Thursday, June 30, 2011

CD Review: Three O’Clock - Vermillion

This review originally appeared in the Illinois Entertainer in 1988. Note the reference to Jason Falkner, who made his recording debut on this album. Afterward, he would go on to Jellyfish and a successful solo career. Lead vocalist Michael Quercio would also perform with Game Theory, Permanent Green Light, and Jupiter Effect.

Three O'Clock is the second group from Los Angeles’s storied Paisley Underground to receive a helping hand from Prince. The soul star took The Bangles from cult status to the mainstream by writing their first top ten hit, “Manic Monday.” As the first pop band signed to Prince’s own Paisley Park label, Three O'Clock could experience a similar transformation.

That’s not to say Vermillion offers any major changes from Three O’Clock’s previous efforts. Lead singer/songwriter Michael Quercio, along with keyboards player Mike Mariano, drummer Danny Benair, and new member Jason Falkner on vocals and guitar, has continued his quest to recreate the delicate pop sound of 1960s bands like Love, The Left Banke, and The Bee Gees.

There is a Prince cover, “Neon Telephone,” which was written under a pseudonym and features his cohorts Wendy & Lisa on back up vocals, plus an occasional nod toward blue eyed soul. Still, it’s likely that Quercio’s ideal woman would be named Penelope or Prudence, rather than Darling Nikki.

The only real change of pace comes on “Love Has No Heart,” which features Falkner on lead vocal and successfully ventures into the more modern sound of Depeche Mode and Echo & The Bunnymen. Other highlights, like “When She Becomes My Girl” and “Time's Going Slower,” are more typical Three O’Clock fare, proving the band hasn’t lost its knack for creating catchy pop music.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Photo by my wife Pam. (Click to see larger image.)

Material Re-Issue, the trio formed to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the release of International Pop Overthrow, continues to impress in its sporadic live gigs. With original members, drummer Mike Zelenko and bassist Ted Ansani, joined by singer-guitarist Phil Angotti, Material Re-Issue played at Fitzgerald’s and The Abbey Pub last April. They performed an hour-long set at the Petrillo Bandshell in Grant Park late yesterday afternoon as part of Taste Of Chicago.

Unlike their sold-out International Pop Overthrow show at The Abbey Pub, Material Re-Issue didn’t play their debut album from start to finish at yesterday’s sun-drenched concert. They did choose at least seven songs from IPO, with the hits “Renee Remains The Same” and “Diane” coming early on in the set, but mixed them in with deep cuts from the Material Issue catalog. Guitarist Jay O’Rourke, from one of Chicago’s other stellar power pop bands, The Insiders, helped out on several songs, while Angotti and Ansani consistently crafted first rate harmonies.

The eclectic set, which included the rarity, “Sixteen Tambourines,” proved once again that the late Jim Ellison was a highly gifted songwriter as well as a charismatic frontman. Lighter, melodic fare like “Carousel” and “Everything” was balanced with the hard-hitting "What Girls Want" and “Echo Beach,” which gained an almost progressive rock feel through O’Rourke and Angotti’s guitar playing.

“Valerie Loves Me,” the song that broke Material Issue on MTV and across the country back in 1991, was saved for almost the very end. Angotti delivered the funny lines on “Goin' Through Your Purse” with a distinctive yelp while the band played at a rollicking pace. Material Re-Issue closed with their exotic cover of “Kim The Waitress,” (originally done by The Green Pajamas) with O’Rourke wielding what looked like an electric sitar.

The trio has upcoming gigs on July 8th at SummerFest in Milwaukee and at Chicago’s Lincoln Hall on September 17th.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Vinyl Review: Love Dolls - Love One Another

Just a quick note before traveling back to 1989 for a record review.

The Laureates, a Chicago group that spins inventive, British Invasion influenced pop, is releasing its second full-length CD, Spells today, and it’s available for a free digital download at

My review of this highly enjoyable CD will hopefully be in the July issue of the Illinois Entertainer.

Now, on to Love Dolls, who released their debut, Love One Another on the indie Buy Our Records label in 1989. A Google search on the words ‘Love Dolls’ turns up the predictable listings of life-size female replicas for lonely men. But Wikipedia reveals that one of the band members was bassist Abby Travis, who has gone on to a successful solo career and has toured with Beck, Elastica, The Meat Puppets, and The Bangles. Travis recorded a single called “Lies” with Susanna Hoffs, Vicki Peterson, and Debbi Peterson backing her. She doesn’t mention Love Dolls on her website but according to a review I did for the Illinois Entertainer, Love One Another was a freewheeling, fun effort.

