Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Ragtones, Hemmingbirds, Mendelssohn, Shy Technology at Lincoln Hall March 16 2011

 Thanks again to Betta Promotions and Yoo Soo from the Hemmingbirds for the invite to the show.  This show is the tightest I've heard the Hemmingbirds. They have both quiet and loud portions that bookend one another, so this is sometimes a problem at some venues to get the right balance.  Lincoln Hall got the sound right.  A real treat were the quality of the harmonies and they showed them off a bit on their brief cover of The Beach Boys, "Wouldn't It Be Nice".  Also they played two new original songs, one of which had a bit of a blues feel to it, and the other was mostly acoustic. I look forward to hearing more new songs. The crowd was just as impressed as I was and cheered loudly for the band.

Also of note to me was Medelssohn, whose free download album is below, I didn't get a chance to post it before . They had a full compliment that featured uke, mandolin, banjo and trumpet among the many instruments that were played. To be hones, their live show sound stood out to me more than the album.  There's is something about seeing certain instruments live that really sound different then when they are in a mix on an album. They had a bit of a jam band feel at times and had a communal feel to their overall sound. So download the album then see them live around Chicago.

It was nice seeing and talking to Mike Maimone who will be playing an acoustic piano set at Reggie's soon. I will have a post on my fb page for that.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Save The Clocktower - Carousel

Carousel is a seamless mix of electronic and traditional instruments that is complimented nicely by the post rock styled vocals. Chicago based   Save The Clocktower is Greg Newton on drums/ vocals, Sean Paras on guitar/ vocals, and Jimmy Shenk on keyboards. The sound is rooted in electronic and uses traditional instruments as accents.

"Drip" is a nice groove oriented track that pulls more heavily from the electronic elements and is more of a dance track.

The pop wave sounds of "Taped Noise" feature some nice choices on the vocal mix that mimics the shimmery sound of the song.

"Take Me There" is my favorite track on Carousel and hearkens to 80's new wave mashed up with modern electronica which is all anchored by a strong melody.

If you enjoy new wave and post punk like I do, then you enjoy this album.  There are some nice touches with where the vocals are put in the mix that make the melodies that much stronger. 

You can buy Carousel here :  Keep an eye out for Save the Clocktower playing out in Chicago.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ami Saraiya, Julie Meckler, Jared Bartman Thur March 10 Schubas

With a crowd full of rowdy fans who showed up to support these acts, Julie Meckler and band took the stage. Her music drew from island rhythms, folk, and 90's indie guitar. This transplant from France, now based in Chicago, sang a song in French that sounded beautiful.  I have a soft spot for French pop music. Some highlights were the raucous crowd, multitasking band members and some nice sounding mallets on drums, always a favorite of mine. There was some nice atmospheric guitar on some of the songs including the David Bowie cover, though I forget which song it was. The bass player said he told a "conceptual joke", which I thought was funny.

Next up was Peoria's Jared Bartman (who played accordion), had a full band that featured Gabe from the band dastardly, on drums. Gabe skills impressed. Jared sang in his unique style and had the crowd eating out of his hands. The last song he did, his voice only, was really effective.  I'm pretty excited Jared plays Chicago as often as he does. Keep an eye out because Jared has a new 7" coming out soon.

Lastly Ami Saraiya and her other 6 members of her band The Outcome, took the stage. I hadn't seen the full line-up which gave such a full sound. The power of Ami and Courtney and Shirley was something to behold. Ami played accordion and was joined by upright bass, violin. It always cool to see Ami play a stripped down set, and then play a full blown sound experience like this show! Congrats to Ami and The Outcome, as this was their EP release show.

It was well attended and the crowd was lively, as well they should be  because all three acts were really good. I saw my friend Aaron Hui as well as some of the good folks from Dastardly and so many other musicians who filled the crowd. Again a big thanks to Ami for inviting me out.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Ragtones , Hemmingbirds, Mendelssohn, Shy Technology Lincoln Hall Wed March 16

This is a Betta Promotions show (their shows always seem great don't they?) featuring some really cool bands.  I am a huge Hemmingbirds fan. Their album Death Wave was my 2nd most listened to album of last year.  Yoo Soo and Tim from Hemmingbirds were gracious enough to sit for an interview with me braving my 3 yr old and 2 year old.  Watch below.  I have only seen Hemmingbirds play so this will be a great chance to see The Ragtones, Mendelssohn, and Shy Technology.  Check their music out and the see them do it live this Wednesday at Lincoln Hall! Only $8 for 4 bands.  It's an 18 and over show. Come on out and support some great bands.  Follow the bandcamp player for Death Wave below to a name your price, $0 minimum (FREE if you so chose).

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Dastardly, The Dirty Feathers, The Bears Of Blue River, and Milano at Reggies this Saturday

In my flu fueled craziness I thought this show was last weekend and I would miss it. Turns out it's this Sat. March 5 which starts at 7:00 PM at Reggie's Rock Club (2109 S State). It doesn't get any better than this line up. The entrance is FREE and the fine cowgals and cowpokes in Dastardly are asking for donations to help cover the cost of the impending trip to SXSW, a wee little festival in the fine city of Austin. Gabe and the band play all sorts of free show, as well as have handed out cd's for free in the past, so here is your chance to say thanks you. Not to mention the kick ass show that will  both Dastardly and Bears put on, how can you miss this one? I will be there to chronicle the debauchery. I have heard some good things as well about Dirty Feathers and Milano. Below are some videos of what the show could be, but better because there will be liquor and Gabe telling stories.

Also look for Dastardly to play WGN 9 mid day news cast this FRIDAY. I know I will!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Paper Dolls - Sparks (2011)

Paper Dolls are:
Jenn Malzone - songwriter, keyboards
Cathie Degler - cello
Brad Vaughn - bass
Sarah Ross - drums

Sarah and Cathie saw the original line-up of the band disband just as they were finishing their first album.  So they reformed in this configuration and got to work. The result of that labor is Sparks, which is a mix of the original line-up's darker material (gothic) and the pop sensibility of the current band.   The mixture of chamber and goth makes theirs a sound I haven't heard in a band from St. Louis before, and their interesting arrangements make them stand out.

"Middle Class Fashion" has a simple and undeniable little piano riff that runs throughout the song, while Cathie's cello and Brad's bass spar back and forth at the bottom end. The clipped nature of Jenn's vocals play along with the piano. Some small bursts of layered vocals are thrown in here and there, and the way that all of these elements figure into the arrangement is a nice change from the norm.

"First Draft" features more jazz influences as well as flourishes of weepy cello that make for an opulent vibe. I really like the staccato nature of Jenn's vocals and the piano that plays off that. That may be the bands signature sound, and what an enjoyable one to hear.

The unconventional song structures help Paper Dolls carve a unique sound. There is quite a bit of growth as a band from their first band line-up and this current line-up.  Sparks is the type of release that will have a significant influence on budding songstresses in an already burgeoning St. Louis music scene.

Download Sparks for $5 at their thesixtyone page. They have cd's available at their upcoming shows March 11 at Wash U, and March 26 at Lemmons w/ Blood Pony. I will be doing a review of the Blood Pony album as well, so that would be a great show to see.