Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Before And After They Turned To Stone

Fans of The Stone Roses are justifiably disappointed that the Manchester-based band has released so few albums since its groundbreaking self-titled debut in 1989. Earlier this year, two Stone Roses-related singles appeared via Record Store Day in the UK. The Waterfront band is a predecessor that featured musicians who would later form The Stones Roses, and The High was formed after the Stone Roses made their mark. Both records should please fans not only as collector’s items, but also because the songs are good.

“Normandy”/“Where The Wind Blows” was previously only available as a limited run cassette distributed by The Waterfront back in the 1980s. The band included future Stone Roses members Andy Couzens, John Squire, and Gary “Mani” Mounfield. The Waterfront brought an appealing working class feel to these songs, or in the case of “Normandy,” perhaps not being employed at all. Backed by a sparse arrangement that calls to mind The Clash, it describes feeling cold, hungry, and alone while walking along the beach. “Where The Wind Blows,” with its loping bass guitar and band members whistling, seems a bit silly coming from the guys who would go on to found The Stone Roses, but it’s still fun. When the remastered “Normandy” was released on vinyl for this year’s RSD, it helped raise money for The Christie Hospital in Manchester.

The High, led by Andy Couzens after his success with The Stone Roses, pursued an atmospheric rock approach on its two albums. “Say It Now” was originally recorded as a demo and never made the cut for those releases. It sounds majestic in the recently remastered version, with lines like, “I never looked back” and “You have thrown it all away” spinning the tale of a faltering relationship. The extended shoegazer arrangement (over five minutes) is built on shimmering guitars and expansive keyboards. “Sugarpuff,” a song about starting over, was recorded in 2015 and has an infectious energy reminiscentt of The Cure. Couzens recently brought The High back to life with a few different members.



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Monday, December 10, 2018

Power Pop Mates Offer A Pair Of New Holiday Songs

Singer/multi-instrumentalist Joe Algeri from Australia and singer/bassist Herb Eimerman from the USA collaborate as members of The Britannicas through the magic of modern technology. (Guitarist/vocalist Magnus Karlsson and drummer Stefan Johansson from Sweden make up the rest of the international power pop band.) Algeri and Eimerman have also pursued separate musical paths for years. Algeri records as the one-man band The JAC (with occasional help from others) and also works with The Outyders and the appropriately named The Jangle Band. Eimerman is a veteran solo recording artist and joined forces with Jeff Murphy of Shoes for the side project Nerk Twins. His heartfelt and melodic ballad “You Gave Me” is one of the many highlights on the Yuletunes power pop holiday compilation produced by Murphy back in 1991. And now, Algeri and Eimermann have both released new holiday songs that are available for a free download.

Algeri’s wistful “December” continues his 18-year tradition of offering a new Christmas song for a free download on his Bandcamp page. As with past efforts, it’s a bit off kilter, with a chiming pop arrangement that evokes 1960s bands like The Byrds. There’s also a nice dose of Beach Boys style vocals as Algeri relates how the twelfth month always brings back memories of an old flame he once sipped spiced rum with and who also had an affection for Soft Boys records. The catchy arrangement features Algeri on lead vocals, guitar, and piano; Eimerman on bass and backing vocals; and Swedish musicians drummer Stefan Johansson and organ player Lars Bruselll.

Eimerman’s catchy and cheerful “Don’t Ask For More” suggests every day can be Christmas, and features jangling guitars directly inspired by Roger McGuinn. It’s more rock oriented than his much earlier “You Gave Me,” but Eimerman once again uses the holiday to reflect on what’s really important in life. He plays most of the instruments, with help from Algeri on 12-string Rickenbacker and Australian Mark “Sid” Eaton on drums. “Don’t Ask For More” is available for free download on Joe Algeri’s Bandcamp page.

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Friday, December 7, 2018

Slumgullion

The Handcuffs, Mike Skill and ’67 Riot, and Mike Coy will join forces for an impressive triple bill tomorrow night at Montrose Saloon. Skill is a longtime member of The Romantics, and Brad Elvis plays drums with The Handcuffs and The Romantics. Coy will being doing an acoustic set. The music starts at 9:00 p.m.

