Interviews

Jackson Mud

Josh Caterer_23 by Katie Hovland web

Photo by Katie Hovland

Jackson Mud is a newly-formed blues band that’s fronted by Smoking Popes singer/guitarist Josh Caterer. Their lineup also includes bassist Ray Somera, keyboardist Renaldo DeSouza and drummer David Benkert. Last month, they released their debut EP via Artistic Integrity Records, called Down Time Blues. We spoke with Caterer and discussed how the EP was written and recorded, as well as what some of its songs are about. We also talked about his early exposure to the blues, how Jackson Mud formed, the origin of the band’s name and more. Click here to view…

Share

News

The Bigger Empty – “My Great Escape”

Photo by Katie Hovland

Photo by Katie Hovland

The Bigger Empty traces its origins back to 2007, when Mike Felumlee, (current/founding Smoking Popes drummer, former Alkaline Trio drummer) began playing solo shows. He called upon some friends to assist him in playing live, and after a few years of playing shows together they’d grown to become more of an actual band than a solo project. As of last year, they started calling themselves The Bigger Empty, with a lineup consisting of Felumlee on vocals/guitar, guitarist Jim Steinkraus, bassist Reuben Baird and drummer Kevin Baschen. When asked as to what inspired the band’s name, Felumlee said “We have a song called ‘The Bigger Empty’ about my dog that runs away quite frequently. It’s about him going out into the world and discovering that it’s really not that great out there and he’d rather be back home. We loved that song title, so we decided to use it as our name. The lyrics and title were written by our friend Brian Birkland. I team up with him a lot when I’m stumped on writing lyrics.”

This Saturday, 7/25, The Bigger Empty is playing Subterranean with Spitalfield and Daniel Wade. The show starts at 6:00 PM, is 17+ and costs $17. They’ll have copies of their debut EP available at the show, though it officially comes out on 8/08 via Artistic Integrity Records. The EP is called vs. The Cloud and was recorded at bassist Baird’s studio, Chicago Sound Lab. Check out a song from the record below, called “My Great Escape.”

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Share

Reviews

Matt Skiba and the Sekrets – KUTS

Superball Music – Release Date: 6/02/15

For their second album, Matt Skiba and the Sekrets forgo the melodic punk influences that dominated their first record in favor of power pop and ‘80s synthesizers. And that makes sense, as their first effort was comprised of leftover song ideas from Alkaline Trio, (Skiba’s primary band). This time around, Skiba wrote specifically for the Sekrets, and once again enlisted bassist Hunter Burgan, (AFI) and drummer Jarrod Alexander, (My Chemical Romance). The result is a much more collaborative album that’s brought to life with great success by producer Rob Schnapf. The record kicks off with “Lonely and Kold,” a radio-ready song that evokes hints of The Cure and is propelled by a catchy guitar lead courtesy of Schnapf. Skiba’s voice sounds clear and confident as he sings about breaking old habits and moving on to better things, a theme that emerges several times throughout the album. “She Wolf” comes next and it’s a danceable, Bowie-like tune that’s loaded with keyboards, vocal effects and the masterful bass playing of Burgan. “Krashing” is another prominent entry and features a layered arrangement, creative drumming and a memorable, monster hook. The record concludes nicely with the vulnerable, piano-laced track “Never Believe” and the nostalgic, atmospheric charm of “Vienna.” KUTS is a cohesive, listenable album that’s both inspired and well-written. Longtime fans of Skiba’s work are sure to enjoy this, as are those interested in hearing him effectively experiment with synthesizer-driven rock.

Share

News

The Suizos – “F*ck Work”

The Suizos formed in 2011 and feature singer/guitarist Darren Vorel, (That Lying Bitch) and singer/guitarist Chris Mason, (Super Happy Fun Club). Their name is inspired by the suizo burritos found at Taco Burrito Palace #2 in Lincoln Park. Mason lives nearby and after late night writing/drinking sessions, the duo would often find themselves indulging in the fine cuisine at said restaurant. The band recently recorded a four-song EP at Atlas Studios with Matt Allison, and “Fuck Work” is the second single from the release. Mason handled drum responsibilities on the recording, while Dave Tirio, (Plain White T’s) played bass. According to Vorel, the basis for many of The Suizos’ songs is “stuff we don’t like,” and this song certainly falls under that category.

