Tuesday, April 30, 2013

International Pop Overthrow - Chicago Wrapup


Photo from The Logan Squares Facebook page.

Congratulations to International Pop Overthrow CEO/Founder David Bash on another thoroughly enjoyable swing through Chicago these past few weeks. I was only able to attend two showcases this year, due to scheduling conflicts and the limits of public transportation. From what I saw, Bash still has the magic touch in finding local (and occasionally out-of-town) acts to fill his roster.

The afternoon showcase on Sunday, April 21st featured The Unswept  performing as a full band instead of as a duo, as they did last year. Cousins Charlie and Ryan O’Brien create eccentric, pop songs that are just as likely to tap into the British Invasion as Elvis Costello, and the new band members filled out the sound quite nicely. The Artist Formally Known As Vince, which was also back at IPO - Chicago for its second year, played original high-energy glam rock spiked by lead vocalist-guitarist TAFKAVince and vocalist Lauren. At times, their spirited duets recalled The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

The next act, Freetoed, was missing its drummer, but still created a full-bodied sound via acoustic and electric guitars, and mandolin. The indie rock band also benefited from a few guest musicians who joined them onstage. The Logan Squares are one of Bash’s recent discoveries, and they delivered with a guitar-driven set that recalled R.E.M. The band filled its music with spirited instrumental breaks, but never came across as a self-indulgent jam band.

The Abbeys  have performed at every IPO - Chicago, and their set on the 21st showed just how strong singer-guitarists Mike Cohen and Jeff Janulis have become as the band’s nucleus. Lively covers of The Everly Brothers and The Webstirs were mixed with catchy originals. Unfortunately, I was unable to stay for the final band that afternoon, Wiplot.

The energy level was still high almost a week later as IPO - Chicago closed with a seven-band showcase of Saturday, April 27th. The Redfords took a massive though melodic approach using shimmering guitars and a powerful vocalist, on originals tunes as well as a cover of The Cure’s “I Will Always Love You.” Like Freetoed, The Redfords are a prime example of how Bash has woven other rock sub-genres into his original power pop approach. The trio 92 Degrees, like The Abbeys, are longtime IPO - Chicago favorites. In addition to performing power pop songs from their vinyl Ep and self-titled CD, 92 Degrees surprised the crowd with some Rolling Stone covers. 

A Fragile Tomorrow were one of the few out-of-state bands at this year’s IPO - Chicago; having come from Charleston, South Carolina. With an impressive resume that includes opening for The Bangles on tour, and having its new CD, Be Nice Be Careful, produced by Mitch Easter, A Fragile Tomorrow had raised expectations for those of us who research IPO bands prior to attending a showcase. And they came through with a set filled with harmony vocals, ringing guitars, and irresistible melodies. 

The Queue was making its fourth IPO - Chicago appearance, but its lead vocalist-guitarist was the only surviving member among a new crew of musicians. I haven’t seen the band in a few years, but The Queue sounded more hard rock and funkier than I remembered. The material still kept an emphasis on melody.

I would have loved to have stayed for The Romeros and The Van Buren Boys, but had to leave early to make my way back home. 

International Pop Overthrow has already moved on to New York, where it will settle in for six days. Then it’s off to England for showcases in Liverpool and London. If you’re a power pop or indie rock fan eager to discover new groups, one sure way to do that is to check out the IPO schedules and follow the links to the various artists. I guarantee it will be worth the effort.
  

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Record Store Day Recollections


Plastic Crimewave’s third annual Hollies drawing.

After waiting outside Laurie’s Planet Of Sound from around 9:00 to 10:00AM on Record Store Day, I was waved inside by the friendly doorman and went straight to the counter with my wish list. The popular Lincoln Avenue record and pop culture store had already sold out of many of the special day’s limited edition vinyl releases, but fortunately I was able still able to nab the four-song EP Revolution Of The Mind by The dB’s; The Three O’Clock's Live At The Old Waldorf; and The Animals’ The Animals Is Here. The staff was friendly and efficient, and I was quickly off to other RSD adventures.

