Wednesday, April 26, 2017

IPO’s Thursday Schedule

After tonight, there will still be three more days and four multi-act showcases to catch at The Red Line Tap as International Pop Overthrow continues its 2017 Chicago run. Thursday night’s lineup offers some familiar faces and sounds for local music fans. The Aaron Williams Band released its first album in 2008, and continues to play a mix of indie rock and pop. They’ll kick things off tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. Boolean Knife specializes in postmodern rock and records for the Aquariphone record label.

The Spindles are a power pop act that includes guitarist-vocalist Jeff Janulis from The Abbeys. Their shows offer a mix of original tunes and cover versions that stretch back over the years. Expect harmonies from Janulis and bassist-vocalist Jerald Cross. The Spindles record for the Rubber Road label. The Red Wigglers seven-piece coed band has plenty of experience playing the Chicago area, and augments its indie rock sound with trombone, trumpet, and sax.

The Treeshakers will wrap things up with an 11:00 p.m. set. This quartet draws inspiration from fellow Chicago power pop bands Pezband, Cheap Trick, Shoes, and Material Issue, as well as British Invasion acts like The Beatles, The Hollies, The Yardbirds, and The Kinks. International Pop Overthrow continues Friday night with a six-band showcase, and there will be an afternoon and evening showcase on Saturday. See the official website for the full schedule and links to most of the acts performing.


Monday, April 24, 2017

Record Store Day Reflections

Adam Dausch Facebook photo of Phil Angotti delivering a batch of Kinks songs.

As someone who doesn’t drive, I’ve come to regard the Reckless Records on Madison as my go-to place for Record Store Day shopping. After an hour-long train ride (in the midst of sign-wielding protesters on their way to the science march, costumed superheroes off to the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, and Cubs fans) I arrived at the downtown Reckless Records 90 minutes before it was due to open.

Eventually, I came away with everything on my 10th Annual Record Store Day wish list except The Shelters’ “Really Wanted You” seven-inch single. My acquisitions: Epic Archives Vol. One double LP by Cheap Trick; “Want You Back” and “A Rose For Emily” singles by The Zombies; “All Day And All Of The Night” EP by The Kinks; “Strawberry Fields” single by The Beatles; the Tegan and Sara/The Regrettes “Back In Your Head” single; “Rocket Science” single by The Chills; and the Demos cassette by Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello.

Reckless Records once again ran a smooth operation, including a guy sent outside to prep the people in line and hand out free stuff. He’s been there on previous RSD occasions and is friendly and helpful. Unlike the Reckless locations on Broadway and Milwaukee Avenue, the downtown store isn’t big enough for in-store performances, but I’ve had good luck there getting the releases I want.

If Fezziwig from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol were to throw a Record Store Day party, it would look a lot what the owners of Laurie’s Planet Of Sound on Lincoln Avenue stage each year. Without the old school dancing, of course, but there’s live music, refreshments, and plenty of merriment. This year’s eclectic lineup of in-store performances began with Ted Wulfers, whose “The Cubs Won It All In 2016” single managed an Eddie Vedder style indie rock grit and garnered airplay in the Chicago area right after the World Series. Phil Angotti’s heartfelt solo rendition of the entire The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society would make any reasonable music fan want to buy the album, and he got some help from Sweet Figurines lead vocalist Kevin McComb on “Picture Book.”

Angotti’s set of wry Brit rock observations was followed by the homespun appeal of Sanctified Grumblers, who played a mix of standard and originals on washboard, tuba, steel guitar, and other Americana instruments. The Romeros, who’ll continue their long-standing tradition of closing out International Pop Overthrow - Chicago on Saturday, April 29, dropped by Laurie’s on Record Store Day to deliver some amped-up renditions of George Michael and Wham songs. I had to leave before Sweet Figurines went on, but I caught their rousing David Bowie tribute at Laurie’s Record Store Day event last year, and I’m assuming this year’s followed suit. Dust Bunnies wrapped up the party at 5:00 p.m.

In addition to the live music, it’s always fun to see the local musicians who drop by the Laurie’s Planet Of Sound RSD bash. This year, Eric Chial from Bon Mots and Penthouse Sweets was there, as were Holly Senchak Dausch and Adam Dausch from Metropolly, and Chloe F. Orwell from The Handcuffs. Romeros frontman Mike Vanderbilt was hanging out hours before his band’s show started, and I’m sure other musicians came and went as the festivities continued.


International Pop Overthrow Continues In Chicago

International Pop Overthrow rolls into the work week after kicking off its 2017 visit to Chicago with what appears to have been a successful weekend. Tonight’s five-band showcase at the Red Line Tap brings the fun and catchy England-to-America transplants The Unswept back for a performance at 10:15 p.m. If the band is selling any of its CDs, be sure to pick one up. Sam Vicari opens the show at 8:00 p.m., followed by Leisure McCorkle. Packy Lundholm performs at 9:30 p.m., and Reaction, a band that formed in the 1980s and recently reunited, is tonight’s headliner.

