Friday, October 24, 2014


Welcome to Dum Dum Girls, who are in town for a show tonight at Metro. The band will be showcasing its Too True album, which came out earlier this year. Like on earlier releases from the Dum Dum Girls, vocalist-guitarist and songwriter Dee Dee Penny did a great job on Too True of setting angst to irresistible melodies, with the added allure of 1960s style twanging guitar.

Tickets went on sale today for the Sleater-Kinney gig coming up on February 17th at the Riviera Theatre. The recently reunited trio is also rumored to have a full length album coming out next year.

The Psychedelic Furs will be coming to City Winery in Chicago on January 5th and 6th, 2015. Tickets went on sale yesterday. 

Fun with pasta. SOPRO will present the all-original lineup of popular Chicago club band The Dancing Noodles tomorrow night at Sullivan’s Irish Pub in Midlothian, IL.

Elgin will hold its fourth annual Nightmare On Chicago Street, an ambitious Halloween celebration in the downtown area, tomorrow, October 25th. There will be special guests, live rock bands, and a costume contest. Part of the entertainment will be a store front theater showing Zombie Grandma, an original sitcom created by Jeff Kelley and David Metzger. I had the pleasure of performing in some of the scenes of Zombie Grandma. Admission for Nightmare On Chicago Street is $10.

Hushdrops, the Chicago-based power pop/psychedelic band, will be performing songs from its long-awaited full-length effort Tomorrow at the Reckless Records store at 3126 N. Broadway tomorrow (October 25th) at 3:00PM.

Halloweekend: The Return takes places on Thursday, October 30th and Friday, October 31st at Wall To Wall Recording at 676 N. LaSalle. The lineup includes Phil Angotti as Tom Petty; Androgynous Mustache as The J. Geils Band; Metropolly as Blondie; Will Phalen and Anna Phalen as Johnny Cash W/ June Carter; The Bon Mots as Bob Seger; Neal Alger And Co. as King Crimson; Johnny And The Creeps (featuring John Aselin and Phil Angotti) as The Smiths; Dirty Pigeons as Queen; Falldown as Uncle Tupelo; and Chris Dorf And Friends as The Cars. Admission for each night is $10.

Bands across the water. The British Invasion: How 1960s Beat Groups Conquered America is a new exhibit that opened at The Beatles Story Museum in Liverpool on October 16th. It’s being curated by the Los Angeles-based GRAMMY Museum in a joint effort by the two institutions, and features artifacts from various English groups from the 1960s. Bobby Elliott, longtime drummer with The Hollies, has lent some interesting items to the exhibit, including a life-size cutout of himself, his Ludwig 400 snare drum, and a suit once worn by Hollies guitarist Tony Hicks. It sure would be nice to see The British Invasion come to Chicago. After all, we have done quite nicely with the David Bowie Is exhibit, which runs through January at the Museum Of Contemporary Art. 

Mac’s On Slade in Palatine will present A Tribute To The Beatles next Thursday, October 30th.

Learn several languages in just over two minutes. There are 10 catchy power pop/indie rock songs on the recently released CD Record Heat by The Safes, and the Chicago band is promoting one of them using an internationally flavored video. Directed by Mickey Mangan, “I Would Love To” features footage of The Safes performing live, along with scenes of fans in different countries holding up signs with a line from the song written on it in their native language. The clip recently premiered on the Yahoo Music site. 

Mooner, the Chicago-based band who latest effort was favorably reviewed here on BHT, has a show coming up next Monday, October 27th at the Township club in Chicago, at 2200 - 2202 N. California. The Iowa power pop band TWINS will also be on the bill, most likely playing songs from their new Tomboys On Parade album. The experimental rock trio The Thons will also be on hand.

Pride Before A Fall by The Church made its debut earlier this week by way of a video on the official Rolling Stone website. The atmospheric ballad is from Further/Deeper, the full length effort the Australian band plans to release on February 3rd, 2015. It will be the 25th album by The Church but the first without guitarist Marty Wilson-Piper on board. Ian Haug from the band Powderfinger joined founding member Peter Koppes on guitar for this effort. There is talk of The Church embarking on a U.S. tour at some point next year.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

David Bierman Overdrive - Standard Skies

Detroit-based singer-guitarist David Bierman had been away from the music scene for 20 years before returning to the studio to record Standard Skies under the clever moniker of David Bierman Overdrive. In the early 1990s, he fronted Junk Monkeys, a band that garnered rave reviews for its energetic power pop. Backed by a number of veterans of Midwest area bands, Bierman returned to those power pop roots while simultaneously driving full force into Country And Western music.

