Friday, January 30, 2015

Slumgullion


Happy Anniversary to EXPO ‘76. The eclectic covers band comprised of seasoned and humorous veterans of Chicago’s fertile rock scene will celebrate five years of playing any damn song they want with a show at 27Live in Evanston tonight. Robert Cornelius will be their special guest.

I’m certainly not alone in wishing David Bash a quick and full recovery. The International Pop Overthrow Founder/CEO recently had two procedures to fix a blockage in one of his arteries. His Facebook page is overflowing with Get Well messages from musicians and friends from around the globe.

If you were at Lollapalooza in 2013, and caught shows by Atlas Genius and/or Imagine Dragons, you might want to check out the flick Project Almanac, which opened in Chicago today. As revealed by Luis Gomez in a recent Chicago Tribune article, the sci fi tale of three young time travelers filmed a few scenes at those Lolla performances. Project Almanac didn’t fare too well with Chicago’s film critics though; drawing lukewarm reviews in the Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times.

Chicago’s garage rock pioneers The Shadows Of Knight will celebrate their legacy with a 50th Anniversary Show March 14th at The Blues Bar in Mount Prospect. According to a Facebook post, lead vocalist Jimy Sohns is trying to persuade some of the band’s original members to join him on stage for the event. Other special guests will be announced.

The critically acclaimed and sometimes confrontational singer-songwriter Steve Earle has a four-night Solo And Acoustic residency coming up at City Winery February 1 – 4. His special guest will be the off-kilter but always enchanting singer-songwriter Dawn Landes. 

Tickets for Death Cab For Cutie’s April 30th show at the Chicago Theatre went on sale today. Earlier this week, tickets went on sale for Guster’s April 10th gig at the Riviera Theatre.

In light of recent new stories about how the David Bowie Is exhibition was one of the few major successes in what was considered an off year for Chicago area museums in 2014, the obvious solution is to bring in more rock-related exhibitions. The Grammy Museum’s The British Invasion: How 1960s Beat Groups Conquered America comes to mind, but it’s booked at The Beatles Story museum in Liverpool through October 2016. Maybe Chicago could latch onto it after that, but in the meantime, there must be some other worth shows of that ilk available.

Somewhat along those lines, the British Invasion 2015 Tour, which features Peter Asher; Chad And Jeremy;  Billy J. Kramer; Mike Pender’s Searchers; Denny Laine of The Moody Blues and Wings; and Terry Sylvester of The Hollies, will be at City Winery on March 7th. Each of these acts has turned in impressive performances at Fest For Beatles Fans - Chicago in recent years, so it should be a treat to see them all together in one show.

Singer-guitarist Ian Frees will be among the musicians performing at the Acoustic Night at Coffee Planet in Rolling Meadow next Friday. 

Crosby, Stills and Nash have added a second show at The Chicago Theatre. They’ll now be there on May 5th and 6th.

He can still play the honky tonk like anything. Tickets for Mark Knopfler’s October 2nd show at the Chicago Theatre go on sale at 10:00 AM tomorrow. 

The very first Elgin Literary Festival takes place next weekend, February 6–8 at several venues in the downtown area. There will be free workshops, panel discussions, sales, book signings, and guest speakers.

Veteran Chicago musician Eric Howell recently released a single as a preview to his upcoming Music On The Bones album. Working under the moniker King Mixer, he’s offering the melodic fable “Zookeepers” and the more power pop-oriented “45.” The singles are available online and at Howell’s live gigs.

Singer-songwriter Dann Morr wrapped up his Tuesday nights in January residency at The Hideout with a guest appearance from singer-guitarist Kevin Lee.

The Arcada in St. Charles has borrowed Cupid’s bow and arrow and is aiming to entice 1980s rock fans with a Valentine’s Day double bill of Loverboy and The Romantics. And since Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, it’s a perfect date night.

Let It Be - A Celebration Of The Beatles, a London-bred musical featuring 40 of the band’s tunes, will be at the Rosemont Theatre for two shows on February 21st.

Honey And The 45s, a coed band that combines elements of blues and jazz into original rock songs, will be showcasing its new Mad CD at the Tonic Room next Saturday night, February 7th. They’ll also be at The Hideout on March 1st.

The official David Tennant blog is keeping fans informed on the progress of a Tenth Doctor Figure being created by Big Chief Studios. A closeup of the figure’s face is so lifelike it’s almost frightening. There’s no doubt the finished product, featuring The Doctor in his blue pinstriped suit and sneakers, will be extremely cool. But the blogsite notes it will cost “in the region of £159.99-£189.99.” Now if only someone could make action figures of The Doctor’s companions that looked remotely like the actresses that portrayed them.

