Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Dedicated Ears Showcase at Lilly's on Sat 12.15.12

For this installment Tom Schraeder and I each pick two bands to come up with this cool line up this Saturday the 15th at Lilly's . It will be a $6 cover, 21+ to enter, and 1st act at 8:30. Gavin and Maggie (Bears Of Blue River),  Teenage Rage,  Sarah Holtshlag and D.O.C (featuring members of His Ego and inchworm) will be playing Saturday. I have been fortunate enough to have Sarah, Gavin and Maggie an  Teenage Rage play show for me before so I can attest that this will be a really good show. Thanks again to Tom and Lilly's for making these great shows possible. Thanks to the bands playing this show as well! Be sure to check out other shows at Lilly's, as Tom is booking there now!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Show Preview: Lobo Marino, Bowl Of Dust, The Odd Folk 12.12.12 at Yellow Book Chicago

Come on out on Dec 12 to Yellow Book (1007 N California) to see Virginia based Lobo Marino. I have featured them on Dedicated Ears compilation album on Bandcamp and will have their wonderful album Kite Festival on my year end list. On said album is one of the most infectious hooks you'll hear in their song "Golden Flea".  Also on the bill will be Chicago's Bowl Of Dust and Odd Folk. I'm really looking forward to seeing all three bands. Starts at 8 so don't be late. Official show page HERE for details!

From he official release for this show :
  • If you'd like, arrive early to participate in a healing meditation circle to summon Divine Feminine Goddess Energy and open up the night.

    Potluck foods are encouraged and appreciated! Get creative with your inner Momma-Daddy and show some hospitality for the touring bands!

1007 N. California Ave.Chicago, Illinois 60622

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Jump Starts - What Hides Inside (The Loud Label)(Record Release Show Off Broadway Nov 10)

St. Louis combo Jump Starts are back with the new LP, What Hides Inside (The Loud Label), which finds the duo seamlessly integrating their vocal interplay and minimalist pop expertise to create a clean sounding infectious batch of songs with varied musical influences.

So if you are asking is there anything different on this album than their debut album? Yes. The mid tempo country tinged "Written On Water" is a natural progression for their sound to take, and that sound comes easily for the duo.

There is also a bit harder edge on the post punk track "Last Time" which incorporate some of Justin's other band, Pretty Little Empire. It's great to hear that sound with Sarah singing the duel vocals.

The normal Jump Starts infectious hook pop songs are here in abundance, namely the head bobbing "Don't Need Much" which highlights how comfortable Sarah and Justin are with each others abilities. They have really made that vocal interplay the heart of what their music is.

Love the Latin flavored "Lord Who Knows". The guitar work and drumming is very effective. 

The overall sound on What Hides inside has added new musical flavors, country, Latin and post punk, without losing the tight identity that this Jump Starts duo has crafted. The hooks are always there with Justin's songs. This I can attest to as I have been lucky enough to hear some of his songs just after he has recorded them on his iphone. So that melody part is a given with Justin's songwriting. What Sarah and Justin have done is take that melody as a base and forge a sound where they each have even footing, the effect of which is evident with how memorable these songs are. 

Thanks to Jump Starts for sending this along to me! Look for this album on Dedicated Ears year end list.

For St. Louis folks, they will be having an album(vinyl) release show this Sat at Off Broadway. Don't miss it. Info HERE.

Recorded and mixed at R&R music Labs in St. Louis MO
 The Loud Label. An independent label in St. Louis.
 Mixed by Ryan Lewis and mastered by Ryan Albritton
extra musicians on album listed on songs Melinda Cooper - Electric Bass on "Stuck" "What Hides Inside" "Last Time" and "Don't Need Much William Godfred - Lead Guitar on "Last Time" Curtis Brewer - Lead Guitar on "Lord Who Knows" Slide Guitar on "Written on The Water" and Banjo on "There You Are" Jay Lewis - Upright Bass on "Carryin' on and Written on the Water.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Chris Staples, Kellen and Me, Venna, and Mike Maimone at Tonic Room Tues Oct. 9 FREE ENTRY

Show this coming Tuesdy Oct. 9 at Tonic Room,  featuring Mike from Mutts, Venna, Kellen & Me and Chris Staples.  FREE ENTRY no charge at door. Come see local music as well as Chris Staples who is from the great northwest. I have checked his albums out and am looking forward to seeing him play. The rest of the acts are from Chicago. Mike's always a blast live. Chris from Mutts organised this show.