With a name like Love Dolls, it’s natural to suspect this four-woman band from California wants little more than to create seductive videos for MTV. But a quick glance at the album jacket for Love One Another and song titles like, “Squashed Octopus,” “The Last Beer,” and “Horrible Aching Loss/Horrible Aching Loss (Slight Return)” suggests this group is more warped than wanton.

Love Dolls combine a revved up version of the 1960s girl group sound and offbeat lyrics about troubled relationships on catchy songs like “Pearls At Swine” and “More Pain, Misery & Suffering (Part 2).” On “Aint No Sin” and “The Thing,” the band thrashes away with a garage rock fury. “Song Remains Insane” in particular, is a musical roller coaster ride that comes to a thrilling finish. “Toadstools” has nonsense lyrics set to a dreamy psychedelic arrangement and “La la la” vocals.

Considering the sardonic nature of the tracks elsewhere on Love One Another, it seems likely that the dismantling of The Youngbloods’ hippie anthem “Get Together” is deliberate.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Vintage Publication Spotlight - Las Vegas 1999

When my wife Pam and I spent four days in Las Vegas back in 1999, I was determined to pick up some local free papers called Las Vegas City Life and Las Vegas Weekly. If I remember correctly, I learned of their existence via an ad on a Las Vegas radio station. Finding them proved to be quite a challenge, but I finally got a copy of each at a record store in The Forum Shops mall at Caesar’s Palace.

Not to be confused with those porn ‘zines that entire families worked together handing out in broad daylight on the city’s streets, Las Vegas City Life and Las Vegas Weekly were more like the Chicago Reader in the way they covered local politics and performance arts. There were also alternative comics and back pages filled with some questionable classified ads. The cover story for Las Vegas Weekly was Attack of The Grrl Gamers, while Las Vegas City Life offered a take on how its writing staff would change the way things were run in the city.

Most of the papers’ ads centered on entertainment, like The Freemont Street Experience 60’s Flashback two-day festival, which featured The Guess Who and Lovin’ Spoonful. The House Of Blues at Mandalay Bay had a busy Fall coming up, with concerts by Jeff Beck, Squeeze, Robert Palmer, Morrissey, Jethro Tull, and Echo & The Bunnymen. Over at the Hard Rock Cafe, No Doubt, They Might Be Giants, Sting, Weird Al Yankovic, and ABC had upcoming gigs. The Beach Boys were scheduled for a concert at the Mandalay Beach Stage.

Las Vegas City Life and Borders Books & Music combined to give readers an opportunity to catch a sneak preview of a new flick called American Beauty. Other movies out at the time included the Dennis Rodman blockbuster Simon Sez, Kevin Costner’s For Love Of The Game, and Three Kings, with George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, and Ice Cube. The top-selling fiction book was Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Of course, both papers had a lot of ads of casino revues, such as The Rat Pack Is Back! with David Cassidy at The Desert Inn Resort. On the sexier side, there was Latin LaBeatOh (a pun on labido?) Nights at Club Rio, The Pleasure Dome at The Ra Night Club at Luxor, and the Striptease Live Nude Cabaret. More sophisticated people could watch Hamlet at the Thirteenth Annual Nevada Shakespeare In The Park if they didn’t mind seeing Ophelia in a g-string. Just kidding about the g-string.

This was September of 1999, so Las Vegas City Life carried an item about rumors of how Y2K might affect city’s computer system.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Slumgullion #67

Quite A Weekend At Quenchers. Quenchers Saloon in Chicago has some fun things going on this weekend, kicking off with singer-guitarist Phil Angotti’s Birthday Bash tonight. Angotti released his latest CD, People and Places (see for my June 8th review in the Archive) a few months back. He’s performing along with The Bed Bugs and The Coma Band. Also, don’t be surprised if some local musicians turn out to celebrate with Angotti.

The freewheeling and always fun garage rock band Penthouse Sweets will be at Quenchers on Saturday, as part of a triple bill that includes melodic rockers Innkeepers and the coed acoustic-based indie band Honey & Buffalo.

