News

Wurst Music & Beer Fest

The Wurst Music & Beer Fest will take place September 8th – 10th in the West Loop, featuring three days of music, beer and bratwurst. In addition to offerings from Guinness and a selection of Chicago’s best bratwurst, a varied music lineup will also be on display, consisting of both national and local acts. The headliners include Murder By Death, The Anniversary and Diarrhea Planet, with support from Masked Intruder, Shiner, Pkew Pkew Pkew, The Crombies, Post Child, Sincere Engineer and many others. The festival costs $25 for a three-day pass and tickets can be purchased here.

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American Skathic 25th Anniversary Show

This Saturday, Jump Up Records and Dark Matter Coffee will host the American Skathic 25th Anniversary show at Metro. The lineup includes MU330, Coolidge as Johnny Socko, The Eclectics, Detroit Rudeboy Society, Skapone and Tango Wedding Band. Detroit Rudeboy Society features members of Gangster Fun, the Parka Kings and the Exceptions, while this show marks the first performance in 20 years by west suburban heroes Tango Wedding Band. When asked as to what served as inspiration for the show, Jump Up founder Chuck Wren said, “Nostalgia and fun! There’s a whole new generation who have grown up loving ska…who never got to witness an ‘epic Metro Skafest,’ which was so integral to the scene back in the ‘90s. This bill could have easily been from 1995, right down to the simple Kinko’s paste up flyer design. If you loved these bands back in the ‘90s, it’s because you searched out for the true local ska scene and didn’t just settle for what the major labels and MTV shoved down your throat. Jump Up was founded on fans that wanted to support indie labels and get ‘the good stuff.’ It seems everything has changed so drastically since then, but we continue on, still releasing a dozen records a year.”

In terms of what he’s looking forward to most about the show, Wren said “I love seeing everyone hanging out just like the past two decades didn’t exist. Bands watching each other’s sets remember the good old days. Also, to see the amazement of young new fans when they see a bunch of 40-year-olds playing their hearts out and making today’s bands seem tepid. I’m also looking forward to the new Dark Matter coffee blend, inspired by third wave ska, called Perk It Up Perk It Up.” Doors open at 7:00 PM, the show is 18+ and tickets can be purchased here.

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Interviews

88 Fingers Louie

Last month, 88 Fingers Louie released their first full-length in nearly 19 years, titled Thank You for Being a Friend. We spoke with singer Denis Buckley and talked about how the album was written, what its recording process was like and the style of the record. While longtime fans will likely recognize the band’s classic characteristics, there are also plenty of contemporary influences to be found, making for an album that’s not only mature, but also aggressive and urgent. Additionally, we conversed about the record’s lyrics, their relationship with new label Bird Attack Records, the upcoming shows overseas and more. Click here to view…

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Reviews

Rozwell Kid – Precious Art

Side One Dummy – Release Date: 6/23/17

On their fourth full-length, West Virginia’s Rozwell Kid has perfected their take on humor-infused power pop, complete with dueling guitar leads, an excess of pop sensibilities and crafty lyricism. While comparisons to Weezer are unavoidable, the band also shares commonalities with groups like Motion City Soundtrack and Fountains of Wayne, both of whom are known for creating an abundance of catchy and clever hooks. On Precious Art, they also add some rock ‘n’ roll swagger in the vein of The Darkness, as well as lyrics that address more substantial topics, like anxiety and a lack of confidence. The album opens with “Wendy’s Trash Can,” which employs fuzzed-out guitars and vocal harmonies reminiscent of the Beach Boys to fantasize about escaping a monotonous routine. “Boomerang” is the next notable entry and it alternates between loud and soft dynamics before segueing to one of the record’s most memorable choruses. “UHF on DVD” features impressive, skillful guitar work, as well as a seriously infectious and eccentric hook, (“And all I want is to be at home with you/Eatin’ tacos and watching UHF on DVD”). Towards the end of the album, a track called “Gameball” provides a sparse arrangement with an atmospheric vibe that speaks of alienation and individualism. With Precious Art, Rozwell Kid has made a record that’s equal parts quirky, nostalgic, high-energy and just plain fun. It offers top-notch musicianship and is easily one of the most enjoyable listens of the summer.

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Interviews

Sweet Cobra

Photo by Katie Hovland

Photo by Katie Hovland

In the summer of 2015, Chicago’s Sweet Cobra released their latest album, Earth. We recently met up with the band, (singer/bassist Tim Remis, guitarist Robert “Grumpy” Lanham and drummer Jason Gagovski) at Lost Lake, just before they played next door at Bric-a-Brac Records. We talked in detail about Earth, including its style and recording process. By all accounts, the record explores the boundaries of heavy music and defies genre classifications, encompassing everything from ‘90s alternative to post-punk and beyond. Additionally, we conversed about the new songs they’ve been working on, their plans for the remainder of the year and more. Click here to view…

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Interviews

Dave Hause

BuryMeInPhilly-e1481317172467

Earlier this year, Dave Hause released his third solo full-length, titled Bury Me In Philly. We caught up with Dave while he was on a recent break from tour and talked about some of what motivated the album’s creation. We also discussed the record’s style, which merges Americana and folk influences with punk-leaning rock and introspective, often uplifting lyrics. In short, these are some of the most detailed and emotional songs that Hause has written to date. Additionally, we spoke about his new backing band, the Mermaid, their upcoming European tour and Hause’s plans for new music.

