Upcoming Concert Calendar – Chicago

Here’s a list of the best shows coming to town:

THURS 9/4      Owen Pallett + 1                                           9pm @ Metro  ($18)

FRI/SAT 9/5-6  AV Fest/Hideout Block Party     5pm (Fri) 1pm (Sat) @ The Hideout (tix)

FRI 9/12         Papercuts +1                                                10pm @ Schubas ($12)

TUES 9/16      Spoon w/EMA                                       7:30pm @ Chicago Theater ($39.50)

TUES 9/16     Lee Fields & The Expressions +2                 8:30pm @ Empty Bottle ($15)

WED 9/17    Bryan Ferry/Michael Bracewell on David Bowie  6pm @ MCA ($10)

SAT 9/20  Goose Island 312 Urban Block Party       5pm @ Fulton St Brewery ($10)    The Breeders, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, UMO & Cayucas

**SUN 9/21       Bryan Ferry                                      7:30pm @ Chicago Theater ($48.50 +)

TUES 9/23     Ty Segall +1                                                7pm @ Thalia Hall ($20-$28)

TUES 9/23     Whirr + 2                                                     8:30 @ Beat Kitchen ($10-$12)

TUES 9/30      Daniel Rossen +1                                      8pm @ Lincoln Hall ($18)

WED 10/1       Perfume Genius +1                                  9pm @ Lincoln Hall ($15)

FRI 10/3        Christopher Owens                                    8pm @ Park West ($20)

TUES 10/7     Woman’s Hour                                          9pm @ Empty Bottle ($10)

FRI 10/10     Merchandise +2                                          9:30pm @ Empty Bottle ($10)

SAT 10/11     J Mascis w/Luluc                                       9pm @ SubT ($20)

TUES 10/14   PAWS opening for Total Slacker              9pm @ Empty Bottle ($10)

THURS 10/16  Tim Kinsella covers Hunky Dory      6pm @ MCA (Free w/museum adm)

THURS 10/16  King Tuff w/Cassie Ramone                    6:30pm @ Subterranean ($15)

THURS 10/30  Slowdive w/Low                                      8pm @ The Vic ($29)

WED 11/12    Gruff Rhys +1                                             8pm @ Schubas ($15)

WED 11/12    Interpol w/ Hundred Waters                      7:30pm @ The Riv ($30)

FRI 11/14 New Pornographers w/Pains of Being Pure At Heart  8pm @ The Riv ($30)

THURS 11/20  Kevin Barnes (of Montreal) on David Bowie    6pm @ MCA ($10) 

SAT 11/22 Disappears plays Low part of Bowie Changes  7:30pm @ MCA Chicago ($20)

SAT 12/6      Sturgill Simpson                                                8pm @ Thalia Hall ($16-26)

Key: you’re shit outta luck (SOLD OUT)
** – tickets going fast

New Release Calendar

SEPTEMBER

God Help the Girl: OST (9/2)

Quilt – Quilt In Marfa (9/2)

Interpol – El Pintor (9/9)

Tennis – Ritual In Repeat (9/9)

Tricky – Adrian Thaws (9/9)

Karen O – Crush Songs (9/9)

The Juan Maclean – In A Dream (9/16)

Tweedy – Sukierae (9/23)

Perfume Genius – Too Bright (9/23)

King Tuff – Black Moon Spell (9/23)

Aphex Twin – SYRO (9/23)

Whirr – Sway (9/23)

Christopher Owens – A New Testament (9/30)

Oasis – What’s The Story (Morning Glory)? (Remastered 3-CD) (9/30)

OCTOBER

Caribou – Our Love (10/7)

The Vaselines – V For Vaselines (10/7)

Johnny Marr – Playland (10/7)

Wampire – Bazaar (10/7)

Ex Hex – Rips (10/7)

Zola Jesus – Taiga (10/7)

Foxygen – …And Star Power (10/14)

Nude Beach – 77 (10/21)

Thurston Moore – The Best Day (10/21)

Run The Jewels – RTJ2 (10/28)

BEYOND

Gruff Rhys – American Interior (11/4)-US

Deerhoof – La Isla Bonita (11/4)

Bob Dylan – The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 (6-CD) (11/4)

VA – Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes (11/11)

Merchandise – After The End /4AD/2014

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After The End is the fourth album from Tampa 5-piece Merchandise. The name Merchandise is derived from the song by Fugazi. Merchandise has released numerous records, EPs and tapes on independent punk labels and are veterans of the DIY scene.

