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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Drop Yr Weapons! : A Party to Support Everytown for Gun Safety

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On Friday, July 29th, Township will host an event called Drop Yr Weapons! : A Party to Support Everytown for Gun Safety. Everytown is a movement of over three million Americans that strives to end gun violence and build safer communities. The evening will feature performances by All Eyes West, Josh and Eli Caterer of Smoking Popes, Tim Kinsella of Joan of Arc, Secret Means of Escape (U.S. Maple), Vortis and more. There will also be a silent art auction with works from David Yow, Jon Langford, Jay Ryan, Dead Meat Design, JIC’s own Katie Hovland and others. Drink specials will be available from Revolution Brewing and Four Roses Bourbon, as well as raffle prizes from various bars and restaurants. The event begins at 6:00 PM, costs $8 and tickets can be purchased here.

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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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Interviews

Textbook

Photo by Katie Hovland

Photo by Katie Hovland

In March of this year, Chicago’s Textbook collaborated with Paper + Plastick for the release of their album called On the B-Side. Containing 16 tracks in total, the record features songs from Textbook’s entire catalog and serves as a celebration of the band’s 15th anniversary. We recently spoke with singer/guitarist Dave Lysien and bassist Rick Uncapher to discuss the album in detail. We talked about how they teamed with Paper + Plastick, as well as the distinctive format that the record’s available on. We also conversed about the band’s experiences touring the UK, some of their favorite memories from the last 15 years, future plans and more. Be sure to check out a video for the song “Just One of Those Things” after the interview. Click here to view…

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Interviews

Dowsing

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This Friday, Dowsing will release its third full-length and first for Asian Man Records, titled Okay. We recently caught up with singer/guitarist Erik Czaja and guitarist Mikey Crotty to talk about the album in detail, (the band’s lineup is rounded-out by bassist Michael Politowicz and drummer William Lange). We discussed what it was like writing and recording the record, as well as the story behind its title. We also spoke about some of the album’s lyrics, their upcoming tour and more. Be sure to check out a song from the record after the interview, called “Dissolve.” Click here to view…

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Reviews

PEARS – Green Star

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Fat Wreck Chords – Release Date: 4/01/16

In July of last year, PEARS re-released their debut LP via Fat Wreck Chords and quite honestly took the punk and hardcore communities by storm. Admittedly, the album was recorded in a hurried manner, but still conveyed the band’s unrelenting energy and unique approach to songwriting. In contrast, Green Star was meticulously written and recorded, and the added effort clearly shows. The record certainly spotlights PEARS’ evolution, but that’s not to imply they’ve abandon their signature style of frantic hardcore punk that’s both old school and progressive. Green Star charges out of the gates with “Hinged by Spine,” which channels Today’s Empires… era Propagandhi and highlights the impressive vocal range of singer Zach Quinn. “The Flu” evokes the spirit of punk pioneers Circle Jerks and Black Flag, and seems like it would be a definite crowd favorite in a live setting. The title track changes tempos on a dime, yet transitions fluidly between the varying rhythms. It also features a hyper-melodic chorus that’s supported by a horde of harmonious backing vocals. There’s even a re-recorded version of “Snowflake” from their Letters to Memaw seven-inch and it sounds more concise and confident than the original. Containing 16 tracks in all, including two piano interludes, this album is by all accounts a complete work that observes PEARS really elevating their game. Take a listen to the song “Green Star” below and for those who say there aren’t any new bands out there that are innovative or worthwhile, tell them to check out this record.

