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”

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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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15th Annual CHIRP Record Fair

Chirp Record Fair

This Saturday, April 8th, CHIRP Radio will host its 15th annual record fair at the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Hall, from 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM. The expansive fair will offer vinyl, CDs, posters and books, as well as food, beverages, DJs and more. CHIRP DJs will spin music throughout the event and live acoustic performances will be held downstairs. Tickets are $7, with all proceeds going to CHIRP, while early admission tickets are $25 and allow for re-entry. Tickets will be available at the door, but can also be purchased here.

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War Brides – “Designer Life”

War Brides

Album art by Francisco Ramirez at Bureau of Print Research and Design

On April 28th, War Brides will release their latest full-length via Triple Eye Industries, called Regrets. The album was engineered by Greg Norman, (Pelican, Russian Circles, Smashing Pumpkins, Foo Fighters) at Electrical Audio in Chicago and features nine songs in total. Regrets represents some of the band’s fastest material to date, highlighting carefully-crafted hooks that underline elements of punk and hardcore. The record will be available on clear vinyl with white splatter, opaque green or standard black vinyl. Check out an exclusive stream of the song “Designer Life” below and pre-order Regrets here.

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Photos

The Menzingers @ Metro, 3/03/17

The Menzingers at Metro

The Menzingers at Metro in Chicago

Last month, The Menzingers headlined a sold-out show at the Metro, playing in support of their recently released album, After the Party. Much like the record itself, the band displayed signs of maturation throughout their set, playing to the crowd and delivering numerous fan-favorites with ease. They opened with “Tellin’ Lies,” the leadoff track from their latest full-length and quickly segued into their 2014 hit, “I Don’t Wanna Be an Asshole Anymore.” They then proceeded to play four songs from their breakout record On the Impossible Past, with “Good Things” receiving the largest crowd response. From there, they reached back to 2010 and performed “Time Tables,” elevating the amount of audience participation to another level. Additional highlights included “Rodent,” “The Obituaries” and two of the best songs off After the Party, “Midwestern States” and “Your Wild Years.” The band left the stage briefly after playing nearly 20 songs and returned for a rousing, three-song encore, consisting of “Lookers,” “Casey” and “In Remission.” In short, The Menzingers delivered an impressive and comprehensive set, leaving fans thoroughly satisfied and already anticipating the next time they roll through town. Be sure to check out their recent national television debut on Last Call with Carson Daly here.

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Interviews

Meat Wave

Photo by Katie Hovland at Riot Fest, Chicago

Photo by Katie Hovland at Riot Fest, Chicago

Last month, Meat Wave released their second full-length for Side One Dummy, called The Incessant. Recorded by engineer Steve Albini, the album finds the band refining their take on unabashed, hook-heavy post-punk. We spoke with singer/guitarist Chris Sutter about the record’s lyrics, many of which address themes like confrontation and accountability, yet there’s also a sense of dark humor that’s discreetly built-in. Additionally, we talked about the album’s writing process, what it was like working with Albini, their upcoming European tour and more. The band’s lineup is solidified by bassist Joe Gac and drummer Ryan Wizniak, and don’t forget to check out their video for “Run You Out” after the interview. Click here to view…

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Interviews

Split Single

Split Single

After completing a recent West Coast tour, we caught up with Split Single to discuss their latest album, Metal Frames. We spoke with singer/guitarist Jason Narducy about how the record was written and recorded, as well as the meaning behind its title. We also talked about the contributions of drummer Jon Wurster, (Superchunk) and bassist John Stirratt, (Wilco) and how their involvement helped to shape the album’s sound. The end result could likely be described as carefully crafted power-pop meets melodic rock, with an underlying sense of rawness and urgency. Be sure to catch Split Single when they play Schubas on Saturday, April 22nd and check out their video for “Untry Love” after the interview. Click here to view…

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Reviews

Less Than Jake – Sound the Alarm

Less Than Jake

Pure Noise Records – Release Date: 2/03/17

Making their Pure Noise Records debut, Less Than Jake recently issued a seven-song EP entitled Sound the Alarm. Recorded by singer/bassist Roger Lima at his own studio and mixed by Jason Livermore at The Blasting Room, these songs sound exceptional and allow for the individual instruments to really shine through at the appropriate times. Additionally, this record signifies the most spirited that the band has sounded in over a decade, which is especially impressive considering they’re celebrating their 25th anniversary this year. The EP gets underway with “Call to Arms,” a track that evokes memories of fan-favorite album Borders & Boundaries and employs a bouncy chorus that’s peppered with horns and an array of backing vocals. It’s followed by “Whatever the Weather,” a mid-tempo, ska-leaning number that features prominent horn lines and a resilient message, (“It’s out of my hands, these too heavy times/No matter the weather, I’ll never waiver”). “Welcome to My Life” is a laidback ska tune with introspective lyrics that recalls their 2003 hit “The Science of Selling Yourself Short,” while “Good Sign” is a fast-paced, upbeat punk entry that talks about embracing optimism. The EP fittingly concludes with “Things Change,” a track that highlights some of their top characteristics: high-flying horn parts, the alternating vocal talents of Lima and singer/guitarist Chris DeMakes, and the sturdy rhythms of drummer Vinnie Fiorello. Sound the Alarm is recommended for those in search of a quality ska/punk fix and will likely leave fans anxiously anticipating their next full-length.

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