7:30pm doors 8:00pm-8:30pm - MIKE MAIMONE (Mutts) 8:45pm-9:15pm - VENNA (feat. Marky of The Felix Culpa) 9:30pm-10:00pm - KELLEN & ME
 10:15pm-11:00pm - CHRIS STAPLES (twothirtyeight/Discover America)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hemmingbirds - The Vines Of Age (album release show Fri Sept 21 at Beat Kitchen)

The Hemmingbirds set the bar pretty high with their debut, Death Wave , which was on my most listened to year end list, played on pod-casts near and wide as well as downloaded in excess of 50,000 times on Frost Click and saw the band entrench themselves in the Chicago music live scene. Death Wave was a one man tour de force of Yoo Soo Kim playing all, singing and fine production. So it has been interesting to see him add Zach Benkowski on drums, Matt McGuire on bass, and Timothy Cap on guitar (who Yoo Soo knew from their days at University Of Illinois at Champaign together). The guys have graciously had me out at about 8 to 10 of their shows, so I have been able to see this line up solidly and become stronger and stronger as they played songs from Vines Of Age these last few months, in advance of it's release this Fri Sept 21 at Beat Kitchen. PRE- ORDER Vines Of Age.

The sound of The Vines Of Age evolves from  hard rock and classic rock influences, and has become study in sound expansion. There is an emphasis on a bigger more expansive sound that is as loud at time as it's predecessor Death Wave, but achieves the big sounds with an indie flavor as on the build up for album opener "My Love, Our Time Is Now".

 "Line of Bones" starts with some clapping and quickly descends into a post punk inspired stomper of a song that achieves a glorious big noise where all of the band members contribute. I love seeing them play this song line because of the tempo shifts.

My favorite track, "Vineyards" illustrates the concept of this album, the passage of time and it's effect on us.  Yoo Soo sings 'The vines of age, will crowd your brain and bind you to your name.' There are nice guitar echo effects on this song hat make it sound very layered. Yet at the same time there are pauses and stops that really ties everything together.  This to me is the quintessential Hemmingbirds songs, featuring sweet vocals, harmonies, and a killer melody back by sounds both big and small. Love that long slow fade at the end.

'The lives that pass through your eyes on the t.v., and how it prints on to your brain, as your dreaming, and as I age you see the resemblance, and you carefully say take your time with the lovers that you make, take your time with the lovers that you make, Yoo Soo sings sweetly on "Oak Tree", a ballad with some beautiful guitar work to match Yoo Soo's insightful writing.   This is another tome about time and taking advantage of the time you have and people close to you.

"Toxic Noise" is a mid tempo rocker awash in big ass guitars featuring a killer bottom end that really propels this song. Add to that some sweet keys by Mike Maimone (Mutts).

Ever wonder what you would get if you mike Mike Maimone's sound with Hemmingbirds right down the middle? The answer can be found on "Better Than That" which features Mike on keys. They backbone of the song is a blues stomp that features some very experimental sounds for Hemmingbirds with even a bit of psych rock feel. Mike was the one who originally told me about Hemmingbirds and I have see Mike and You Soo and assorted band members trade playing with one another. They are all comfortable playing with one another and the this song is evidence that those two sounds work wonderfully together.

Holy stereo effect Batman. "Evening Is Rising" is an experimental noise lounge song featuring trumpet by Tricia Scully and trombone by Thom Schwartz. When the noise kicks up to full it's almost impossible to make out what is making some of those sounds. I think every band should have a song like this, that almost gets away from the band. I like the experimental side of Hemmingbirds.

