A good reason to get to Pitchfork fest’s second day early this year: Cymbals Eat Guitars. The New York band often gets compared to Built to Spill and Modest Mouse, but I think it holds its own with an original sound. The songs have a lot of peaks and valleys that go from atmospheric layers to melodic to explosive (not always in that order). The band is touring its self-released album, “Why There Are Mountains.”
This video was shot by a fan but cut short by venue staff. Bastards.
Enough from me. Here’s what the experts have to say about new Wilco (and Dirty Projectors).
“Wilco (The Album)” gets an official release Tuesday more than a month after being leaked. What I said then is true today: It’s a very good album but not a great one. It doesn’t compare with Wilco’s past classics and it’s not as cohesive as the band’s last release, “Sky Blue Sky.” But it’s enjoyable, full of really good songs and worth buying.
The surviving members of Silkworm, Andy Cohen and Tim Midgett, formed Bottomless Pit four years ago after the tragic car death of the band’s drummer, Michael Dalquist. The band doesn’t perform live often but it’s playing a free show at Schubas Sunday night. The Poison Arrows open.
Bottomless Pit has a somewhat similar sound to Silkworm: indie rock guitar, slow buildup with a heavy climax. It’s a fuller band with two guitars, bass and drums.
The best bets for live music this weekend are real rockers. Jay Reatard headlines at the Bottom Lounge Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, you have a choice of Steve Albini’s Shellac at Bottom Lounge or those maximum rock ‘n’ rollers Sonic Youth at the Vic. Hard to go wrong with any of these choices.
Michael Jackson, who died today, became a tabloid favorite way back in the ’80s because of his many eccentricities. The video for “Leave Me Alone,” a single off the 1987 album “Bad,” was his shot back. It’s not a great song but it’s interesting to see how he perceived his own public image.
Click here to see the video.
Good news for Chicago music fans: Lollapalooza is loosening up a bit on restricting bands from playing local gigs outside the annual mega-fest. Beastie Boys play the Congress Theater and the Decemberists perform at Metro the Thursday before Lolla. TV on the Radio plays Double Door and Band of Horses is at House of Blues that Friday.
But the show I’m really psyched about: Deerhunter, No Age and Dan Deacon play their collaborative sets Sunday, Aug. 9. It looked like this show wasn’t going to happen in Chicago because of Lolla’s strict rules on when and where bands play around the festival. In fact, the restrictions became a contentious issue with local clubs. But the list of shows looks like a step in the right direction.
Click here for the full “after shows” schedule.
The latest Wolf Parade side project album comes out today and it’s not too bad. Sunset Rubdown is singer-keyboardist Spencer Krug’s band. (Dan Boeckner, the other half of the Wolf Parade songwriting team, fronts the side band Handsome Furs.)
Sunset Rubdown’s new one, “Dragonslayer,” sounds quite a bit like Wolf Parade with bouncy rhythms and Krug’s distinctive, aching voice. It would be a stretch to say this album measures up to any of Wolf Parade’s releases, though.
I like what I’ve heard so far from “Farm” but I’m not sure it rivals “You’re Living All Over Me” as the band’s best album. Here’s a video from the old guys and another from when they were young punks.
Go here for the full Daytrotter session.
I don’t want to sound like the Randolph Street chamber of commerce, but the organizers of this year’s street fest definitely put together a nice lineup.
Tonight’s headliner is the Hanson meets Cheap Trick, Smashing Pumpkins and Fountains of Wayne supergroup Tinted Windows. It’s nice guilty-pleasure, extremely catchy pop.
At the beginning of the Hold Steady road documentary “A Positive Rage,” frontman Craig Finn laments how so many indie rock shows “are so joyless.” By contrast, Finn wants his fans to “be able to forget about their problems and just lose themselves in the music.”
Anyone who has seen a Hold Steady show knows how hard Finn works at creating a good time. The Hold Steady, a regular performer here in Chicago, returns Sunday to play an outdoor show at Taste of Randolph Street.
