Wednesday, November 30, 2011

CD Review: Ric Menck - Ballad Of Ric Menck

Note: This review originally appeared in the Illinois Entertainer.


Velvet Crush member Ric Menck’s newly remastered version of his 1996 solo effort The Ballad Of Ric Menck includes five bonus tracks and documents his progression from an avid fan of power pop to one of the genre’s better performers. Designed to resemble a vinyl album from the mid-60s, it also includes extensive liner notes by the artist.


The bonus track “Wishing On A Star” was co-written with the late Jim Ellison of Material Issue and recalls the Los Angeles 1980s Paisley Underground scene. Menck notes that “Delaware Rain,” which makes its CD debut here, was directly influenced by R.E.M.’s “Don’t Go Back To Rockville.” The guitar-driven love song “Big Blue Buzz” is another one of the successful bonus tracks.


Menck’s cover of the Graham Nash era Hollies song “Clown” adds a more modern guitar sound, and he also connects with Matthew Sweet’s pop gem, “Are We Gonna Be Alright?” The Hollies and Sweet songs were on the original Ballad Of Ric Menck, but his cover of Syd Barrett’s “Golden Hair” is a new addition. Menck’s own compositions on The Ballad Of Ric Menck, like the psychedelic “Perfect Day” and mid tempo “Sunflower” are consistently enjoyable.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

CD Review: Five Thirty - Bed

In the rush to get last Friday’s Slumgullion column out during the holiday weekend, I forgot to thank Carla DeSantis Black for commenting on last Tuesday’s Rockrgrl Vintage Publication Spotlight. DeSantis Black was the publisher/editor of the magazine during its 10-year run. Rockrgirl has been widely recognized for its role in promoting women musicians, and DeSantis Black still actively pursues that mission on her current website. I’m honored that she enjoyed my tribute.


Now on to today’s CD review, which originally appeared in the Illinois Entertainer in 1991.


The English trio Five Thirty takes on the world with high energy pop songs on its debut release, Bed. Beginning with “Supernova,” a blast at self-indulgent rock stars, the band goes on to snipe at Margaret Thatcher and organized religion. The songs, penned by vocalist-guitarist Tara Milton and guitarist-vocalist Paul Bassett, tend toward clever wordplay, as evidenced by titles like “Junk Male” and “Womb With A View.”


Produced by the band members themselves, along with Marc Waterman, Bed is impressive for its well-crafted arrangements as well. “Songs And Paintings,” with its echo-laden chorus, is an XTC influenced jab at censorship, and the metallic voices of “Automatons” paint an eerie portrait of a modern, faceless society. Five Thirty also impresses with its straight ahead love songs; “You” is a catchy slice of heartbreak pop, while “Psycho Cupid” is a melodic lament for thwarted romantic dreams.

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Why Don’t You Stay Just A Little Bit Longer?

Photo from The Hollies - Look Through Any Window 1963 -1975 DVD.


“If they only had wings, then they’d be sharing in all of our things.” - “Wings” by The Hollies.


An article by Natasha Korecki in yesterday’s Chicago Sun-Times proclaimed the benefits of spending vacation time in Manchester. “Manchester is to London what Chicago is to New York,” she noted. “It’s packed with friendly pubs, rich with its own music, history and prideful people.” As a longtime Anglophile and Hollies fan, I’ve always been keen to visit Manchester, as well as the more obvious choice of Liverpool. I thoroughly enjoyed the few days my wife Pam and I spent in London during a 2006 swing through Europe.


A sidebar to Korecki’s piece mentioned that The Radisson Edwardian has suites that are named after rock and roll artists like Bob Dylan and David Bowie who performed in Manchester’s Free Trade Hall. Since The Hollies were one of the first major bands from Manchester and obviously played extensively in the city, it seems likely they would be one of the artists honored. However, I couldn’t confirm this via the hotel’s website.


I did find a post on the SkyScraperCity site that mentions the new six-story Manchester Central Arena Travelodge, which has 12 wings that are named in honor of Manchester-based bands.


“Travelodge polled 5,000 Britons to nominate their favourite band from Manchester,” the site explained. “They are Oasis, Take That, The Smiths, Stone Roses, The Hollies, The Verve, Gary Barlow, Simply Red, Joy Division, New Order, Elbow and The Chemical Brothers.” The Hollies Wing is located on the third floor, along with Verve.