I love the drums on "Through The Aether". Also Yoo Soo's violin and viola parts are really nice. Yet again another big, joyous noise.

This time around there are more nuanced sounds that comes from having a full band who all contribute to the overall sound.  There are the dalliances with experimental and psyche rock and sometimes straight up noise that add quite another element to the bands core of hook laden pop songs. I thoroughly enjoyed the sonic ride of listening to this album as a whole. It has been a joy to have heard some of the rough cuts of these songs early on, and then to see these songs transformed when they played them live. Now with this production of the songs the Hemmingbirds have advanced the songs even further. A big congratulations to the guys on an incredible album.

For press for Hemmingbirds contact August at Novo.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tom Schraeder's Chicago, I Love at Lilly's Fri 9.21 sponsored by Dedicated Ears

This Friday is another of Tom Schraeder's , Chicago, I Love You shows Lilly's. This
Fri 9.21 
11:30 Brighton MA
10:30 The Bears of Blue River 
 9:30 Clip Art 
 8:30 Will Phalen

I have seen Bears Of Blue River (who have a sweet pink vinyl 7" you can buy) and Brighton MA on several occasions, you won't want to miss this show. I am looking forward to seeing Will Phalen and Clip Art as well. Be sure to be there early to see all of these acts. Again, a big thanks to Tom Scraeder for putting on this FREE festival and for Lilly's for being great hosts. This will be my third festival show I am going to and am really excited that Dedicated Ears is the official sponsor on Friday.

Thanks again to my good Chicago friend Brian Fitzgerald who designed this awesome show poster.  To avail yourself of hid fine design services, contact him at

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Chicago, I Love You at Lilly's, sponsored by Dedicated Ears on Fri.9.14 and Fri 9.21

I am really excited to announce that Tom Scraeder's invited me to sponsor and promote his Chicago, I Love Festival shows at Lilly's this Friday the 14th and next Friday the 21st. The line-up this Friday will be Gabe Liebowitz of Dastardly at 9pm, Ami Saraiya and The Outcome at 10pm, Moritat at 11pm and Magicks at Midnight. Gabe and Ami I have had the pleasure of sponsoring for the singer songwriter showcase,s they always put on a great show. Gabe may even sing his love letter themed song about Missouri. The rest of the bill is Moritat, who play indie pop and Magicks who are an electronic wave oriented act. Below are some videos as well as some bandcamp players so you can check this awesome bill's bands out. The entrance is FREE and Lilly's is cash only so plan ahead. I am really excited about this showcase and hopefully will have some video in the weeks following this show.
9.14 - 12:00 Magicks / 11:00 Moritat / 10:00 Ami Saraiya and The Outcome / 9:00 Gabe Liebowitz (Dastardly) Here's the line up for the following Friday also sponsored by Dedicated Ears 9.21 - 11:30 Brighton, Ma / 10:30 Bears of Blue River / 9:30 Clip Art / 8:30 Will Phalen

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tom Schraeder's Chicago Lovefest...literally. (Chicago I Love You Festival Sept 1 to Sept 30 at Lilly's))

I've known Tom Schraeder(of Tom Schraeder and His Ego) for about a year now. I know a few things about him. He prefers no to be called "singer songwriter. He is NOT a fan of the recently disco band Muse, and when he sees something he can do to help people out, or in general make things better here in Chicago, he does it. That's a very admirable trait. I saw him organize the music for a benefit for The Boys and Girls Club and heard artists who played it say, "sure anything for Tom". Tom thought to himself, wow there no lengthy Chicago artist based festival that allows all forms of artists to showcase their work. So what does Tom do? Tom puts on a festival himself.
 Chicago I Love You is happening this whole month of September at venerable Chicago bar/venue Lilly's  , 2515 N. Lincoln Ave,  who are equal partners with Tom for Chicago I Love You. Chicago here's your chance to show the musicians,  artists, photographers, filmmakers,writers,comedians that you really appreciate what they do. Thanks again to Tom for being both forward and up thinking on this one. He has invited Dedicated Ears to be one of the blog sponsors and I couldn't be prouder. More exact details to come, but there is a basic frame work below of this great festival

