Thursday, December 22, 2011

You Missed Out: Andrew Bird's Sonic Arboretum

(originally published at Heave Media)

Andrew Bird is one of those live acts that is so much better when it's a solo performance. Don't get me wrong, it's great when Dosh is playing drums with him, but when Bird is up there all by himself the stakes are so much higher. Any mistake on that looping machine and he's toast. The weight of the evening's success is squarely on that one man's tiny shoulders.

Then again, Andrew Bird received a huge amount of visual accompaniment for his shows at the Museum of Contemporary Art this week. The Sonic Arboretum is on display until the end of December, showcasing dozens of whimsical sculptures which were uniquely designed to emanate the music of Andrew Bird. Ian Schneller invented the tulip-like speakers, and Andrew Bird almost always incorporates a handful of them into his live shows. I've seen Andrew Bird play with these amplifiers for years now, but with rows of the speakers stretching throughout the entire floor of the museum's main level, the resulting sensory effect far surpassed my expectations.

One violin loop might be heard from one speaker, while his melodic whistle echoes from a larger horn around the corner. He recorded music to be played at the exhibit during museum hours, but for his live show he treated sold out audiences to a remarkable display of virtuosity and creative ingenuity by not only looping flawlessly in and out of harmonies, but assigning each loop to a different horn section.

Most of the crowd enjoyed the performance from one spot, as is often the case at rock concerts. But the smarter listeners wandered throughout the space, occasionally bending over one of the speaker horns like a hummingbird into a flower. The pristine sounds projected upward from the ground, almost giving the sculptures a growing life force as Tchaikovsky's music did in Fantasia.

Bird played without any opener, for a little over an hour. Half of his set consisted of old favorites, and the other half new songs which were either created specifically for the Sonic Arboretum or his upcoming 2012 release. A highlight was an instrumental piece he called "new thing," which is also part of the recorded exhibit and features a heart-achingly gorgeous violin harmony.

The live experience of Andrew Bird was already a well-established norm in the world of indie rock, but the man has topped himself with the Sonic Arboretum. I have no idea what he can possibly do next, but where I lack imagination, I trust Andrew Bird will more than make up for my deficiency.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

You Missed Out: G-Side

Ok, back to the blog. Sorry for the lack of updates. I tend to leave my yearly top 10 up top for a few weeks like that. People usually care more about top 10 lists than anything else that I post throughout the year, so, yeah.

I've accomplished a few things since mid-November though. I DJed at Rodan, Whistler, Bonnys, Maeve and the Winter Local. If you missed any of that fun, check my calendar for gigs lined up at Beauty Bar, Burlington, Bonnys and Rodan in January.

In this week's Onion (grab it today if you haven't yet, new issues will be in the boxes tomorrow), I have a published interview with G-Side in the AV Club. If you didn't know, the Onion/AV Club is my favorite publication. To have my own work published in their pages is kinda a big deal for me. After years of writing for free, or for content farms, or religious publications, I feel like this is the first real break I've gotten. Maybe it's cheap to say this right here right now, but I just feel so grateful to be able to write about music and share it with my community. Imagining Chicagaons on the blue line this week, skimming the Onion on their way to work, chuckling at the editorial cartoon and then reading my Q&A with G-Side. It's a very cool feeling. Humbling too.

So, thanks to anyone who still supports this ridiculous lifestyle I'm pursuing. Writing for a living isn't easy, and you all know it. It's only because of your encouragement that I don't quit. My wife and family, fellow CHIRPers, freelance colleagues, and friends of past and present who have ever said a single word of praise, I appreciate you all so much. I hope you can see this publishing as a sort of validation. Take comfort in knowing you're not backing a fluke.

But! The ultimate reason I write about music is not to appease any of you dear readers. I write about music because I find it to be a valuable expression of my humanity. To me, music is proof that humans are a worthwhile species. In spite of all the dread, hate and pain we inflict upon one another, we can also make music for each other. We've figured out how to manipulate the waves that hold the universe together, and it makes us move in rhythm.

Last night at the Empty Bottle, G-Side moved a way-too-small crowd of life-lovers. I had a camera, but I didn't even want to pull it out to take a picture. I didn't want to keep still for a non-blurry blog post pic. It was a celebratory event, if not for the success of G-Side or Dylan Peterson or anything else, for the present moment of life worth living.

G-Side is making great music, and I hope that their fan base grows in 2012 and beyond. But they understand that a sold out show doesn't necessarily make a night better. The past can be appreciated and the future might look promising, but if we can't make good right here and right now, we're out of touch. Their smiles were sincere and their voices resonated with joy and thankfulness. They had fun up there on the little Empty Bottle stage, it was one of the best rap shows I've ever seen.

It's been a landmark year for a lot of people. But if I learned anything in 2011, it's to celebrate every day. We're still here, we have to love it now. (Don't miss out.)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Top 10 Albums of 2011

I look back every November to give thanks for all of the good music that graced my ears. Then I make a list. This list is a prayer of gratitude that goes out to all of the artists who still work hard in spite of album leaks, negative reviews, and unappreciative live crowds. I know this blog post isn't much, but it's my way of showing a little appreciation:

10. Active Child - You Are All I See

An ex-choirboy plays the harp over post-dubstep beats. I don't really feel the need to say anything more. He gets a guest vocal from How To Dress Well, brought Chad Valley along as the opener of his North American tour, and is now the opening act for M83's tour. He is running with the right crowd. We will hear a lot more Active Child in the years to come. You Are All I See is a beautiful haunt of an album, but it really feels like the beginning of something special.

best track: Hanging On

9. Bon Iver - Bon Iver

I couldn't stop listening to this when it came out. Replay value is what gets an album in my top 10. I would rather not even explain why this album works for me, it just does. If you also put these songs on repeat, you got it. If you turned it off seconds after hearing it, fine. I don't think this an album that needs to be defended.

best track: Beth/Rest

8. G-Side - The One...Cohesive

Rap album of the year. In a recent interview I did with ST 2 Lettaz and Yung Clova, they said that their music is not cloud rap, just Alabama music. But whatever we want to call it, G-Side has the most radical sound in hip-hop today. They sample Beach House, Enya, and Tame Impala like it's nothing. Seriously, they're not gimmicky at all. If the sound works for their song, that's why they're sampling it.

best track: How Far

7. Chad Valley - Equatorial Ultravox EP

If anything should be considered a "surprise" in my top 10, I guess this would be it. Equatorial Ultravox wasn't even reviewed on Pitchfork, so yknow. But these seven tracks still get me up. He sounded great at Schubas, so I have really high hopes for a full length (or another EP, or whatever he decides to release). It's the ideal chillwave, and I am still unapologetic about loving it. These guys are making fresh music, and it gives me the bliss.

best track: Fast Challenges

6. M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming

It was 2011's epic album. And hey, if I'm looking for something grandiose and overwhelming, this is the stuff. It sounds like the 80s, but no, it actually doesn't. It sounds like 2011. This is music that people are connecting with right now. We're not going back in time. We're hearing synths clearer than ever, and they warm our hearts. Don't forget about shoegaze either. M83 is a culmination of a couple decades worth of ideas, succeeding today and today only.