So it’s quite possible I’ll have a choice of Hollies-related places to stay if I ever do make it to Manchester.

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Friday, November 25, 2011

Slumgullion #89

Back in town. Photo from Dot Dot Dot Facebook page.


Dot Dot Dot has its origins in my hometown of Palatine, but travels the nation performing its catchy synth rock originals as well as the occasional cover version. The band comes back home for Thanksgiving with a Black Friday gig tonight at the Bottom Lounge just west of downtown Chicago. Murley Shertz, Wayland, and Heavy Sugar are also on the bill. The show kicks off at 8:00 PM. Dot Dot Dot is also a Black Friday sale on its website on all four of its EPs and some t shirts.


Pat DiNizio recently posted on his Facebook page that The Smithereens will be performing live on the nationally syndicated radio show Rockline next Wednesday, November 30th. The show can be heard at 7:00 PM. Hopefully, they'll be performing more songs from their impressive new CD, Smithereens 2011 than they did at a Chicago Concert I caught last summer.


SOPRO presents its 29th Annual Thanksgiving All Star Blues Revue tomorrow night at The Voodoo Lounge on 79th Street in Burbank, Illinois. The lineup includes longtime Chicago favorite and globetrotting guitarist-vocalist Joe Jammer. The critically acclaimed jazz band The Chicago Horns will also be performing, along with artists vocalist Deb Seitz, Vocalist France Marie, guitarist Frank Anastos, keyboards player Greg Wolfman, guitarist-vocalist Billy King, harmonica player-vocalist Doug Lee, guitarist vocalist-vocalist Joey Drada, bassist John Falstrom, drummer and drummer Scott Bonshire. They will be champagne and special prize giveaways.


Listeners tuning in to Breakfast With The Beatles on WXRT last Sunday were given a treat when host Terri Hemmert played an acoustic version of John Lennon’s “Across The Universe” that was recently recorded by singer-guitarist Steve Dawson of Dolly Varden and singer-guitarist Phil Angotti. Dolly Varden and Angotti will be honoring another Beatle this Sunday night as part of A Tribute to the Quiet One: George Harrison at the Old Town School Of Folk Music. The event features Steve Levitt & The Beatles Ensemble, Midnight Moxie, Shelley Miller & Women’s Rock Ensemble, The Janes, and several other performers. Tickets are $12, the show starts at 7:00 PM.


Performer Sam Magdal will be channeling Ol’ Blue Eyes when Durty Nellie’s in Palatine presents its sixth annual Sinatra And Pasta benefit for Journeys from PADS To HOPE on December 1st. There’s a $15 admission and organizers would also like the people who are coming to bring a few non-perishable food items. In addition to veteran Sinatra impersonator Magdal, there will be an all you can eat pasta buffet and raffle prizes. Call 847-217-1845.


Over 80 recording artists are helping Amnesty International celebrate its 50th Anniversary by contributing to Chimes Of Freedom. The CD is due out on January 24th and contains 75 recently recorded Bob Dylan songs. Some of the acts involved include Joan Baez, Elvis Costello, Ziggy Marley, Jeff Beck, Seal, and Pete Townshend.

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Second Annual Post Thanksgiving Day Shopping Guide

The Doctor and Amy Pond have been just about everywhere in the universe, so why not in your media room?

Life size standup available at the Come Round website.


On Thanksgiving day, the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times runneth over with flyers from countless retail stores advertising bargains for Black Friday. Some places are even getting a head start on the biggest shopping day of the year by opening on Thanksgiving evening. While it’s always fascinating to discover the hottest trends, some of us believe plunging head first into overcrowded shopping malls just isn’t worth the hassle. So here’s a less hectic version of a gift guide.


Chicago indie rock band The Handcuffs have worked out a deal with online site CD Baby to offer each of their three releases at the discounted price of $8.99. That includes the very impressive latest effort, Waiting For The Robot. In addition, The Handcuffs will donate a dollar from each sale to comedian Elayne Boosler’s Tails Of Joy animal rescue charity.