“Unmade Things” and “Fountain” are appealing mid-tempo songs augmented by David Feeny’s pedal steel guitar playing, and “Swept Away” is a touching, acoustic love song. “You Make Me Feel” is actually Bierman’s reinterpretation of the Aretha Franklin classic “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” and he gives it an inviting treatment that’s equal parts roots rock and soul music.

Bierman’s rough hewn vocals evoke Joe Strummer of The Clash and Mike Peters of The Alarm. That approach adds authenticity to more intimate material like “Waltz Of The Spilled Drinks,” and lets him soar on the high energy winners “Superhuman” and “Marking Days.” “This Is The Chorus” is one of those songs that’s about the making of a song, but Bierman avoids the usual pitfalls via his clever lyrics and irresistible power pop arrangement.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Rick Hromadka - Trippin’ Dinosaurs

Singer-guitarist Rick Hromadka has recorded four albums with the Los Angeles-based power pop band Maple Mars, and prior to that he fronted the Double Naught Spies. In 2012, he embarked on a side project dubbed Ruby Free with his wife, singer Lisa Cavaliere. Hromadka does all the vocals and plays all the instruments on the recently released Trippin’ Dinosaurs. He has jokingly promoted the CD as a the product of an over-inflated ego, but in reality it serves as an impressive solo debut.

The CD is bookended by high-energy songs that deal with communication breakdowns. “Conversation” is more politically inclined, as Hromadka uses a guitar-driven arrangement to drive home the point that we can’t simply sit back and let the world degenerate into violence and injustice. On “Listen I’m Waiting To Sleep,” he describes the destructive power silence can have on personal relationships. “Unveil all your emotions,” he advises, “before they all disappear.” The song is more elaborate than “Conversation,” with a distinct tempo change set in the middle. Trippin’ Dinosaurs also deals with tangled relationships on “There She Goes,” which finds Hromadka really breaking loose on guitar toward the end, and on the slower but still engaging “Tough Letter Bomb.”

Some of the other songs here are more fun-oriented, like the funky “It’s All In Your Head,” which takes a satiric swipe as facile celebrities. “Dreams Of A Hippie Summer” lives up to its name with a succession of picturesque images set to a breezy, 1960s style arrangement. The mysterious “Face On” slinks along to guitar and percussion, and includes an imaginative instrumental passage. All 10 tracks on Trippin’ Dinosaurs feature Hromadka crafting catchy melodies and creating enticing layers of vocals.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Halloween Song: Crystal Jacqueline And The Honey Pot - "Tick Tock"

“Tick Tock” was originally recorded by The Fleur de Lys, an English band that went through numerous lineup changes in the 1960s without ever scoring a hit with any of their psychedelically inclined singles. Several years later, Crystal Jacqueline And The Honey Pot included it on a double seven-inch single of cover songs they recorded for the UK all-vinyl Fruits de Mer label. (See BHT Archives, February 14, 2014.) Crystal Jacqueline, a vocalist who specializes in folk, prog rock, and psychedelia, often sounds like she’s conjuring something mysterious, and along with members of The Honey Pot (guitarist Icarus Peel, bassist Tom Brown, and drummer Wayne Fraquet), she makes “Tick Tock” a perfect choice for a Halloween rock playlist.

Set to a driving, bluesy arrangement that’s a bit like Led Zeppelin’s “How Many More Times,” “Tick Tock” concerns a witch who’s about to fly off at the stroke of midnight to haunt the bedrooms of little boys and girls. “You better watch out, I’m on my way,” the witch taunts, “and I’ve made my witch’s brew.” She also has plans to turn people into mice. Toward the end, there’s an instrumental passage fueled by sinister organ playing. By targeting bedrooms, the song taps into the primal childhood fears of a monster under the bed, a ghost in the closet, or a creepy face peeking in the window. I mentioned in my original review that this song might be too scary for younger kids. Still, considering the song’s catchy beat, the witch of “Tick Tock” might be too busy dancing to cast any evil spells.

Want more Halloween fun? Check out October, 2009 in the BHT archives. I did 31 Halloween song posts that year. I’ve done a few more during the month of October in the years since then. 