best track: Midnight City

5. Korallreven - An Album by Korallreven

It was a great year for quiet music. Actually, I don't know. Does screamo exist anymore? Is punk still a thing? I have a feeling that loud shit doesn't do as much for us anymore because of how easy it is to make a high-quality album in one's bedroom with a laptop. Our ears are collectively refined, and emotional music can't be achieved as easily or brutishly these days. Korallreven is like new-age, Native American, sacred music, ambient, Sigur Ros and chillwave delicately smooshed into one lovely as honey viiiiiibe.

best track: The Truest Faith

4. Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring for My Halo

Hey, guitars! Yeah, that's an instrument for old dudes, but Kurt Vile doesn't care. He knows how to write a great song with his guitar, and he should continue. Kurt has an aura that you can't really fuck with. The timelessness of songwriting wins again here, whether you're a fan of Bruce Springsteen, Sonic Youth, or Arcade Fire, Kurt Vile's music somehow stretches across decades of rock and roll cool and comes back with a uniquely original style.

best track: Jesus Fever

3. Washed Out - Within and Without

Chillwave came out of the bedroom in 2011. Washed Out is the frontrunner of the movement, and is taking pride in being so. Whether you're getting high, having sex, dancing, reading, or sleeping, Within and Without should be the soundtrack. It's a strange time for music like this though. Washed Out opened for Cut Copy on their last North American tour, and leaving the venue I overheard some awful girl call Washed Out "the hipster Enya." First I wanted to turn around and tell her to check this out, but then I just shrugged it off and thought, "Enya is awesome."

best track: Soft

2. Real Estate - Days

I completely slept on Real Estate's self-titled debut, but after seeing their show at the Subterranean this summer, along with a majority of new songs in their set, I woke up. You don't have to look too deep beneath the haze to hear a band that cares deeply about music. Precision and harmony are of utmost importance to Real Estate, and the result is an arresting album of indie surf rock. And no, you shouldn't just listen to this in summertime. I just listened to it again, and it sounds great on 40-degree Chicago evenings.

best track: All the Same

1. Destroyer - Kaputt

I don't think a great album can ever be neutral. The best records probably get an equal amount of love and hate (I'm thinking Trout Mask Replica, Velvet Underground, Another Green World, In Rainbows, Rumours, anything by ELO, etc.). Believe it or not, people still think Bob Dylan has a weird voice. And yeah, Kaputt should divide us. People should get upset when they hear this easy-listening, cheesy-sax-drenched, v0cals-recorded-lying-on-a-couch, artsy shit. But what can I say. I haven't listened to any other album this year more than Kaputt. I am infatuated with every track here. I guess artistic audacity just gets me every time. I want to hear someone giving a crazy idea his all, even if that could potentially mean utter failure. Dan Bejar could've made the worst decision of his life by releasing Kaputt, but as long as listeners like me are around, we'll make sure this isn't the last time an artist doesn't play it safe. Kaputt is my favorite album of the year.

best track: Kaputt

Thursday, November 17, 2011

CHIRP playlist (11/16/11)

Just a quick CHIRP playlist before I post my top 10 favorite albums of 2011. And if you didn't know by now, my weekly shift is every Wednesday 8-10pm (CST), no more midnight shifts for me. It's nice to have more listeners, and less coffee. Tune in next week if you can. Oh, and come to Lincoln Hall on Tuesday for the Youth Lagoon show. Always say hi.

Pterodactyl Allergy Shots from Spills Out (Brah)

Radiohead Pyramid Song from Amnesiac (Capitol)

Joy Division The Only Mistake from Still (Factory)

Head of Femur Skirts Are Takin' Over from Hysterical Stars (Spin Art)

Mayer Hawthorne You're Not Ready from How Do You Do (Universal)

Patsy Cline She's Got You from The Ultimate Collection (Mercury Nashville)

Oneohtrix Point Never Nassau from Replica (Software)

Velella Velella We'll Getcha In Yeah from Atlantis Massif (self-released)

Painted Palms Water Hymn from Canopy EP (Secretly Canadian)

Rabble Rabble Wild Card from Jailbait (Commune)

The Damned Rabid (Over You) from Machine Gun Etiquette (Chiswick)

Cloud Nothings I Am Rooftop from Turning On (Carpark)

Sigur Rós Lúppulagið from Inni (XL)

Quasimoto Bus Ride from The Further Adventures of Lord Quas (Stones Throw)

XTC Chalkhills And Children from Oranges & Lemons (Virgin)

Tycho Elegy from Dive (Ghostly International)

Aphex Twin Avril 14th from Drukqs (Sire)

Nate Evans Main Squeeze from Twinight's Chicago Soul Heaven (Kent)

Sun Ra I'll Get By from Some Blues But Not the Kind That's Blue (Atavistic)

Rob Crow Tranked from He Thinks He's People (Temporary Residence)

Future Of The Left Polymers are Forever from Polymers are Forever EP (Xtra Mile)

David Lynch Pinky's Dream from Crazy Clown Time (Play It Again Sam)

The Raincoats Off Duty Trip from The Raincoats (Rough Trade)

Arcade Fire (Antichrist Television Blues) from Neon Bible (Merge)

Joan of Arc Explain Yourselves #2 from Flowers (Polyvinyl)

Anathallo Kasa No Hone (The Umbrella's Bones) from Floating World (Artist Friendship)

Korallreven As Young as Yesterday from An Album by Korallreven (Acephale)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Best Music of 2011

If something comes out in the next few weeks that totally blindsides me, I will amend this list. But over the past 12 months, I've heard a lot of great music. I'm ranking it right here, right now. If you want to hear any of these albums, just ask. Counting down from 25:

25. Thao & Mirah - Thao & Mirah

Two of the coolest ladies in music, making it together for at least this one album. For whatever reason, this was a critically underrated album. But it has every attribute I look for. Dynamic vocal performances, peaks and valleys of high to low energy, unexpected sounds from one track to the next, and perfect harmonies. They put on a fun show together too.

best track: Hallelujah

24. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues

Relaaaaaax. Who caaaaaares. Fleet Foxes don't have to prove anything to you, they're just hanging out, playing some songs. Helplessness Blues may not have the stand-out tracks of their debut, but that's what's so nice about it. When this album is on, I can turn my critic's ear off and sit around with my dog. It plays all the way through before I realize it's on, and then I wake up. Be quiet and enjoy Fleet Foxes.

best track: Montezuma

23. Gotye - Making Mirrors

So in Australia this went double platinum. Which kinda makes me want to move there. I mean, if Cut Copy and Gotye are any indication, this country obviously knows how to create melodic pop music better than the rest of the world. And don't even try to start with that South Korean shit, I'm not buying it. Anyway, Making Mirrors at first sounds like it could be a guilty pleasure, but it's too erratic and surprising to fit any mold. No guilt, pure pleasure.