Calendar of Events - Chicago, I love you / September 1 - 30
9.1 - Launch Party featuring 10:00 Tom Schraeder / 11:00 Stoop Goodnoise / 12:00 Natureal
9.2 - Announced August 25th
9.3 - 9:00 - 92 Tales / Bailout Pictures / Y La Bamba (dj set from Portland)
9.4 - Earphoria Open Mic 7 - 9:15 / 9:30 Songwriters in the Round featuring: Derek Nelson / Julie Meckler / Gia Margaret
9.5 - 9:00 Wednesday Jazz Series w/ Corbin Andrick featuring Nick Broste Trio /
9.6 - Comedy Night: Danny Kallas / Kenny DeForest / Adam Burke / Natalie Joe / Jason Folks
musical guest - 11:00 The Microphone Misfits
9.7 - 10:00 Grandkids / 11:00 The Kickback / 12:00 Audiences / Announced August 25th
9.8 - 10:00 Sarah Holtschlag and The Crosscuts / 11:00 Mike Fleming and The Berwyn All-Stars / 9:00 Ty Maxon
9.9 - 9:00 DJ Pat Sansone / DJ Mark Panick
9.10 - 9:00 Windy City Story Slam w/ Alex Bonner
9.11 - 7:00 Earphoria Open mic / 9:30 "Songwriters in The Round" featuring Matt Kerstin (Brighton, Ma)
9.12 - 9:00 Wednesdays Jazz Series celebrating Chicago, I Love You with Corbin Andrick and guests
9.13 - 10:00 Mike Levowitz / Megan Gailey / Jamie Campbell / Liza Treger / Stan Morrow / Jason Folks - 11:15 NRG Ensemble
9.14 - 12:00 Magicks / 11:00 Moritat / 10:00 Ami Saraiya and The Outcome / 9:00 Gabe Liebowitz (Dastardly)
9.15 - 12:30 -3:00 DJ Matt Roan / 12:00 ZiPS / 11:00 The Canoes / 9:00 Nick Miller and The Neighbors / 10:00 Edgars Legzdins (Plane) / 8:00 Lilttle Light
9.16 - 10:00 Ronnie Kwasman (Margot and The Nuclear So and So's)
9.17 - 7:00 Earphoria Open Mic / 9:30 Songwriters in the Round with Gabe Liebowitz (Dastardly)
9.20 - Joe Fernandez / Anthony McBrien / Matt Riggs / Charlie Bury / Jason Folks
musical guests - 11:30 Natureal / 9:00 Weeping Willows
9.21 - 11:30 Brighton, Ma / 10:30 Bears of Blue River / 9:30 Clip Art / 8:30 Will Phalen
9.22 - 10:30 When Clouds Attack / 8:00 Rego / 12:00 Moxie Motive / 9:00 For All The Sweet Children / 11:15 Distant Cities
9.24 - 9:00 Tribute to Letterblue Productions featuring Act Naturally / Tom Schraeder / Q and A's
9.25 - 7:00 Earphoria Open Mic / Songwriters in the Round featuring Jeremy David Miller announced August 30 / 11:30 Rambos
9.27 - James Fritz / Caitlin Bergh / Bob Palos / Joe McAdams / Jason Folks
musical guest - 11:15 Bumpus
9.28 - 11:00 Glass Lux / 9:00 Glad Fanny / 12:00 Volcanoes Make Islands / 1:00 Bob Rok
9.29 - ego? Announced August 30th
9.30 - ego? Announced August 30th

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Bears Of Blue River - Dames (album review) Released Oct 2011