WXRT is set to release Live From The Archives Volume 13 on December 6th. As on the earlier volumes in this series, the CD features live performances from acts that have either performed in the radio station’s studio or at an XRT sponsored concert. At any rate, these versions are not available anywhere else, and the CDs are only around for a limited time. Those of us who have collected the previous 12 volumes won't want to miss it. That said, some volumes are better than others, and this year’s selection falls somewhere in the middle of the pack. The highlights include “Down By The River” by The Decemberists, “Dog Days Are Over” by Florence + The Machine, “Crash Tears” by The New Pornographers, “I Got Mine” by The Black Keys, and “Soul Meets Body” by Death Cab For Cutie.


CDs are always a good choice for gifts, so after you’ve purchased some from The Handcuffs and WXRT, feel free to browse the reviews I’ve done over the past few years for more options. I’m hoping to review CDs by Trolley and The Perms soon, and I would recommend those as well.


The 27th Annual Fest For Beatles Fans Holiday Sale catalog has arrived. In addition to CDs, t shirts, posters, DVDs, and books, it’s filled with every conceivable item emblazoned with a Beatles logo. You’ll find belts, wallets, pajamas, sunglasses, hats, puzzles, games, and even an Apple dartboard. And you can wrap up all your Beatles gifts in Beatles-themed wrapping paper. The Fest For Beatles Fans online store has even more items for sale. My only complaint is that I’d love to see these manufacturers spread the wealth around. When there are already dozens of Beatles t shirts, why not print up some depicting The Animals, The Kinks, Donovan, The Hollies, and other noteworthy contemporaries of the Fab Four?


Rock Art Show, an online site that sells art and photographs by and of musicians, plans to unveil a new rare item each Monday of the holiday season and make it available only for that week. The first two weeks have brought a pair of John Lennon out-of-print art pieces and a massive Pink Floyd boxed set. It should be interesting to see what other hard-to-find treasures they come up with in the coming weeks, but it looks like you have to sign up for the Rock Art Show online newsletter to receive the offers.


Grownups who still love toys can find loads of fun things at the Toynk online store. Know anyone who collects The Walking Dead Comic action figures? Toynk has them. They also have the Universal Monsters Marvel Select Figures Collector Set that includes Dracula, The Mummy, and The Creature Of The Black Lagoon. On the less gruesome front, there are Barbie Collector Dolls, Smurfs, and sports action figures, as well as cars and trucks.


Doctor Who fans celebrating the release of The Complete Sixth Series DVD can find lots of interesting party favors on the U.K based Come Around website. Such as life size standups of of The Doctor and the show’s other characters. The price is £22.50 in English money.


Chicago area authors Cherie Colyer and Susan Kaye Quinn each have a supernatural/romance Young Adult novel coming out. Quinn’s book is titled Open Minds and is already available at Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, and iTunes. Colyer’s book, Embrace is due out from Omnific Publishing on December 20th. The trailer is already up on YouTube. Full disclosure: Colyer and Quinn are members of a writers group I belong to.


Also, check out the websites of your favorite bands for holiday songs or other special items. For example, The Hollies have a cool new t shirt available on their site.


Have fun doing whatever form of shopping you prefer, and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

CD Review: Various Artists - Gag Me With A Spoon

Before moving on to the CD review, here are a few suggestions for kicking off the long holiday weekend.


Alt rock/country & western band Dolly Varden and The Phil Angotti Band will be sharing a double bill tonight at SPACE in Evanston. The show is at 8:00 PM.


Quenchers Saloon is staging a Black Wednesday Rock n’ Roll Show tonight, featuring No Enemy!, The Safes, and The Sonnets. Quenchers is located at 2401 N. Western Avenue in Chicago. Show time is 8:30 PM

.

Note: The following review first appeared in the Illinois Entertainer.


Don’t Records isn’t the first independent label to showcase its roster of fledgling artists on a collection of cover versions, but the Milwaukee-based record company does the tradition proud with Gag Me With A Spoon. The CD lets a number of local acts sink their teeth into some of the bigger new wave and alternative hits of the 1980s, with varying degrees of respect or irrelevance.


The Blow Pops and Alex Ballard & Sugarfoot deliver faithful renditions of “The Ghost In You” and “Talk Of The Town” respectively, while The Falling Wallendas replace the energy of “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” with a slower, dreamier arrangement. Willy Porter serves up a bluesy take on “Whip It,” and Pet Engines give “How Soon Is Now?” a revved up cowpoke spin. Citizen King’s all male version of “I Know What Boys Like,” along with several other inventive interpretations, helps make Gag Me With A Spoon a fun party record.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Vintage Publication Spotlight: Rockrgrl

Note: I just updated a lot of info in the Elevated Observations portion of this blog.