Next, I dropped by the Reckless Record Store on Milwaukee Avenue, where artist Steve “Plastic Crimewave” Krakow was once again doing quick sketches of any band a customer could think of for a mere $5. Krakow’s Secret History Of Chicago Rock comic runs in the Chicago Reader, and he also publishes his own eclectic ‘zine, Galactic Zoo, which is filled with his distinctive rock and roll artwork. This was the third year I requested a Hollies portrait by Krakow; I’ve been moving through their career from the earliest days, on to their psychedelic period, and now had brought in a Terry Sylvester era magazine cover as a model. Krakow sort of knows me by now and we talked about music as he brought the band to life via his black marker and sheet a white paper. 

Later that afternoon, I headed back to Laurie’s Planet Of Sound, where Dolly Varden was doing an in-store performance to promote its latest CD, For A While. The critically-acclaimed alt rock/C&W band, led by the husband and wife team of singer-guitarist Steve Dawson and singer-guitarist Diane Christensian, performed at the back of the store while customers packed the aisles. Dawson underscored the picturesque lyrics from his autobiographical songs through heartfelt singing, and combined with Christensen on some carefully woven harmonies.

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

International Pop Overthrow - Chicago - Saturday Evening Showcase


Photo from the A Fragile Tomorrow Facebook page.

This is the final day for International Pop Overthrow-Chicago 2013. Tonight’s showcase at the Red Line Tap offers prime examples of Chicago style power pop, along with an out-of-state visitor. If you haven’t checked the IPO-Chicago online schedule in awhile, you should be aware that some changes have taken place. For much more detailed info than I’m providing here at the last minute, along with  the full schedule and links to all the artists, see the IPO website. 

Slushy, a duo comprised of guitarist-vocalist Chris and drummer-guitarist-vocalist Brent, describe their music as “fuzzed-out confections from Chicago.”

The Redfords started as a studio band in 2007, and their indie pop songs have been played on WXRT and other local stations.

92 Degrees was one of three Chicago bands that participated in the very first International Pop Overthrow in Los Angeles back in 1998 (The Idea and The Critics were the other two) and they’ve been an integral part of IPO- Chicago right from the start. The trio hasn’t released anything in awhile, but the classic power pop songs from their vinyl EP, Money Makes The World Go ‘Round and self-titled CD are as vibrant as ever. They’ve taken over for The Valley Downs on tonight’s schedule (bassist-vocalist Make Galassini is in both bands).

South Carolina-based A Fragile Tomorrow’s latest effort, Be Nice Be Careful, which was produced by Mitch Easter of Let’s Active, is now available. The quartet, which has toured in support of The Bangles and R.E.M., will likely be playing songs from it during its show tonight.

The Queue seems like a perfect name for a group heavily influenced by the original British Invasion, and when I saw these guys a few years back, they certainly did their moniker proud.

Mike Vanderbilt performed a solo IPO-Chicago gig a few nights back, and tonight he returns with The Romeros. I really enjoyed this the last time I saw them at IPO-Chicago, and since its future is in doubt, tonight would be a great time to catch them. 

The Van Buren Boys promise their Chicago rock ‘n’ roll/power pop will be “fun with a capital F.”

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International Pop Overthrow - Chicago - Saturday Afternoon Preview


This is the final day for International Pop Overthrow-Chicago 2013, but with two showcases on tap, it’s still possible to get a full appreciation of this power pop and indie rock festival. If you haven’t checked the IPO-Chicago online schedule in awhile, you should be aware that some changes have taken place. For much more detailed info than I’m providing here at the last minute, and a full schedule with links to all the artists, check out the IPO website. 

