi when lead singer Tom Silva’s husky and compelling vocals are set to energetic arrangements. The hard-hitting “Badlands” is a knockout, while “Kanyakumari” and “KL Days” are lighter but still engaging. Silva channels David Bowie on the exotic title track and just about everything else here, but Clara May could be even better if they took things less seriously, and rocked out more. Still, this is a band with a lot of character. (
– Terrence Flamm

Brian “Voo” Davis gets the advantage of melding his Alabama and Chicago upbringings together to produce his brand of passionate Southern-tinged blues rock. Nearly every song on his sophomore effort Vicious Things is overflowing with gritty riffs, soulful harmonica, and Davis’ built-for-the-blues vocals. Opening rockers “One for the Habit, One for the Road” and “Whisper” just beg for all–out foot– stomping and singing along. (
-Carter Moss

Native Englishman Jim Elkington has spent slightly more than a decade in Chicago, but when he and Janet Bean suit up as The Horse’s Ha you’d think he hasn’t been back home since the late ’60s. The duo’s second album, Waterdraw, will draw more than a few justifiable comparisons to Fairport Convention and Nick Drake. Bean’s transformation into a Baez acolyte continues to impress, as does the measured, workmanlike competence of the unshowy picking on tracks like the elegant closer, “Sea Shanty.” “A Stony Valentine” crosses the Atlantic and heads for the fields, a chance for Bean to go home as well. (
– Steve Forstneger

Having harpooned his Harpoons, Ezra Furman spreads his patented nervous energy over a second solo outing. Day Of The Dog (Bar None) pits him as a pub-rocker, piled under by torn Elvis Costello and Dave Edmunds sleeves. “At The Bottom Of The Ocean” and “The Mall” reveal a zeal for Buddy Holly, though his punkish urges remain too hard to suppress in the sweaty “I Wanna Destroy Myself.” It’s probably futile to beg an artist this spazzy to show some economy, but outliers like “Destroy,” “My Zero,” and the title track could probably have been trimmed for another project and kept the album’s otherwise strong identity intact. (
– SF

If Ryan Powers & The Secret Weapons don’t launch a few hit singles from their The Goodnight Goodbye Hour, there’s something wrong with modern radio. Some of these 10 pop/rock tracks are a bit over-commercial, but “Mr. Sunshine,” which blends a light power pop arrangement with 1960s prom music, is an absolute gem. Three band members join Ryan for Hollies-style harmonies throughout this release, and the melodies, particularly on the title track and “Be My Baby,” are irresistible. (

Instrumental drone band Kwaidan’s debut full-length release, Make All The Hell Of Dark Metal Bright, is a combination of a modern day Pink Floyd with newer influences similar to Locrian, Sunn O))) and Boris. In fact, Locrian’s guitarist/keyboardist André Foisy is in the band. Throughout its six tracks, a mesmerizing mood is set through captivating and ambient sounds which progress and build to a climactic finale. The band’s sound consists of minimalistic percussion and simple, almost nonexistent melodies with trance-like rhythms. A similar pulsating pattern and theme ties the three-part “Three Empty Rooms Of Light And Space” together. It might be a different decade, but Kwaidan’s m.o. is the same trance-inducing idea that Pink Floyd had back in its late-’60s experimental days. Kwaidan is good at their craft, but an acquired taste for this genre is required. (
– Kelley Simms

It’s hard to believe alt-pop trio The Locals have been in the Chicago music scene and touring the Midwest for over 10 years now, but their maturity and chemistry shines through on their latest EP Stereostatic Funicular. The sound on these five tracks is as fun as the name, as front-woman Yvonne Doll’s vocals sweetly soar over simple melodic riffs. The Locals no doubt have borrowed from predecessors like The Breeders and Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, but they’ve managed to create their own unique sound that continues to earn the right to be heard. (
– Carter Moss

The opening three cuts on White Mystery’s third full-length, Telepathy, drip with venom, courtesy of Miss Alex White’s caterwauling and Francis Scott Key White’s four-limbed assault on the drums. This leads one to expect a full platter of mosh-pit stirring, raging punk rock that one can hear most anywhere by anyone. And then the titian-coifed siblings dramatically ease the tempo on fourth cut, “The Prophecy,” ushering in a level-headed production balance with Francis’ drums retreating back from full-on assault to allow more interplay with his sis’ fretwork. This, in turn, gives the duo a wide range of musical options to explore, which they wisely exploit, resulting in a satisfyingly robust group of songs. Alex’s wonderfully fuzzy guitar turns and double-tracked vocals give “Live To Hunt” a dangerous edge while the duo recall early synth-laced Mission Of Burma (complete with shout-outs to Iggy Pop and Elvis) on “Break A Sweat.” The gingers reach back to an “I Want Candy” beat on “Dirty Hair” and close on the disc’s apogee moment, “San Francisco Dream.” (
– David C. Eldredge

Category: Around Hear, Columns, Monthly

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