Big Brother’s Vinyl, a guitar-driven band that covers classic rock hits, as well as deep album cuts, returns to the Arlington Ale House tomorrow night.

Alt rock band whitewolfsonicprincess has its third album coming out soon, and will be hosting its annual Rock For Tots event tomorrow night at The Store on Chicago’s north side. They’ll be joined be Telepaths; The Dark Room Men; The Rut (a musical offshoot of the Famous In The Future comedy group); the five-woman David Bowie tribute band Lady Stardust; acoustic duo Parallelicopter; Ex Maquina; the power trio Portmantowzone; and comedian Trevor Gertonson. The show kicks off at 7:30 p.m.; The Store is located at 2002 N. Halsted.

Cheap Kiss Records is having a warehouse sale featuring lots of cool vinyl tomorrow from 9:00 a.m to 1:00 p.m at 604 Albion Avenue in Schaumburg, IL. The store’s Facebook post shows albums by U2, R.E.M., Elvis Costello, Cheap Trick, and The Cars.

Congratulations to The Art Institute Of Chicago on its 125th Anniversary. The museum will celebrate  will special events tomorrow.

Several musicians around the world have posted tributes to Pete Shelley of The Buzzcocks, who passed away recently from what is believed to be a heart attack. Fans have also been posting links to YouTube videos of their favorite Buzzcocks songs on Facebook. The band was known for combining the power of punk with irresistible melodies.

The Irish Heritage Center on Chicago’s northwest side will present Paddy Homan and The Noble Call Irish Christmas show this Sunday at 5:00 p.m. Vocalist/recording artist Homan is adept at festive as well as heartfelt songs, and The Noble Call is a quartet that features traditional Celtic instruments. Both acts will also have dancers on stage.

Tickets went on sale today for Neko Case at The Vic Theatre on on April 26 and 27; and Jenny Lewis at the Riviera Theatre on March 30. Lewis has a new album coming out around that time.

Other shows now on sale include Queen and Adam Lambert at the United Center on August 9; Elton John at the Allstate Arena on February 15; Wanda Jackson at SPACE on March 14; Marshall Crenshaw and The Bottle Rockets (two shows) at Old Town School Of Folk Music on April 6; Terry Reid at SPACE on April 25; Snow Patrol at the Riviera Theatre on May 7; and Old 97’s at Thalia Hall on March 28.

Tom Lanham’s cover story on The Old 97’s in the December issue of the Illinois Entertainer mentions that lead vocalist Rhett Butler has what Lanham describes as an “Edward Gorey-grim” book of children’s poetry called No More Poems! coming out in March. “I even scored the biggest illustrator in the business,” Miller states, “this guy who’s a Caldecott winner winner.” We sometimes have guest authors at the monthly writers group I belong to, so maybe our people could call his people.

By the way, “Rudolph Was Blue” from The Old 97’s Love The Holidays album is one of the most fun rock holiday songs to be released this year.

Van Morrison has shows coming up at the Chicago Theatre on April 24 and 25. His new album The Prophet Speaks just came out today.

The first U.S. tour by The Chills since 1996 will include a stop at The Empty Bottle in Chicago on February 27. Other dates include Brooklyn, Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, and Los Angeles. The New Zealand band found worldwide success with “Heavenly Pop Hit” back in the 1980s, but with Martin Phillipps at the helm, continues to record engaging albums like the recently released Snow Bound and their politically charged 2016 effort Silver Bullets.

M-U-S-T-S-E-E. Women Of Soul: With A Tribute To Aretha Franklin is currently running at the Black Ensemble Theatre on Chicago’s north side. BET his well know for its authentic tribute shows to soul and rhythm and blues artists. Women Of Soul runs through January 13.

Just over a year ago, when my wife Pam and I were visiting Manhattan, I bought a Bruce Springsteen On Broadway shot glass at the Hard Rock CafĂ© store. I asked the clerk if Bruce himself had ever browsed the souvenirs from his show, and she joked, “If he did, people would have heard me scream for miles around.” She’ll likely be among the multitude of fans buying the Springsteen on Broadway soundtrack when it’s released next Friday. The show Springsteen On Broadway ends its run on December 15.