Singer-guitarist Gerry O’Keefe is now in the 1:00 PM slot formerly held by 92 Degrees, who have switched to the 9:00 PM slot for tonight’s showcase. O’Keefe’s recently released CD, Whatever Suits You, finds this self-described “lifelong melody worshiper” taking a laid back approach on the touching “Lovingly,” and breaking loose on “Good When It’s Gone” and “Empty Refrain (Nos. 9-12)”.  It’s not clear whether O’Keefe will be performing solo or with a band.

Phil Knox is scheduled for the next slot this afternoon. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find anything about him on the web since my computer doesn’t accept SoundCloud.

Indianapolis-based band The Shake Ups are regular participants at IPO-Chicago. This coed quartet, featuring the dual vocal power of guitarist Patrick O’Connor and keyboards player Bitsy Matatall specializes in fun, catchy songs.

Vocalist Pamela Richardson has performed at IPO-Los Angeles and has been at just about every IPO-Chicago as a solo artist and/or with The Pralines. The band’s recent CD, A Beautiful View, displays Richardson’s knack for heartfelt lyrics and strong melodies. The Pralines’ engaging folk rock can range from the French language ballad “Il Commence À Pleuvoir” to more energetic fare like “Better Now.”

The Hurtin’ Kind is a roots rock/power pop quartet with some extensive experience on the Chicago club scene.

The Treeshakers are a power pop trio whose influences include British Invasion bands like The Hollies and Beatles, along with Chicago power pop royalty like Cheap Trick, Pezband, and Off Broadway. 

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

International Pop Overthrow - Chicago - Friday Night Preview


International Pop Overthrow wraps up its 2013 Chicago visit with three showcases this weekend. There are seven bands each on Friday and Saturday night; six bands on Saturday afternoon. For the full schedule, with links to all the artists, check out the IPO website. 

Nick Peay is a singer-songwriter who loves The Beatles. Peay’s from Louisville, KY and according to a Facebook post, he'll perform with fellow citizens The Uncommon Houseflies tonight (Thursday, April 25th) at IPO-Chicago. He’ll be performing as The Nick Peay Band when he opens for the fest Friday night. His latest EP, Life And Love And Us, features him playing ukulele.

MariZen is set to release its fifth CD, When The Sun Goes Down, on June 1st. Led by vocalist Mari Scott, the five-piece band describes its power pop sound as “like a charging freight train.” Chances are, they’ll be charging through some songs from the upcoming album tomorrow night.

IPO-Chicago veterans Panoramic And True also have a brand new release to draw from; Wonderlust is now available in vinyl and digital format. They’re ambitious musicians who describe their mix of garage, 1960s soul, and British Invasion as “rock music with a wide-angle lens.” New tracks like “Haunted” and “A Hold On On You” on the Panoramic And True BandCamp page bode well for tomorrow’s live performance.

Temporary Pharaohs have only been around for about a year, but they’re already regulars on the Chicago club scene. The lineup changes from time to time around founding members Chris Kulwin and Cody Carpenter. Indie rock songs like “Moon Over Miami” and “Sarah Swati” mix shimmering guitars with experimental arrangements.

Indie rock band The Break is currently working on a second release, so it’s possible it will be trying out some new material at the Red Line Tap tomorrow night. The Break might be the youngest band at this year’s IPO-Chicago, judging from their YouTube videos, but these guys have energy and poise.

The trio Lights Alive compares its self-described “Stadium Punk” to Paramore. Newcomer Devon Carson handles lead vocals, and founding members guitarist-vocalist Adam Instefjord and drummer Dave Vazzano have several years of performing together. Lights Alive recently shared some brand new songs on its Facebook page.

There’s not a lot of serious info regarding the quintet The JoyRyders on their Facebook page, but their MySpace profile states they play a mix of originals and cover versions. Videos of the band performing live underscore the notion that these guys know how to party.

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EP Review: Static In Verona - Some Things You Knew


First, a brief note: Johnny Marr's recently released The Messenger is one of the best CDs of 2013 so far and it's NOT GETTING ENOUGH AIRPLAY! He has a WXRT-sponsored gig tonight at The Metro.