There are a few issues of Rockrgrl in my archives, although not as many as at The Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., which has the entire 57-issue set. It’s interesting to compare the September/October 1999 issue with the one from January/February 2005. Sadly, the magazine would cease publication later that year.


Publisher/Editor Carla A. DeSantis tops the masthead for both issues; while Contributing Editors Gail Vogel and Kathleen Warnock, as well as writer Steven Thompson were also still around in 2005. Rockrgrl had more of a ‘zine feel on the earlier issue, with its sporadic ads being mostly for bands, and everything except the front and back cover being in black and white. The 2005 issue was glossy and colorful, with quite a few more ads, but obviously DeSantis had still held true to her mission of spotlighting women musicians.


Noted writer Holly George-Warren remarked in her 1999 cover story on Chrissie Hynde that the singer despised being called “a woman in rock” and didn’t consider herself a role model for young girls. The band had just released its first CD in five years, ¡Viva el Amor! at the time of the interview. Her advice to upcoming musicians of either gender was to not burn themselves out on drugs or alcohol. “And to me, though rock is all about breaking rules and you’re allowed to do whatever you want,” Hynde explained. “I have my own rules that I stick to.”


The 1999 issue also had features on Dianne Izzo, Penelope Houston, and L7. Steve Thompson covered a concert by The Go-Gos’s, who were on their 20th Anniversary Tour with Berlin and Lunachicks. He gave a thumbs up to all three acts, although he noted that the more confrontational (but funny) Lunachicks had trouble connecting with fans who had come to see The Go-Go’s. There were CD reviews of The Muffs’ Alert Today Alive Tomorrow, the Linda Ronstadt & Emmylou Harris collaboration Western Wall: The Tucson Sessions, and Fetish by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts. Gail Vogel’s Rock Gadgets column covered reasonably priced guitars and amps, and in her Editor’s Note, DeSantis reflected back on her earliest days of writing about women in rock, and the excitement of discovering that first Pretenders album.


Rockrgrl was is in its 10th year in 2005 (the March/April issue would officially mark the anniversary) and looked like it was doing well. There was a cover story on Rosanne Cash, and other featured artists included Angie Heaton, Melissa Etheridge, All Girl Summer Fun Band, Mindy Smith, Rachael Yamagata, Tegan and Sara, and Martha Davis of The Motels. There was a live review of PJ Harvey at the Knitting Factory in New York, and CD reviews of Alanis Morissette, Minnie Driver, Patti Griffin, and A Girl Called Eddy. The issue also announced the winning entries for The Rockrgrl Capture The Moment Photo Contest.


Although Rockrgrl is no longer in print, DeSantis has created a Facebook page for the magazine.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

CD Review: The Chills - Soft Bomb

Note: This review originally appeared in the Illinois Entertainer.


The Chills spin one interesting tale after another on Soft Bomb, the ambitious follow-up to the New Zealand’s band’s breakthrough release, Submarine Bells. Lead vocalist Martin Phillipps, who writes all the material, depicts a mercenary on “Strange Case,” and gives us a trapped housewife with “Sanctuary.” An underlying theme of increasing frustration is particularly evident when the vaudeville influenced snippet, “There Is No Harm In Trying” is later revisited as “There Is No Point In Trying.”


The acerbic “The Male Monster From The Id” kicks Soft Bomb with off with the engaging pop The Chills have become so well known for, and is quickly followed by the punchier “Background Affair.” “Double Summer”is a slice of dreamy romantic pop and on “Ocean, Ocean” The Chills try a more energetic approach. The atmospheric ballad “The Entertainer” evokes Jim Morrison at his most haunting, while the theatrical finale, “Water Wolves” makes use of a full orchestra.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Slumgullion #88

Photo from The Hoodoo Gurus Facebook page.


A number of female musicians will get their just due when Cyndi Lauper hosts Women Who Rock, which airs on Channel 11 in Chicago tonight. The PBS documentary was inspired by a Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame exhibition bearing the same title and offers interviews with Bonnie Raitt, Heart, and others; concert footage; and live performances. It’s an expansive look that covers early pioneers like Bessie Smith, Maybelle Carter, and Mahalia Jackson; and moves on through Janis Joplin, and up to current stars like Lady Gaga.