Speaking of Doctor Who companions, I was wrong when I stated last week that the Karen Gillan BBC movie We’ll Take Manhattan would be on the ABC network this past Thursday. It’s currently being shown on the ABCiview website. I apologize for the error.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Eric Howell - “Zookeepers” and “45”


Just a quick note before moving on to Mr. Howell’s new single. Phil Angotti, Jim Barclay, and Casey McDonough will be performing an acoustic version of the Squeeze Singles - 45s and Under album at Reggie’s on State Street in Chicago tomorrow night at 9:00 PM. I saw Angotti perform Squeeze songs a few years back as part of a Halloweekend Show at the Abbey Pub, and he did Difford and Tilbrook proud.

Eric Howell, a Chicago-based singer-songwriter and radio producer whose debut album Greatest Hitch! Vol 1 is still highly regarded among power pop aficionados, has just released a new single as a preview to his upcoming album Music On The Bones. Now working under the moniker King Mixer,  he’s joined on the A Side “Zookeepers” by drummer Nick Kitsos, guitarist Grant Tye, bassist Young Jake Crowe, and keyboards players Matt Nelson and Christian Cullen. It’s a fable about trying to navigate a troubled world (or possibly an after-world) laced with striking imagery of a media darling/femme fatale, fallen angels, and runaway nukes. “Zookeepers” is set to an engaging, mid-tempo arrangement and leaves listeners to ponder the question, “What if weve already been saved, and all of this is a paradise that we blew up?”

The B Side “45” is slightly less ominous and moves to an energetic power pop beat with rough-hewn vocals that are reminiscent of Mott The Hoople’s Ian Hunter. Crafted by King Mixer, Young Jake Crowe, Christian Cullen, and drummer Mike Frumlee, this catchy look at how time spins like a vinyl record is actually the more impressive of these two new songs. Both are available online and will be for sale at King Mixer’s upcoming live gigs.

And one final note: Today is Eric Howell’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Eric!

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Kooks - Listen


With the high-spirited Behind The Force Choir heralding its arrival on the opening track, it’s clear that Listen is going to be different from what we’ve learned to expect from The Kooks. The band has dabbled in different styles on previous efforts, but this album, released last year, is almost a complete makeover. At times, Listen answers the question, “What would four English working-class lads sound like if they tried to become Prince?” Funky rhythms and playful keyboards flow throughout these 11 tracks with varying degrees of success.

“Around Town,” the previously mentioned first song, is a gospel-fueled call for people to avoid violence and get involved with the world around them, while the optimistic “Are We Electric” evokes successful Brit techno bands like the Kaiser Chiefs. “Forgive And Forget” authentically recreates the fun and irresistible grooves of The Purple One. “Sunrise,” on the other hand, feels like a calculated attempt at a dance club hit single, and the “Down down diggy de down” singing on the mercifully short “Down” is just plain annoying.

The danger on Listen is that the amiably eccentric Kooks could lose their identity. The romantic “Westside” and imaginative fantasy “Dreams” are engaging but could have easily done without the synth embellishments. Luckily, “See Me Now,” a heartfelt tribute to a deceased father, is left uncluttered, while the compelling protest of “It Was London” is set to a gritty mix of acoustic and electric guitars. Listen has its adventurous attributes, but here’s hoping The Kooks’ core strengths are back in full force on their next effort. 

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Alvvays - Alvvays


Alvvays (pronounced Always) has been attracting a lot of attention since releasing this self-titled debut of shoegazer/dreamy pop songs last summer. The Toronto-based quintet was one of the headliners at Chicago’s recent Tomorrow Never Knows Festival, and will be back on March 27th as the opening act for The Decemberists at The Chicago Theatre. Lead singer-guitarist Molly Rankin’s ethereal vocals weave heartache within irresistible melodies and twangy guitars in much the same way Dee Dee Penny does with the Dum Dum Girls. There’s also a sparse, nocturnal feel to these arrangements that captures the excitement of new wave’s earliest days.

