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