To coincide with the song’s debut, The Suizos also created a video for the track, which Vorel and Mason co-directed. The concept for the video came to the band while on a recent road trip to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to witness Green Day’s induction. When asked what filming the video was like, Vorel said “It’s always fun to do music videos. I wanted to be an actor when I was a kid, so this is as close as I’m going to get. Chris and I managed to rally a lot of amazing people to be part of this. We had a high school kid named Spencer help us with camera this time, so we could focus more on our roles. Corttanie, (our lead) is someone I met while doing the Mancow show with my other group. She is totally amazing, foxy and has a fantastic potty mouth that livened up the set. Chris was like ‘What if we got Matt (Allison) to play the boss man?’ I was like ‘That’ll never happen.’ And then it did. That was my favorite part. The guy’s a natural and had us all in stitches on his shoot day. We have an hour of bloopers that are just terrific.” The Suizos don’t have any upcoming shows booked as of yet, but do plan on releasing the remaining two songs from their EP very soon. Check out the exclusive premiere of the “Fuck Work” video above and buy the song on iTunes here.

Share

News

Bad Religion @ Metro, 6/22 & 6/23/15

Photos by Katie Hovland

Next Monday and Tuesday, Bad Religion will bring their “Battle of the Centuries” tour to the Metro. On the first night they’ll play songs from 1980 to 2000, while the second night will feature songs from the last 15 years. Monday’s show is sold out, though tickets remain for Tuesday night. The shows start at 7:00 PM, are 18+ and cost $31. Plague Vendor opens both nights and tickets for Tuesday’s show can be purchased here. Bad Religion’s latest album, True North, came out in 2013 on Epitaph and they recently announced plans to begin recording a new full-length this fall.

Share

Reviews

Break Anchor – In a Van Down by the River

Break Anchor

Paper + Plastick – Release Date: 4/07/15

Break Anchor formed in 2011 and features members of The Suicide Machines, The Story So Far and Seized Up. They’re based out of Detroit and the awesomely titled In a Van Down by the River is their debut full-length. The record encompasses an array of influences, from hardcore punk to ‘90s emo, but the band still manages to create a sound that’s distinctly their own. Much of what they do would likely fall under the category of Midwestern punk, and this LP is by far their most fully realized recording yet. The album kicks off with “First World Problems,” an undeniably catchy tune that uses melodic guitar leads and an anthemic chorus to tell a tale of lost love. It’s trailed by “I’m Sorry,” a track the employs a breakneck rhythm before relaxing to a brief ska interlude that transitions seamlessly to a punishing hardcore breakdown. It might sound like a mishmash of genres, but the band is somehow able to pull it off without a glitch. Additional entries of note include “Fell Part,” a somber post-punk song about losing a friend to addiction and “Bang Bang,” a brutal hardcore blast that addresses the topical issue of police shootings. Break Anchor displays significant growth on this record and really defines their sound. It’s an easy album to listen to from start to finish and fans should definitely be eager to hear what the band comes up with next.

Share

Interviews

Strung Out

Strung Out

This March, Strung Out released their eighth studio album, Transmission.Alpha.Delta, via longtime label Fat Wreck Chords. Without question, it ranks among the strongest of the band’s respected catalog. On this effort they continue to advance their sound, mixing elements of punk and metal with complex songwriting, while simultaneously incorporating an array of contemporary influences. The outcome is a record that’s both fresh and modern, and one that favors pushing boundaries over revisiting the past. With that said, this is sure to be an album that’s embraced by diehard fans and newcomers alike. Last month, Strung Out played Reggie’s and we spoke with drummer Jordan Burns before the show. We talked at length about what it was like recording Transmission.Alpha.Delta. We also discussed the record’s style, its writing process, the band’s upcoming European tour and more. Click here to view…

Share

Interviews

The Brokedowns

Photo by Katie Hovland

In December of last year, The Brokedowns issued their latest full-length, Life Is a Breeze. By any measure, the album is both aggressive and authentic, and witnesses the band continuing to refine their distinctive brand of gruff, unpredictable punk rock. We spoke with singer/guitarist/resident comedian Kris Megyery and talked about how the record sounds, what recording it was like and the meaning of some of its songs. We also discussed the band’s birthplace of Elgin, IL, their plans for the remainder of the year and more. Click here to view…