On the slow, engaging shoegazer track “Archie, Marry Me,” Rankin effectively channels the conflicted emotions of a woman who’s fallen for a guy saddled with a crippling fear of serious relationships. The woman in the catchy opening track “Adult Diversion” also feels neglected, wondering, “Is it a good time, or is it highly inappropriate?” That same sense of longing is set to a spooky keyboards and percussion backdrop on “Red Planet.” Alvvays takes another imaginative turn on “Dives,” by adding solemn, techno-oriented keyboards to a song that evokes a slow dance at a 1950s sock hop. Still, the best moments on this impressive first effort come when Rankin and her mates cut loose on the energetic “Next Of Kin” and “Atop A Cake.” 

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Slumgullion


Former Doctor Who star Karen Gillian’s underrated sitcom Selfie didn’t fare well on ABC, but she’ll be back on the same network next Thursday night with another show about taking pictures. We’ll Take Manhattan is actually a Brit film set in the 1960s that first aired on the BBC in 2012. It centers on the early days of trendsetting model Jean Shrimpton and photographer David Bailey.

The Pitchfork website is reporting that 1960s garage rockers The Sonics will soon be releasing their first album since 1967. The news was also shared on Facebook by Dig It Up, the concert promoting arm of Australia’s very fun and garage rock influenced band The Hoodoo Gurus. The Sonics joined the Hoodoo Gurus as part of the 2012 Dig It Up tour. The Sonics will be at Thalia Hall in Chicago with Barrence Whitfield and The Savages on April 24th.

The six-part, various artists digital album Legends: Shoulder To Shoulder was released earlier this week by The Pete Quaife Foundation Quaife was the original bassist for The Kinks. The foundation that was formed shortly after his death in 2010 has been using events and albums released on its own label to raise funds to supply sterilized kindles, play stations, and other devices that can be used by children undergoing kidney dialysis. The musician himself had suffered through the those monotonous treatments. Shoulder To Shoulder includes tracks by Noel Gallagher; Terry Reid/Kast off KinKs; The Jigsaw Seen; Michael Des Barres; Tommy Keene; John Wicks and The Records; Peter Noone; Paul Weller; Roger McGuinn; Mike Pender’s Searchers; Johnette Napolitano; and Robin Hitchcock.

Looking up. Speaking of Noel Gallagher, he’ll be bringing his High Flying Birds for a show at the Riviera Theatre in Chicago on May 29th. Tickets went on sale today.

Other shows that went on sale today include Jenny Lewis at The Vic on May 18th; Screaming Females at Empty Bottle on March 27th; and Southern Culture On The Skids at FitzGerald’s on May 6th.

Hootin’ and hollerin’ at The Hideout. Pearls Mahone, the Chicago-based singer who has traveled the globe belting out authentic rockabilly, country, and bluegrass tunes, is having a release party for her solo debut Echoes from the Prairie at The Hideout on February 6th.

The very first Elgin Literary Festival takes place on the weekend of February 6–8 at several venues in the citys downtown area. There will be free workshops, panel discussions, sales, book signings, and guest speakers. Sunday’s action includes workshops by published authors Kym Brunner, Katie Sparks, and Cherie Colyer from the writers group I’ve belonged to for a number of years.

The UK indie/vinyl-only label Fruits de Mer has just released its first album of 2015 and it’s a double LP titled Mechanisms Part Two from the prog rock band Cranium Pie. There’s a video of the track “The Lost Song” for all those people who have been clamoring for prog rock mind-bending videos with crustaceans in them.

Visitors to the Curly Tale Fine Art Gallery just north of downtown in Chicago have no doubt encountered the friendly pug dog Tina who inspired the venue’s name. I met her when I was there for a Beatles-related exhibit. Tina was recently diagnosed as having cataracts in both her eyes and is in need of surgery. Curly Tale owner Anita Jerman has announced a fundraiser to help cover the costs and is asking individuals for $20 donations Checks can be sent to Curly Tale Fine Art, Anita Jerman, 16 W. Erie Street, Chicago, IL 60654. 

Come on an amazing journey. The Paramount Theatre’s production of Tommy is a definite success, if you can believe critic Chris Jones (and I usually do) of the Chicago Tribune. Jone gave director Jim Corti’s take on The Who’s rock opera/broadway musical three and a half stars.

A sad note. Dallas Taylor, the drummer best known for his work with Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young (as well as being the mysterious guy on the back cover of the CSN debut) has passed away from kidney failure. There was a touching and well-crafted tribute to him by Steve Chawkins in this past Tuesday’s Chicago Tribune. It covered Taylor’s accomplishments as a musician as well as how he overcame substance abuse and went on to become a certified addiction counselor.