It’s Baaaack! Taste Of Chicago kicks off today in Grant Park, and the previously mentioned Phil Angotti will once again be fronting Material Re-Issue, which also includes original members Mike Zelenko and Ted Ansani. The trio will be opening for The Lemonheads this coming Tuesday, and will also perform on a double bill with The Goo Goo Dolls at SummerFest in Milwaukee on July 8th.

Archie Powell & The Exports (see January 3rd in Archives, for my review) will be at the Taste on Saturday at 2:40 PM, and Marrakesh Express, a Crosby, Stills, & Nash tribute band will perform Saturday, July 2nd at 5:20 PM. The recently canceled Celtic Fest will be condensed into a single day on Wednesday, July 29th, and there will also be days for Latin, Gospel, World, and Country music. The full schedule is available at the Taste Of Chicago website.

Across The Universe. Sorry for such short notice, but tomorrow is Global Beatles Day, according to a Facebook page created by photographer Faith Cohen. In a recent post, she explains that GBD “DOES NOT require you to be anywhere or commit to doing anything in particular. Think of it as an 'International Personal Day' to acknowledge in whatever way you choose - the impact (previous & ongoing) the Beatles had on the seen from your perspective.” Musicians Brad Elvis, Chloe F. Brady, Marty Scott, and the Braam brothers are among the guests ‘attending.’

Just Hart’s Imagination. Singer-songwriter/journalist Hugh Hart has found an inventive method for showcasing his ability to succeed in a variety of genres. House Of Imaginary Hits combines his original compositions with the artwork of graphics director Sean Hartter to create ‘hit’ songs from fictional albums. Just to clarify, the songs are real but the LPs are not. Thus, he presents the rural toe-tapper “I Owe Everything To You” from Steelneck Cowboys with John Rice and J.D. Dragus; the easy-going “Candy Hearts” from Work Songs Vol. 1; the techno “Reptilian Brain” from FlameWidget (which also has an animated video); the bluesy “Up To You” by The Vanessa Davis Band; the rocking title track of his own How To Be A Millionaire; and the smooth jazz of the title track of Work It Out by Lonnie Gordon and Hugh Hart. If that isn’t confusing enough, Hart has an actual CD, Idolizer, coming out in October.

Aladdin Stock. Today’s online newsletter from the eclectic folks at Lost At E Minor has a report from Paul Dempsey about a David Bowie doll that can be purchased at a store in The Drake Hotel in Toronto. It’s part of a series of pop culture figures created by artist Suzie Smith that includes John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Johnny Cash, John Waters, and Courtney “Doll Parts” Love.

Rockpile Rocks On. The Second Disc newsletter recently revealed August 22nd as the date Eagle Records will release Rockpile’s Live At Montreaux CD, which captures the short-lived supergroup fronted by Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds, in a 1980 performance. The 16 live tracks, all previously unreleased on CD, include “So It Goes,” “I Knew The Bride,” “Teacher Teacher,” “Queen Of Hearts,” and “Girls Talk.”

Son Of No Nukes. Rolling Stone online recently reported that Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, John Hall, Sweet Honey In The Rock, and Crosby, Stills And Nash will perform at a new MUSE (Musicians United for Safe Energy) concert scheduled for August 7th at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California. The event, which will also include performances by Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine and Jason Mraz, is a response to the nuclear trouble in Japan. The Shoreline Amphitheater version comes over 30 years after the last MUSE concerts were held at Madison Square Garden.

Return Of The Jangle. Power pop band The Janglemen have released the new 5 By The Janglemen EP. It’s a follow up to their highly melodic 2007 debut, Tearjerker & 9 Others.

Well Alright. Power pop veteran Gary Ritchie, who was once a member of the Chicago band Loose Lips, has a new 18-song CD titled Hum, Sing - - Repeat coming out in a few weeks. For a preview, check out “Alright,” which is currently up on YouTube.

July EXPOsure. Expo 76, the eclectic copy band that includes Dag Juhlin of The Slugs, The Greenwoods, The Goldstars, Poi Dog Pondering, and millions of other rock groups, has a full schedule in July. On the 3rd, they’ll be part of Fitzgerald’s annual American Music Fest in Berwyn; on the 9th, they’ll be at Viper Alley in Lincolnshire; on the 13th, they’re back on their home turf of Simon’s Tavern; on the 28th, they'll be at Brummel Park in Evanston; on the 29th, they’ll be entertaining tourists from around the world at Navy Pier, and on the 30th, they’ll be part of a “total blowout dance party” after the Lincoln Avenue Street Fair.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

45 RPM Memories - “Empty Room”

Bohemia helped forge Chicago’s punk scene back in the late 1970s, but even within the rebellious atmosphere of that genre, the band never felt obliged to follow all the rules. “Empty Room,” a single taken from Bohemia’s 1981 full-length debut, Deviations, is a good example of that. Written by bass player/artist Zirbel, the slow-moving song has an instrumental intro that creeps along like a spider descending down a wall. Fast Frank’s saxophone playing adds a nocturnal jazz flavor throughout. Like most of Bohemia’s music, “Empty Room” has a sinister quality, with theatrical lyrics that are well-suited to the arrangement.