Chicago's Bears Of Blue River are back again with an album full of  hummable pop songs which utilize equal parts indie and 50's era rock-n-roll. Fronted by Gavin Wilkinson, the Bears are in a raucous mood on tracks like the album opener "Boy Toy".  The first lyrics Gavin sings are, 'As I left the Polish bar, you got up and out your car you looked up at me and with your eyes you swore at me' to which Margaret Alexandra Gard replies 'You foolish little man, with your life set to plan
spend some time with me and a few tricks you will see', as two lovers who are together in spite of each person's shortcomings. The raw choruses of 'Good Spark' create a full sound, as this track has a bit harder edged guitar. My favorite track is the closer, 'Blue Ribbon', which is a track the band has had around for some time as a single of sorts. Gavin sings 'And I tried hard and I got barred and it sure was a lesson, a story I'm addressing. Undressing I need from some nice thing, a prize little jewel to prove I'm no fool.'  Dames has a really good balanced sound, and features the attention on the band and not the production.

I have seen the Bears Of Blue River play with almost every band configuration, and they are a band well worth seeing.
Support local music!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mutts Separation Anxiety LP Release Party Thur. Aug.2 at Fireside Bowl

Fireside Bowl 2648 W. Fullerton Chicago
Thur Aug 2  just $5 ages 17+ party starts at 8pm

Come join me at the bowl for this great line-up. Mutts will be playing a bunch of songs form Separation Anxiety and you can buy a shiny see through vinyl of said album. I have seen pics of it and it looks pretty sweet. If you haven't seen Mutts before this is a perfect chance to see why everyone is talking about their live show. The rest of the bill is pretty stout as well you can check 3 of the four bands music out below. It's 17 and older so no need to try to sneak your underage friends in. Thanks to August at NoVo for the invite as well as Mike and the guys from Mutts.

From the official release: "It's a celebration of the release of Separation Anxiety, the first installment of our 2012 Double-LP project. WE (YOU) DID IT! Check it out: All Mutts releases will be on sale for just $12 vinyl and $5 CD. Plus drink specials brought to you by Phantom Note Productions for their 1-year anniversary show. We're excited that three of our favorite bands are joining us for this special night. So come early and treat your ears."

10:30 MUTTS

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tom Schraeder and Do312 Present: Ultra Violet Petting Zoo THIS Sun. 7.1

Tom Schraeder put his money where his mouth is in organizing the music for The Ultra Violet Petting Zoo, a fundraising festival for the Neighborhood Boys and Girls Club of Chicago. Now here is a cause we can all agree on. So keep the cause mindful when you pass through the doors (suggested donation is $5 and they are taking stuffed animal donations to hang). This is a family friendly event that has a petting zoo, rides and a boatload of great bands. Tom will be debuting his electronic project, ALLOUT SHELTER. Also notable is the sub-two-minute-song punk stylings of Vortis kicking off the music lineup at 2:15. I have seen them before and I highly recommend you catch their set. I have also seen Brighton MA, Sleepy Kitty (St. Louis), and White Mystery and all played really good sets. The fest will be held at 2501 W Irving, just west of Western.

From the official festival release, "A one-day music festival featuring some of Chicago's finest bands giving back to the city we love. 'The Neighborhood Boys and Girls Club Carnival' celebrates its 65th year as the cities largest and longest running carnival. With 28 carnival rides, 12 bands and a petting zoo - the Ultra Violet Petting Zoo was created to transcend genre and to make a difference in our future. Last year 'Chicago Mixtape' and I helped raise enough money to keep 1500 kids off the streets. This year, Do312 will be curating the event with me and we're expecting, with your help, to break last years record. Our city's youth programs are being phased out and together we can all make a difference!"

Band list:

2:00 -   2:15 - Vortis
3:00 -   3:30 - Give Back
3:45 -   4:15 - Stoop Goodnoise
4:25 -   5:05 - Sleepy Kitty
5:10 -   5:30 - Microphone Misfits
5:35 -   5:55 - The Zips
6:05 -   6:50 - Brighton, MA
7:00 -   7:25 - Natureal
7:40 -   8:15 - Mazes
8:30 -   9:15 - White Mystery
9:30 - 10:00 - Allout Shelter

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Hemmingbirds Beat Kitchen Show and 'Perpetuator' Video

Hemmingbirds invited me out to their show at Beat Kitchen on June 14th. They played quite a few new songs including the 'Perpetuator', which has an infectious guitar hook. Some of these new songs have some huge crunching guitars and I am excited to hear them on the album the guys are tracking now! It's fun to see a band perform over a course of years and see them just get tighter and tighter knit like these guys have. Thanks to the guys for the invite! See them play live.  I also enjoyed the set by Champaign band Dirty Feathers a nice psych pop/progressive/soul mash up, and also Brooklyn indie rockers Shake The Baron.