The movie is included with the CD version of “A Positive Rage,” which is a good live album. The recording is an excellent Halloween 2007 show at the Metro.
The Posies made one of the most amazing pop albums of the ’90s and they’re going to play it live this weekend in Chicago. “Frosting on the Beater” starts with one of the best one-two-three punch beginnings of any album of the grunge decade: “Dream All Day,” “Solar Sister” and “Flavor of the Month.”
The title and bowl of frosting cover art summed up this sugary sweet album nicely. “Frosting” owes a lot to ’70s gods Big Star but it also had that ’90-style crunchy sound. (Posies’ Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow are members of the new version of Big Star with original members Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens.) The Posies play Taste of Randolph Street on Saturday.
To see the video for “Dream All Day,” click here.
I caught Here We Go Magic last week when the band opened for Grizzly Bear in Milwaukee. I’m often only half interested in a show’s opener — so, I was surprised how much I liked these folky Brooklyn hipsters.
The video for “Fangela” is new. The song itself reminds me of Simon & Garfunkel (but in a good way).
Phil Elverum, who performs as Mount Eerie, plans to release a digital version of his newest album, “Wind’s Poem,” next month. (Looks like you can preview it on Amazon.) The CD and vinyl copies will be sold in August. The album is a continuation of his “black metal” music that he recorded on the EP “Black Wooden Ceiling Opening” last year.
Here’s a video of Elverum, who used to call his band the Microphones, playing with an iPod backup. He’s expected to tour with a full band to promote “Wind’s Poem.”
Animal Collective and Woods released new videos this week. “Summertime Clothes” is off Animal Collective’s “Merriweather Post Pavillion,” which still gets my vote as best album of the year (at least so far). Woods’ “To Clean” is off its latest, “Songs of Shame.”
One of the more interesting performances at this year’s Blues Fest features two of Muddy Water’s sons — Big Bill and Mud Morganfield — playing with Muddy’s band mates Pinetop Perkins on piano and drummer Willie “Big Eyes” Smith Friday afternoon.
Muddy Waters played predecessor festival, ChicagoFest, in 1981 — just two years before his death.
Phoenix recently played an acoustic version of its song “1901″ for French radio. Kind of interesting to hear a stripped-down song considering how many times Phoenix’s tracks have been remixed this year. These guys play a sold-out show at Park West Saturday.
This is good news. While bands like Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear are making stunning music this year, someone’s gotta bring the rawk. Jesus Lizard, which plays Pitchfork fest next month, seems to be up for the job.
There’s been a lot of buildup for both of these albums but I suspect Dirty Projectors’ latest will be the one with legs. “Bitte Orca” is a fresh, quirky sound that’s melodic enough to stick in your head.
Grizzly Bear plays Pabst Theater in Milwaukee tonight. It looks like the band is kicking off most of its shows with two new songs – “Southern Point” and “Cheerleader” — off the recently released “Veckatimest.” Several other new songs (including those below) are being trotted out. The Crystals cover “He Hit Me” is a frequent encore. This should be a good one. Grizzly Bear plays Pitchfork next month.
Some hardcore fan of the ’70s pop band Big Star got his prayer answered last week. Rhino plans to release “Keep an Eye on the Sky,” the band’s first box set, in September. The four-disc set will include the three original albums, demos, alternative versions and a live gig. It also includes a couple of songs from predecessor band Rock City and tracks by original guitarist Chris Bell, whose solo album “I Am the Cosmos” gets a separate deluxe reissue.
As much as I love this band, I’m not sure I can shell out the suggested $70 for a fancy repackaging. The best way to hear the original songs is on vinyl. The good news: remastered versions of the first two albums, “No. 1 Record” and “Radio City,” will be reissued June 16. The album “3rd” has been re-released countless times.
Saturday special: A pair of videos plus new single releases from this past week.
First video: A dude who really, really loves Sabbath (the Dio version, no less). Thanks to Glam-Racket for finding this little gem. The second video is an indie-music inside joke. Buzz band Passion Pit is covered by Manchester’s Run Toto Run in this home movie.
New release roundup: