Interviews

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes

Photos by Katie Hovland

We met up with Me First and the Gimme Gimmes at Riot Fest this year and talked with singer Spike Slawson. We discussed their latest collection of cover songs, Are We Not Men? We Are Diva!, as well as a range of other topics that spanned the punk rock supergroup’s two-decade-plus career. We asked Slawson about the band’s process for choosing songs, what his favorite ones are to sing, if they’ve ever heard back from any of the artists they’ve covered and more. We also spoke about The Gimmes’ upcoming greatest hits record, which they plan on releasing in 2017.

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Interviews

Swingin’ Utters

Swingin' Utters

Photo by Katie Hovland

We caught up with Swingin’ Utters earlier this year when they played Riot Fest and spoke with singer Johnny “Peebucks” Bonnel and guitarist/singer Darius Koski. We talked about their latest album, Fistful of Hollow, including its style and how it was recorded. We also discussed the reasons for the band being so productive as of late, having released three full-lengths in the last six years. Additionally, we conversed about their upcoming new album, which they’ve already begun writing and hope to release next year. Click here to view…

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News

The Gunshy – “Lancaster, PA”

Artwork by Jason Hendrix

Artwork by Jason Hendrix

Earlier this month, The Gunshy released a new album, their sixth overall, called Porterhouse. It was recorded in Water Valley, Mississippi with producer Andrew Bryant and is available via Sleep Recordings. While the band has been based out of Chicago for over a decade, they initially formed in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 2002. One of the album’s songs uses Lancaster as its setting and we’re premiering the video for this song below. Also, be sure to catch The Gunshy tonight at Beat Kitchen with The Smith Street Band, Typesetter and Rapids. The show starts at 6:30 PM, costs $15 and is all-ages. On Thursday, the band leaves for a brief tour and plays Atlanta with Cheap Girls and Signals Midwest, followed by an appearance at Fest and subsequent shows in Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas and Kansas.

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Interviews

Great Apes

Photo by Katie Hovland

Photo by Katie Hovland

This Friday, San Francisco’s Great Apes will release their second full-length via Asian Man Records, called California Heart. We spoke with singer/guitarist Brian Moss about the album’s writing process and its concept. We also talked in detail about what it was like recording with Jack Shirley, as well as where the record’s title comes from, its overall style and more. This album finds the band combining heavier elements with pop tendencies to create a wide-ranging, complete punk record that redefines their sound. If for some reason you haven’t previously listened to Great Apes, do yourself a favor and check them out now. Click here to view…

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Interviews

Laura Stevenson

Photo by Katie Hovland

Photo by Katie Hovland

Laura Stevenson recently played Riot Fest Chicago and we caught up with her shortly after her set for a quick interview. We discussed her most recent album, Cocksure, which was released last year on Don Giovanni Records. We talked about the record’s style, its title, what it was like working with producer Jeff Rosenstock and more. Additionally, we conversed about her plans for the future, which include putting the finishing touches on a new album that’s already nearly completed. Lastly, be sure to check out a video for her song “Jellyfish” after the interview. Click here to view…

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Features

Riot Fest, 2016

Photos by Katie Hovland

The first day of Riot Fest began somewhat ominously, with cloudy skies and forecasted showers, but after a brief spell of light rain from 1:00 – 2:00 PM, the skies cleared and sunshine remained for the duration of the festival. This was a huge change from the previous two years, where heavy rains and an abundance of mud unfortunately dominated the weekends. This year’s event marked the second time that Riot Fest was held in Douglas Park, and while the grounds proved to be a very adequate space last year, the festival’s organizers did an even better job this time around of maximizing the park’s space. They managed to create an open layout that allowed for easy movement between stages and also minimized excess sound from bleeding into unintended areas. Another positive was the emphasis on local businesses, specifically the beer tents named after establishments like Liar’s Club, Double Door, Cobra Lounge and All Rise Brewing. There were also great local food options, like Reggie’s, Taco In A Bag and others. Despite Riot Fest continuing to grow markedly in size every year, it really doesn’t feel like a giant, corporate-sponsored festival and it definitely hasn’t lost sight of its roots. Loyal attendees return every September to find that the bar has once again been significantly raised and the original spirit of the event still very much intact. Click here to view…

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Features

The Brokedowns – “Life Is a Breeze”

Elgin’s favorite sons, The Brokedowns, recorded a live performance last month at Live! from The Rock Room. This is the first video to be released from the session, and features the band performing their song “Life Is a Breeze,” the title track from their most recent album. We recently caught up with the man behind Live! from The Rock Room, Mike Felumlee, to discuss his motivations for this project. We talked about how he got things off the ground, some of the Rock Room’s unique features, where he hopes to see this endeavor in the future and more. Click here to view…

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News

Post Child – “Getting Closer”

Chicago’s Post Child formed in 2012 and features members of The Brokedowns, High Priests, Wide Angles, Peekaboos and Elephant Gun. They recently finished work on their second full-length, called Wax Wings, which was recorded by Joe Gac. “Getting Closer” is the second single from the forthcoming album and it talks about the various relationships that we as humans have, whether it’s with ourselves or with things like technology or money. The band partnered with Chicago-based production company On The Real Film to create an impressive, effects-laden video for the song. Post Child is slated to play Township next month on Thursday, 9/29 with their pals Cubits from Iowa. Check out the video above and keep an eye out for Wax Wings to be released this fall or possibly winter.

