Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Edward Rogers - Glass Marbles

English singer-songwriter Edward Rogers has become a well-known performer and show producer in New York since moving there a number of years ago. His latest effort Glass Marbles follows a similar approach as his 2014 album KAYE, with a mix of theatrical tunes delivered a voice reminiscent of David Bowie, and full-throttle rock songs. He’s backed by a quartet that includes Smithereens drummer Dennis Diken, along with several guest musicians.

After opening with the hard-edged and Bob Dylan-sounding “The World Of Mystery,” Rogers moves on to “Denmark Street Forgotten,” the first in a series of introspective tracks that explore life and relationships from different points of view. “Welcome To My Monday Morning” and “Blackpool Nights” are steeped in a British working-class sensibility, while the ornate “My Lady Blue” describes an outdoor one-night-stand in the pouring rain.

Rogers also succeeds with the more energetic fare, particularly the funky, guitar-driven title track and psychedelic “The Letter.” The catchy “Bright Star” is fueled by guitarist Don Piper and sounds like a Revolver era Beatles hit, while “Burn And Play” hammers home a message of treating people right. The same advice comes across in the childlike but appealing “I’m Your Everyday Man,” with lines like “Always pick peace and goodwill.”


Monday, May 2, 2016

Looking Back With The Bangles

Last week, The Bangles announced that their 2014 digital-only album Ladies And Gentlemen. . . The Bangles will soon find a second life as a CD. It’s now available for pre-order on the Omnivore Recordings website.

Since The Bangles responded to fans who requested Ladies And Gentlemen be released on CD, I’ll throw another suggestion out there for them. How about a special release for this year’s Black Friday Record Store Day or the 2017 original Record Store Day? Maybe a seven-inch single with a cover of a 1960s hit like The Hollies’ “I Can’t Let Go” (Vicki Peterson recorded it with The Continental Drifters) and a brand new song.

Here’s a review of Ladies And Gentlemen I posted on Broken Hearted Toy back in early 2015.

Ladies And Gentlemen pulls all five songs from the band’s 1982 self-titled EP, and adds rare tracks, demos, and live performances. Most are from the days when bassist Annette Zilinskas was a band member along with Susanna Hoffs, Debbi Peterson, and Vicki Peterson. Longtime fans might have some of this material already, but those who are only familiar with “Manic Monday” or “Eternal Flame” will be in for a surprise. The collection provides an essential puzzle piece of how The Bangles were able to bring a 1960s pop sensibility to original material that worked within the Los Angeles punk scene in the early 1980s.

The surf rock instrumental “Bitchen Summer” originally appeared on the Rodney On The ROQ: Vol. 3 compilation, while “Getting Out Of Hand” and “Call On Me” were the A Side and B Side respectively of The Bangles’ (then known as The Bangs) first single. Catchy songs like “I’m In Line” and “The Real World” from the EP show much harmony vocals mattered to The Bangles right from the start. The previously unreleased material includes authentic covers of the Warren Zevon-penned “Outside Chance” (a minor hit The Turtles), and Paul Revere And The Raiders’ caustic “Steppin Out.”


Friday, April 29, 2016


This Sunday at 7:00 PM CST, The Bad Examples will launch a PledgeMusic campaign to release their 1991 debut CD Bad Is Beautiful on vinyl with a live broadcast via lead vocalist-guitarist Ralph Covert’s Facebook page.

As mentioned earlier this week, the annual Chicago Zine Fest runs from 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM tomorrow at Plumbers Hall, just west of downtown. The event will feature over 250 exhibitors displaying magazines, self-published books, and comics.

Since May in Chicago will include two Graham Nash shows at City Winery, and The Zombies at The Arcada in St. Charles, I’m designating it as British Invasion Month. I’ll be looking for other events that fit this theme in the coming weeks, and if anyone has any suggestions, feel free to send them to me.

Aimee Mann will be at The Old Town School Of Folk Music on May 10; and Gary Numan has shows at Metro on May 16 and 17.

Tickets went on sale today for Jenny Lewis and The Watson Twins at Chicago Theatre on September 8; Tegan and Sara at The Riviera on October 21; KT Tunstall at Beat Kitchen on July 7; and Mudcrutch (the recently revived early Tom Petty outfit) at The Riviera on May 28.

Looks like I’m not the only one who’d like a Mary Arrchie t-shirt to honor the theatre’s 30 years of staging in-your-face productions. According to the Booster fundraising site, Mary-Arrchie has secured enough orders to print a run of shirts with its classic white logo on black t-shirt. The campaign runs for another 26 days, and all funds will go directly to Mary-Arrchie. Meanwhile, Stephen Walker’s work in Mary-Archie’s production of American Buffalo earned a nomination for a Jeff Award for Best Actor In A Principal Role - Play.

Mary-Arrchie Theatre’s will present its final Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins festival on the weekend of August 19 - 21 at The Den Theatre on Milwaukee Avenue.

The second annual Lake FX Summit And Expo takes place on May 13 and 14 at the Chicago Cultural Center, Gene Siskel Film Center, and Hard Rock Hotel. The event will feature panel discussions, workshops, pop-up performances, and film screenings geared toward the performing arts.

Thrift Store Halo, a Chicago-based trio whose 1998 CD World Gone Mad featured power pop gems like “Put Me Down” and “Fly Me Away,” is back in business again. The band has played a few shows in recent years, including opening for The Zombies. Hopefully, Thrift Store Halo will have some live shows and new music in the near future.

Back in November 2014 when The Bangles released their download-only Ladies And Gentlemen . . . The Bangles, fans wanted a CD version of the rarities collection. According to the band’s website, and a nicely written piece by Mike Duquette on The Second Disc website, those requests have been honored. Ladies And Gentlemen has a June 24 release date and is now available for preorder on the Omnivore Records site.