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Mean Jeans – Nite Vision

Fat Wreck Chords – Release Date: 3/18/16

Last week, Mean Jeans marked their Fat Wreck Chords debut with the release of the Nite Vision seven-inch. The record serves as a preview for their upcoming album Tight New Dimension, which the label will put out in April. Containing three songs in total, (one that appears on the full-length and two that are exclusive) Nite Vision finds the Portland trio sharpening their patented take on Ramones-inspired garage rock. Things get underway with the title track, an ominous entry that features surf rock undertones and a chorus that stomps along with authority. It also contains a gloomy yet melodic guitar lead that helps to solidify the mood of this confident anthem. Up next is “Now I Wanna Be Yr Dogg,” which channels Teenage Bottlerocket but adds extra humor and a noticeably faster tempo. It’s infectiously catchy and does a nice job of showcasing the vocal abilities of singer/guitarist Billy Jeans. The record concludes with “69 Tears,” clocking-in at less than a minute and a half, though still managing to include buzzsaw guitars, skillful drumming and distinctive call and response backing vocals. If these songs are any indication of what’s to come on Mean Jeans’ forthcoming album, then it sounds as though the band has taken their craft to that next level. Check out the song “Nite Vision” below for a sample of what’s in store.

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Mean Sean – “Hard of Feeling”

Mean Sean

On April 4th, Artistic Integrity Records will issue the debut release from Mean Sean. The band formed in early 2014 and consists of singer Vito Nusret, guitarist Nicolas Kubica, bassist James Henderson and drummer Vincent Miller. When asked to describe their sound, Nusret commented “I’d like to think we sound like Crimpshrine or Black Flag, but we probably just sound like a sloppy pop punk band that wears black t-shirts.”

The self-titled album will be available both digitally and on cassette. Recorded by Erik Rasmussen at Observatory Studios, the cassette contains a total of 13 songs and comes in lime green or light blue. They’re limited to 50 copies each, include a download code and can be purchased here. We’re streaming one of the tracks below, called “Hard of Feeling.” Speaking in regards to the song’s lyrics, Nusret said “It was inspired by a friend dealing with an autoimmune disease. I’m terrified of how our bodies can betray us without warning or pain while still doing severe and sometimes irreparable damage. It’s about juxtaposing that with a hardening of one’s feelings against potential emotional attacks, and examining how we can be considered too sensitive or too callous in both physical and mental ways.” While the content is decidedly serious, that’s not to suggest that the group doesn’t also have a comical side. Take for instance their name, which according to Nusret is derived from a friend’s dream about having a pet duck that smoked cigarettes and was named Mean Sean.

To commemorate the album’s release, the band is playing a show at Quenchers on April 7th, along with Drilling For Blasting, Angel Lust and Sincere Engineer. The show starts at 9:00 PM, costs $5 in advance and is 21+. Tickets are available here.

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Interviews

Face to Face

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This Friday, Face to Face will release their ninth full-length, Protection. It marks the band’s return to Fat Wreck Chords, a label they last worked with for the release of their debut album in 1993. We spoke with singer/guitarist Trever Keith and talked about the homecoming, as well as what it was like recording Protection with producer Bill Stevenson. We also discussed what some of the record’s songs are about, how the band plans to celebrate their 25th anniversary this year, upcoming tours and more. While the essence of Face to Face’s early material shines through on this album, so too do plenty of modern styles. The end result finds the band recalling past work to help further their current songwriting, and sounding especially invigorated while doing so. Click here to view…

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Interviews

The Falcon

Cover photo by Katie Hovland and Layout by David Holtz

Cover photo by Katie Hovland and Layout by David Holtz

Next month, The Falcon is set to release its first album in nearly a decade. We met up with singer/guitarist Brendan Kelly at the GMan Tavern to discuss the record in detail. We talked about the band’s new guitarist, Dave Hause, and how his contributions helped to shape the album’s sound. Original members Dan Andriano, (Alkaline Trio) and Neil Hennessy, (The Lawrence Arms) are of course still onboard for the ride. We also spoke about how the record was written, what it was like recording with Dan Tinkler at Atlas Studios and how the album’s cover came to be. Additionally, we conversed about the record’s dark lyrical content and how it mirrors the style of the music. Longtime fans will be eager to find the band exploring new sounds, but at the same time retaining the characteristics that they’re best known for. By all accounts, Gather Up The Chaps finds The Falcon sounding very much revitalized and ready for take-off. Click here to view…

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