best track: Somebody That I Used To Know

22. Hauschka - Salon Des Amateurs

Nobody else does the John Cage homage better than Hauschka. But this year, Hauschka took a brilliant creative leap forward by ditching the odd time signatures in place of house rhythms. It's an inspiring idea, but the resulting sound is even better than the idea. I'd rather listen on headphones than dance to it though.

best track: Radar

21. Eleanor Friedberger - Last Summer

I almost loved The Fiery Furnaces, but I think all along I was really just loving Eleanor Friedberger. Her debut solo album has all of the quirkiness (well, maybe not all) of The Fiery Furnaces, without any of the nonsense (you know what I'm talking about.). Melody and multi-instrumentation reign, and Friedberger's familiar voice sounds as uniquely warm as ever.

best track: Owl's Head Park

20. Blanck Mass - Blanck Mass

What kind of jerk would I be if I didn't include a drone album this year? To be honest, Blanck Mass is the most beautiful noise I've heard in years. It's ambient and hypnotic, not too sludgy or gloomy. This is Benjamin John Power though (Fuck Buttons), so it shouldn't be surprising to hear that this is good shit.

best track: What You Know

19. Friendly Fires - Pala

The summer album of the year. It's a big pop record from a UK dance band, and nothing more. But, certainly nothing less either. This is what I hope the kids are excited about these days. It depresses me that the Warped Tour is still a thing. Come on kids! Don't you realize Friendly Fires is here now! Eh. Whatever. Fun music is for fun kids. Take it or leave it.

best track: Hurting

18. Cave - Neverendless

Chicago always has a new band we can be proud of at the end of the year. For 2011 it is definitely Cave. Neverendless is pretty much just five pysch jams. It's crisply produced, like an American Dungen or something. It's nothing revolutionary, it's not even anything that hasn't been done tons of times already, but it's done as well as I've heard it in years.

best track: WUJ

17. Toro y Moi - Freaking Out EP

That's right, the EP is better than the full length he released this year. Or is that not even debated? I was underwhelmed by Underneath the Pine, but Freaking Out features the funkiest chillwave I've yet heard. And dammit, I love funky chillwave. Five songs I wouldn't hesitate to play at any moment at Rodan or on CHIRP. This is everything I love about new music.

best track: All Alone

16. Youth Lagoon - The Year of Hibernation

I'm very wary of lo-fi stuff. It's too easy to half-ass/bullshit one's way through. I mean, cassette labels are cool and everything, I guess, but I can't tolerate bad music under a guise of "lo-fi." However, when done right, lo-fi is warm and romantic. Youth Lagoon did it best this year. He sings like Daniel Johnston, and his lyrics get an A+ for earnestness. He was a teenager just a couple years ago though. He should be making music like this. And we should be listening to it.

best track: Seventeen

15. The War On Drugs - Slave Ambient

Rock and roll record of the year. Can I even say that? Maybe that's like calling my half-sister my "favorite half-sister," just because she's the only half-sister I have... But no, Slave Ambient is awesome, even if I can't think of another rock and roll record that came out in 2011. Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and all of the classic rockers should be proud of The War On Drugs for this one. This album keeps their sound relevant.

best track: Brothers

14. Megafaun - Megafaun

This is the closest thing on my list to country. And no, it's not really country at all. It's experimental indie folk, that should appeal to fans of country anyway. It's simple, sort of. It's chill, kinda. Alright, I'll just go ahead and say even after months of listening to this album, I have the hardest time describing it. And thus, I can't escape its greatness. There's something special going on here, and you have to just hear it to understand.

best track: State / Meant

13. Tycho - Dive

My favorite DJ gig every month is Rodan. I get to play tracks off of Dive, and this always makes me feel so so damn good. This is lush as fuck. Ghostly International is quickly becoming my favorite record label because of stuff like this. Electronic music is in a great place, thanks to artists like Tycho, Gold Panda, Phantogram, and the rest of their amazing roster. Take a drive through the city at night and tell me you don't feel in love with a girl when this music is on. So gorgeous.

best track: Coastal Brake

12. Wilco - The Whole Love

If this is number 12, then you know a lot of great music came out this year. The Whole Love is Wilco at their best. And this means, this is some of the best music in the world. They get their experimental game back on here, but never leave that front-porch-swing comfort with acoustic folk tunes. Like everybody already said, it is their best work since Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. That, and it's Beatles-esque at times. What more can a music-lover ask for? (well. yeah. see below.)

best track: One Sunday Morning

11. Cities Aviv - Digital Lows

Cloud rap. My favorite new sub-genre of 2011. Get high on whatever you can and turn this shit up. For all of the terrible mainstream hip-hop out there right now, always have faith in the underground. And what's cool these days is that the underground is just a synonym for bandcamp. The serious rap guys are making good music and debuting it on the internet, not on the Billboard charts.

best track: fuckeverybodyhere

Oh, the top 10 are missing. I'll get to those next week I guess.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

New CHIRP Shift, Rodan 11/11/11

11/11/11. This is a once in a lifetime date. Never again will we see six identical numerals representing the year, month and day. It calls for celebration. Come to Rodan this Friday after 10pm, I'll be playing good tunes and the coolest bartenders in Wicker Park will be serving $5 Deja Vu cocktails on special. No cover.

Tomorrow night is my very first CHIRP shift at 8pm. It's only a two hour show, so tune in for a preview of Friday's party, as well as my exclusive interview with Chicago's prince of post-emo, Tim Kinsella. That airs live at 8:45. I'll fill in the rest of my shift with The Books, Laura Veirs, Hauschka, and requests.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween Playlist, CHIRP updates

I DJed a Halloween set last night at Maeve. Scroll down for the playlist (Halloween parties are probably all over now, but these are some goodies for your 2012 celebrations).

This Tuesday night will be my last midnight shift on CHIRP. I'm moving to the 8-10pm shift on Wednesdays, starting 11/9. As a send-off, I'm airing my interview with Tim Kinsella (Joan of Arc, Capn Jazz) this week at 12:15am, CST.. Tune in for that, and stay awake for three insomniac-friendly hours of tunes. It's the end of a chapter, and I'm tempted to quote Semisonic.

Alright, Halloween mix:

Trent Reznor - Hall of the Mountain King
The xx - Intro
Salem - King Knight
Designer Drugs - Dead Meat
Aphex Twin - Come to Daddy
Basement Jaxx - Dracula
Chromeo - Don't Turn the Lights On
Outkast - Dracula's Wedding
Gnarls Barkley - Boogie Monster
Gucci Mane - Haunted House
Gravediggaz - Diary of a Madman
Michael Jackson - Thriller
Talking Heads - Psycho Killer
Fela Kuti - Zombie
Sufjan Stevens - They Are Night Zombies
Tegan and Sara - Walking with a Ghost
Dead Man's Bones - Pa Pa Power
Lonely Island - The Creep
Kanye West - Monster
Kesha - Cannibal
Shakira - She Wolf
Lady Gaga - Monster
Nine Inch Nails - Closer
The Knife - Silent Shout
Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells
Jonathan Richman - Vampire Girl
Warren Zevon - Werewolves of London
Screamin' Jay Hawkins - I Put A Spell On You
Bobby Pickett - The Monster Mash

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

CHIRP playlist (10/19/11)