The indie rock band Save The Clock Tower will headline a show with two other bands at The Abbey Pub on January 30th.

Singer-guitarist Dann Morr, a veteran of bands like Wells-next-the-Sea and Mooner continues his residency at The Hideout this coming Tuesday night.

How can you say someone has indie rock cred if he’s never been a bubblegum card? I heard WXRT DJ Terri Hemmert talking about the new Topps Baseball cards for Eddie Vedder and Jack White on the air today and had to check it out. The two musicians qualified for this honor by appearing at baseball games to throw out the first pitch. Other celebrities featured on the new cards are Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine and actor Jeff Bridges.

Hopefully, it won’t seem wildly inappropriate to follow the above item with this one, but as I was about to post this, I saw the news report that Cubs great Ernie Banks passed away this evening. When I was growing up, with four brothers and a Dad who loved baseball, Ernie Banks was one of our favorite players. My younger brother had a chance to meet him a few times in more recent years, and said that Mr. Banks was genuinely friendly and a class act. A tip of the cap to Mr. Cub. 

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Phantoms - “Wasting Time”


First a reminder that the Fifth Annual Warren Zevon Birthday Bash takes place tonight at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago. Androgynous Mustache, a local tribute band with a revolving roster of members, will once again anchor the event; covering the Zevon catalog from beginning to end. The Faders are also on the bill. The show starts at 8:00 PM, with $10 admission charge.

“Wasting Time” is the latest single from The Phantoms, a West Lothian, Scotland quartet that formed in 2012. Their EP This Is How It Should Be, released a year later, and the 2014 single “Revolution” have garnered a lot of attention in the UKOn “Wasting Time,” which officially arrives on March 15th, lead vocalist-rhythm guitarist Colin Simpson’s emotive vocals soar above a hard-hitting arrangement that provides equal opportunities for lead guitarist Colin McKillop, bassist-backup vocalist Peter Stewart, and drummer Blair Cullen to showcase their chops.

Following a shimmering guitar intro, “Wasting Time” quickly switches to a driving beat fueled by Stewart and Cullen’s mammoth playing. Throughout the song, Simpson convincingly creates a sense of urgency on lines like, “Have you made up your mind or are you wasting time?” Another highlight comes toward the end of the track, when The Phantoms delve into an intricate and haunting instrumental passage that evokes U2 on its Boy album. 

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

76 Reasons To Help Out Kids


While the biggest buzz among Kinks fans these days is whether or not the Davies brothers will agree on some sort of reunion to celebrate the band’s 50th Anniversary, there is another newsworthy Kinks-related event taking place. The six-part, various artists digital album Legends: Shoulder To Shoulder is being released tomorrow by The Pete Quaife Foundation. Quaife was the original bassist for The Kinks, and the foundation that was formed shortly after his death in 2010 has been raising funds in his honor to supply sterilized kindles, play stations, and other devices that can be used by children undergoing kidney dialysis. The musician himself had suffered through those monotonous treatments.

In Ken Sharp’s new book Play On! Power Pop Heroes Volume 1, Dave Davies talked about Quaife’s essential role in The Kinks. “Pete was there from the beginning with me and Ray, and in many ways, he acted as a go-between for me and Ray, which was very important.” Davies also described Quaife as optimistic, very clever, and an inspiring guy to be around. It’s nice to see those same qualities at work in the foundation that bears his name.

The 76 songs on Legends: Shoulder To Shoulder are a mix of Kinks cover tunes and original songs; recorded by famous acts and lesser-know groups. Noel Gallagher performs “Here Come The Nice,” Terry Reid/Kast off KinKs cover “Waterloo Sunset,” and The Jigsaw Seen contribute “This Is Where I Belong.” Other acts involved include Michael Des Barres, Tommy Keene, John Wicks and The Records, Peter Noone, Paul Weller, Roger McGuinn, Mike Pender’s Searchers, Johnette Napolitano, and Robin Hitchcock.

Legends: Shoulder To Shoulder will be available tomorrow on iTunes. The Peter Quaife Foundation has released other albums on its own record label, with money from the sales going to help children. You can buy the albums or make a donation on the official website.

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Monday, January 19, 2015

The Hangabouts - Illustrated Bird


Illustrated Bird, the recent release from The Hangabouts, initially comes across as a collection of easy-going power pop songs, but songwriters guitarist-vocalist John Lowry and vocalist-bassist Gregory Addington have embedded complicated emotions beneath the fetching melodies and intricate harmonies. The mood on these 13 portraits of personal relationships can be wistful or even a bit scary, but there’s also a undercurrent of humor running throughout the album. Incorporating a number of musicians, The Hangabouts craft arrangements that draw from mid 1960s pop, along with several other sources. 
   