The 20th Annual Animation Show Of Shows comes to the Gene Siskel Film for a two-week run starting on December 14.

Congratulations to my nephew Joe Flamm, winner of the Season 15 Top Chef competition on the Bravo Channel, and his wife Hillary Delich on the birth of their son Luka.

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Monday, December 3, 2018

The Bookends - Far Away But Around

Bassist Sharon Lee and guitarist Karen Lynn leave no doubt as to which decade serves as the main inspiration for the 12 catchy songs on their new Far Away But Around album. Performing under the name The Bookends, they’re able to recreate various shades of 1960s rock through authentic instrumentation and their dual vocals approach. For the most part, they deal in girl-meets-boy, boy-is-impossible-to-figure-out relationships.

On “What I Wouldn’t Do” and “Mean What You Say,” guitar-driven garage rock arrangements underscore the message that some guy is about to get kicked to the curb. “Let It Go,” which features instrumentation inspired by the earliest days of The Who, also deals with a two-faced boyfriend. The songs are fun but might have worked even better with a rougher edge to the vocals.

“It Takes Two” sounds like how The Go-Go’s and The Bangles have interpreted the 1960s, as a woman passes a word of caution on to her ex-boyfriend’s new flame. “The Rooftop” is a romantic celebration that evokes a packed dance floor at a sock hop. A good boyfriend also surfaces on the peppy “Morning Sky,” which proves The Bookends are also adept at more current sounding indie rock.

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Friday, November 30, 2018

Slumgullion

Comic artist Heather McAdams is once again hosting a bash with various local musicians covering the famous rock and roll acts that will be featured via her drawings in an upcoming calendar. She and Chris Ligon will be at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn tomorrow night, along with The Flat Five (The Association); Jodee Lewis (Bill Monroe); Phil Angotti (The Dave Clark Five); Robbie Fulks (George Jones); Joshlyn Lomax (Sarah Vaughan); The Jim Becker Group (The Grateful Dead); Dave Drazin (Jess Stacy) Matt Miller (Richie Havens); and others. There will also be a merchandise table with CDs, postcards and calendfars. Doors open at 7:00 p.m., admission is $20.00.

The Rolling Stones have added another Chicago date to their 2019 No Filter U.S. tour. In addition to June 21, they’ll also be at Soldier Field on June 25. Maybe that gives them five days to spend in town. I just hope they know that Broken Hearted Toy is the best way for famous British musicians to find out what’s happening on the Chicago club scene. Tickets for both concerts went on sale this morning.

Colin Blunstone, lead vocalist and founding member of The Zombies, has a tour of America’s East Coast coming up next year. Dates include Pawling, NY; Philadelphia; Portland, MN; Boston; Washington, D.C.; and New York.

The Dyes; Baby Money and Down Payments; and Willow Canyon will take turns rocking the stage at Montrose Saloon tomorrow night. August Forte will be spinning rock, punk. garage, and surf records. The show starts at 9:00 p.m.

The Waco Brothers will be at the new Hey Nonny club in Arlington Heights tomorrow night.

If you’re an avid follower of the Chicago rock scene, you’ve probably heard the concerns being raised about how the proposed $6 billion Lincoln Yards project might affect clubs like The Hideout that are located in that area. Long-time rock critic Greg Kot recently raised the issue in the Chicago Tribune, and other venues, like Beat Kitchen and Subterranean have joined forces with The Hideout as The Chicago Independent Venues League. Representatives from Lincoln Yards developer Sterling Bay met with music venue owners and people from the community to discuss the project at a meeting last night hosted by Alderman Brian Hopkins. Chicago Sun-Times reporter Rachel Hinton has a story about that meeting in today’s issue.

Jeff Tweedy the frontman for Wilco, now has a new a solo album—titled WARM—to go with his new memoir Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back). The album was released today.

Bryan Ferry’s latest album, Bitter-Sweet, also came out today.

