Chicago indie record company Drag City recently reissued music from 1960s and ’70s singer-songwriter Mickey Newbury. Now the label released a split 7 inch featuring Newbury plus Bill Callahan covering one of Newbury’s songs, Heaven Help the Child.
Check out the video of Callahan singing the song below.
The sound on Bowerbirds‘ new album, The Clearing, is bigger than a lot of the trio’s previous stuff. Listen to the song Tuck the Darkness In, for example. The song begins quietly but then builds to a strong finish that ends with electric guitar and drums. That’s not to say the songs on The Clearing are altogether different. The album follows a path set out by the band’s previous releases, folky, dreamy songs that also feature piano, violin, accordion and the old, trusty vibraphone. There’s an interesting backstory about the band’s challenges and personal lives (members Phil Moore and Beth Tacular are romantically involved). I think the band’s music will appeal most to fans of Bon Iver, Megafaun and Andrew Bird.
Bowerbirds plays Lincoln Hall Thursday.
Here’s another Chicago festival to get excited about. HoZac Records will throw Chicago Blackout Festival at the Empty Bottle May 18-20. The fest features a lot of HoZac bands and three really great headliners, the garage rockers Davila 666, the legendary Red Kross and the even more legendary Roky Erickson. Check out HoZac’s site for a full lineup.
Blackout Festival was an annual event from 2001 to 2006 and was staged to highlight the yearly release of punk and sex zine Horizontal Action, which eventually folded. HoZac Records is the spawn of Horizontal Action and restarted the fest last year.
Lollapalooza appears to be hinting in advertisements around Chicago that Jack White, Justice, Die Antwoord and the Weekend will be among acts playing the big show this summer, according to A.V. Club Chicago and other reports. The ads at El stations feature lyrics from each artist. At least one station (Clark and Lake) is a video ad. More clues to come?
Earlier this year, an anonymous Twitter user @lollaleaks announced a headliner lineup only to admit later that it was a hoax. (The joke actually got a lot of publicity.) Still, others have taken a stab at a possible slate. Of course, you can look at tour dates yourself and figure out if someone has an opening for early August and no other Chicago gigs scheduled.
Of the four names being dropped by Lolla, I’d think only Justice or Jack White are potential headliners. By the way, the early bird tickets sold out before any names were officially released.
It’s Time to Party, Party Hard, Party Til You Puke. Andrew W.K.’s debut, I Get Wet, was all about the partying. And his jock jams paid off. He’s licensed his songs to advertisers and kept himself busy working on other people’s music, doing television and even a little motivational speaking.
So a tour to honor the 10th anniversary of I Get Wet? I couldn’t have predicted it. The show was actually moved from the Metro to the Riv because of high demand. Let’s all smash bricks in our faces and head over to the Riv Sunday night.
This is awesome.
Listen to the new Lower Dens song, Propagation, from the upcoming album Nootropics.
I’m excited about the new album. Lower Dens’ last release — the excellent Twin-Hand Movement — was a top five pick of mine for 2010. Here’s a song off Nootropics:
And, here’s a previously released song off the album:
Clear Moon is expected out May 22. There’s no date yet for the second album, Ocean Roar. Elverum is recording both albums in an abandoned church in Anacortes, Washington.
Check out the song House Shape below.
I have to admit that I don’t know a lot about U.K.-based Tom Williams & the Boat, but I really like this song off the band’s upcoming album.
Teenage Blood is the title track off the release, which is expected to be out next month.
Here’s a new video for the song Hysterical from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. The track appears on the 2011 album by the same name.
Can the new Shins album (well, James Mercer’s new release), Port of Morrow, really live up to the hype? The release is getting a lot of rave reviews. It’s the Shins’ “most satisfying achievement,” reads one.
If one song – New Slang off the Shins debut album – can change my life, what will this album do to me? Should I be afraid?
If you enjoy music that’s kind of messed up — the kind that makes you want to bathe when you’re done listening – I have a couple of recommendations.
Royal Baths is frankly depressing and disturbing but the sound intrigues. There’s the obvious nod to the Velvet Underground. But these guys stretch much farther than the Velvets to shock. Check out this video:
Royal Baths’ new album, Better Luck Next Life, was just released last month.