Tomorrow brings Cabin Essence, Mark Watson, Christopher Joseph Elam, and Blind Trust to the stage. Young Distractions, a trio that claims The Replacements, Husker Du, and The Ramones as influences, are tomorrow’s closer. On Wednesday, IPO vet and globe-trotting rock star Dave Rave performs, along with The Romeros frontman Mike Vanderbilt with his The Suburban Garage Sound. Collectors, another trustworthy IPO outfit, plays at 9:30 p.m., and the Tony Calderisi Band opens at 8:00 p.m. See the official International Pop Overthrow website for the full Chicago schedule through next Saturday night, along with links to most of the performers involved.


Friday, April 21, 2017


To paraphrase The Electric Prunes: Get me to the fest on time. (Yes, they had other great songs besides “I Had To Much To Dream Last Night.) Within the next few weeks, Chicago will experience C2E2 (Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo); the CIMMfest (Chicago International Movies and Music Festival) Spring Fling ThingInternational Pop Overthrow and Record Store Day, with its accompanying live shows. Plus The Rolling Stones Exhibitionism is out on Navy Pier through the end of July.

Riot Fest’s First Wave Lineup Announcement came out a few days ago. Nine Inch Nails, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Jawbreaker are the headline acts for September 15, 16, and 17 respectively, and other scheduled acts include The Cribs; The Buzzcocks; The Orwells; Paramore; Ministry; The Regrettes; Bad Brains; Dinosaur Jr.; Peaches; M.I.A.; The Mighty Mighty Bosstones; and Wu Tang Clan.

The Second Disc website has been working overtime with Record Store Day posts, but also recently reported on the upcoming release of two vintage EPs by The Paul Collins Beat. Long Long Gone and To Beat Or Not To Beat are coming out on Lollipop Records on April 28.

Graham Nash’s July 30 show at The Old Town School of Folk Music sold out immediately when it went on sale a few weeks back, so earlier this week, he added a concert there on July 29. That one has now sold out as well.

Ann Wilson from Heart has a solo tour coming underway, and her sister/bandmate Nancy has some things on her plate as well. Nancy has teamed up with vocalist Liv Warfield form Prince’s New Power Generations to form Roadcase Royale. The band’s first single, the women-empowering “Get Loud,” is now available on several digital outlets and the video can be seen on YouTube.

The 33rd Chicago Latino Film Festival opened yesterday and runs through May 4.

Kevin Lee And The Kings will be performing at the Breaking The Silence - A Benefit For Autism Awareness this Sunday, August 23, at Durty Nellie’s in Palatine. The event runs from noon to 8:00 p.m., and special VIP Floor Tables (as opposed to in the balcony) are still available for $200.

The 11th Annual Screen Test Student Fest takes place tonight and tomorrow at the Prairie Center For The Arts in Schaumburg. Presented by 3 Monkeys and Aardvark Studios and Tribeca Flashpoint College, the event will include 31 short films by students in grades five through eight, as well as by high school students around the world.

The Zombies, who are in the midst of a 50th Anniversary Odessey and Oracle Tour, have created a new animated video for the song “Care Of Cell 44,” which comes from that initially overlooked but now legendary album.

The Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club, Phil Angotti, and Sunshine Boys will be featured in a WNUR Power Pop Shoppe showcase being staged at The Elbo Room on Lincoln Avenue on May 19.

Penthouse Sweets will be playing songs from their new album In The House Of The Penthouse Sweets when they perform at the LiveWire Club on Milwaukee Avenue with The Safes and Means Of Production next Saturday, April 29.

Sopro Music’s 30th Annual Easter Parade Blues Revue takes place tomorrow night at Sullivan’s Night Club and Restaurant in Midlothian. Performers include The Chicago Horns, Debbie Seitz, Joey Drada, Doug Lee, and Billy King. There music starts at 9:00 p.m.

The Griffin Theatre’s production In To America, featuring stories of immigrants to America throughout the country’s history, wraps up its run at The Den Theatre this Sunday.


RSD - Come For The Vinyl, Stay For The Jams

As the 10th Annual Record Store Day unfolds tomorrow, some stores will be augmenting the vinyl-hunting experience with live performances by local bands. In the Chicago area, Laurie’s Planet Of Sound on Lincoln Avenue; Val’s Halla in Oak Park; Vintage Vinyl in Evanston; and the Reckless Records on Broadway and Milwaukee Avenue have entertainment scheduled. It’s worthing to see if your favorite record store has anything planned.