Chicago alt rock band whitewolfsonicprincess is planning to have its third album, The Alternate Boot, out in time for the holiday shopping season. Their last two efforts were favorably reviewed here on Broken Hearted Toy. The band will be hosting its annual Rock For Tots event on December 8 at The Store on Chicago’s north side. They’ll be joined be Dark Room Men; The Rut (a musical offshoot of the Famous In The Future comedy group); Lady Stardust; Parallelicopter; Ex Maquina; @Portman-towzone; and comedian Trevor Gertonson.

The David Bowie tribute act Sons Of The Silent Age will be joined by special guest, acclaimed actor Michael Shannon when it performs Bowie’s Scary Monsters (and Supercreeps) at Metro on January 12. A portion of the proceeds will benefit cancer patients at NorthShore University HealthSystems’s Integrative Medicine Program.

The 3 X 4 double LP I picked up at the downtown Reckless Records on Black Friday Record Store Day sounds like it’s going to be one of my favorite albums of 2018.  It features original Paisley Underground members The Bangles, Dream Syndicate, The Rain Parade, and The Three O’Clock covering each other’s songs. Hopefully, I’ll be posting a review in the near future.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Incoming

Tickets for The Rolling Stones’ June 21 2019 concert at Soldier Field go on sale this Friday morning. The band had been teasing fans about its U.S. Unfiltered Tour with a short video on social media, but a new, longer version offers a montage of live performance footage and fun graphics. I still have fond memories of attending the band’s Exhibitionism exhibit at Navy Pier a few years back.

The Zombies’ lead vocalist Colin Blunstone, another member of Brit rock royalty, has announced an East Coast tour of the U.S. starting in Pawling, NY on January 31. Other stops include Philadelphia; Portland, MN; Boston; Washington, D.C.; and New York. I saw Blunstone at City Winery Chicago a few years back and it was a superb show. Also, don’t forget to cast a vote for The Zombies to be included in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame 2019 Inductees.

Montrose Saloon on Chicago’s north side will be packed with music this Saturday night with The Dyes; Baby Money and Down Payments; and Willow Canyon scheduled to perform. Plus, August Forte will be spinning records, with an emphasis on rock, punk. garage, and surf. The show starts at 9:00 p.m.

The Imperial Sound has a gig coming up at Hey Nonny in Arlington Heights on January 26. So far, this new club has been doing an impressive job of moving beyond the suburban blueprint of booking the same handful of cover bands by bringing in acts that play original songs. The Waco Brothers will be there this Saturday, December 1 and upcoming gigs include jazz, folk, soul, bluegrass, classical, and blues acts.

Finally, Happy Birthday to Karen Gillan—Amy Pond of Doctor Who, Nebula of Guardians Of The Galaxy, and writer, director and star of the indie film The Party’s Just Beginning.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Johnny Marr - Call The Comet

For someone who’s performed so well within groups (The Smiths, Modest Mouse, The Cribs, etc.), Johnny Marr might be even more impressive when he records as a solo artist. On his first two efforts, The Messenger (2013) and Playland (2014), Marr combined his signature guitar strumming with irresistible synth arrangements. It took him four years to record another, but on the recently released Call The Comet, Marr once again breathes new life into a distinctively 1980s format.

On Call The Comet, he sets imaginative and often cryptic lyrics to atmospheric rock to evoke sci-fi film noir. “It’s the dawn of the dogs,” Marr warns on the opening track “Rise,” and adds “They hound they howl/They never let up.” An ominous message likewise lurks within the percolating synth rhythms of “New Dominions,” while the funky “Bug” depicts a widespread virus that leaves the population “sick and shaking.”

“Hi Hello,” which sounds a bit like Patti Smith’s “Dancing Barefoot,” offers a consoling message to someone who feels overcome and lost. The shimmering “Spiral Cities” describes an urban landscape that includes vertical streets, and “Tracers” urges us to “Make your way to the edge of the world.” “My Eternal” deals with confusion and possibly, a disdain for religious beliefs, but it moves with such exhilarating high speed, it’s impossible not to enjoy the ride.

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