Share

Reviews

Success – Radio Recovery

Red Scare – Release Date: 3/31/15

Success is an up-and-coming band from Seattle and Radio Recovery marks their Red Scare debut. The band’s sound could likely be described as a cross between Borders & Boundaries-era Less Thank Jake and early Dillinger Four, with an emphasis on positive lyrics. Oftentimes the term “sing-along anthem” gets thrown around too frequently, but in this case it’s a suitable description for many of their songs. Take for instance the album’s second track, “22nd St.,” which starts off with a galloping bass line that powers its way to a fiery chorus. Singer Aaron Rev delivers a passionate and guttural shout, exclaiming “There’s no light on 22nd St./There’s no more help for us/For every second passing by/There’s another chance to get out and make things right,” and the listener can’t help but want to pump their fist in the air and scream the words right back. “Revolution…” addresses trends in the punk community and takes aim at music that prioritizes fashion over a message. The song’s chorus utilizes powerful gang vocals and asks, “Where, where is the revolution?” It’s sung with such conviction and really seems like the band is urging its audience to take action and stand up for what they believe in. Another bright spot is “Lives That We Deserve,” a track that captures nearly all the best attributes of Success. There are distinctive vocal melodies, notable guitar riffs and lyrics about overcoming daily struggles in hopes of achieving a better life. Perhaps what’s most appealing about this band is their unabashed approach. They’re not attempting to capitalize on the latest fad, they’re simply writing honest songs that try to inspire. Check out “Lives That We Deserve” below for a break from a lot of the contrived and cynical stuff that’s out there today.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Share

Interviews

Local H

Local H by Katie Hovland

Photo by Katie Hovland

Today, Local H released its eighth studio album, called Hey, Killer. It’s the band’s first full-length with new drummer Ryan Harding and varies considerably from their last two records in that it’s not a concept album. We spoke with frontman Scott Lucas and talked about how the record was written, what recording it was like and the Pledge Music campaign that helped fund the album. We also discussed Local H’s upcoming shows, their 25th anniversary which they’re celebrating this year and more. What’s certain is that Hey, Killer is raw, packed with hooks and infused with inspired riffs, leaving little doubt that rock fans everywhere will be extremely excited about this record. Also, be sure to check out Local H on April 17th at the House of Music in Arlington Heights and on April 18th at Tailgaters in Bolingbrook. They’ve also got an in-store performance at Reckless Records, (Broadway location) for Record Store Day on April 18th at 3:00 PM, and they’re playing the Metro April 19th as well. Click here to view…

Share

Reviews

All Eyes West – Doomer

All-Eyes-West

Jump Start Records – Release Date: 1/27/15

In January of this year, All Eyes West released its second album, called Doomer. While its title might seem somewhat foreboding, the record is anything but. With this release, the band simply builds upon the framework of its first album, further broadening their sound and integrating new influences. Doomer begins with a track called “Lie In Wait,” which features an ascending melody that rises to an urgent chorus. The song spotlights the vocal talents of singer/bassist Justin Miller and also demonstrates the band’s ability to craft songs that are uniquely structured. “Plastic Hearts” is up next and it starts with a hauntingly catchy verse that gives way to a shout-along chorus. It’s easily one of the record’s strongest entries and would be an excellent choice for a first single. It’s followed by “West Thirteenth,” a track that is enjoyably reminiscent of Samiam and showcases a multitude of impressive riffs, courtesy of guitarist Jeff Dean. Further points of interest include the post-punk stomp of “From Under,” the melodic rocker “Make the Morning” and the blistering, rhythm-heavy anthem “Overtime.” All Eyes West has definitely broadened the scope of their ‘90s-influenced rock on Doomer, incorporating a variety of contemporary styles and applying distinctive songwriting. Their sound continues to evolve as they tour and play shows at a frequent pace, taking the music in exciting directions with each step. Check out the album’s second song below, called “Plastic Hearts.”

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Share

News

Revolution Brewing 5th Year Party

Photo by Katie Hovland

Photo by Katie Hovland

On Friday, March 13th, Revolution Brewing will celebrate its fifth anniversary at the Riviera Theatre. Andrew W.K. is headlining the event, with support from The Orwells, Beer Nuts and the Superfriends DJs. In addition, a special appearance by Nordic Thunder, the 2012 World Air Guitar Champion, was recently added to the bill. Doors open at 7:00 PM, the show starts at 8:00 PM and the occasion is 21+. Tickets can be purchased via Etix or in person at either the Vic Theatre or Revolution’s Kedzie Tap Room, (sales at the tap room end on Sunday, 3/08). If tickets are bought at the latter two locations, service fees do not apply. Several giveaways will also be held at the concert and over a dozen kinds of Revolution beer will be available for $4 each. Some of the beers being poured are Straight Jacket, Bean Gene, Deth’s Tar, Jukebox Hero and more. Be sure to mark your calendars and get set to “party hard.”

Poster by Ryan Duggan

Poster by Ryan Duggan

Share