The music Rob Merz creates under the name Static In Verona might best be described as shoegaze, but he pumps too much energy and variety into the five songs on Some Things You Knew for it to fit snugly into that category. Merz released his debut, Be Quiet As You Leave, in 2009 and reportedly, discovered shoegaze afterwards. Whatever the case, he’s so adept at crafting sonic landscapes with layered vocals and atmosphere, it’s virtually impossible to believe this is the work of one musician.

Static In Verona makes a grand entrance on Some Things You Knew with the lush keyboards and ethereal singing of “White Knuckles.” “Loud Night/Quiet Morning” starts with that same approach and then glides through several tempo shifts before settling in for an almost classical coda. The guitar-driven “Friendly Fires” and “Look Like Gold” fall more into the techno pop mode, and are reminiscent of The Delays and Ivy. “Everything You Knew” has a hard stomp and spare arrangement that sets it apart from the other tracks, but Static In Verona succeeds with that approach as well. 

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

International Pop Overthrow - Chicago - Thursday Night Preview


 Photo of Jimmy Rane from The Viaducts Facebook page.

 International Pop Overthrow continues its 2013 Chicago visit, and Thursday night provides yet another opportunity to check out six acts for just $10. The full schedule, with links to all the artists, can be found at the IPO website.

Singer-songwriter Michael Heaton plays acoustic rock and claims John Hiatt and Kinky Friedman as role models. He’ll be performing with a full band at the Red Line Tap tomorrow night.

Owen Stevenson is also a singer-songwriter, and has an extensive background in theatre as well as performing as a solo artist on cruise ships. His music has been inspired by Dave Matthews and John Mayer.

The seven-piece band The Red Wigglers has been keeping busy as of late, sharing bills with other groups on the Chicago scene. The lineup includes a trumpet player and a trombone player, and lead vocalist Megan Tormey is always ready add more cowbell.

Vocalist-bassist Kevin Gibson and guitarist-vocalist Butch Bays, AKA The Uncommon Houseflies, are based in Louisville, KY, and list The Hoodoo Gurus, Material Issue, and The Smithereens among their numerous influences. That last bit of info alone is enough to make me want to see them. 

I caught a live performance by The Viaducts a while back when they were on a triple bill with Magatha Trysty and The Right Tidys. Lead vocalist-guitarist Jimmy Rane draws from Buddy Holly on catchy songs like “Your Smiling Face (Walkin’ By In Blue Jeans),” while “Drive-Thru Girl” feels a bit more like The Ramones. Rane’s guitar playing is especially impressive live. The band has a full-length CD out titled, Mission To Destroy.

The power pop continues with Rollo Time, whose 2010 CD, Victims Of The Crown is filled with catchy tunes like “’Til It All Comes Down.” Singer-songwriter Jon Raleigh was formerly with The Times Beings.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

International Pop Overthrow - Chicago - Wednesday Preview


Guess The Genre. Photo from The Gold Web Facebook page.

Last year, while I was enjoying an International Pop Overthrow showcase at The Red Line Tap, a gentleman sitting nearby asked me in a charming English accent, “Is this a competition?” I explained that pretty much everyone was a winner at IPO, but there were no prizes involved. If you watch reality TV shows like American Idol and The Voice, you rarely encounter any power pop artists. There’ll be some at The Red Line Tap tomorrow night, along with a few hard rock bands, as this traveling music festival continues its Chicago visit. For the full schedule, with links to all the artists, check out the IPO website. NOTE: There are six sets scheduled for Wednesday night, but one of then is now a TBA.

Mike Vanderbilt will be wearing a few different hats at this year’s International Pop Overthrow-Chicago. He was wearing a sort of Frank Sinatra fedora while checking out The Abbeys at IPO this past Sunday. In addition to that, Vanderbilt has a solo gig Wednesday night, and will join The Romeros when they make a rare (and final?) appearance Saturday night. His show tomorrow is billed as Mike Vanderbilt And The Suburban Garage Sound, but he’ll be making all the sounds himself. Vanderbilt draws inspiration from The Replacements, The Old 97s, and Cheap Trick.  