While not a clone of Morrissey, singer Carson Cox does embody certain elements of Moz’s vocal delivery and nuances. RIYL another band that often had Morrissey’s name attached to all their profiles, Voxtrot or the crooning Daughn Gibson.

Track 4, “Green Lady” hews towards a synthy ‘80s sound (along with cheesy electro tom-toms) whereas other parts of the album are far more anthemic and less retro.

Track 6, “Telephone” is a throwback in topic more than anything on which Cox sings of “waiting by the telephone” as the rhythm section struts along with a hi-hat dominated beat spiced up by distorted electric guitar wailings.

Lush, dreamy distorted pop is certainly Merchandise’s stock in trade. “Little Killer” (track 7) is the most straightforward radio-ready single in my estimation. Its got a rollicking sheen to it and is concise.

Recommended tracks: 2, 4, 6, 7

Woman’s Hour – Conversations

Conversations is the debut album by London-based 4-piece Woman’s Hour. The band’s sound is categorized as ‘swoon-pop’ and the group’s name is taken from a beloved female-focused news and culture show on BBC Radio 4. I’d argue this record is very much this year’s answer to Rhye’s ‘Woman’ from 2013. RIYL: Rhye, The xx, Beach House

Vocalist Fiona Burgess has a light, lilting voice that pairs well with the restrained electro-pop, synthy sound the band trades in. (Fiona’s voice is a dead-ringer for Catherine Ireton of Belle & Sebastian side project God Help the Girl) It is an extremely well manicured sound where no note, guitar tone or (subdued) bassline feels out of place.

Track 3 “To The End” is stunning! It is the most sensual-sounding track here and perhaps what calls to mind The xx are the deep male backing vocals complementing Fiona Burgess’ lead.

Track 9 “Devotion” is one of several tracks wherein the guitar tone and line recalls Beach House, but again, the signpost of Woman’s Hour is the palpable emotion delivered by frontwoman Fiona Burgess’ voice.

Recommended tracks: 1, 2, 3, 9, 11

Strand Of Oaks – HEAL

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HEAL is Philly-based singer/songwriter Timothy Showalter’s fourth full-length under the moniker Strand Of Oaks. The album will immediately appeal to fans of big-sounding Americana-rock bands like My Morning Jacket (especially Jim James fans), Band Of Horses, as well as The War On Drugs.

Opener “Goshen ‘97” kicks of HEAL with a melodic guitar jam on which Showalter reflects on his earlier days of ‘Singin’ Pumpkins in the mirror/Porn and menthols under my bed’ accompanied by the unmistakable wail of Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis on lead guitar.

Track 4, “Shut In” reminds me of Ryan Adams vocally and inhabits similar territory as The War On Drugs reflective, contemplative, synth-assisted, not quite ballads. A superb soaring guitar solo at 2:15 gives way to an unexpected stripped down vocal and piano outro. Great tune.

Clocking in at nearly 71/2 minutes, “JM” (Track 6) is an ode to the late Jason Molina of Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co. This track rides a wave (peaks and valleys) of guitars and is reminiscent of Neil Young, as Showalter sings ‘I was an Indiana kid…I had your sweet tunes to play.’

Recommended tracks : 1, 4, 6, 7, 9

Conor Oberst / Upside Down Mountain

Upside Down Mountain is the second “solo” album solely attributed to Conor Oberst, he most famously of Bright Eyes. I’m not entirely sure what sets this material apart from Bright Eyes material though. (maybe the band lineup?) This album does have a few more spare, singer-songwritery numbers like the absolute gem “You Are Your Mother’s Child” (Track 10) and Oberst still has a knack for poetry and lyrics that paint extremely vivid images. He sets the scene so well: ‘Out on the diamond, now you’re up to bat/Chewing your big league, adjusting your hat/Taking a swing and hearing it crack/Look at that apple fly.’