The Mighty Con Toys, Comics, and Gaming Convention will be held June 25 and 26 at the Dupage County Fairgrounds in Wheaton. The event will feature over 100 vendors, artists and guests. Admission is $8 for a day pass, and $12 for a weekend pass; kids under 12 get in free.

Today’s issue of Redeye included the Chicago free paper’s annual outdoor fest guide, with listings for music fest, art fairs, biking events, and all kinds of other outdoor fun things coming up in the next six months. It’s well worth saving if you can still pick up a copy of Redeye.

Pearl Mackie, a critically acclaimed veteran of the UK theatre scene, has been named as Peter Capaldi’s new companion for the next series of Doctor Who. She'll replace Jenna Coleman, who portrayed Clara Oswald in the long-running sci-fi series.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Taste Of Chicago Has A Touch Of Finest Rock

WXRT, which bills itself as Chicago’s Finest Rock, has presented a concert as part of the annual Taste Of Chicago festival for several years now. Possibly their most famous (notorious?) Taste concert was the one where The Replacements disintegrated on stage in the midst of a live broadcast. The 2016 lineup was recently announced, and this year, WXRT is offering The Decemberists on July 8. The Portland-based alt-rock band has racked up plenty of airtime on the FM station, although I can’t say I’m familiar with the opening act Shakey Graves.

What’s noticeable about this year’s five-day schedule is that most of the acts look like they could have been chosen by WXRT. Kongos and Elle King (July 7) are also regulars, although that show is being presented with support from 101WKQX. WXRT was one of the first U.S. stations to play Billy Idol, and he’s the headliner on July 9, along with the first-rate David Bowie tribute band Sons Of The Silent Age. The Isley Brothers (July 10, with Sheila E.) and The Roots (July 6, with Donnie Trumpet) have never been in heavy rotation on Chicago’s Finest Rock, but they they’re not total strangers either.

General admission for Taste Of Chicago is free unless you want to be in the seated area. Tickets for the seated area go on sale tomorrow.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

And They Couldn’t Stop Jack From Being Classic

When the Classic Album Night series returns to the Music Joint at Reggies tomorrow night, it will have a definite English accent. Phil Angotti, joined by various other local musicians, will cover Happy Jack by The Who and Beggars Banquet by The Rolling Stones. Later, The Dirty Pigeons will be tackling Muswell Hillbillies by The Kinks.

Angotti and The Dirty Pigeons have also been part of the annual Halloweekend tribute events, so they’re well versed in this sort of thing. I’m not saying it’s Angotti’s fault, but I’ve had “Craise Finton Cook” stuck in my head since he covered The Bee Gees’ 1st album at Laurie’s Planet Of Sound as part of Record Store Day. In past tribute shows, he has honored The Zombies and The Monkees.

Bass player Charlie Short and drummer/Keith Moon fancier Brad Elvis (from The Handcuffs and The Romantics) will be joining Angotti for Happy Jack. For Beggars Banquet, he’ll be working with guitarist-vocalist John Meade, keyboards player Dan Ingenthron; and drummers John Blaha and Frank Corpus. Reggies is located at 2105 S. State Street. Admission is just $10 and the British Invasion begins at 9:00 PM.

Also at Reggies tomorrow night, Houndmouth, of “Sedona” fame, will be performing in the Rock Club.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Chicago Zine Fest

With all the recent speculation about the death of print media, it’s a pleasure to see that the annual Chicago Zine Fest will take place this weekend at Plumbers Hall, just west of downtown. That’s the same building where the CHIRP Record Fair And Other Delights was held a few weeks back. Over 250 exhibitors will be on hand; displaying magazines, self-published books, and comics that cover a wide range of subject matter. There will be workshops and activities for kids as well as adults.

The actual exhibition runs from 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM on Saturday, and there are two panel discussions on Friday night. At 6:30 PM, Monika Harris will moderate the 90-minute Permission Not Granted: Women Of Color and the Politics of Zines featuring Leila Abdelrazaq, Sarah Gonzalez, and Monika Harris. From 8:00 PM to 9:30 PM, Andi Santagata, JC, Jonas, Marnie Galloway, Rachel and Sara, Taryn Hipp, Tanja Jagernauth, and Vicky Lim will take part in a CZF Exhibitor Reading. Admission is free for Chicago Zine Fest and Plumbers Hall is wheelchair accessible.


Monday, April 25, 2016

The Smiling Eyes - Self-titled

The Smiling Eyes (not to be confused with a Canadian alt rock trio with the same name) hark back to the 1960s throughout a self-titled debut album that’s been around a few years now. Their ringing guitars and highly polished three-part harmonies are especially impressive when the arrangements are energetic and the lyrics have some bite to them. Which makes it easier to overlook the occasional detour into cheesy sentimentality.

“Coloring Book,” a well-intentioned call for universal harmony, is just too cornball to get its message across; and even though the cloying “Man’s Best Friend” is a bonus track, it still doesn’t belong here. It should be noted that lead vocalist-rhythm guitarist Todd Oliver is also a professional comedian, so maybe I’m just not getting the joke. “Only God Knows,” a salute to America’s military men and women, works better, and the believable optimism of “Sunshine”grooves to a catchy melody.

The exhilarating “Love In Motion” is a power pop gem reminiscent of The Romantics, while “Kamila” sports clever wordplay and an energetic arrangement. The satirical, hard-edged “Mr. Man” takes on corporate greed, and the boys loosen their ties on the sexy dance club romp “Shake It.” The jangling “Vision Of Her” and “Mother Nature” should appeal to fans of The Byrds. 

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