The Facebook profile for Night Of Fire describes their music as “the definitive hard rock sound.” There’s also a mention of “punchy, articulate melodies,” and since IPO Founder/CEO David Bash told me via email for an Illinois Entertainer article that he doesn’t book any artists that don’t have a strong sense of melody, it’s a safe bet that Night Of Fire’s songs are powerful and catchy.

I have to admit, Placeholder is one of the least intriguing band names I’ve ever come across, but again, I’m trusting Mr. Bash’s track record for picking worthy bands for his showcases. Led by vocalist-guitarist Myque Peters, the trio got its start in Boston and made a pit stop in Tempe, AZ before arriving in Chicago. According to their Facebook bio, Placeholder’s set is “Loaded with songs about girls, swearing, and dressing well.”

If you’ve ever wanted to check out some Suburban Longboard Rock, come to The Red Line Tap tomorrow night for a set by Minor Wits. In addition to listing the above genre on its Facebook profile, the trio also promises Wind-Surf Pop and Power Pop. Minor Wits is currently recording new material.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to uncover much about The Gold Web, but judging from the band photos and mind-bending graphics on their Facebook page (but no description or bio), I’m going out on a limb and saying they perform psychedelic, hard-edged rock. Melodic, psychedelic, hard-edged rock.

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Monday, April 22, 2013

International Pop Overthrow - Chicago - Tuesday Night Preview


Anyone looking for a variety of modern rock all in one venue, should check out International Pop Overthrow tomorrow night when another six-band line-up performs at The Red Line Tap. Here’s a look at the acts who’ll be performing. The complete schedule, with links to all the artists’websites, is available online at International Pop Overthrow

Em And Them, the four-piece band led by vocalist-acoustic guitarist Emily Roth, have been around since 2009. They create original rock with deep funk and soul grooves. Songs like “Fight For You” also incorporate a hint of world beat.

The Ateliers pursue a darker, alternative sound, led by versatile lead vocalist Mike Nesbitt and guitarist Bill Acuña. (Not sure if that’s the same Bill Acuña who plays guitars with The Despotic Hall Of Fame  on Monday’s lineup.) “Le Shake,” is an exotic mix of alt rock and mid-1960s Beatles, while “Silenced” has echoes of Bauhaus. The Ateliers released their debut CD late last year.

The Facebook bio for Brother George talks more about Mars than music, but it looks like this quartet (with occasional guest musicians) favors folk and indie rock. Big Piney, released late last year, features 13 song that mix acoustic guitar and keyboards.

Folk rockers Left Turn At Albuquerque mix humor and harmonies in their music, but they won’t be doing it much longer. According to a post on the trio’s Facebook page, the Tuesday night gig at IPO-Chicago will be their last.

The Pilgrims’ new tune, “You Don’t Have Any Singles, Do Ya?” sounds ready for airplay on alt rock radio stations. They’ve been around for six years.

I remember liking the brash, fun approach The Top Shelf Lickers took on their full-length CD, Head First, back when I reviewed it for the Around Hears section of the Illinois Entertainer. They’re likely to be just as energetic in a live setting, so this looks to be a solid choice to finish off an evening of unique performances. 

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

International Pop Overthrow - Chicago - Monday Night Preview


Photo from Kevin Lee Facebook page.

International Pop Overthrow continues its Chicago stay with a six-band line-up at The Red Line Tap tomorrow night. Here’s a look at the acts who’ll be performing. The complete schedule, with links to all the artists’ websites, is available online at International Pop Overthrow

Despite their Austin Powers type moniker, the numerous members of The Despotic Hall Of Fame aren’t out to control the world; they just want to play a variety of the world’s music. Led by Bill Acuña, they’ve been pursuing this mission since 2010, and have a CD out called Number One Hits And Other Associated Masterpieces.