On “Roman Forum,” the setting is a real life, family-owned restaurant in which Lowry and Addington drop a cast of deftly and humorously drawn characters. The quick rhymes and Addington’s vocal style immediately bring Fountains Of Wayne to mind; an obvious influence that also turns up on the energetic “I’ll Get Over It” and the acoustic “Missing In Action.” On “She Hates You,” a guy’s blunt assessment of his buddy’s relationship is set to a delicate tune, and given a final ironic sting with the revelation that he’s stealing the girlfriend.

“I Wonder Why” sports Beach Boys style harmonizing, along with exotic instrumentation that includes ukulele, flute, and percussion. The only problem with the psychedelic “Right On Catherine” is that it’s too short, while “November” is a fun love song embellished with some good-time piano playing. Illustrated Bird ends with “Go To Sleep,” a pretty lullabye with a hint of creepiness to it.

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Friday, January 16, 2015

Slumgullion


All set for a gig on my gazebo? Photo from the Crosby, Stills and Nash Facebook page.

Local singer-songwriter (and Beatles fan) Phil Angotti and a group of his musician friends dubbed the Plastic Macs will be playing Paul McCartney songs tonight at Martyrs’. The Macs are Casey McDonough, Tommi Zender, Jim Barclay, Alton Smith, Wally Rozak, Rebekah Abel. The opening act that night will be Bill Brickey, Steve Levitt, and Jimmy Tomasello, paying tribute to George Harrison under the moniker of BLT. The third act that night is called Jonas Friddle and the Majority. The starts at 9:00 PM; admission is $10.

Tickets went on sale today for the May 5th Crosby, Stills, and Nash show at the Chicago Theatre. Since Nash never did officially promote his autobiography here, maybe he bring a few cartons of Wild Tales along and set up a book signing at one of the many hip bookstores in town. And since the weather will probably be nice by then, may I suggest that Crosby, Stills and Nash perform an acoustic set on my gazebo? 

‘76 In ‘15. EXPO ‘76, the self-described “four lifers who don’t need to be in another band, but still can’t quite help themselves,” will perform the first of their many wildly fun shows of the year tonight at SPACE in Evanston.

The Wrecking Crew, a new documentary from Magnolia Pictures  about the amazing session musicians who backed some of rock and roll’s biggest stars in the 1960s, will be available on iTunes, On Demand, and in theatres on March 13th.

The Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club, a Frankfort, IL quintet that evokes Cheap Trick with songs like the satiric “Never Be Big Stars” has a gig tonight at The Cubby Bear.

The Kooks are koming. The Kooks, band that evokes The Kinks while creating engaging rock songs with a distinctively English working class point of view, have a gig coming up at The Vic on May 2nd. Tickets went on sale earlier today. 

The CD And Record Show comes to the Holiday Inn Express at 1550 E. Dundee in Palatine tomorrow, January 17th. The event runs from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM and will feature dealers offering rare CDs, DVDs, vinyl, imports, magazines, posters, books, and various out of print items. For those interested in selling merchandise, renting a table to display your wares will cost you $40. Attendees are also welcome to bring in items they would like to sell to the dealers. Admission is $3.00. Call Bill at 847-409-9656 for information.

Peggy Kinnane’s Irish Restaurant and Pub in Arlington Heights will host the Music School Open House And Youth Band Showcase tomorrow afternoon from noon to 4:00 PM. The event will promote the El Rey Music Center, which has been teaching northwest suburban kids to rock for several years now. Serendipity, Breaking Ice, Cadence, and Chapter 1 will be performing.

Go Time! has a release party for its new Ratsel CD coming up tomorrow night (January 17th) at Sylvie’s. Ratsel came in at number 29 on the Broken Hearted Toy Favorite Releases Of 2014 List.

Self-proclaimed psychobilly performer Reverend Horton Heat will be burning down the house at  Durty Nellie’s in Palatine on Saturday, March 7th, backed by Jimbo Wallace and Scott Churilla. Indie rock stars Ha Ha Tonka will be his special guests.

1950s/1960s cover band The Neverly Brothers also have a date at Durty Nellie’s in Palatine (February 7th), and they have a debut CD coming out in the near future.

