Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hemmingbirds - Death Wave

Death Wave is comprised of fully realized indie pop songs that have subtle influences of jazz influenced rock (math,progressive) that seamlessly meet with indie pop sounds akin to Decemberists and Arcade Fire. This album has really good production and never loses it's focus, quite an achievement over the span of 10 songs. Chicago based Hemmingbirds should be proud of this album that places them firmly on the list of great Chicago indie bands. The band originally began as a solo project by Yoo Soo in the fall of 2009. Over the period of seven months, Yoo Soo performed, recorded, produced, mixed, and self-released “Death Wave” with the aid of Zach Benkowski on drums. He has since then recruited Tim Cap, Laurence Almalvez, and Brian Choi to create the 5-piece band it currently presents itself to be.

<a href="">Death Wave by Hemmingbirds</a>

"Mellow Gold " haze has an instantly recognizable melody and a killer hook that is reminiscent of the best Weezer hooks. Tight production and from the toms at the beginning to a build to the cymbals at the end the percussion works really well.

Love the break in "Old Fire". The strings are nice on this track as they compliment the Yoo Soo's vocals as they soar high in higher. The time switches on this song keep it interesting.

'The rhythms and the standards of modern living, they weld our feet, to a growth of scenery', Yoo Soo explains in "In the Event of Failure" which starts off with just an acoustic guitar and voice. This is nice and helps to underscore the tale how we live. 'To future selves that sulk in failure the pain is a temporary tie'. Another nice momentum build toward the end of the song.

The prog. rock punch on "Perpetuator" switches up the sound a bit that it outfitted with a marching snare drum beat. After listening to the first 5 songs the loudness of this track comes as a pleasant surprise.

Yet another surprise on first listen was the psyched out Floyd like "Slippery Slope" with even bigger guitar. This really feels like a true updating of that song, which you don't hear often. Reminiscent of Omar Rodriguez Lopes (Mars Volta).

On the last track, "Death Wave/Color Swirls" there is some beautiful guitar work in this waltz timed ballad.

It's pretty obvious that Yoo Soo can pick up any style of rock/pop he wishes and put his own unique stamp on it. That's a good thing for us music fans. Though people get so caught up with trying to root out influences. if the music is really good then the influences will hit you afterward. This is the case for me with this splendid album. It's amazing to think Yoo Soo recorded it all himself, save for some drums. If this sounds really good to you then you can see him in person THIS FRI AT BEAT KITCHEN!!!! He is playing with Mutts, who I have reviewed this week as well. Archie Powell and The Exports as Well as Glittermouse on this bill. I will be there.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mutts - The Tells Of Parallels

You can get the new Mutts (Mike Maimone) release along with their other ep's on their SITE. The crew is back again with their new ep The Tells Of Parallels. The download will be ready after their show at Beat Kitchen Oct. 1 with a really cool local band , The Hemmingbirds, who I will write about soon. This is going to be a great show. I will be there. How can you beat dirty rock at the Kitchen?

The Tells Of Parallels finds Mike and the Mutts achieving a low end blues-rock hybrid that is a genre bender of heavy tunes. Pounding bottom line and one hell of an aggressive organ and piano make for some of the heaviest piano based tunes you will come across. Throw in a touch of funk and the fact that Mutts seem to be getting more and more experimental with every release, and Voila! That's why I love it! Check it out and check them out on Oct. 1 at Beat Kitchen.

<a href="">The Tells of Parallels by Mutts</a>

This download will be a FREE download following its release on Fri. Oct. 1

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dedicated Ears Presents Singer Song-Writers 2 at Cafe Ballou

The Dedicated Ears Showcase at Cafe Ballou went very well. It's interesting to see Gabe (Dastardly), the Teenage Rage Collective and Brendan Losch play on a consistent basis. It's cool to see them try new stuff and take chances. This past show had some unique moments. Though acoustic, I think Gabe was almost as loud as if he had an electric guitar and amp. Juxtapose that with the quiet reserve of Nathan Xander and the cool unique vocals of Jared Bartman and you have the makings of a hell of a night, and it was.

Gabe and Brendan have set up a series with the nice people at Cafe Ballou and we will be doing a monthly show for the forseeable future. Thanks to Khosro, who I had the pleasure of meeting and who is letting us put the shows on at his spot. It's a cool cafe that has a colorful look and laid back attitude. Before next month's show I will have the nights food and drink specials in my post about the show. So you can have a great wholesome meal.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Bears Of Blue River - The Killer Bee Scare

I received a copy of this from Gavin, lead singer of Bears, who played a Dedicated Ears showcase (video here) at The Chopin Theatre. Gavin mostly played solo for this show and I got a chance to talk to him through sound check and after the show. He asked me to do an honest review and that's what he will get.

I really enjoyed this ep's melodies, which have a bit of an Americana twist to them. The Bears are originally from Indiana, after all. Gavin told me the band moved here for the cleanliness and the safety of this city. Or was it for the vibrant music scene?

This ep 's sweet lilting melodies and dancing bass lines are infectious indeed. The harmonies are not over done and accent the framework of the songs. The strong lead vocals of Gavin and Margaret have a nice interplay and compliment each other well. I suppose you would call "Betty Homemaker" the radio hit. A call and response song that tells the story of a couple in a clever way. It's an instantly recognizable melody. Also there is a cool video for it below.

All of the songs are strong and I think that the Bears have a bit of a different take on the standard indie pop formula. Listen closely with head phones and you will hear how the melodies and harmonies disappear into one another. You can get a FREE download of this ep and some other songs on their facebook page. Keep an eye out for a full length album from Bears very soon. I am sure I will tell you about it as well.

The Bears played a show with another great local band, Teenage Rage, this past Thursday at Empty Bottle on Western. Also on the bill was New York's Thieving Irons, which sounds pretty cool too.

Betty Homemaker from Alexis Rose on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

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

The first Dedicated Ears Singer Songwriter Showcase went really well. My friend Gabe of the band Dastardly came up with the idea and found these great musicians to play the Chopin. So a big thanks to Gabe. The musicians in the showcase were all great and you can see for yourself below. The rest of the video's I recorded will be up within the week. I wish I could have recorded all of the songs but I got a few at least from each performer. A big thanks to Brendan Losch who pulled double duty by performing and doing sound as the sound person who was supposed to come was a no show. Some of the more memorable moments was Sarah Holtschlag playing a saw and Musikanto doing an impromptu song at the piano in the front entrance hallway. There was a lot of artists sitting in with other artists in the true spirit of singer songwriter, like when Brendan was joined by Gia Margaret and Angelina Lucero. Adem Chapman actually played the Dedicated Ears showcase with the band Teenage Rage a few weeks back. It was great to see him perform by himself. Dan Price and McKenzie Toma also performed really cool sets as well. Thanks again to Brian Fitzgerald for designing another unique poster. Thanks to the musicians and songwriters who performed. Thanks to The Chopin Theatre, Lela and Zygmunt again for being gracious hosts.