But first, a few Record Store Day Tips:

Check the official RSD website for the full list of limited-edition releases and create a handwritten or printed list. Based on my experience in Chicago, record store employees don’t want you to hand them your smartphone—they want an actual list. They also don’t have time for any customer dithering at the counter.

Get there early. These records are limited editions, and they’re likely to sell out quickly.

Dress appropriately for the weather. You might be waiting outside in line for an extended time.

And now, here are some of the live RSD shows going on tomorrow.

Reckless Records - 1379 N. Milwaukee Avenue

2:00 p.m. Magas

3:00 p.m. OHMME

4:30 p.m. Smoking Popes

Reckless Records - 3125 N. Broadway

2:00 p.m. CARPENTERSville

3:00 p.m. Tal Sounds

4:00 p.m. Poison Arrows

Laurie’s Planet Of Sound - 4639 N. Lincoln Avenue

12:00 p.m. Ted Wulfers (performing songs from his album The Cubs Won It All in 2016

12:40 p.m. Phil Angotti and Friends perform The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society

2:00 p.m. Sanctified Grumblers

3:00 p.m. The Romeros perform the music of George Michael

4:00 p.m. Sweet Figurines perform the music of David Bowie

5:00 p.m. Dust Bunnies

Vintage Vinyl - 925 Davis Street, Evanston

12:00 p.m. Acoustic set by The Luck Of Eden Hall

Val’s Halla - 239 Harrison Street Oak Park

11:00 a.m. Mike Nutt & Charlie Bredrup from Fletcher Rockwell

12:00 p.m. Bill Kavanagh & Friends

1:00 p.m. Dead Freddies perform songs by David Bowie

2:00 p.m. Ellis Clark & Ary Jeebie

3:00 p.m. The InBetween Days

4:00 p.m. Phil Angotti

5:00 p.m. Rachel Drew


Thursday, April 20, 2017

IPO - Chicago's Opening Weekend

International Pop Overthrow returns to Chicago tomorrow night to kick off nine consecutive days of power pop and indie rock showcases at the Red Line Tap. CFO/Founder David Bash has expanded his approach over the years to embrace several shades of those two genres, but his passion for presenting music with strong melodies remains the same. Friday night’s lineup features Jason Batchko; Gerald Dowd; The Diff; The Joy Poppers; Paul Coady and The Edsel Brothers; and Ravi/Lola.

The afternoon showcase on Saturday offers Black Jack; Mike Pecucci; Larry O. Dean; Coke Belda; and Rich Miller from Waiflike. The heart of Saturday night’s showcase is particularly impressive, with sets by Steve Dawson from Dolly Varden; Phil Angotti; and Ellis Clark and The Big Parade featuring Ary Jeebie. Along The Drive opens the evening at 8:00 p.m., followed by Aethereal. Rollo Time finishes up with a set at 11:45.

Sunday afternoon’s highlight is the Milwaukee-based power pop group Trolley, and the coed band The Artist Formally Known As Vince is always a lot of fun. Judah Michael; The Last Afternoons; and Co-Stanza are also part of the this showcase. Sunday night’s showcase closes with the The Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club, whose recently released Don’t Buy This Record is power pop delight. Douglas and Tucker kick things off Sunday night at 8:00 p.m.; followed by Lovejoy; Certain Stars; and Drew Neeley and The Heroes.

The entire IPO - Chicago 2017 schedule can be found on the official International Pop Overthrow website, with links to almost all the acts involved. Even if you can’t get to the Red Line Tap, check out those band links for Chicago, as well as the other cities on the IPO tour. It’s a great way to discover new local and international talent.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Mothboxer - The Secret Art Of Saying Nothing

Mothboxer is one of those English pop bands like Squeeze or XTC with enough class to merit placing HMS—Her Majesty’s Songs—before its name. The Secret Art Of Saying Nothing is Mothboxer’s first release since Sand And The Rain was so well received back in 2014, and even the title exudes a wry sense of humor. It sports a heavier sound than in the past but not a bit of the style this band has exuded since its 2010 debut has been lost in the transformation.

“Don’t Forget To Breathe” is one of the tracks that packs a punch, with clever lyrics delivered via harmony vocals. “Rest My Mind” has energetic guitar playing woven throughout and “Get It Right,” a song about taking the time to enjoy life, moves to a steady beat. On the lighter side, the acoustic and philosophical “Within And Without” is more successful than the dramatic and less engaging “Look At The Sun.”

While the band’s mission to delve further into power pop is certainly evident, there are also enticing elements of prog rock involved here. “Right Time To Say Goodnight” evokes open spaces and the epic “Half Light,” with its instrumental passages, feels like vintage Pink Floyd. A lilting arrangement and ethereal harmonies turn “I Don’t Mind” into a thing of beauty; bringing yet another facet to this well-crafted collection.

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