I'll be DJing at a little neighborhood bar in Lincoln Park called Maeve this Friday night. It's a chill place, dog-friendly, with a great drink list. I would love to hang out with your dog while mixing tunes. It's actually been a goal of mine for a while now, to DJ at a bar with dogs. Anyway, let's do that in a few days, here's what happened on CHIRP last night:

12:02AM Megafaun Hope You Know from Megafaun (Hometapes)

12:07AM Dylan LeBlanc Changing Of The Seasons from Pauper's Field (Rough Trade)

12:12AM Dirty Projectors No Intention from Bitte Orca (Domino)

12:17AM Girls Alex from Father, Son, Holy Ghost (True Panther Sounds)

12:21AM The Breeders Saints from Last Splash (4AD)

12:25AM Charalambides Before You Go from Exile (kranky)

12:34AM Cave Adam Roberts from Neverendless (Drag City)

12:38AM Laura Marling Night After Night from A Creature I Don't Know (Ribbon)

12:43AM Isotope 217 Solaris from Utonian Automatic (Thrill Jockey)

12:50AM Neu! E-Musik from Neu! 75 (Brain)

1:01AM Jackie Wilson I Get the Sweetest Feeling from The Very Best of Jackie Wilson (Brunswick)

1:02AM Jorge Ben Meus Filhos, Meu Tesouro from Africa Brasil (Philips)

1:06AM King Tubby Base Dub from Loving Memory Dub (Fuel 2000)

1:10AM Toro Y Moi Go With You from Underneath The Pine (Carpark)

1:16AM Cocteau Twins Lazy Calm from Victorialand (4AD)

1:22AM High Places Sophia from Original Colors (Thrill Jockey)

1:27AM Tom Waits Bad As Me from Bad As Me (ANTI-)

1:32AM Sonik Omi Main Theme from Andhera / Darwaza from Bollywood Bloodbath (Finders Keepers)

1:34AM Siouxsie & The Banshees Little Johnny Jewel from Through The Looking Glass (Geffen)

1:40AM Icebird Wander from The Abandoned Lullaby (RJ's Electrical Connections)

1:44AM School Of Seven Bells Iamundernodisguise from Alpinisms (Ghostly International)

1:49AM Loney Dear Largo from Hall Music (Polyvinyl)

1:52AM Paleo From the Sky Down from A View of the Sky (Parisan)

1:55AM Vivian Girls Where Do You Run To from Vivian Girls (Mauled By Tigers)

2:01AM Blonde Redhead Water from Fake Can Be Just as Good (Touch and Go)

2:04AM Pavement All My Friends from Crooked Rain Crooked Rain: L.A.'s Desert Origins (Matador)

2:09AM Beat Happening Polly Pereguinn from Music to Climb the Apple Tree By (K Records)

2:15AM Television Venus from Marquee Moon (Elektra)

2:18AM Jean-Claude Vannier Les Yeux Valise from Roses Rouge Sang (Finders Keepers)

2:24AM Joe Henry Dark Tears from Reverie (ANTI-)

2:29AM Carter Tanton Pitch Bent Flute from Freeclouds (Western Vinyl)

2:35AM Sneaky Sound System The Colours from From Here To Anywhere (Modular)

2:40AM Dreamers of the Ghetto Always from Enemy/Lover (Temporary Residence Ltd.)

2:46AM Mike and the Censations Don't Mess With Me from Don't Sell Your Soul (Ubiquity)

2:50AM Friendly Fires Chimes from Pala (XL)

2:55AM Aspic Tines Music of the Spheres from Crypto-Superzeit! International (Johann's Face)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

CHIRP playlist (10/12/11)

Come to Rodan this Friday after 10pm. I'll be DJing, which means good music will be on. Come say hi, I'll buy you a drink. No cover. 1530 N. Milwaukee Ave. And here's what I played on CHIRP last night:

12:02AM Feist Woe Be from Metals (Cherrytree)

12:06AM Van Dyke Parks Tribute To Spree from Idiosyncratic Path: The Best Of Van Dyke Parks (Diabolo)

12:09AM David Bowie All The Young Dudes from Aladdin Sane (RCA)

12:14AM Ratatat Lex from Classics (XL)

12:19AM DJ Shadow Warning Call from The Less You Know, The Better (Verve)

12:23AM Prince Rama Trust from Trust Now (Paw Tracks)

12:30AM Painted Palms Water Hymn from Canopy EP (Secretly Canadian)

12:33AM Animal Collective Leaf House from Sung Tongs (FatCat)

12:37AM The Field It's Up There from Looping State of Mind (Kompakt)

12:47AM Beastie Boys Transitions from The In Sound From Way Out! (Grand Royal)

12:50AM Silkworm Clean'd Me Out from Blueblood (Touch and Go)

12:53AM Where the Moon Came From We Dove into the Sunrise from Twin of Pangaea (Nasoni)

1:00AM Kraftwerk Ruckzuck from Kraftwerk 1 (Philips)

1:08AM The Faint Agenda Suicide from Danse Macabre (Saddle Creek)

1:13AM Sweep the Leg Johnny Las Cruces from Tomorrow We Will Run Faster (Southern)

1:21AM Bonnie "Prince" Billy Cows from Wolfroy Goes to Town (Drag City)

1:27AM Björk Thunderbolt from Biophilia (One Little Indian)

1:32AM Gauntlet Hair Showing from Gauntlet Hair (Dead Oceans)

1:36AM We Were Promised Jetpacks Pear Tree from In the Pit of the Stomach (FatCat)

1:43AM Ladytron Melting Ice from Gravity the Seducer (Artwerk)

1:49AM Pretty Good Dance Moves 600 Days (featuring Heather Christian) from Pretty Good Dance Moves (Township)

1:53AM The Afro Soul-Tet Slave Traders from Afrodesia (Luv N' Haight)

2:00AM Sigur Rós Saeglopur from Takk... (Geffen)

2:07AM Antony & the Johnsons Flétta from Swanlights (Secretly Canadian)

2:12AM The Tough Alliance Miami from A New Chance (Sincerely Yours)

2:16AM My Brightest Diamond We Added It Up from All Things Will Unwind (Asthmatic Kitty)

2:20AM Mazzy Star Blue Flower from She Hangs Brightly (Rough Trade)

2:25AM Young Man Enough from Ideas of Distance (Frenchkiss)

2:30AM Azita Keep Hymn from Disturbing the Air (Drag City)

2:38AM Rocket from the Tombs Birth Day from Barfly (Fire)

2:42AM Wild Flag Racehorse from Wild Flag (Merge)

2:49AM Isis Celestial (The Tower) from Celestial (Escape Artist/HydraHead)

Friday, October 07, 2011

Another Day in Logan Square

Have you ever wondered what the criminals are listening to during a high speed chase? Is it something intentionally pulse-pounding like Metallica or Iron Maiden? AM talk radio? Do they turn it off so as not to distract? White noise might actually be appropriate for when sirens are blaring behind you and you're recklessly driving a huge mass of metal and glass through neighborhoods and busy streets.

Well, today I found out.