Jennifer Herrema is an old hand at really f’d-up music. As a teen-ager, she and boyfriend Neil Hagerty formed Royal Trux in the late ’80s. The couple made music for another decade as Royal Trux, a sort of trailer trash version of Sonic Youth. Herrema then formed RTX. That project has now become Black Bananas. Rad Times Xpress IV, the new album by Black Bananas, is probably best enjoyed as a party background. What kind of a party? The type in which you have a lot of fun but wake up with a killer headache in the morning.
This video has been making the rounds. It’s very funny.
It’s been a pretty straightforward approach for A Place to Bury Strangers: Launch a guitar assault fierce enough to rip a person’s scalp off. Then repeat.
A Place to Bury Strangers hasn’t dramatically changed its style since its self-titled debut album in 2007. The newly released EP Onwards to the Wall has some comparatively slow numbers but the style and energy largely remains the same. Good.
The band plays Empty Bottle Wednesday. If you like loud, face-melting rock ‘n’ roll, you don’t want to miss this one.
Here’s a song from the new EP:
A number of bands will get a pop from performances at SXSW this week. But there’s already been a lot of buzz around some fine albums released this year before the big tilt in Austin.
Here’s a look at some of my top picks.
Grimes’ Visions is insanely catchy electronic pop. The songs will stick in your head for weeks. Grimes is Claire Boucher, a Canadian singer who turns 24 this weekend. Boucher had her SXSW moment last year, attracting attention to her snynth music and unique high-pitched vocals. Grimes plays Empty Bottle Wednesday night and Pitchfork fest in July. If you like Visions, you may also like Strange Weekend, the debut album from Porcelain Raft. Like Grimes, Porcelain Raft is an individual, Mauro Remiddi. The music straddles a line between electronic and chill (think Beach House).
When I heard No Future/No Past, the first single off Cloud Nothings’ Attack on Memory, I thought it sounded like an aping of a style originated by the album’s producer Steve Albini. Fortunately, there’s a lot more to Attack on Memory than the Albiniesque track. What Dylan Baldi, known for his pop releases, has made is a solid rock album. It’s quite a diversion from Cloud Nothings’ previous stuff. Baldi, who started out recording in his parents’ basement, is touring with a full band. Craig Finn didn’t take quite as sharp a turn to record Clear Heart Full Eyes. The album is still Finn telling his stories (often talking rather than singing). The release is full of Finn’s usual humor and personality but doesn’t rock as hard as his full-time band, the Hold Steady.
I mentioned previously that I’m very fond of this new Sharon Van Etten album, Tramp. Often tagged as a folkie, Van Etten isn’t always easy to define, which probably describes a lot of the best music being made right now. Van Etten often sounds as much like P.J. Harvey as she does a folk rocker. If you like Van Etten, check out Laura Gibson’s La Grande. The album is decidedly more downbeat than Van Etten’s except on the standout title track. Also loosely defined (by some critics) as folk is Mike Wexler, who just released the album Dispossesion. Wexler mixes a lot of styles. Though he’s a singer-songwriter, I’d label Dispossession more of an atmospheric album.
I’ve also recommended the new album Animal Joy by Van Etten’s touring partner Shearwater, an album that actually rocks a bit (at least by Shearwater standards). And if you love the ’70s bands known for their dramatic fluorishes, you’ll want to hear Field Music’s Plumb.
Check out the latest video from Cymbals Eat Guitars, Definite Darkness, from last year’s Lenses Alien.
I was sad to learn that the Old Town School of Folk Music decided to abandon its annual Folk & Roots Festival after 14 years. A Chicago website quotes Old Town’s marketing manager saying that the summer concert may return at some point, but a local chamber-sponsored street festival will take its place this year. The website says disagreements with the city over costs of permitting led to the decision.
Old Town reportedly will be involved in booking music for the street fest but those acts will be local. Welles Park will not be part of the festival. Shows by Steve Earle, the Mekons and Jeff Tweedy and Jay Bennett are among my best memories of the fest, which over the years featured world music as well as insurgent and traditional country. There’s no way another Chicago street fest is going to have the same feel.
My hope is that there will be enough outrage in the community that the Old Town fest returns in 2013. Let’s make that happen.
Blending a number of musical influences and punctuating songs with her helium-infused vocals, Grimes (Claire Boucher) has made one of the most irresistible albums this year.
Check out her new video for the single Oblivion.