Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Suns, Robbers, Gaberdine, Brontosaurus at Double Door 8/20

Brontosaurus opened the show and was a cool act to catch live. A 2 piece band that sound bigger at times. They play a progressive form of indie rock and adeptly played off one another much like jazz players do. This was their first show so keep an eye out for them.

<a href="">Everything Changes by Suns</a>

The Suns get better and more confident with their big sound with every show. The parts where the whole band is jamming out and both drummers are playing off one another is a near nirvana musical experience. They played a good deal of their two ep releases : The Howl and The Many and Close Calls In The U.S. Space Program. They settled into a groove that is accentuated by the mandolin and bow on a guitar that add little detours from the main road of their indie pop. They enjoyed their set a lot and the crowd was equally into the show as well. They are a must see live!

Thanks to Rebecca and Betta Promotions as well as Suns for the invite..

<a href="">Little Horn by Suns</a>

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Grip Tapes: Straight Outta NC

Grip Tapes is another label (based in North Carolina) that makes me look forward to listening to new music online every day. Their roster is Cassis Orange, The Alcazar Hotel, Veelee, Doctor, Gross Ghost, and Old Bricks. You can get FREE legal downloads of these and also choose to support them as well if you choose. As with many net-labels, the founders of this label tired of the way the music business ran, so they made their own label and rules. Cheers, I say.

<a href="">Listen Heartbeat by Cassis Orange</a>

Through my daily Bandcamp exploration/addiction I came across Cassis Orange who are named after a Japanese alcoholic drink.They are indie pop group from North Carolina comprised of Autumn Ehinger and her friends. Autumn lived in Japan for a while, which explains the band name, before returning to the states to live in N.C. She has put together an impressive first go on this ep. which is ebullient at times and yearning at others. "Listen Heartbeat" is the type of hook that you will not forget for quite some time. I love the drum breaks on this track. When things slow down a bit on "Oh So What" the songwriting comes to the front. "If you don't love me now , I'm never gonna love you back", Autumn says or maybe hopes rather. And so it is with matters of the heart. I have read recently that we are losing classic albums because people aren't holing up with uber producers for 12 months to produce so called masterpieces (which are mostly soulless anyway). The thinking is that self produced albums can't be classics. Thank god the musicians like Autumn have taken the music business back and it flourishes with albums like this one! Great hooks are great hooks whether backed by heavy hitter studio players or by a drum machine like on this album.

Polymers and more...

Through the amazing wonder of Bandcamp, I became aware of an album called Lens by UK musician Sam Dudley. A couple of mails back and forth and I found out that he made Lens as part of his work load en route to his degree in Music Commercial Composition & Technology degree. Lens is about a robot and you should check out the link because Sam has a full story treatment and sketches, as well as the download link for Lens which is on Birmingham, UK indie label Baby Jump Records. Lens is reminiscent of Thom Yorke's solo work, but is not derivative of Thom's sound. Lens stands out on its own and as you listen with headphones you can imagine the video that you would make of this robot. Whenever music elicits imagery in you, it has done its job.

<a href="">Eyes Open by Sam Dudley</a>

A few days after downloading Lens I came across another cool theme album on Bandcamp called The Elemental Suite by another talented UK musician named Jake Stacey. After telling Sam that I had just downloaded Jake's album, Sam told me the two of them were classmates at school, friends, and in a band named Polymers together. Behold the random nature of on-line music!

<a href="">The Icarus Account by Jake Stacey</a>

Polymers are :

Sam Dudley: lead Vocals/ Synth/ Guitar/ Awesomeness man
Chris Goodall: Lead Guitar/ Backing vocals
Jake Stacey: Rhythm Guitar/ Keys/ Backing Vocals
Pat: Bass / Babe Magnet
Mike John: Drums / Teaboy

I've had the UK music crew's music for a little while now and have listened to all of them quite a bit. Polymers has roots in the more aggressive prog. rock of Rush as well as the more recent prog. rock of Coheed and Cambria. I really enjoy "Ropes" which has a fiery solo just under the mix that runs for most of the song. Also, the break and the runs at the end are really cool.

<a href="">Escape The Cage by Polymers</a>

Showing a slightly different sound on the beginning of "Firehead", the band uses a subdued start and builds nicely. Really enjoyed the drumming on this one.

Overall Polymers is a good first album that has a few really good songs on it. It will be interesting to see the direction they go from here. Somehow prog rock became a dirty word to some. Maybe we have Yes and Rush far enough in the rear view to let the up and coming prog rockers like Polymers make a new brand of prog. I love the jazz timing and flourishes on a song like "Hearts Blazing". In that respect, Polymers are well on the road to not just doing tricks with the timing but trying to write rounded songs.