Let me begin this story by explaining how sick I've been for the past week. Last night was the first full sleep I got in days. This cold has either kept me up via sore throat, monster headache, or diarrhea. I've been miserable, but I finally kicked it last night. What was my remedy? For that, we have to go back two weeks, to the apartment of Jim Joyce.

Jim texted me one early autumn day, well before the Chicago leaves showed any yellow. He suggested we partake in a festive project together. Hard cider was the idea, and I jumped on it at that minute, and raced over to his place. After buying our supplies, we mixed the concoction. Apple juice, cinnamon sticks, and everclear had to sit and brew for at least two weeks. As of last night, it had been about three weeks.

So last night, still feeling sickly, I decided it was time to take my medicine. I poured a heaping cup of cider into a pot on the stove, and let it heat up (not to a boil though, just to a steam). Sipping it down over the course of a midnight hour, I knew that I was in for a good night's sleep for the first time in October. My throat was warm, my head was light, and my limbs were heavy. Sweet slumber. Thank you Jim Joyce and hard cider.

But what Jim didn't tell me, and what I had to find out this morning, is that the mix of hard liquor, apples, and cinnamon calls for an urgent bowel movement. Maybe I could've surmised this myself, nevertheless, the problem wasn't as simple as a trip to the bathrooom today.

I woke up, turned on the sink, and heard only a gurgle. No water. I looked out the front window to see the construction outside on our street, a hole 10 feet deep and wide assured me that my water would not be back on for some time. I would have to find another toilet in which to dispense the hard cider waste which was now brewing within me.

So my plan was to take Arlen out first, so he could do his business, then I would bring him back in, and then go find a place where I could do my business.

Stepping out onto the porch, the noise of the generators and bulldozers was louder than usual. The piles of gravel were higher than ever, mountainous even. Then something even louder from around the corner. A screeching of tires, construction workers yelling. A massive , rusty van stormed through, workers leaping off the street onto the grass in front of me. Then, the vehicle slams into the mountain of gravel, and a hysterical looking man leaps out the side of the door with something dark in his hand.

"Get on the ground! Get on the ground!"

At least three cops are surrounding him with guns out and aimed. He raises his arms, revealing only a cell phone. Then he's wrestled to my sidewalk, while his van's door remains open. I looked down at Arlen, who was comfortably squatting, taking what looked to be a most satisfying shit. I was consumed with envy.

I took my dog back inside, grabbed my bike, clenched my butt-cheeks, and scampered out the door again. With cops, neighbors, and gawkers everywhere in front of my building, I unabashedly walked up to one of the construction workers. "Excuse me, I know you have a setback here," I pointed at the van, still king of the mountain, "but do you know how much longer it will be until the water in the building is back on?" He gave me a well-deserved smirk, "At least another hour."

Onto the bike, the saddle of which felt harder and more uncomfortable than usual. My destination: Starbucks on California. In the words of George Costanza, "magnificent facilities!" On my ride over, I recapped the events in my head. A brutal cold that required homemade hard cider, which demanded a quick out 8 hours later, but it's the one morning the water is shut off in my building, and prolonged because a crazy guy drove into a construction site in front of my place. Now finally at Starbucks, wouldn't you know it, here I sit broken hearted...

Nah just kidding, I just took the most satisfying shit of my life. Oh, and the sound coming out of the van was white noise. A quiet chaos, another day in Logan Square.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

CHIRP playlist (10/4/11) and Washed Out interview

My Washed Out interview will be available as a podcast later today, I'll let you know when you can download it. Otherwise, here's what you missed last night. It was one of those shows I had to go a couple octaves lower for, due to a nasty cold. But it's all worth it for fall.

12:01AM Neon Indian Halogen (I Could Be a Shadow) from Era Extraña (Mom+Pop)

12:06AM Gotye Giving Me A Chance from Making Mirrors (Ais)

12:09AM Matthew Dear Reason And Responsibility from Leave Luck To Heaven (Spectral Sound)

12:17AM Washed Out Within and Without from Within and Without (Sub Pop)

12:30AM Twin Sister Badstreet from In Heaven (Domino)

12:35AM Talkdemonic Summer Glass from Ruins (Glacial Pace)

12:39AM Loney Dear Calm Down from Hall Music (Polyvinyl)

12:44AM Jens Lekman Rocky Dennis' Farewell Song from Oh You're So Silent Jens (Secretly Canadian)

12:49AM Memoryhouse To the Lighthouse from The Years EP (Sub Pop)

12:53AM Chin Up Chin Up We Should Have Never Lived Like We Were Skyscrapers (Stephen Snydacker Mix) from Chin Up Chin Up (Flameshovel)

12:56AM The Poison Arrows The Path of Least Resistance from First Class, and Forever (File 13)

1:00AM The Acorn Oh Napoleon from Glory Hope Mountain (Paper Bag)

1:04AM Leonard Cohen Tonight Will Be Fine from Songs From A Room (Columbia)

1:08AM Townes Van Zandt Who Do You Love from Flyin' Shoes (Tomato)

1:13AM Caribou Leave House from Swim (Merge)

1:18AM YAWN Never Knew from Open Season (self-released)

1:20AM Dead Man's Bones Pa Pa Power from Dead Man's Bones (Anti)

1:25AM High Places Banksia from Original Colors (Thrill Jockey)

1:30AM Dâm-Funk Inside of U from InnaFocusedDaze EP (Scion A/V)

1:32AM The Notations A New Day from Twinight's Chicago Soul Heaven (Kent)

1:37AM Geotic Union from Bless the Self (self-released)

1:40AM Zola Jesus Hikikomori from Conatus (Sacred Bones)

1:44AM Kings Of Convenience Mrs. Cold from Declaration Of Dependence (Astralwerks)

1:48AM Pujol Stuff from Nasty, Brutish, and Short (Saddle Creek)

1:50AM Menomena Weird from Friend and Foe (Barsuk)

1:53AM Sonic Youth Snare, Girl from A Thousand Leaves (DGC)

2:01AM Ministry Scare Crow from Psalm 69 (Sire)

2:09AM Reds and Blue Son of the Stars from Son of the Stars (Addenda)

2:14AM The Welcome Wagon But For You Who Fear My Name from Welcome to the Welcome Wagon (Asthmatic Kitty)

2:17AM Bill Mallonee From the Beats Down to the Buddha from The Power & The Glory (self-released)

2:24AM Sufjan Stevens All Good Naysayers, Speak Up! Or Forever Hold Your Peace! from Greetings From Michigan (Asthmatic Kitty)

2:30AM Meg Baird The Finder from Seasons on Earth (Drag City)

2:35AM Sleeper Agent Be My Monster from Celebrasion (Mom + Pop)

2:39AM Tycho Coastal Brake from Dive (Ghostly International)

2:43AM Paranoid Castle Stacey's Doing WAY Too Much from Champagne Nightmares (Fake Four Inc.)