The Telepaths, a cutting edge band that includes musician/actor/political firebrand James Moeller and performer/critic Pat McDonald, will be part of Face Melting Friday tonight at The Mutiny. The bands Friend and The Mainliners are also on the bill. The show starts at 9:00 PM. Mutiny is located at 2428 N. Western Avenue in Chicago.


Brad Elvis and Graham Elvis will be playing drums and guitar respectively for a number of performers as part of the Karen For Kids concert at Beat Kitchen this Sunday afternoon. “Sorry, no Elvis Brothers songs or reunion,” Brad Elvis noted on his Facebook page. There will be kid songs, food, and as they say in ad lingo, fun for the whole family. The show starts at noon.


Chicago filmmaker Michael Glover Smith, who made quite a splash on the indie festival circuit with his folk music satire, At Last, Okemah!, will be on hand for the premiere of his latest effort, The Catastrophe at the Illinois International Film Festival at 3:00 PM tomorrow afternoon. My interview with Smith about this intriguing new work can be found on the online magazine Chicago DIY Film. The Illinois International Film Festival kicks off tonight and runs through Sunday at the Viaduct Theatre, located at 3111 N. Western Avenue in Chicago. A $10 ticket allows you to check out screenings throughout the weekend.


Chris Isaak is coming to the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie on Saturday December 10th. Isaak’s latest CD, Beyond The Sun finds him covering tunes from the 1950s. Tickets are sale now.


Solo artist and former Pezband lead vocalist Mimi Betinis will be performing at the Penny Road Pub in the northwest suburb of Barrington next Friday, November 25th. His most recent CD, All That Glitters, is loaded with well-crafted melodic tunes.


Congratulations to The Hoodoo Gurus. The quirky and sometimes cranky power pop band will be inducted into a Hall Of Fame at the The Age’s E.G. Awards ceremony on November 22nd in Melbourne. Apparently the awards, which have been around since 2006, are related to a popular Australian publication. The Hoodoo Gurus will be performing at the event, which will help benefit Support Act Limited, a charity that aids members of the Australian music industry.


Herb Eimerman, the Chicago based power pop bassist-vocalist who’s been part of the international trio The Britannicas for the past few years, adds to his global resume with his latest project, Green Beetles. This time out, he’s joined by fellow Britannicas member, Australian vocalist-guitarist Joe Algeri; another Aussie, guitarist-vocalist Dom Mariani; and Swedish drummer Stefan Johansson. Their first song, “The Basement” is available for free download at Algeri’s bandcamp page. Algeri wrote this catchy, high energy tune about a romantic reunion that comes together over playing vinyl records in the title room. Hope to hear more from this band.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

45 RPM Memories: “I Predict”

Note the record store tag on the sleeve. Kroozin Music had at least two locations in Chicago back in the 1980s. I was a regular customer at the one on 79th Street just east of Pulaski. It was a great place to find a variety of rock singles and albums, including punk, new wave, hard rock, and imports. It was also one of the few places on the southwest side where you could pick up a copy of Chicago's weekly alternative newspaper The Reader.


Sparks works that same ubernerd vs posterboy dynamic that has always worked so well for Cheap Trick. But most guys would feel safer letting Rick Nielsen or Bun E. Carlos give their girlfriend a ride home that Ron Mael. Maybe it was the Hitler moustache, or those robotic head movements he executed while playing keyboards. At any rate, he and his much more sane looking brother, vocalist Russell Mael, gave us lots of humorous, catchy songs.


“I Predict,” recorded in 1982, sets a series of circumstances and their results to a punchy arrangement featuring keyboards, guitar, and a pulsing bass. It kicks off with the sensible “You’re gonna take a walk in the rain and you’re gonna get wet” before moving on to more outlandish predictions. “They’re gonna find that the Queen is man, but that Phillip don’t care” is quickly followed by “Lassie will prove that Elvis and her had a fleeting affair.” Each line is punctuated with an emphatic “I predict!” The lyrics further proclaim that “cold beer and pretzels take care of cancer” (a nice thought) before repeating the line, “And this song will fade out” over and over while the “I Predict” does just that.


The B-Side, “Moustache,” which was also taken from Angst In My Pants (Sparks loved their punning album titles) moves to a faster arrangement as it explores various styles of facial hair.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

CD Review: Rebel Pebbles - Girls Talk

Note: This review originally appeared in the Illinois Entertainer in 1991.