Here is Hemmingbirds  video for 'Perpetuator' with a straight ahead but effective story line.  The lights are a nice touch.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pretty Little Empire at KDHX Twangfest (Blueberry Hill Thur June 8 2012)

Our family scheduled our St. Louis vacation around seeing the guys in  Pretty Little Empire play again. This time I saw them at KDHX Twangfest at Blueberry Hill's Duck Room. I hadn't been there before and it was a cool place to see a show with excellent sound. They played some new songs. (Below is a pic of Wade's set list).  They played as a five piece for a few songs as their producer extraordinaire, David Beeman (Native Sound) joined them playing a few different instruments. The guys said that David has the pulse of what the band wants to do with their sound and are looking forward to finishing up recording with David. This new sound is a more textured sound with influences of early 80's post rock as well as Latin rhythms. The guys never disappoint live, so run (don't walk!) to see them play. They always have a great turnout of enthusiastic fans that acts as a bit of an extended family. I always enjoy talking with these people.

I also caught the set by Wussy who played an early 90's quirky indie rock that really cooked when they were jamming. They had an ease on stage with one another that only comes from a band playing together for a long time. Check out both Pretty Little Empire and Wussy videos from this show below courtesy of KDHX.  Thanks to them for the great show and the video.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Pretty Little Empire Video Shoot for "All I Know" Nov. 4 2011

In the wee hours of the morning before the shoot for this video, Pretty Little Empire invaded Chicago in a vehicle with no heat and stayed the night at a friends house where neighbors were partying like rock stars. The band have jobs, so they don't get to party like rock stars all the time. Yet this video for "All I Know" is indicative of the high quality and passion that the band has to make music fit for a rock star. The band shot a video for "Now Is The Time" at the same film studio with director Justin Hayward and his crew a year prior.

I was fortunate to sit in on the shoot for "All I Know" and see how Justin Hayward and his crew worked. Having gone to film school with Hayward, it was great to catch up a bit and also pick his brain about his vision of this video. As you watch, you are seeing a very jumpy narrative that is compliments of Justin's thought to change the frames per second for which the crew also either sped up or slowed down the playback music and the band played to the adjusted speed.  The photo above is a shot I took of their recording and mixing rig. It was amazing to see the nuances in the lighting on the Red MX(pictured below). Director Hayward said of this camera, "It's what "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" (David Fincher's) was shot on, so if we used the files to their full potential and blew it up that big, it would look that sharp."

Hayward also says of the shoot "We shot the video at SP Films  (Chicago) at their gracious allowing. It was all motion control which means the camera was connected to a machine that's connected to a computer, so we can program the moves to do the same thing exactly over and over. That's how we were able to cut the different actions of the band while maintaining a smooth action of the background and mikes and equipment." RED camera and the slow tracking shot were pretty amazing. In the playback monitor it all looked so professional. As I said, the band and Hayward shot a video a year ago in the upstairs space at this studio. This recent shoot was in the big studio downstairs and their control of the lighting was pretty impressive. It was as if they were painting the shadows on. Check out the photo below.
The band in between takes

I was also able to hang with the guys from the band and they told me the above story about their ride and the raging house party they endured after getting in late. The guys are hard at work on a new album on which there will be some surprises. Thanks to Justin Hayward and crew/SP film for being so nice and letting me sit in on them while they shaped this video. Also again a big thanks to Justin, Will, Wade and Evan for the invite.

The RED camera Justin Hayward spoke of above

Ariel view from upstairs lounge area.

Justin's retro mic and Evan's drums.

The painting of light