Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dastardly - May You Never... (Release Show Schubas Dec 9!)

Dastardly are:
Gabe Liebowitz - vocals, acoustic guitar
Sarah Morgan - vocals, accordion, percussion
August Sheehy - bass, vocals
Patrick Lyons - electric guitar, pedal steel, mandolin, vocals
John Humbracht - banjo, harmonica, electric guitar
Andy Taylor - drums

May You Never... solidifies Dastardly high up on the band list of the thriving roots movement in Chicago. The band manages to incorporate Gabe's point the finger at himself first approach to writing which comes off as alternating between earnest and funny. The band has a varied sound that incorporates banjo by John Humbracht, mandolin, slap steel and accordion.

"Villain" features rolling snares by Andy Tayloy, banjo and simple guitar picking to accentuate the cartoon visioned lyrics of the the villain near the railroad tracks. Sarah's voice complements Gabe's tone nicely. Also the mandolin is a nice little touch on this track too. Towards the end their is a noise filled outro, just before the outro normally starts. I liked that noisy bit a lot, let's you know this album isn't going to settle in and be a typical folk/American album.

On "Exercise In Self Loathing" there is a really cool bass line from August and the rhythm veers toward country land but is saved by Patrick's guitar and Gabe's. "I've been wakin' up lazy and bored, I show up with a smile but she just says he looks insecure".  This track has some cool vocal harmonies. Also towards the end there's a nice bridge with some cool effects.

"Crystallized" has a boot stompin' pace and some great vocals by  Sarah. The descending mandolin line by Patrick here plays against the rest of the song nicely. I love that the bridges on these songs, as in this song, are a bit unconventional and give the songs a bit of a different face than you would be accustomed to with roots music.

"Middleground" is my favorite on this album.  It features poignantly self effacing lyrics on top of a really good songs.  "This guy I know has gained esteem, this prestigious music scene, all the newspapers and websites write him up, and he just put out a song that about how much I suck", Gabe says. Now I have done a write up on the guy Gabe's talking about (a slight hint). Gabe tends to take the high road here though instead of making this a "Tu Pac" vs "Biggie" situation in the world of indie music! A commendable approach by Gabe.

"Morning Blue" is the power ballad, of sorts,  on this album. Not only some lovely vocals by Sarah but also some nice pedal steel by Patrick. The composition of this song is really nice. It would have been easy to overdue some of the effects on this songs but everything is in just the right amounts. This includes the singing saw by Sarah Holtschlag that is in just the right amounts on this track. Another reprise, this time in the traditional spot.

 May You Never... lives and breathes in it's unconventional touches, from Gabe's songwriting material to the lap steel, to the tempo changes towards the end of the song. At the heart of all these songs are really good musicians making an unforgettable album. The unconventional approach will appeal to a lot of people who wouldn't normally enjoy Americana" or folk. If you are one of these people, check this album out. If you are one of the other people... still check this album out!

Thanks to August at Novo who is doing promotion for Dastardly!

They have an album release show on Dec 9th at Schubas with Chaperone and Jared Bartman, one hell of a line-up. I will be there. After that show, look on their myspace for album release info.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Dedicated Ears Songwriter Showcase #4 at Cafe Ballou Chicago

It was time for another songwriter showcase at the always accommodating Cafe Ballou. Quite a turnout we had, more than 50 folks came out to see the acts and have some food and coffee drinks. It was great again to talk to so many musicians in the crowd.  We had a special helper / dancer as well as some great sets starting with Brendan Losch who I saw play ukulele for the first time. He plays this Sun at Empty Bottle, check him out (bring canned goods for charity!)

Next up was Magic Ian who reminded me of a mix of Nick Cave with the storytelling of Utah Phillips. "Junkyards Of Wyoming" was a punk timed ditty that was a crowd leaser.  Magic Ian also offered this precursor, "I am going to try to break the blues with my next song "Causeway Blues" which technically too fast to be blues, which is the joke in of itself isn't it? Loved his story telling abilities as well as playing and singing.

Teenage Rage switched it up again, playing slow to mid tempo songs as well as the beautiful violin parts by Miranda Rae who has played a few Dedicated Ears shows. The always personable Teenage Rage informed the crowd " I am going to play two songs... well half songs, they aren't finished yet, together they make one song right".


Gabe from Dastardly was next up. Always the
crowd pleasing performer/emcee/drunk wrangler
did not disappoint with any of his jobs. He
played "The Dramatic Cowboy Song" which
everyone watching and listening loved.


Robert Reid was up next and played some really
nice guitar as well as playing a waltz timed song.
Yay for that!

Rachael Eve played next with Miranda Rae on violin again. Rachael's set was very cool and took the drunks in the crowd in stride.

 Gavin from The Bears Of Blue River played a solo set. I really like the way he writes and sings.

Last was the dancing and singing talents of
Matthew Merryweather. 

Leafbird played a dreamy set of folk with some
cool harmonics on the guitar.
The set felt intimate.

Anthony 'T-Bird ' Magera was up next playing some blues flavored singer songwriter songs that
were long on emotion, which is why I like to
watch him play.