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Interviews

Lifted Bells

Photo by Katie Hovland

Photo by Katie Hovland

Earlier this month, Lifted Bells released their latest EP and first for Run for Cover Records, titled Overreactor. We spoke with singer Bob Nanna and talked about how these songs were written and where they were recorded. We also discussed the style of the songs and what some of them are about. Additionally, we conversed about how this project compares to some of Nanna’s more recognized bands like Braid and Hey Mercedes, as well as what Lifted Bells has planned for the remainder of the year. Be sure to check out a video after the interview of the band performing their song “Kingston Vale” at Live! from The Rock Room. Click here to view…

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Reviews

V/A – Asian Man Music for Asian Man…

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Asian Man Records – Release Date: 6/10/16

Last month, Asian Man Records celebrated its 20th anniversary and also released a new compilation, titled Asian Man Music for Asian Man People Vol. 2. It features artists on the label’s roster covering other Asian Man bands, and primarily showcases up-and-coming acts. One of the first noteworthy tracks comes from Scotland’s Murderburgers and their cover of the AJJ tune “Self Esteem.” It’s a decidedly pop punk take on the song and is filled with hooks and well-placed backing vocals. If it’s any indication of what’s to come on their upcoming full-length, then fans should certainly be excited for the record’s release this fall. San Francisco’s Great Apes provide a blistering, lightning-fast interpretation of “Last Strike,” originally by Classics of Love. It emphasizes rawness and ferocity despite being precisely arranged, and is yet another example of how talented this seriously underrated band is. Chicago’s Dowsing delivers an inspired and distinctive take on the Alkaline Trio classic “San Francisco,” which is sure to remind old school fans of why they fell in love with the band in the first place. Laura Stevenson selected another renowned Chicago band to cover in Smoking Popes, contributing a compelling, stripped-down interpretation of their fan-favorite “Do Something.” Additional highlights include covers by Kevin Seconds, Modern Baseball, Jeff Rosenstock and Spraynard. This compilation is recommended for those wanting to relive some of their favorite Asian Man memories, as well as those looking to become familiar with several of the label’s emerging and talented bands.

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Interviews

MU330

Mu330

Photo by Katie Hovland

Last month, MU330 played Chicago and opened for Streetlight Manifesto at the Concord Music Hall. We caught up with the band afterwards to talk about what’s led to them playing more frequently as of late. We spoke with singer/guitarist Dan Potthast and also discussed what he enjoys most about playing with the band, some his favorite memories from playing shows in Chicago and abroad, and how he still makes time for MU330 between his solo work and other projects. Additionally, we conversed about a new song that the band recorded earlier this year, their plans for the future and more. Click here to view…

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Reviews

PUP – The Dream Is Over

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Side One Dummy – Release Date: 5/27/16

On their second full-length, Toronto’s PUP avoids the sophomore slump and instead delivers a record that clearly surpasses expectations. The album’s title is derived from a doctor’s visit in which singer/guitarist Stefan Babcock was told “the dream is over” in regards to his damaged vocal chords, but clearly the band was able to soldier on after two years of constant touring and create their defining work. On the record’s second track, “DVP,” PUP highlights what they do so well, and that’s alternate between reckless energy and precision arrangements, while simultaneously merging various genres. The song uses elements of punk and pop, along with an excess of gang vocals, to examine a failing relationship and comically dismiss its inevitable fate. “Sleep in the Heat” is a built around a shimmering, fuzzed-out guitar lead that helps to offset the heavy lyrical content. It’s undeniably catchy and definitely one of the album’s most prominent entries. “Can’t Win” features self-deprecating humor, subtle indie rock tendencies and an anthemic, shout-along chorus that’s sure to be a crowd favorite at shows. Additional highlights include a haunting, post-hardcore number called “The Coast” and a ballad titled “Pine Point,” which concludes the record on a hopeful note. The Dream Is Over finds PUP embracing pop influences and advancing their sound with great success. While a lot of the songs deal with disenchantment, there’s also an underlying sense of camaraderie and resolve, and that’s sure to appeal to PUP’s ever-expanding fanbase. Don’t hesitate to check out this album, as it’s likely one of the year’s best.

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