2:46AM Jonti Nodlews Way Home from Twirligig (Stones Throw)

2:50AM The Jayhawks Black-Eyed Susan from Mockingbird Time (Rounder)

2:54AM Roy Orbison Coming Home from The Essential Roy Orbison (Sony)

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

You Missed Out: Jens Lekman

As I write this review, I firmly believe that Jens Lekman is still out there somewhere in Chicago, playing third, fourth, fifth encores on his guitar. Before wrapping up his second encore at Lincoln Hall, he told the crowd, "This is the last song of the night... on this stage. If you want to hear some more, come find me after the show." And you know it's true. A guy this earnest would not mislead such an adoring audience.

Even with a set consisting mostly of new songs, the people of Chicago fawned over the boy from Gothenburg. All the better, actually, because it's probably more fun to hear his new songs for the first time in a corporate setting so we can all laugh together. Unsurprisingly, his unreleased material is hilarious. Look out for "I Broke Up A Fight," which reveals Jens as a most well-intentioned philanthropist whose greatest strength is his crippling social awkwardness.

Playing without a full band (only a drummer), Jens' songs sounded almost stronger as stripped down acoustic versions. His deep voice was richer tonight, confident and controlled. Old lyrics stuck out to me in ways they hadn't before, especially his last song of the night, "Pocketful of Money." When after hearing so much lovely music, to hear him repeat the line about how he wants to go to a place "where the music never ends" hit close to home. It encapsulated Jens Lekman as one who truly loves music. He gave his tambourine to the girl in the front row, entrusting her to play along with the rhythm. He smiled brightly every time the crowd sang along with a familiar line, but especially "that's when the feeling hits. So just lick your lips. These are the good times that you'll miss, when you are sipping on the sweet nectars of your memories." As with all Jens Lekman shows, tonight's was one I'll never forget.

The first Jens Lekman song I ever heard was "The Department of Forgotten Songs," in which he anthropomorphizes a vinyl record as a lonely girl. I didn't realize it then, but it really is a love song to music itself. And every time I see him play a show, I can feel that intense love emanating from Jens Lekman. It's a treat for any music lover to witness such honest sincerity from an artist, but I imagine it must be most rewarding for Jens himself. Which is why I'm sure he's still playing music at this moment. He is doing what he loves.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Chromeo and Mayer Hawthorne at the House of Blues

Notice I didn't title this a "You Missed Out." I could have, because Mayer Hawthorne and Chromeo are both great acts. But, it's really difficult to spin anything positive from a House of Blues experience.

The last time I was at the House of Blues was for a Sleeping at Last show, which had to be about four years ago. That was a fine show though, because a) it wasn't sold out and overcrowded with dude-bros, b) the Sleeping at Last guys are my friends, and c) it was the first time I ever got a photo pass for the pit.

Before that, it was The Shins at the House of Blues. Pretty sure this was pre-Garden State Shins too. Yet, that show had a bizarrely high number of mid-life crisis douche bags. I think they were even screaming "Freebird." At a Shins show...

WTF House of Blues? Why do you suck so much? After tonight, I have to swear off the House of Blues for good.

Now, Mayer Hawthorne and the County put on a hell of a charming show. Old school fun like The Temptations, with just the right amount of nerdy white guy flare. He isn't even close to hitting his stride either. If he gets a horn section to replace the samples, Mayer Hawthorne will be headlining the House of Blues in no time.

But the duo known as Chromeo are just perplexing to me. They don't look or sound like anyone else, and I love that. Their synths are straight out of Beverly Hills Cop, and the Ratatat-ish electric guitar harmonies take the epic-ness to another level. Throw an insane light show, leg lamps for keyboard stands, and vocoder vocals into the mix, and it's more than enough to inspire a silly-awesome dance party.

Unfortunately, and I hope House of Blues is somehow to blame, the crowd at this show took themselves way too seriously. It looked like Excalibur in there. And they didn't even dance very hard. As great as Chromeo sounded, the atmosphere in the venue really got to me. I left a few songs early.

I don't know when or how Chromeo got such a shitty fanbase (they were touring with Neon Indian a year ago...), but it's a bummer. They're better than that. Ugh. The House of Blues....

Thursday, September 29, 2011

You Missed Out: Megafaun

I don't often like to admit this, but I was raised in Joliet. Neighboring Wilmington and Elwood were also homesteads, which certainly doesn't make me feel any better about my white trash self. Sure, I live in Logan Square now, but my cell phone still has that dreaded 815 area code, I am still a White Sox fan, and I am still a red-headed stepchild. When Megafaun came to Schubas last night, it stirred up all that nostalgia of trailer park gravel and Kankakee River litter. The band took me back to my roots, and it felt so damn good.

Megafaun slid into the folk-rock party a little late, years after Iron and Wine, Sufjan Stevens, Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver blew the lid off the place. But this band is more than welcome. Their new self-titled album is what Blitzen Trapper and Wilco wish they could muster. Experimental noodling turns into back porch swing jams. Smokey Mountain harmonies soar so sweetly. It's a little country, rock, and (forgive me) indie in all the right ways. The end of the summer needed this album, and autumn looks even lovelier when it's on.

Schubas was magic. Whether the band was playing through the speakers or unplugged in the middle of the floor, the love-fest between the band and crowd was intensely strong. Everybody was smiling. The burly guys who looked like my old neighbors with the Bass Pro Shop hats and farming equipment t-shirts were enjoying the hell out of this music, without a hint of irony. Did they drive up to Lincoln Park from the southwest suburbs? I sure hope so.

This music is for anyone who loves CCR, Bob Seger, and Tom Petty, but refuses to call it "guilty pleasure." That Midwestern rock gets our fists up. We yell out "wooooo!" like we're at a stock car race. High fives reach across rooms. It just feels like the America we are proud of. The freedom we decide not to be cynical about every now and then. That's what Megafaun gives us. And that's something that Iron and Wine, Sufjan, and the other folk-rock revivalists never quite figured out.

It's especially nice to take a break from my tortured DJ persona. There isn't a chance I'll play Megafaun at Beauty Bar. I will play their music for myself, while I sit around with my dog and drink beer. Don't miss out next time. Hell, I might even drive down to Joliet if they ever decide to play a show down there. If you know me at all, you know how much that says about a band. Megafaun is worth it though.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

CHIRP playlist (9/28/11)

I'm DJing Beauty Bar again this Saturday, for their 80's Nite. Come out and dance if you're into that sort of thing. Also, great shows happening in the next week include Megafaun tonight at Schubas, Chromeo and Mayer Hawthorne playing Friday and Saturday at the House of Blues, and Jens Lekman at Lincoln Hall on Monday. I'm so glad the festival season is over. Time to get back inside and see shows at night. Fall is always the best. Tune in next week to hear my interview with Washed Out. But before this fundraising week ends, toss a few bucks over to CHIRP. Here's my show from last night:

12:02AM Wilco Capitol City from The Whole Love (dBpm)

12:06AM Yo La Tengo False Alarm from Electr-O-Pura (Matador)

12:20AM The Who Sunrise from The Who Sell Out (MCA)

12:21AM Muddy Waters Blues Before Sunrise from The Chess Box (Chess)

12:21AM Youth Lagoon Daydream from The Year of Hibernation (Fat Possum)