Monday, October 20, 2014

Mothboxer - Sand And The Rain

Before moving on to the review, just a quick note that there will be a Yoga For Recovery Benefit Concert this Thursday night at the Lincoln Tap Room at 3010 N. Lincoln Avenue. The $20 admission will help support Yoga For Recovery’s mission to empower women in prison. Entertainment will be provided by the gritty duo Razorhouse, The Lucky 3 Blues Band, and Laura Boton. 

Releasing a new album or EP has been an annual tradition for the UK band Mothboxer since it formed in 2010. Sand And The Rain, which came out this past August, is a collection of 10 smooth-as-silk Brit pop songs that should click with fans of Squeeze and XTC. Mothboxer can’t match the satiric bite of those groups but does offer infectious melodies augmented by the gorgeous harmonies of Dave Ody and Robbie Burley, both of whom also play guitar and keyboards. 

The fun and quirky “We’re All Out Of Our Minds,” with its airy tune and driving beat by drummer Phil Davies, is the song that most resembles XTC. Like much of Sand And The Rain, it features fluid piano playing. “Everything’s Changed” and “Looking For Summer” breeze by, and Mothboxer embarks on a change of direction with the harder-hitting “Stop” and “Take Me Down.” The album opens with the atmospheric and acoustic-based “All That I Want,” which provides an immediate showcase for Ody and Burley’s highly compatible voices. 


Friday, October 17, 2014


The Foo Fighters will be performing a rare small-venue gig at the Cubby Bear tonight but unless you already have a ticket, you can’t go. Those who’d like to see the sold-out show can watch a live stream of it tonight on HBO’s Facebook page, following the premiere of the cable network’s Foo Fighters: Sonic Highway series. The band just wrapped up a week-long residency on Late Show With David Letterman that included performing “Kick It Out” with Heart.

I would have included this in my Wednesday post about tribute bands had I known about it. Tributosaurus is going back to the 1980s for a show of one-hit wonders tonight at the Copernicus Center in Chicago’s Jefferson Park neighborhood.

Clash with Zombies. Speaking of tribute band shows, I dropped by The Abbey Pub last night for a lineup that featured Get Back as The Beatles; Phil Angotti and Beachwood Park as The Zombies; Guns And Ammunition as The Clash; and Frank Canino as Roy Orbison. I wasn’t able to stay for the entire event, but I did catch Guns and Ammunition and Phil Angotti. Guns And Ammunition nailed the urgency and power of The Clash with an impressive song selection that included “Police And Thieves,” “London Calling,” Julie’s Been Working On The Drug Squad,” and “Spanish Bombs.” Angotti, a master at doing these types of shows, created gorgeous three-part harmonies with keyboards player-vocalist John San Juan from Hushdrops and bassist-vocalist Casey McDonough on Zombies classics like “Tell Her No” and “She’s Not There,” along with deep cuts from Odessey And Oracle.

Bash with zombies. Elgin will hold its fourth annual Nightmare On Chicago Street, an ambitious Halloween celebration that envelopes the downtown area in spooky fun, next Saturday, October 25th. There will be special guests, live rock bands, and a costume contest. Part of the entertainment will be a store front theater showing Grandma Zombie, a sitcom created by Jeff Kelley and David Metzger especially for the event. I was involved with the filming of Grandma Zombie for the past few weeks, playing a government agent on the lookout for zombies. It should be interesting to see the final result.

Rock critic/Sound Opinions radio show host Jim DeRogatis will be operating in a humorous vein when he hosts Chicago Comedy Film Festival Featuring W.C. Fields and Ernie Kovacs  at 6:00 PM tonight at the ShowPlace ICON in Chicago at 1011 South Delano. The event will include screenings of The Ernie Kovacs Show from 1956, The Ernie Kovacs Special from 1961, and the W.C. Fields Straight Up documentary hosted by Dudley Moore. There will also be a Q and A session with members of the Kovacs and Fields families.

Penthouse Sweets, a fun and energetic Chicago-based band with a few CDs out, are going to be part triple bill tomorrow night at Phyllis’ Musical Inn on Irving Park Road in Chicago. Pittsburgh indie rock trio The Lampshades, and Red Lions are the other acts.

Rockabilly in a classy setting. The Neverly Brothers will be bringing their oldies/rock music history show to the Raue Center For The Arts in Crystal Lake tomorrow night.