The Fifth Annual Warren Zevon Bash takes place next Thursday, January 22nd at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago. Androgynous Mustache, a local tribute band with a revolving roster of members, will once again anchor the event; covering the Zevon catalog from beginning to end. The Faders are also on the bill. The show starts at 8:00 PM, with $10 admission charge.

What a wonderful world. Back around 1988, when Frank Carr, Dave Drazin, Lake Sirmon, and I started the Famous In The Future comedy group, we would rehearse in Sirmon’s apartment. It was just down the street from Wrigley Field, in the same building on Clark Street that housed the studio of the amazingly artistic Mr. Imagination. He and Sirmon were close friends, and it was always a treat when we’d all go down and view Mr. Imagination’s eclectic creations. He worked with discarded objects he found around the city, and was always in a friendly mood. I still have a small pin he gave me that was a stone carved into a shirt and tie. This was before he became famous and had exhibits Chicago, Atlanta, and in other cities. Sadly, he passed away in 2012. There is currently an exhibition of his work titled Welcome To The World Of Mr. Imagination at Intuit - The Center for Intuitive and Outside Art, at 756 Milwaukee Avenue. It runs through April 25th.

Despite all their out-of-this-world attributes, the Chicago psychedelic band The Luck Of Eden Hall does pretty well within it as well. That’s them performing the theme song for Moochie Kalala Detective Club, the new scientifically minded local PBS kids show starring Tim Kazurinsky of Saturday Night Live fame. The Luck Of Eden Hall also has a new 7" single called “The Happiness Vending Machine” coming out on Headspin Records later this month.

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Play On! With The Beatles, The Kinks, and The Hollies


I’ve mentioned Ken Sharp’s book Play On! Power Pop Heroes Vol. 1  before on Broken Hearted Toy, and I’ll continue to refer to it here from time to time. Sharp is a highly regarded rock critic/journalist who has compiled a collection of interviews with musicians who qualify as “progenitors” of the power pop genre. They come from bands that arrived in the 1960s or ‘70s, and their music still stands up today.

Using the standard Q and A format, Sharp elicits responses that bring readers into the creative process behind some of rock’s iconic albums. There’s also a wealth of personal reflections on the bonds as well as the animosity that formed among the members of these important groups. It’s the kind of book you can flip open to any page and just dive into some fascinating reading. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Play On! Power Pop Heroes Volume No. 1 was a limited edition, and it’s no longer available.

For his 32-page section on The Beatles, Sharp talks with Ringo Starr and George Martin, along with engineers Ken Scott and Geoff Emerick. Starr recalls first joining The Beatles, struggling through their squabbles toward the end, and the joy of jamming with Paul and George much later. Martin was already well-respected before he began to play such an essential role in helping The Beatles expand the horizons of recorded music, and it’s fun to hear how initially overwhelmed Emerick and Scott were to be brought in at such a young age to work with the most famous band in the world. Particularly when John Lennon would occasionally hurl a withering comment their way. 

The conversations Sharp has with Dave and Ray Davies shed light on their infamous feuds but also deal with how they came to know each other better by writing music together. Particularly songs that tapped into their mutual love for the older sisters who led their family. And they both agree that the echo-heavy first take of “You Really Got Me,” produced by Shel Tamy in the studio wasn’t at all what the band wanted. “Both Ray and I were very adamant that we would record it very simply, very dry and up front, like how we played it on stage,” Dave recalls. Fortunately, the Davies brothers won out and the song remains a classic. He also acknowledges that he and Ray could perform together at some point in 2015, as part of The Kinks’ 50th Anniversary.

It’s a pleasant surprise to find 25 pages devoted to The Hollies in any book, and Sharp fills them with insightful commentary from founding members Graham Nash, Allan Clarke, and Tony Hicks. From the band’s earliest days, they comprised a writing trio that would hit its peak on the mid-1960s albums For Certain Because, Evolution, and Butterfly. The topics range from why The Hollies were never as big in America as they were in England; Nash’s departure to join forces with David Crosby and Stephen Stills; and the admiration that lifelong friends Nash and Clarke have for The Everly Brothers. Aside from Nash’s autobiography Wild Tales, this is the best book around for avid Hollies fans.

Play On! Power Pop Heroes Volumes 2 and 3, which will cast the spotlight on more current power bands, are scheduled to come out later this this year. 