Click here to view…

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Reviews

Garrett Dale – Two Ts

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Red Scare Industries – Release Date: 5/26/17

Last week, Red City Radio singer/guitarist Garrett Dale released his debut solo EP, called Two Ts. Comprised of three original recordings, this record features fully-realized arrangements, as opposed to the typical punk frontman just hammering away on an acoustic guitar. These songs not only display Dale’s songwriting expertise, but also demonstrate softer vocals and something distinctly different than the gruff, sing-along punk that Red City Radio is known for. The EP opens with “2016 Was…,” which laments the loss of loved ones and the results of last year’s Presidential election. The song uses a strong folk influence, subtle guitar leads and even a trombone solo to convey its message. There’s also a sense of dry humor throughout, which really helps to lighten the otherwise serious lyrical content. “House Full of Dogs” is next and talks about the various struggles that many encounter in life, especially in regards to growing older, but how those troubles are ultimately outweighed by simple pleasures and good times with friends. The song incorporates piano and saxophone to help create a unique entry that still fits well with the other tracks. The EP concludes with “Down the Rabbit Hole,” a tune about missing home that’s extremely relatable and engaging from start to finish, despite being over five minutes long. Two Ts is recommended for fans of sincere folk/punk, as well as those wanting to hear Dale explore different musical influences. Also, the fact that he’s stretching outside of his songwriting comfort zone will likely lead to exciting results on the forthcoming Red City Radio LP.

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Reviews

Lucky Boys Confusion – Stormchasers

Lucky Boys Confusion

Townstyle Records – Release Date: 4/14/17

Last month, Lucky Boys Confusion released their latest album, Stormchasers, signifying the band’s first new music in almost a decade. It’s also their first time writing songs together since the unexpected passing of founding guitarist Joe Sell in 2012. For years it remained uncertain if they’d ever attempt to create music again, but with the passage of time it became clear that it was the right thing to do, as well as something Joe would’ve wanted. As they began to write, an album started to take shape organically, resulting in a collection of 12 songs that are not only cohesive, but also contemporary and mature.

The record kicks off with “I Slept with the Devil,” a defiant anthem that’s brimming with urgency and one that’s destine to be a fan-favorite at shows. It segues nicely into “It’s After Midnight,” a moody and uniquely catchy track that’s punctuated by the sturdy bass work of Jason Schltejann and Stubhy Pandav’s impressive vocals. The near title track, “Stormchaser,” utilizes subtle reggae undertones and a driving rhythm to address Sell’s passing, while “Sun in My Eyes” employs a surplus of melodies to discuss perseverance and moving forward in a positive light. Additional high points include the engaging, sing-along chorus of “Burn a Little Brighter” and the emo-leaning “Your Friends Are Whispering,” which slowly builds to a furious hook that is likely to evoke major crowd participation in a live setting. As the album draws to a close, one of its strongest entries can be found, called “Good Luck.” Guitarist/singer Adam Krier, (AM Taxi) assumes lead vocal responsibilities for what is sure to be a top contender for one of the best songs of the summer. The track reminisces about the band’s history and talks about their motivations for soldiering on, and is all the while anchored by the inspired drumming of Ryan Fergus.

Also of note is the record’s production, courtesy of Johnny K, which serves to elevate the songs and really bring them to life. In short, Stormchasers is a massive return for a band whose future was in doubt for many years. By no means is it a rehash of their previous work. Instead, it sees the band confidently build upon their roots and move ahead with an underlying sense of resiliency and an eye on the future.

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Shot Baker @ Cobra Lounge, 5/20/17

Shot Baker at Cobra Lounge

On Saturday, May 20th, Shot Baker will return with its original lineup and play Cobra Lounge alongside Avenues and Shots Fired Shots Fired. We recently caught up with singer Tony Kovacs and spoke about how exactly this reunion came to be. He explained that the departure of guitarist John Krohn in 2009, followed by the exit of drummer Chris Gach had left the band with only half of its founding members. After years of touring, the wind in the sails of the group had understandably begun to weaken. Kovacs eventually opted to move to Colorado to be with his girlfriend, (now wife) and to pursue a doctorate in audiology. Over the last five or so years, several of the band’s members have started families, while bassist Nat Wright currently plays in 88 Fingers Louie.

When asked as to how this show came together, Kovacs said “We’ve long since set aside our differences and really just wanted to play a show together again. We’re no longer trying to live off this band so we can really just have fun with it, which is how it should be. In the early years, Shot Baker was a total lightning bolt. Maybe it’s a nostalgia thing, but we really wanted to do a show that represented the urgency and volatility of the early years. That’s why this is an ‘original lineup’ show.” When speaking about expectations for the show, he said “I’m mostly looking forward to seeing everyone again. All of the people who helped this band along the way are going to be there: Mike Petryshyn of Riot Fest, Justin Schwier of Underground Communiqué Records, a ton of our close friends…I just can’t wait to see all those people in the same room again. And, obviously, I can’t wait to play again. Five years of academia as a mid-late thirties adult is rough. This show is like breaking out of prison for me.”