Veteran singer-guitarist Kevin Lee and his band The Kings have a CD release show slated for Breakout later this week, so they’re sure to be playing some songs from this latest effort during tomorrow night’s IPO-Chicago gig. On his more recent efforts, Lee has been honing a harder-edged  power pop sound, especially on songs like “Burn It Down” and “Too Little Too Late.”

The Bright White is a post-punk quartet that draws upon the 1980s for inspiration. Around for about two years, their  EP Until Then has been getting airplay on local stations like WXRT.

The Intimate Machines state simply, “We play the rock” on their Facebook page, and it looks like they tend toward classic 1960s and cutting edge 1980s artists when it comes to influences. They’ve been on the scene for around two years.

Based in Milwaukee, Certain Stars play power pop influenced by Big Star. The band has been together since 2004, and records for the Cuba Libre label.

The coed band The PondHawks makes no bones about its favorite group -- it’s definitely The Beatles. That influence can be heard in The PondHawks’ emphasis on harmony vocals and strong melodies. They’ve racked up a lot of radio airplay since coming together a few years back.



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Saturday, April 20, 2013

International Pop Overthrow - Sunday Evening Preview


Photo from Trolley Facebook page.

Sorry this preview is a bit brief, but it’s hard to get two of these done in a single night. For full information on the bands below, check out the International Pop Overthrow website. 

Einstein’s Sister creates power pop music designed to appeal to fans of Squeeze, XTC, and The Beatles.

Milwaukee-based quartet Trolley has three vocalists, and creates irresistible power pop tunes. Their Things That Shine And Glow was one of the best CDs of 2011. One of the tracks was picked as The Coolest Song Of The Week on Little Steven’s syndicated radio program, Underground Garage. I’m betting they’ll have some new tunes to unveil at tomorrow’s (April 21st) performance. 

The trio Sketch Middle has been performing together since the late 1990s, and their debut release, Time Capsule, was produced by Jeff Murphy from Shoes back in the day. They’ve released a number of EPs since then, while drawing inspiration from Material Issue and Smoking Popes.

The Black Roses describe their sound as, “a little punk, a little pop, and some Rock n’ Roll.” They’re fronted by singer-guitarist Janelle Taylor, and have a brand new release to promote at tomorrow’s gig.

If you detect a Hole reference in the name Dana DeStefano And Dollparts, you’d be right. Singer-acoustic guitarist DeStefano and her three bandmates list Courtney Love’s former band as a major influence, along with Rilo Kiley, The Pixies, and The Beach Boys.

Critically-acclaimed band Semi-Twang have been performing country/alternative music since 1985. They’re led by singer-songwriter John Sieger, whose compositions have been covered by a number of well-known artists.

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International Pop Overthrow - Sunday Afternoon Preview


Photo from The Abbeys Facebook page.

It’s another two-headed beast for International Pop Overthrow at the Red Line Tap tomorrow, Sunday, April 21st.  The afternoon and evening showcases will feature six bands each. The International Pop Overthrow website has the full schedule for the fest’s entire run in Chicago, with links to all the artists. Here’s the lineup for the earlier showcase tomorrow. Some of the names are unfamiliar, but they get more interesting once you start checking them out.

The Unswept, a duo consisting of cousins Charlie and Ryan O’Brien were one of the pleasant surprises at last year’s IPO-Chicago. They’re recent transplants from Sheffield, England to Chicago, and have a knack for catchy, 1960s-influenced pop. A recent video posted on Facebook shows the cousins backed by a full band, performing a Rutles song at The Hideout. Whether they’ll have a full band or play Rutles songs at The Red Line Tap tomorrow is anyone’s guess, but I still have a good feeling about this.

The shelf life may have expired for a name like The Artist Formally Known As Vince, but any band that claims “Glitter, pretty things, and late nights” as its interests sounds promising. Plus, they draw upon the likes of  Cheap Trick and T Rex, and have a full length, high-energy CD out called On Display.