12:26AM Maps & Atlases Perch Patchwork from Perch Patchwork (Barsuk)

12:32AM A Winged Victory for the Sullen Minuet for a Cheap Piano from A Winged Victory for the Sullen (kranky)

12:38AM Titus Andronicus No Future, Pt. 2: The Days After No Future from The Airing Of Grievances (XL)

12:45AM The Blood Brothers Ambulance Vs. Ambulance from ...Burn, Piano Island, Burn (V2)

12:50AM Toddla T Watch Me Dance (feat. Roots Manuva) from Watch Me Dance (Ninja Tune)

12:54AM The Rapture Come Back To Me from In the Grace of Your Love (DFA)

1:01AM Lindstrøm Fast & Delirious from It's a Feedelity Affair (Feedelity)

1:07AM Black Moth Super Rainbow Lost, Picking Flowers in the Woods from Dandelion Gum (Graveface)

1:10AM King Midas Sound Surround Me from Box of Dub: Dubstep and Future Dub (Soul Jazz)

1:16AM R.E.M. Finest Worksong from Document (IRS)

1:19AM Rainer Maria Half Past April from Past Worn Searching (Polyvinyl)

1:24AM Milagres Here To Stay from Glowing Mouth (Kill Rock Stars)

1:29AM Gem Club I Heard the Party from Breakers (Hardly Art)

1:33AM The Sea and Cake Hotel Tell from One Bedroom (Thrill Jockey)

1:37AM Balam Acab Apart from Wander / Wonder (Tri Angle)

1:40AM The Pack A.D. Positronic from Unpersons (Mint)

1:45AM Rwake Was Only A Dream from Rest / 2011 (Relapse)

1:59AM Jitney Twilight from 86-300 (Rock Proper)

2:04AM Lush 500 (Shake Baby Shake) from Lovelife (4AD)

2:07AM Rachel Ries Chicago from Without A Bird (SoDak)

2:13AM Chromeo When The Night Falls from Business Casual (Atlantic)

2:16AM Boom Bip Automaton from Zig Zaj (Lex)

2:27AM Roll the Dice Maelstrom from In Dust (Leaf)

2:34AM Active Child High Priestess from You Are All I See (Vagrant)

2:38AM Real Estate Green Aisles from Days (Domino)

2:43AM St. Vincent Cruel from Strange Mercy (4AD)

2:46AM Razika Taste My Dream from Program 91 (Smalltown Supersound)

2:52AM Male Wrangler For Higher from All Are Welcome (Other Electricities)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

You Missed Out: Active Child and Chad Valley

Suddenly, I don't feel very interested in Joanna Newsom, James Blake, or Antony and the Johnsons anymore. Well, maybe I shouldn't go that far. They're all pretty great. But Active Child does what all three of those artists do, at the same time, and better. Antony Hegarty was a choirboy, but later took his voice to indie rock. Joanna Newsom plays a harp and makes quirky avant-garde music. James Blake is soulful and post-dubstep. Pat Grossi (Active Child) was a also choirboy, who also sings soulfully while also playing a harp over post-dubstep beats. Head explosion!

His sold out Schubas show was a win for the venue. The wood trim on Grossi's harp even matched the arch over the stage. At times I wanted it to be the CSO though, just so I could sit and marvel at Grossi's talent. He's a hell of a singer (although, ironically, he has the voice of an angel).

The audience cheered loudest for his old songs, but I was floored by his new stuff. He shows off a little bit on that harp, giving the live audience much more flare than what's on record. More intricate and nuanced than Curtis Lane, his full-length can be enjoyed as if it were an hour of classical music. Go listen to You Are All I See if you are any kind of music fan. It's rewarding on so many levels.

Opener Chad Valley was excellent as well. Equatorial Ultravox is still my favorite EP of 2011. It was wonderful to see a chillwaver open for Active Child too. Bedroom pop takes a lot of heat for being a genre full of introverted guys who just press buttons to make cheap music. I'll admit, it is quite a contrast against a virtuosic musician like Pat Grossi, but Chad Valley's strengths are less in nimble precision and more in atmospheric texture. Chillwave is legit, don't scoff.

Anyway, I hope Schubas was just the beginning for Active Child and Chad Valley. The former needs to get to the Chicago Theater (in due time, I'm sure), and Chad Valley better be the opener for Washed Out on Ernest's next headlining tour. The amount of talent at Belmont and Southport was quite staggering this evening.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

CHIRP playlist (9/14/11)

I read a spot on the air last night about the upcoming CHIRP/Empty Bottle Presents show at Beauty Bar this Saturday. Turns out I'm the opening DJ for Depressed Buttons (The Faint). It's only 5 bucks if you're interested. But if you sincerely plan on coming out, just email me and I'll put your name on the guest list. Save that five for an extra drink (or two Pabsts). It should be a fun time. Here's what I did on CHIRP last night:

12:00AM Toro y Moi Saturday Love from Freaking Out EP (Carpark)

12:04AM Kate Bush The Kick Inside from The Kick Inside (EMI)

12:07AM NOMO New Song from New Tones (Ubiquity)

12:15AM Frank Zappa Joe's Garage (single version) from Strictly Commercial (The Best of Frank Zappa) (Rykodisc)

12:19AM St. Vincent Northern Lights from Strange Mercy (4AD)

12:23AM Guided by Voices Watch Me Jumpstart from Alien Lanes (Matador)

12:26AM Jens Lekman Waiting for Kirsten from An Argument with Myself EP (Secretly Canadian)

12:30AM Mates of State Total Serendipity from Mountaintops (Barsuk)

12:36AM Isaac Hayes Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic from Hot Buttered Soul (Stax)

12:46AM Girls Just A Song from Father, Son, Holy Ghost (True Panther Sounds)

12:54AM Jim O'Rourke Movie On The Way Down from Eureka (Drag City)

1:01AM Glasser Apply from Ring (True Panther Sounds)

1:06AM J + J + J 1986 (Ghost Song) from High Voltage Feast is Almost Here (Ghost Arcade Ltd.)

1:13AM Mirah The Dogs Of B.A. from C'mon Miracle (K)

1:17AM Stephen Merritt When You're Young and In Love from Obscurities (Merge)

1:20AM Bonnie "Prince" Billy Wolf Among Wolves from Master and Everyone (Drag City)

1:26AM Devon Williams La La La La from Euphoria (Slumberland)

1:29AM Roberts & Lord Interior Demon from Eponymous (Asthmatic Kitty)

1:33AM Beat Happening Our Secret from Beat Happening (K)

1:37AM HTRK Body Double from Work (work, work) (Ghostly International)

1:41AM Malachi Thompson An Elevated Cry from Chicago's Avant Today (Delmark)

1:50AM Blitzen Trapper Street Fighting Sun from American Goldwing (Sub Pop)

1:55AM Blur Fade Away from The Great Escape (Food)

2:00AM Led Zeppelin Carouselambra from In Through the Out Door (Swan Song)

2:12AM Ellen Allien The Brain Is Lost from Thrills (Bpitch Control)

2:17AM Michael Perkins Murder by Phone from MR 666 (Ghost Arcade)