Thanks to all of the great musicians who played again and to the size-able crowd.  Again, thanks to Kosro and the cool people at Cafe Ballou for staying late. Look for info on the next show on the Dastardly or Brendan Losch home pages on Facebook.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Fervor at The Metro! (Fri Nov 12)

 I love it when I go to the classic venues , like Metro, and an all Chicago band bill elicits a wild crowd reaction for all of the acts. This was the case this past Fri at Metro.  Out of the gate first was Dastardly, who I had never seen the band perform with the full compliment of members. As usual Gabe was incredibly personable as well as funny.  The band was louder and the sound more varied than I had seen before.  It was great to see hear the accordion in the mix with the electric guitar. Very cool big sound. They played an amped set that was set the bar very high for the evening.

Next up was Chaperone. The bottom end rumble came from both drummer Thom's tom-toms as well as a bonus tom out on the floor. The band was loud and thoroughly invested in the set. The crowd reacted nuttily and sang the lyrics to their short and not so sweet songs.

Jon Drake and the Shakes probably had some people from the crowd playing in their set at one time. They has a full big sound. After seeing a few Drakes at the songwriter show a few weeks back it was nice to see/hear the full compliment of the Drakes. Also, it was great to see and hear Jon as he had a n accident a few days ago and had just gotten out of the hospital before this show. I am very happy to report he is doing ok!

Headliner Aktar Aktar manged to actually increase the intensity of the crowd. Their brand of indie/prog rock with bouncing hooks was eaten up by their hardcore fans who screamed throughout.

Thanks to Rebecca and Betta Promotions for the invite. As is par for the course for her shows it featured really good bands and an excited full crowd. Can't wait for the Dec 19th blogger show with her at Subterranean!

 I am fortunate to not only see these great band but to hang with them as well. It was cool catching up with Thom and Chaperone as well as Gabe and the whole band and my friend. Those people do all exist. I thought they may have been a figment of Gabe's imagination. Great sound at Metro, which I have come to expect. Then there's the beer prices. I kidded the bartender by asking if he had any specials and wave his  hands at the taps and said "every day deals" to which I said "that's a subjective term to use".  Yet the sound there is really worth it. Next time I'll stay in Gingerman before the show a little longer. Love that juke-box in there. And yummy beer on tap.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Aktar Aktar, Jon Drake and The Shakes, Chaperone, and Dastardly at Metro Fri. Nov.12 Metro


 I have been fortunate enough to have seen/and or booked both Dastardly and Jon Drake (with a few of his shakes at the time) in the past few months. So they are very good live and worth the trip to this show all by themselves. I have been meaning to see Aktar Aktar ( FREE download below) and am really glad I will get to see them now. I have a review of the short n' sweet Cripple King ep by Chaperone ( FREE download below). It will be cool to see their sub 3 minute folk rock songs take flight live. I am pretty sure that  debauchery of some sort will be on display at the Metro next Friday and possibly by multiple bands on this bill. You should come on out and see it for yourself.  Thanks to Rebecca at Betta Promotions who is putting this shindig on.


Show Tix Details:
$11 day of show / 18+ / Doors: 8PM / Show: 9PM
($8 day of show with a flyer or metro text)

2 for the price of 1!!! @ only $6!
password: betta

Chaperone - Cripple King ep. (bandcamp name your price $0 minimum)

Madame et monsieur 's de Chaperone :
Shaun Paul
Miles Doornbos
Thom Des Enfants
Shaylah Kloska
Mark Sheridan
Mary Spadaro

In full disclosure the label below this post says the band is  "fun to drink with" which I have.  It was good to meet most of the band and get a feel for them. It beats doing a review of people I haven't met or seen(which is a necessity in these digital days).  I had already been listening to Cripple King EP before I met the band and Gabe from Dastardly. It is always a blast to talk to people who are as hopelessly smitten by music as I am. Now the serious part, the review...

The most immediate thing that struck me about this album is the "live" sound production here. The vocals are without embellishment and that makes this a more organic release. This album does it's business in less than 14 minutes. There is something to be said for not over doing bridges and choruses and just tell the stories succinctly like Chaperon does on Cripple King. This album has the feel of the country in it, not necessarily Country music but the laid back earthen vibe that come from people who do not dwell in cities. 

"Fed On Coal" is an upbeat piece of pop goodness that utilizes a simple driving drum beat that is punctuated by the dual lead vocals that give this a more immediate feel.   This song is instantly recognizable.

 The mono production on "Thomas"  is right at home with the music that is an update of fifties pop music  featuring the jangly guitar riff and the shouted chorus .

 "Witches and Sailors" instantly reminds me of a looser and edgier Grant Lee Buffalo. Really nice harmonies on this track.

The closer "Waltzing Topside" has a, take me down to the river to be baptised, feel to it. A perfect way to end this EP.

Thanks to the band, they have made this a name your price download. So if you have some dough to throw their way for the EP then please do. They deserve. If you don't, and still download the album for free, please share it with everyone you can in places like  fb etc. They will also be playing a show this Fri Nov 12th at Metro. I will be there please come on out, you may get a chance to share a drink with the band too.