Track 3 “Hundreds Of Ways” sounds plucked from the globetrotting recipe book of Vampire Weekend. The guitar tones and drums are right out of Paul Simon’s Graceland. Also, the Swedish sister duo First Aid Kit are employed on backing vocals to great effect throughout the record, including this song. (They’re on tracks 1, 3, 8, 9, 11)

Track 8 “Kick” borrows its guitar sound from George Harrison’s solo material and risks turning Oberst’s lyrics into that of a dime store philosopher. It truly is a fine line.

Recommended: 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 10

PAWS / Youth Culture Forever

Youth Culture Forever is the second album from Glasgow-based PAWS.  The trio bashes out infectious, lo-fi, garage/power-pop that often builds to an anthemic payoff. There’s definitely some early Nirvana in there, the instrumental “Great Bear” (track 10) is only missing Kurt Cobain’s wail over the top. Unfortunately for airplay purposes 5 of the 12 tracks here contain the ‘F-Word’ and as such have been discounted, as well as the largely instrumental 12-minute album closer “War Cry.”

RIYL: Cloud Nothings, Japandroids, The Vaselines, ‘90s nostalgia

These guys have a knack for creating memorable choruses that punctuate their songs detailing the trials of being a twentysomething/slacker growing up and traversing relationships. PAWS signature sound revolves around pounding drums and the distorted vocals of frontman Phillip Taylor. “Tongues” discusses how when you’re in love you’ll talk in code, then asks, ‘Do you think that we could have tried a little harder?/I know that I should have tried a little harder.’ Then track 4 is held together by the refrain ‘No, I don’t wanna fool around WITH YOUR HEART.’ These may be relationship-y lyrics, but are easily palatable when delivered over the muddy PAWS throb.

Recommended: 2,3,4,9,10

The Horrors / Luminous

Luminous is the fourth studio album from British band The Horrors. The general sound of Luminous is a melding of dancey, synthy, pop-shoegaze .

Perhaps a product of the mix, bassist Rhys Webb may well be the album’s MVP. The bass backbone anchors track 2 which opens with some nice jangly guitar and finishes with a strong bass and guitar outro.

The Horrors sound evokes a vibe of treading water, drifting in space and adjectives such as psychedelic, cosmic and lethargic. (see track 3 “So Now You Know” for instances  of all of these)

The bass breakdown on track 6 “Falling Star” is superb as well as the prolonged string/synth and beating drum outro.

Though it’s the longest track, “I See You” (#7) is a must play. Opening with a latter day Echo & The Bunnymen type sound, it features the best chorus and most lively vocal performance on Luminous . Then the second half builds layer upon layer of electronics and shoegazey guitars.

The slow burn “Change Your Mind” (track 9), is very spare (largely drum and vox) and features what could almost be called crooning.

Recommended: 2, 3, 6, 7, 9

Best of 2013 Playlist

Best of 2013: Songs That Tell Stories (at a medium pace)

1. Savages- She Will

2. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – So Good At Being In Trouble

3. Kurt Vile – Never Run Away

4. Courtney Barnett – Avant Gardener

5. Deerhunter – Sleepwalking

6. Foxygen – San Francisco

7. Speedy Ortiz – Plough

8. Dean Wareham – Love Is Colder Than Death

9. Chvrches – The Mother We Share

10. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Jubilee Street

11. The Holydrug Couple – Follow Your Way

12. Majical Cloudz – Mister

13. Waxahatchee – Swan Dive

14. Yo La Tengo – Well You Better

15. Rhye – 3 Days

16. Mikal Cronin – Shout It Out

17. Devendra Banhart – Your Fine Petting Duck

18. Night Beds – Borrowed Time

19. Chance The Rapper – Cocoa Butter Kisses