Girls Talk, the full-length debut from Rebel Pebbles features the L.A.-based four-woman band embellishing 1960s style pop with tight harmonies and a sense of humor. The title track is a more rock-oriented ladies who lunch romp while “Wild Weekend” has lead vocalist Rachel Murray ticking off a rhyming list of things she’ll need for a trip while guitarist Karen Blankfeld, bassist Robin Fox, and drummer Cheryl Bullock chime in on backup vocals.


The band is less successful handling more serious fare like “Elephant’s Revenge,” which trivializes the slaughter of the animals for their tusks, and the sappy “Eskimo and Butterfly.” Blankfeld’s high-energy strumming helps make the garage rock tune “No More Cryin’” a definite keeper, while “Groovy Love” evokes a mid-60’s hit single, complete with some “Love Me Do” style harmonica playing. Murray’s playful vocals and Fox’s sensual bass lines bring a sensual feel to “Anthony’s Attic.”

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

CD Review: Terminal White - The Color-Line

Note: This review originally appeared in the Illinois Entertainer in 1991.


Terminal White has been pursuing its own definition of industrial dance music on a series of independent releases over the past few years. Comprised of David Pistrui on vocals, guitar, and bass, and Phil Rainey on bass, keyboards, and vocals, the Chicago duo creates high energy songs with more melody and nuance that hardcore practitioners like Ministry and Einstürzende Neubauten.


With The Color-Line, Terminal White uses its first full-length effort to explore jazz and soul while maintaining an industrial edge. The opening track, “The Garden” hammers homes a message to save the environment before it’s too late. “Alley Cat” is a fun dissertation on feline behavior set to synthesized purrs and some slinky saxophone playing from guest musician Dave Best. “Wedgelock” is a soulful dance number reminiscent of ABC while “Truth In Lies” is harder rock.


The Color-Line crackles with intriguing sampling, including some tense dialogue as a marriage dissolves in “Everytime.” The title track is the real attention grabber; a percolating collection of sound bites put to an infectious groove.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

CD Review: Tribe - Abort

Note: This review originally appeared in the Illinois Entertainer in 1991.


The Boston-based band Tribe aggressively tears into domestic life on its debut effort, Abort, turning up domineering parents, abusive boyfriends, and holiday get-togethers that dissolve into accusations and resentment. As lead vocalist Janet LaValley sings on “Daddy’s Home,” a tale of an alcoholic father, “It’s just a madhouse anyway.” Even the simple joy of buying a lottery ticket is transformed into “Jackpot,” which ridicules the fantasy of finding happiness via state-sponsored gambling.


Tribe succeeds in wrapping these raw emotions in consistently hypnotic post-modern rock. “Here At The Home” drifts in with operatic female harmonies before Eric Brosius’s guitar breaks through like a thunderbolt through a cumulus cloud. The haunting “Easter Dinner” benefits from the keyboard work of Terri Barous, who also provides backup vocals on several songs. A walk in the woods provides a romantic setting for “Serenade,” one of Abort’s few optimistic moments, while the first single and video, “Joyride” sets adventurous vocals to a driving beat and irresistible melody.

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Friday, November 11, 2011

Slumgullion #87

We’re Only Making Plans For Nigel. Happy Nigel Tufnel Day! In honor of 11-11-11, there are 11 items in this week’s edition of Slumgullion.


1. Uncommon Ground, the hipster restaurant that’s been around Chicago for 20 years, will be celebrating the opening of a new listening room at its Clark Street location tonight with performances from five local musicians. Ingrid Graudins, Phil Angotti, Liam Davis, Steve Dawson, and Rachelle Eve will be part of a showcase that kicks off at 10:00 PM.


2. Seven bands, along with MC Rattina, will take part in the Covers For Cover III benefit being held for the Primo Center for Women and Children next Thursday, November 17th at Schubas. Organizer Mia Park told me in an email a while back that participating bands will have “a strong female presence & have female front people or have at least 50% women.” The lineup features Heartache2Heartache as Pat Benatar; Madam Ant as Adam Ant; In The Flesh as Blondie; The Lady Sentinels as Britney Spears; Parkway as The Buzzcocks; Planet Claire as The B-52’s; and The Hey Hos as The Ramones. Tickets are $12 or $10 with a donation of new toiletries at the door. The show begins at 8:30 PM.