It's really interesting to have both Sam's and Jake's solo work as well as Polymers. It really shows how their sounds/interests converge and diverge. Thanks to Sam for all the help!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Dedicated Ears Presents A Singer- Songwriter Showcase Aug 24 at Chopin Theatre

Dedicated Ears Presents : A Singer - Songwriter Showcase will be at the Chopin Theatre Chicago (1543 W Division) on Aug 24th. The drive behind this particular show is Gabe from Dastardly. He thought it would be a good idea and so did I. Gabe was slated to play this but his band was offered a great opening spot on this day, so he could not make it. Thanks to Gabe who did a majority of the leg work. It doesn't hurt that he has good taste in musicians who will be featured : Brendan Losch, McKenzie Toma, Musikanto, Sarah Holtschlag, Adem Chapman, Papaer Plant, Gia Margaret and also Dan Price. Check these artists on their pages, this is going to be a great night of music. The owners of the Chopin play host again and I thank them. I will have some more music that is featured on my blog that In will be playing. Come by the show and say hi. The show is a suggested $5 donation and is a 21+ show and doors open at 7pm and the first act goes on at 8pm. Thanks again to Brian Fitzgerald ( for designing another amazing poster.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Princess Dinosaur - A Golfish and His Friends

Princess Dinosaur is Nic Newsham (Gatsby's American Dream) and Nick Vombrack (Dr. Manhatten). They created their debut album, A Goldfish and His Friends, while carrying on a long distance musical relationship between their homes in Illinois and Washington. The album was recorded in parts in both states.

A Goldfish and His Friends is a throwback to the 90's era of jangly guitar pop. It leans heavily on the hooks that made that pop music so irresistible. Princess Dinosaur remind me a lot of an updated version of Bluebottle Kiss where storytelling and melodies are most important. The lyrics are about relationships and how appearances aren't always what they seem.

The upbeat pace of "Yeah Sure" features guitars that are at home on a bright sunny day. The chorus is a sing along and the crescendo in the bridge works really well.

Things slow down a bit on"Steamy Dreams" and the echo effect and fading of howling from channel to channel drive home the point of a dream. "I know who you are, I know who you think you are.. I hate who you think you are", simple lyrics that say a lot.

"Electricity" has psych pop elements and some experimental instrumentation that are really interesting. It's a nice counter to the straight ahead pop.

Newsham and Vombrack have created a really nice debut album in A Goldfish and His Friends. The melodies are catchy and there are a few different sounds on this album.

Thanks to Rebecca at Betta Promotions for the heads up on this album.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Pretty Little Empire and Mimicking Birds Old Rock House St. Louis 8.8.10

I enjoy each visit to St. Louis each time I visit. On this visit I got to see good friends Pretty Little Empire play with Mimicking Birds (a day after their Lolla set) at The Old Rock House. The venue is a fully refurbished and still has some of the older touches left in tact. The sound was really good and a video camera in the balcony let you see the acts at the front bar television.

Pretty Little Empire's set sounded great and they were as tight as I have seen them as a unit. Members are Justin Johnson, Evan O'Neal, Will Godfred, and Wade Durbin. Their trademark high energy show brought a sizable crowd out who danced to their music. Luckily they played quite a few of their songs from their soon to be released 2nd album whose sound branches out more into indie rock while still having an Americana and Western overtones. They are a rare band in that Justin, Will and Evan all sing lead on songs to great effect. The different lead vocals work well with respect to the overall sound. PLE are already planning the recording of their 3rd album. In addition to this Justin plays in The Jump Starts a side project with Sarah Ross (from St. Louis band Paper Dolls). I always get to meet the families of the guys in the bands and that is a treat, as the people in St. Louis are always so nice.

After PLE's set the Mimicking Birds who are Nate Lacy, Aaron Hanson, Ian Luxton kept people enthralled with there trance like form of indie folk. Some things that were striking were Nate Lacey's easy vocals and interesting song subjects which you can find on their self titled debut album on Glacial Place Records. It was Nate's Birthday that night so the band led the crowd in a rendition of Happy Birthday. Nate's guitar work coupled with Aaron and Ian's backing made this set up a fuller sound than the original recordings that Nate put on line about a year ago. Those recording were loose but I think maybe more in line with how Nate envisioned these songs. There is no denying the effect of the songs when played live with the backing band.

I was fortunate to hang out at Will's place after the show with all the members of both PLE and Mimicking Birds and it is always refreshing when wildly talented people are accessible as well. I got the feeling the guys from Mimicking Birds are looking forward to recording another album and that maybe they look for the recording process to be a bit more in line with what they have thought their songs should be. I have had the fortune of hanging with the PLE guys a few times and always enjoy to hear what they are up to and what their current thought of PLE are.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

T- Bird Magera at Tonic Room

I talked a bit with Tony (T-Bird) Magera at my first show at the Chopin. After emails back and forth he invited me to his set at the Tonic Room this past Thursday. I have head his music described as blues, but I would say it straddles the line between Americana and Blues with a good helping of folk story telling. Tony connects with the lyrics and sings an emotive brand of singer songwriter songs. He recently got married (Congrats!) and his wife was at the show as well who I had the pleasure of meeting. The song that jumped out at me was "Sally" which he wrote for his daughter to be. His wife is due soon, and congrats to both of them! Tony's eyes lit up when he played "Sally". It great to musicians connects with their lyrics! See Tony live.

Keep an eye out for an impending release by T-Bird soon. If everything goes well I hope to have him play a Dedicated Ears showcase soon. Also thanks to August Forte for the invite for this show. Contact August if you are in need of a promotions representative.