Judging from the influences listed on its Facebook profile, the quartet Freetoed incorporates a bit of C&W into its indie rock approach. Freetoed has a CD out, with the first single being the catchy “My Red Baloon.” 

The Logan Squares Band released a 14-song CD titled and That is That last summer, and it has some pretty cool sounding guitar-driven songs on it. Should be interesting to hear them in a live setting.

The Abbeys have performed at every single International Pop Overthrow since the festival has been coming to Chicago. Founding members singer-guitarists Mike Cohen and Jeff Janulis have spent years weaving Everly Brothers type harmonies together, so it’s no surprise they also have a band called The Everly Hillbillies. As for The Abbeys, they have a highly melodic power pop sound.

Wiplot is a Bloomington, IL quartet that aims to create alternative/power pop music with witty lyrics. Frontman and chief songwriter Dean Carlson previously performed with The Something Brothers. The band likes to describe itself as ‘delicious.’

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International Pop Overthrow - Saturday Evening Preview


International Pop Overthrow Founder/CEO David Bash sure knows how to throw a party on a Saturday night. Here’s a look at tonight’s (April 20th) acts. As I’ve mentioned before, the complete schedule, with links to all the artists’ websites, is available online at International Pop Overthrow . 

Food And Drug is a coed indie rock band that describes its music as drawing inspiration from The Velvet Underground, The Pixies, and The Kinks.

Singer-songwriter Rob Schultz tends towards a liberal point of view but never lets his politically charged lyrics overwhelm the catchy arrangements of his music. On his recent CD Tragedy And Comedy, his approach ranged from  humorous to hard-hitting .

Long-time IPO-Chicago participants The Webstirs are masters of the quirky pop song, and are also well-known for harmony vocals. A remastered edition of their earlier CD Smirk (with clever new packaging that mirrors The Beach Boys' Smile LP) offered power pop gems like “Old Enough” and “It’s Over Now.” 

Rich Sparks and Doug Bobenhouse from the previously mentioned Food And Drug also play in Dad’s Magazine, which describes itself on Facebook as being “assembled from gently used parts salvaged from Swinger, Sun Sawed In Half, The Webstirs, and Dad Factory.” Sounds promising.

The Surf Zombies have just put the finishing touches on their fourth CD of “hot rod horror surf”          instrumentals. They’ve been around since 2006 and feel a kinship with The Safaris, Link Wray, and The Cramps.

Phil Angotti and Ellis Clark both have new CDs coming out, but for this collaboration, they're going to concentrate on covering legendary Chicago-based power pop bands like Cheap Trick, Shoes, and Off Broadway. Angotti, in particular, has become a gifted mimic of other artists through his frequent tribute shows (The Bee Gees, The Monkees, Paul McCartney, etc) around town, and Clark has been a member of Social Act, Epicycle, and The Handcuffs. Both of these gentlemen have worked IPO-Chicago consistently since the very beginning, and can always be counted on for an entertaining show. I suspect a lot of musicians will be in the audience for this gig.  

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Friday, April 19, 2013

The Hunt For Red Vinyl


Record Store Day, a global celebration of vinyl in all its 7, 10, and 12 inch glory, is upon us again. The number of recording artists participating has grown over the past five years, and record stores continue to find innovative ways to draw in customers. Those of us willing to get up early tomorrow (Saturday, April 21st) with a Black Friday type of itinerary will have the best shot of snagging those limited edition, colored vinyl releases on our wish lists. There’s a complete rundown of all the one-time treasures being offered tomorrow on the Record Store Day website. 

Depending on the store, customers might also get some free snacks, a bag loaded with promo stuff, and a chance to watch a live performance. The challenge is getting around to the best deals and entertainment that’s out there. WXRT air personality Terri Hemmert joked about needing a helicopter to accomplish that, but a time-traveling TARDIS from Doctor Who would be better. Hemmert will be making an official appearance at the Reggie’s Record store on south State Street tomorrow.