3. The Sun-Times ran a story by Dave Hoekstra this past Wednesday detailing Cheap Trick’s plan to open Cheap Trick Chicago, a combination museum/radio station/restaurant/rock club at 2245 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago. The venue would be a nice fit for what’s now dubbed the Record Row-Motor Row district, which was once home to Chess, Vee-Jay, and Brunswick Records. A number of other organizations and entrepreneurs are said to be interested in developing projects in the area. This might be a good time to point out that I portrayed a curator of a pop culture museum on the comedy series Manchester Gallery that Pam and I created for the Sunday Morning Coffee With Jeff internet show. Just in case Cheap Trick is hiring.


4. Doctor Who fans with a couple hundred bucks to spend might want to pre-order a 1:6 Scale Limited Edition Eleventh Doctor Collector Figure from the English company Big Chief. The figure, which is officially licensed and authorized by BBC Worldwide, looks amazingly like actor Matt Smith, who currently plays The Doctor in the long-running sci-fi series. Judging from the Big Chief website, this is the company’s first crack at celebrity sculptures. It should be interesting to see who they honor next.


5. The new Shoes website reports the Zion, Illinois based power pop band had a busy October, working on the 15 new songs for an upcoming CD. The latest effort will mark the first time drummer John Richardson who has played live gigs with Shoes for several years, will be joining them in the recording studio.


6. Over 50 short films will be shown at the Illinois International Film Festival which is being held next weekend, November 18th through the 20th at the Viaduct Theatre. The lineup includes a Friday night screening of Garage Hoppers, a comedy I’ve mentioned before on Broken Hearted Toy, and covered for Chicago DIY Film. Bryn Packard, who was once a member of my former comedy group Famous In The Future is part of the cast. The Viaduct Theatre is located at 3111 N. Western Avenue in Chicago. 773-296-6024. Tickets are $10 at the door and are good for all screenings throughout the weekend.


7. Freda Got Funded. Looks like we’ll be seeing Good Ol’ Freda after all. The documentary about Freda Kelly, onetime secretary for the Official Beatles Fan Club, reached its goal of raising $50,000 on the Kickstarter funding site. Director Ryan White is now set to start putting the film together. No word yet on when it will be finished. Freda Kelly will be one of the guests at the Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago in August 2012.


8. The people at Rock Art Show, an online shop for art and photos of and by famous musicians, want you to keep them in mind for holiday gift-giving this year. But you’ll have to be quick to keep up with a new promotion where a unique item will be introduced each Monday and only be available for that week. The treasure hunt starts this coming Monday, and Rock Art Show is promising something special for Pink Floyd fans. There’s no mention of this promotion on the actual site, so I guess you'll have to sign up to receive email updates. That’s how I found out about it.


9. The new website Knock Down Ninja describes itself as being “like Kickstarter.com for buzz” although I’m not really sure what that means. The general idea seems to be they'll convince celebrities to do something wacky if enough fans request it The current challenge involves all-woman band Antigone Rising playing an acoustic gig in a New York subway. Fans are being encouraged to spread the word via Twitter and Facebook. “We want to push bands to do extraordinary things and interact with fans,” Dan Voell from Knock Down Ninja explains. The site explains how the shares system works.


10. The Chicago Tribune recently carried an item from The Wrap stating that actor Bradley Cooper of The Hangover fame will not be portraying Napoleon Solo in Steven Soderbergh’s cinematic update of the ultra cool 1960s TV show, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. It’s reassuring to learn there'll be a Napoleon Solo in the film. Hopefully that means Soderbergh’s not going to pull a Mission Impossible type stunt where Solo, Illya Kurakin, Mr. Waverly, April Dancer, and Mark Slate get killed off in the first few minutes and are replaced by a new spy. By the way, Mr. Soderbergh, although my scenes as an extra were cut from your Contagion film, I'm available for The Man From U.N.C.L.E.


11. They’re not dead yet. The Bad Examples will celebrate the 20th Anniversary of their debut CD Bad Is Beautiful with a show on Saturday, November 26th at FitzGeralds in Berwyn. The band’s Facebook page promises special surprises, as well as a video and artifact display circa 1991. It’s worth pointing out that The Bad Examples’ latest effort, Smash Record, stands as one of 2011’s better releases.

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