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Sounds Of Sputnik - New Born


There’s a sly sense of humor at work in the way the Russian shoegazer trio Sounds Of Sputnik has named itself after the space race igniting satellite its country launched back in 1957. The name also suggests that Roman Kalitkin, the veteran musician and driving force behind the band, wants his Sputnik to conquer the world. At least in terms of music. The debut album Newborn, featuring various guest producers, has been garnering praise and winning awards since being released late last year.

The Canadian-Ukrainian duo Ummagma joins Sounds Of Sputnik members Kalitkin, Shauna McLarnon, and Oleg Mezherovsky on the alluring “New Born” and “Light Scheme,” as well as on a variety of remix versions of those two songs. “Blizzard,” which grooves to 1980s style synthesizers, and “Shades Of The Cosmos,” a song with an intriguing espionage vibe, are instrumentals. “Overdrive,” which also finds Ummagma participating, mixes Deborah Harry style vocals with Newborn’s most rock-oriented track. Listening to all of the remixes of “New Born” and “Light Scheme” in one sitting could get repetitive; it’s better when each one is taken separately as its own adventure.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tomorrow Never Knows And The Weekend Will Be Fun Too


The Both will be the very first act to perform at this year’s edition of Tomorrow Never Knows when they take the stage at the Athenaeum Theatre at 7:45 PM tomorrow, January 14th. Comprised of Aimee Mann and Ted Leo—two successful singer-songwriters on their own—The Both released a critically acclaimed self-titled debut filled with catchy songs like “Volunteers Of America” and “Bedtime Stories” last April. Tomorrow Never Knows usually arrives in the dead of winter to warm things up with a series of indie rock concerts scattered across a handful of Chicago’s better clubs. This year, the venues involved are the Athenaeum Theatre, The Hideout, Lincoln Hall, Metro, Schubas, and Smart Bar.

Judging from a very handy cheat sheet that ran in last Friday’s On The Town section of the Chicago Tribune, some of the more interesting acts appearing at Tomorrow Never Knows include the New Jersey-based garage rock trio Spider Bags; the Canadian guitar-driven pop band Alvvays, and Chicago’s own (and maybe the world’s only) garage rock/doo wop band Modern Vices. The festival, featuring over 50 local and national acts, will run through Sunday, January 18th. Tickets for the shows are sold individually, but there’s also a five-day pass available for $100. 

Here’s some advance notice of a few fun things going on this weekend. Be sure to check Slumgullion on Broken Hearted Toy this Friday for a more extensive list. 

Local singer-songwriter (and Beatles fan) Phil Angotti and a group of his musician friends dubbed the Plastic Macs will be playing Paul McCartney songs this Friday night at Martyrs. The Macs are Casey McDonough, Tommi Zender, Jim Barclay, Alton Smith, Wally Rozak, Rebekah Abel. The opening act that night will be Bill Brickey, Steve Levitt, and Jimmy Tomasello, paying tribute to George Harrison under the moniker of BLT. The third act that night is called Jonas Friddle and the Majority. The music starts at 9:00 PM; admission is $10.

The CD And Record Show comes to the Holiday Inn Express at 1550 E. Dundee in Palatine next Saturday, January 17th. The event runs from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM and will feature dealers offering rare CDs, DVDs, vinyl, imports, magazines, posters, books, and various out of print items. For those interested in selling merchandise, renting a table to display your wares will cost you $40. Attendees are also welcome to bring in items they would like to sell to the dealers. Admission is $3.00. Call Bill at 847-409-9656 for information.

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Friday, January 9, 2015

Slumgullion


Although the iconic rock star won’t be there to blow out the candles, The Sons Of The Silent Age tribute band will be celebrating David Bowie’s birthday with a bash tonight at Metro.

Congratulations to Bloodshot Records on its 20th Anniversary. The Chicago-based indie label will be celebrating tomorrow night, January 10th, when WXRT and Lagunitas Brewing Co present the Bloodshot Records 20th Anniversary Blowout at Metro. Ben Kweller, Old 97s frontman Rhett Miller, Lydia Loveless, Bobby Bare, Jr. and Banditos are scheduled to perform. There will be a pre-party next door at Gingerman, starting at 5:00 PM.

As noted by theater critic Chris Jones in his Winter Arts Preview in the Chicago Tribune, the Paramount Theatre in Aurora will stage Pete Townshend’s rock opera Tommy starting this month. Director Jim Corti’s production, which stars Devin DeSantis and Jake Klinkhammer, will run from January 14th through February 15th.