Over at Vintage Vinyl in Evanston, there will be live performances by The Luck Of Eden Hall and Ellis Clark at noon and 1:00 PM, respectively. Artist Steve “Plastic Crimewave” Krakow will once again be at the Reckless Records location on Milwaukee Avenue, doing rock and roll caricatures of any band you want, although it does help if you bring a picture. Reckless has various live bands scheduled at its Broadway and Milwaukee Avenue stores. Dolly Varden has a 2:00 PM gig at Laurie’s Planet Of Sound on Lincoln Avenue.

This week’s edition of The Reader has a lot of good info, and rock critic Thomas Conner had a helpful piece in today’s Sun-Times. It’s also a good idea to go to the various stores’ websites to find out what they’ve got going on tomorrow.

As for the records, there truly is something for everone, including jazz, Country & Western, indie rock, heavy metal, and classic rock. WXRT is jumping into the game with a vinyl version of its Live From The Archives, Volume 14. I couldn’t begin to offer a cross section of everything that’s available, so I’ll just run down some of the ones I’m aching to acquire. That XRT Archives is one; along with the 12” four-song EP Revolution Of The Mind by The dB’s; the Nothing Can Hurt Me double LP by Big Star; The Three O’Clock's Live At The Old Waldorf; David Bowie’s “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” 45; Pink Floyd’s “See Emily Play” 45; The Rolling Stones’ 5 X 5 EP; The Animals’ The Animals Is Here and The Animals Are Back 10” EPs.

Here are a few tips for first-time Record Store Day shoppers:

Get there early. These are rare editions that sell out quickly. Some will already show up on eBay later tomorrow.

Have a list with you. The stores I’ve been to keep all the records behind the counter, and you’ll be in line a while before you’re waited on. If you start to dither, you run the risk of turning the clerk into Soup Nazi, and the people waiting behind you will become a vicious mob.

Prepare for sticker shock. I’ve haven’t been able to find anyplace online that lists prices for these records, and there is a wide range.  Last year, I paid $11 for The Small Faces’ “Itchycoo Park” 45. Other 45s were just a few bucks. An armload of double LPs could cost you a bundle.

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International Pop Overthrow - Saturday Afternoon Preview


At least the dog’s cute. Photo from The Uglies Facebook page.

As Cubs great Ernie Banks used to say back in the 1960s after the team had won a baseball game on a summer afternoon, “Let’s play two!” International Pop Overthrow has double headers scheduled for tomorrow, Sunday, and next Saturday, April 27th. The full schedule, with links to every artist, can be viewed on the International Pop Overthrow website. 


The artists booked for the early showcase tomorrow have the misfortune of going up against Record Store Day. But it’s a worthy lineup of coed bands, a singer-songwriter, and two well-traveled veterans.

The German Art Students hail from Madison Wisconsin instead of Germany, and their music has been described as “nimble-witted new wave pop.” The trio has a female vocalist, and its influences run through punk, pop, and new wave.

Singer-songwriter Kirby Kaiser takes a vintage approach, citing Amy Winehouse, The Beach Boys, and Lesley Gore as influences. She has self-produced and self-released a CD.

The Uglies are a quartet fronted by a female lead vocalist who isn’t, and play vintage blues, along with garage and indie rock.

Torch Singer is a multi-cultural six-piece band comprised of four men and two women. They play indie, pop, and mainstream rock.

Dave Rave’s musical background is quite impressive and he definitely holds the record for logging the most IPO appearances. Pretty much any place IPO founder David Bash has taken this festival, Dave Rave has gone along. He’s originally from New York, is a renowned session musician, and was a member of Teenage Head.

If anyone comes close to rivaling  Dave Rave’s IPO attendance record, it’s the singer-guitarist known simply as Jeremy. He draws inspiration from the 1960s and has released several CDs on his own Jam label. Jeremy can always be counted on for some extensive jamming during his live performances.

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