2:23AM Nurses Through the Window from Dracula (Dead Oceans)

2:24AM Mastadon Black Tongue from The Hunter (Reprise)

2:29AM Jawbreaker Fireman from Dear You (DGC)

2:32AM 7 Seconds Soul To Keep (For Phyllis) from Soulforce Revolution (Restless)

2:37AM Gauntlet Hair Lights Out from Gauntlet Hair (Dead Oceans)

2:42AM Sun Araw Crown Shell from Ancient Romans (Drag City)

2:54AM Mister Heavenly Wise Men from Out of Love (Sub Pop)

2:56AM The Coctails Far East from Long Sound (Carrot Top)

Friday, September 09, 2011

You Missed Out: BMSR and Dosh

The last time I saw Dosh and Black Moth Super Rainbow was at Millennium Park. Dosh played a summer lunch set last year, and Black Moth had the same time slot in 2009. For the former, the venue was great, but Black Moth looked painfully out of place at noon on a Monday afternoon in sunny downtown Chicago. The drummer wears a black ninja suit and a bike light on her forehead, which looks very silly under sunshine.

At the Metro last night, the band looked much more comfortable and eager to play their grungy psych pop. Videos projected on a large screen behind them, but not anything trippy or zany like at Tobacco shows. Oddly dull, 10 minute shots of scenes recorded with a tripod showed a cemetery, a forest preserve trail, the front of a house, and various other docile settings. It created a pretty uneasy atmosphere, not ideal for a feel-good dance party.

The crowd looked like a lot of leftovers from the North Coast fest. The fuzzed out electronic jams of Black Moth were a perfect score for many comedowns, I'm sure. Bobbing heads bounced dreads, and arms stretched up into the projection light to make hand puppets of dogs and butterflies on the screen. The energy level wasn't crazy-high, but that wouldn't have felt right anyway.

I have to say something about Dosh though, who played before Black Moth. He is, without a doubt, my favorite percussionist. As the drummer for Andrew Bird, Dosh is not usually the focus of the live show. But Dosh has multiple solo albums of beautiful instrumental music, which he creates via looping effects. And just as Andrew Bird does at his concerts, looping is crucial to a Dosh show.

At the Metro, Dosh was the quintessential one-man band. In the past, I've seen him perform with additional musicians, which actually lowered the stakes. Playing solo, every sound made is entirely thanks to Dosh's hands. Any mistake rests solely on him. But it was hard to tell if that ever happened, as he rolled through a set of mostly new songs, surrounded by bent mirrors and complicated electronic equipment. It was difficult to determine which sound were coming from where, but it was all Dosh, and it was always jaw-dropping.

published at Heave Media:

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

CHIRP playlist (9/7/11)

You may have missed my CHIRP show last night, but that's ok, because I'm DJing Rodan this Friday. Let's hang out! CHIRP is great and everything, but I have to just sit there by myself in a dark studio. At Rodan, we get to look at each other's haircuts while drinking alcohol. And, music like this:

12:01AM Little Dragon Precious from Ritual Union (Peacefrog)

12:05AM The Secret Machines Nowhere Again from Now Here Is Nowhere (Reprise)

12:15AM Minor Threat Cashing In from Complete Discography (Dischord)

12:19AM Pterodactyl Safe Like A Train from Pterodactyl (Brah)

12:23AM Mogwai Hound of Winter from Earth Division EP (Sub Pop)

12:28AM Wooden Shjips Flight from West (Thrill Jockey)

12:36AM Judson Claiborne Twilight Spirit from CHIRP + Coach House Sounds Live Session (Coach House Sounds)

12:41AM The Drums I Need A Doctor from Portamento (Frenchkiss)

12:45AM Serengeti California from Family & Friends (Anticon)

1:00AM LCD Soundsystem Beat Connection from LCD Soundsystem (DFA)

1:08AM Blondie Fade Away And Radiate from Parallel Lines (Chrysalis)

1:13AM Aural Exciters Emile (Night Rate) from Mutant Disco (ZE)

1:20AM P.G. Six Palace from Starry Mind (Drag City)

1:28AM AM & Shawn Lee Winter Sun from Celestial Electric (ESL Music)

1:31AM Dungen Gör Det Nu from Tio Bitar (Kemado)

1:35AM Ry Cooder John Lee Hooker for President from Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down (Nonesuch)

1:41AM The Pack A.D. Hear Me Out from Unpersons (Mint)

1:44AM Branches Dance a Little Closer from Grown in You (Contraphonic)

1:49AM Dusty Bibles Wintersong from Sinus Rhythm EP (self-released)

1:54AM The Flaming Lips Watching The Planets from Embryonic (Warner Bros.)

2:00AM Grace Jones La Vie En Rose (12" Promo Only Version) from A Tom Moulton Mix (Soul Jazz)

2:07AM Tom Zé Solvador, Bahia De Caymmi from Estudando A Bossa: Nordeste Plaza (Luaka Bop)

2:12AM Cotton Jones Blood Red Sentimental Blues from Paranoid Cocoon (Suicide Squeeze)

2:18AM Darling Mako Sica from Keep Out 7" (Cardboard Sangria)

2:23AM Leonard Cohen Tonight Will Be Fine from Songs From A Room (Columbia)

2:27AM Razika Above All from Program 91 (Smalltown Supersound)

2:30AM Crystal Antlers Summer Solstice from Two-Way Mirror (Recreation Ltd.)

2:35AM Quasar Wut-Wut Nature Abhors A Vacuum from Jalopy (self-released)

2:51AM Junip At The Doors from Rope and Summit (Mute)

Monday, September 05, 2011

Blanck Mass interview

Benjamin John Power Has Space Madness

Benjamin John Power of Fuck Buttons / Blanck Mass shares his mental lists.
by Dylan Peterson

Jettison recently spent some time with experimental electronic artist Benjamin John Power, best known for his work as one half of the noise rock duo Fuck Buttons, Power is branching out with a new solo project called Blanck Mass. More droning and ambient than the frenetic and pulsating music of Fuck Buttons, Blanck Mass is dense with hazily psychedelic and blissfully meditative soundscapes. The self-titled debut album out now on Mogwai's Rock Action Records is absolutely hypnotic. With a catalog of releases that bend the imagination like pitch control knobs, we sat down with Power to ask what was going on in his head through a series of top 5 questions.

What are the top five experimental/noise albums of all time
1. Terry Riley - A Rainbow in Curved Air
2. Stars of the Lid - The Tired Sounds
3. Ashra - New Age of Earth
4. Wendy Carlos - Sonic Seasonings
5. Chris Watson - Storm

Who are the top five artists that inspire your music?
1. Carl Sagan
2. David Attenborough
3. Mark Rothko
4. Ennio Morricone
5. Stanley Kubrick

What are the top five drugs of all time?
1. Tea
2. Alcohol
3. Salvia
4. Amoyxcilin
5. Robitussin

What are five things you hope to experience in the future?
1. Zero gravity
2. The Amazon
3. Canadian Rockies
4. Madagascar
5. Today's beautiful sunshine

originally published by Jettison Quarterly