Dann Morr is having a record release party for his solo debut Shouting Into The Wind next Thursday, October 23rd at Hideout Inn on Wabansia in Chicago. The Terriers and the Phil Angotti Band will also be performing that night. Shouting Into The Wind received a favorable review here on BHT about a week ago.

Also, on October 23rd, Roxy Swain, a local pop band that has had two CDs favorably reviewed here on BHT, will be at Beat Kitchen, along with The Erratics and Jimmy Gills.

Hushdrops have an in-store appearance at the Reckless Records location on Broadway coming up next Saturday afternoon. The band will be promoting its new Tomorrow album. 

The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame recently announced the nominees for its 2015 induction. They are Green Day, Lou Reed, Sting, War, The Spinners, Joan Jett And The Blackhearts, Bill Withers, N.W.A.,The Smiths, The Marvelettes, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Kraftwerk, Chic, Nine Inch Nails, and Stevie Ray Vaughn. 

The Bangles will be honored as part of The Women’s International Music Network’s 2015 She Rocks Awards on January 23 next year, as part the NAMM Show at the Anaheim Hotel. Guitarist Orianthi, a previous honoree, and Women’s International Music Network founder/journalist Laura B. Whitmore will serve as co-hosts of the event, which will also honor saxophonist-vocalist Mindi Abair. The She Rocks Award comes just The Bangles will be celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the release of their major label debut All Over The Place. In other Bangles news, the band will present ‘Rocky’s Revival,” an all ages show at the Troubadour in Los Angeles on November 1st.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Tributes And Treats

The Abbey Pub on Chicago’s northwest side will offer an evening of tribute bands tomorrow night, starting at 9:00 PM. Get Back will play a set of music by The Beatles; singer-guitarist Phil Angotti and his band Beachwood Park will cover The Zombies; Guns And Ammunition will take on The Clash; and Frank J. Canino will travel further back in time than any of the other three acts to impersonate Roy Orbison. As far as I know, this is the first time The Abbey has done a show like this in some time, so it would be great if a lot of people came to show their support. Admission is $8.00. 

Also on tomorrow night, Soundtrack Serenade will perform the entire soundtrack from Pulp Fiction at the High Hat Club on Irving Park Road in Chicago. Pulp Fiction cast member/Saturday Night Live veteran Julia Sweeney will be on hand for a Q & A session. The show starts at 9:00 PM, admission is $7.

In other tribute shows news, Halloweekend: The Return is scheduled for October 30th and October 31st at Wall To Wall Recording at 676 N. LaSalle, just north of downtown in Chicago. The Halloweekend Facebook  page promises a bar and a full lineup of bands. This annual event offers five sets each night, and was the inspiration for my It’s All Party Of My Rock And Roll Fantasy post (August 18th, 2014) in which I suggested a number of famous acts for the participating local bands to cover. Once again, no one took my advice. That heartbreak aside, there are a number of reasons to celebrate this year’s edition.

First, Halloweekend is back to two nights, after having been cut down to one at Martyrs’ in 2013. Plus, a number of its best performers from over the years (it has been at The Abbey Pub as well as Martyrs’) are on board for 2014, and their choices are eclectic and inspired. Phil Angotti, who has successfully honored The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Squeeze, and The Doors, will be taking on Tom Petty this time around. Androgynous Mustache, a group that does tribute shows year ‘round and nailed The Replacements at a previous Halloweekend gig, are doing The J. Geils Band.

Metropolly is fronted by Holly Senchak, a versatile singer-guitarist who impressed in previous shows as Courtney Love, Liz Phair, and the female half of ABBA. She’ll be leading Metropolly through a series of Blondie hits on Halloween night. Will Phalen was so good covering Beck last year, I’m looking forward to his Johnny Cash W/ June Carter set with Anna Phalen this time around. The Bon Mots have offered several entertaining impersonations in the past, and this time they’ll be playing that old time rock and roll of Bob Seger. 

The other acts on board for Halloweekend 2014 are Neal Alger And Co. as King Crimson; Johnny And The Creeps as 2015 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame nominees The Smiths; Dirty Pigeons as Queen; Falldown as Uncle Tupelo; and Chris Dorf And Friends as The Cars. As usual, I suspect some of these band names are nom de plumes for the musicians involved. Admission for each night is $10.

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