Lastly, when discussing the band’s plans beyond this show, Kovacs hinted at possible future endeavors. He said, “Before we broke up, we had written an album with (guitarist) Steven Jenkins that never got released. It’s a shame, because it’s easily some of the best stuff we’ve done. We really want those songs to see the light of day at some point. There have been talks about collecting the very best of that unreleased album with Steven and the best of the unreleased stuff we did with John and meshing it all together as an absolute stunner of a record. I have no idea when or if that record will actually get made, but if it ever does, it’ll be great. Any Shot Baker activity after this ‘original lineup’ show will include Steven as a second guitarist, but who knows when the next show will happen. We’re all so busy right now.” Tickets for what is sure to be a memorable evening can be purchased here.

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Reviews

Nothington – In the End

Nothington-In-The-End-artwork

Red Scare Industries – Release Date: 2/17/17

Despite over five years elapsing since the release of the last album from Nothington, it sounds as though they never missed a beat on their latest full-length, In the End. Oftentimes when a band takes a similar hiatus, their new material sounds forced or like they’re trying to recapture a previous style. Conversely, this record breaks new ground and finds Nothington sounding focused, revitalized and demonstrating a new level of detailed songwriting. A great example of this is “The Lies I Need,” with lyrics that emphasize a strong sense of resolve and a chorus that utilizes both vocalists to create multiple layers of melody. The song also displays restraint in that there are quieter parts, but also times when the band really turns it up and pushes the tempo to accentuate their point. “Burn After Reading” is one of the catchiest entries on the album, complete with introspective lyrics and numerous melodic guitar leads, while “The Hard Way” includes a stirring rhythm and a giant chorus that features each singer exchanging lines. The title track brings the record to a close with personal and reflective lyrics, which underscore a trace of optimism that’s present throughout the album. On In the End, Nothington has crafted a collection of earnest, sing-along anthems that balance melody and aggression. The record is consistent, distinctive and one that makes a familiar and often predictable genre sound revived.

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Airstream Futures – “Dreams of Narrow Wings”

AirstreamFutures2

This spring, Airstream Futures will release their debut full-length on Paper + Plastick, called Spirale Infernale. The band combines elements of punk, indie rock and alternative, and features members of The Bomb, The Methadones and Bow & Spear. The album was produced by Rodrigo Palma, (Saves the Day) and Derek Grant, (Alkaline Trio), and recorded/mixed by the band’s guitarist, Jeff Dean. Airstream Futures’ lineup also includes singer Devon Carson, bassist Megan Edgin and drummer Mike Soucy. We’ve got an exclusive premiere of one of the record’s songs below, called “Dreams of Narrow Wings.” When asked to describe the song, Carson said “It started with Mike’s description of a dream where he had wings but they were too narrow to fly. It made us think about all the horrifying things going on in the world and the overwhelming desire to help in some way, but feeling completely overwhelmed and ineffectual. If we can’t even save ourselves in our own dreams, it’s no wonder that putting a hashtag in front of a problem has become our favorite form of activism.” Check out the song now and if possible, catch the band on their upcoming UK tour.

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Bagheera – “Shooting Rockets Towards the Sun”

Bagheera

On March 28th, Bagheera released their latest album, Shooting Rockets Towards the Sun, via Skeleton Fur Records. The band’s lineup consists of Theodore Moll, (MU330/Sharkanoid) and Heather Moll, (Climber). Heather plays guitar and bass, while Theodore contributes drums, guitars and keyboards, and both share vocal responsibilities. The album was recorded by the band and mixed/mastered by Lance Reynolds, (Alt-J, Ash). The record draws inspiration from things like astronomy and Roman mythology, yet at the same time addresses personal issues and human emotions as well. Musically speaking, the songs are intricate, layered and recommended for fans of Built to Spill, Rainer Maria and The Breeders.

When asked as to what inspired the album’s title track, Heather said “The idea for the song is that so many people go through life without truly enjoying themselves or taking advantage of the fact that they are on this planet for such a short time. Most people are guilty of moving through life on autopilot, or moving through life looking through a lens of negativity. I am definitely guilty of this, so this song is a realization and a reminder to myself that life is short and that I have to treat it as such.” Theodore elaborated when speaking about how this song in particular relates to the overall theme of the record. He said, “I hadn’t thought about it until recently, but when my dad passed away, we lit off some bottle rockets at the reception after the funeral to give him a good send off. We were essentially shooting rockets towards the sun, in the same spirit as Heather had imagined writing this song. As an aside, as a result of the fireworks we set several of the neighbor’s lawns on fire. I think my dad would have appreciated that. The last song on the record, ‘Departing the Oort Cloud,’ was written after my dad passed and was written for him, and we reused the ‘towards the sun’ lyric.”

Take a listen to the song “Shooting Rockets Towards the Sun” below and order the record here.

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