The Second Disc website recently offered a preview of an upcoming series of deluxe reissues of all eight of The Pretenders albums from their days with Warner Bros. Records. Most will be comprised of two CDs and one DVD, with loads of rare tracks, demos, and promotional videos. The Pretenders 1979–1999 box set will include all eight of these special releases.

Tears in Liverpool. The Liverpool Echo recently reported that John Keats, one of the current directors of the Cavern Club, plans to stage a day-long series of concerts in honor of Ray McFall, who recently has passed away at the age of 88. McFall bought the Cavern Club in 1959, and changed history by booking The Beatles in 1961. He also brought in The Who and The Kinks to perform, and remained in charge through 1966.

Shoes are busy working on a new vinyl release titled Primal Vinyl, according to a reliable source who posted the news on Facebook.

The CD And Record Show comes to the Holiday Inn Express at 1550 E. Dundee in Palatine next Saturday, January 17th. The event promises rare CDs and DVDs; vinyl; imports; and out of print items. Admission is $3.00; call 847-409-9656 for information.

‘76 In ‘15. EXPO ‘76, the self-described “four lifers who don’t need to be in another band, but still can’t quite help themselves,” will perform their first show of the year next Friday, January 16th at SPACE in Evanston.

It’s radio. From SPACE! Meanwhile, the Evanston venue has announced the arrival of SPACE Radio,  which will offer live performances and exclusive tracks. New episodes will appear online each month. Ep. 1 features songs by John Oates, John McLaughlin, Justin Townes Earle, and others.

Go Time! has a release party for its new Ratsel CD coming up next Saturday (January 17th) at Sylvie’s. Ratsel came in at number 29 on the Broken Hearted Toy Favorite Releases Of 2014 List, (see December 31st post) where I described it as, “An ambitious 19-track effort from this prolific Chicago band that explores the harder edges of power pop with inventive, energetic arrangements.”

The Fifth Annual Warren Zevon Bash takes place on Thursday, January 22nd at Martyrs’ on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago. Androgynous Mustache, a local tribute band with a revolving roster of members, will once again anchor the event; covering the Zevon catalog from beginning to end. The Faders are also on the bill. The show starts at 8:00 PM, with $10 admission charge.

Jeff Kelley is looking for brief comedy bits for his (now monthly) Sunday Morning Coffee With Jeff show on the Internet. If you know how to work a camera and can create something funny within two minutes, be sure to contact him at coffeewithjeff@gmail.com. Kelley also wants people to send in clips of themselves and/or friends saying, “You’re watching Sunday Morning Coffee With Jeff!” that he can use on his show. 

The critically acclaimed and sometimes confrontational singer-songwriter Steve Earle has a four-night Solo And Acoustic residency coming up at City Winery February 1 – 4. His special guest will be the off-kilter but always enchanting singer-songwriter Dawn Landes.

Mavis! the feature-length documentary about legendary soul singer Mavis Staples directed by Jessica Edwards, had its world premiere yesterday (Jan. 8th) at the SXSW festival in Austin, TX. 

I just finished reading local author Kym Brunner’s YA/paranormal novel Wanted: Dead Or In Love. It’s a fast-paced and suspenseful tale of two modern teenagers who are trying to keep the spirits of Bonnie and Clyde from taking over their bodies.

Ms. Brunner will likely be among the many authors and book lovers attending The Elgin Literary Festival, which will take place on the weekend of February 6–8 at Borden Public Library and Exhibition Hall at the Hemmens Cultural Center. There will be free workshops for kids, sales, book signings, and guest speakers. Young Adult author—and Elgin resident—Karly Kirkpatrick (Into The Shadows, After Dawn) and Middle Grade author Katie Sparks (Reality Natalie) will be among the guests. 

The Rock Of The 80s 2015 lineup has been announced, and it will once again feature The Romantics and The Smithereens. This year, Berlin, the band that gave us new wave classics like “Metro” and “Masquerade” is also on the bill. Hopefully, the tour dates will be announced soon. The 2014 tour of Rock Of The 80s, with The Romantics, The Smithereens, Marshall Crenshaw, and Tommy Tutone, included a very fun show at The Arcada in St. Charles, IL.

And finally, a word of congratulations to WXRT on its highly entertaining 2014 Listeners Poll Gala, which was held this past Wednesday night at City Winery. Host Lin Brehmer did a great job, Tributosaurus was outstanding as usual, and it was nice having a chance to chat with Brehmer, news anchor Mary Dixon, and Marty Lennartz afterward, when the XRT on-air personalities mingled with the audience.

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