Nothing is stated explicitly, as lead vocalist-keyboards player Carla Evonne sings of being trapped within the titular space. Claustrophobia quickly sinks in, with lines like, “Looking back, you see the wall behind you start to move a little closer toward you.” There's a hint of vintage Blondie in the haunting melody, and as the song progresses, things get spookier. “And then a hand, this hand, this hand, or are you just imagining?”

The pace is considerably faster on the 45’s B-Side “I Wanna Cigarette,” a funny take on nicotine addiction that was recorded live at the On Broadway club as part of the WXRT Unconcert series. The song’s urgent request is delivered through Carla Evonne’s raw vocals and the attacking guitars of Lee D’Buddah and Fast Frank, while Zirbel’s bass playing provides a powerful undertow. There’s a video on YouTube of Bohemia performing this song at a reunion show at The Cubby Bear in 1991. The visual quality isn’t very good, but you can see the enthusiastic crowd tossing cigs onstage every time Carla Evonne sings the song’s title. I was at that show, but didn’t have any cigarettes to throw.

Sadly, the last I heard, none of Bohemia’s music has ever made it to CD.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Demilos Reveal Themselves Through Revolving Doors

Films about rock bands are nothing new, but when director-musician Mike Snider set out to document the 15-year evolution of his group with Revolving Doors: The History Of The Band Demilos, he faced a major challenge. He needed to find ways to hold viewers’ interest while exploring the career of an alt rock/comedy group that’s pretty much unknown outside of the Chicago club scene. Working with assistant directors Angela Taylor, Eric Ferguson, and the other band members, Snider crafted a well-paced hour of interviews with current and former members; still photos; live performances at venues like Subterranean and Java Jim’s Music Theater; appearances on local shows like JBTV; and informative sessions at the Low Orbit recording studio. The documentary has aired on WJYS TV 62 in Chicago and a 13-minute version can be viewed on YouTube.

Fortunately, the Demilos have more going for them than a lot of local bands. Melodic songs like “Used To” and “Catch The Cure” are genuinely clever, and a glance at the credits on their 2010 self-titled CD reveals that twin brothers bassist-guitarist Brian Daley and drummer Joe Daley; guitarist Jeffrey Kmieciak; keyboards player Michael Snyder; and guitarist Finn Swingley are all capable of handling lead vocals and playing various instruments. Each is an accomplished songwriter as well. With so much talent on board, ego clashes are unavoidable, and Revolving Doors tactfully reveals how members like guitarist-vocalist Brett Callaway have left over the years to pursue their own goals. Some eventually returned to the fold, which is a testament to the chemistry these musicians share.

The Demilos also have a knack for creating inventive and professionally-edited rock videos like “Airplay,” “Cosmonaut - Theme For Dying Space Stations,” and “Channel Me.” Revolving Doors explains how the Demilos became more tech savvy over the years, retaining the cutting edge of their punk roots while adding space age sounding keyboards and other special effects. The interviews done at Low Orbit Studio are particularly interesting as Joe Daley and Swingley explain how and why certain effects were created. Ultimately, Revolving Doors does a good job of celebrating the Demilos’ dedication to their music, and will hopefully introduce them to a new audience.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

CD Review: The Loud Family - Plants And Birds And Rocks And Things

The sun will shine longer today than at any other time of the year, which is why I have a tradition of using June 21st for Pam Appreciation Day. It’s a time to reflect on how loving and supportive my wife Pam has been throughout the years of our courtship and marriage. Thanks, Pam. Happy Pam Appreciation Day! Visitors to this blog may want to establish an Appreciation Day for their own significant others. And now on to today’s post, which I originally wrote for the Illinois Entertainer back in 1993.

The debut release from The Loud Family marks the welcome return of singer-songwriter Scott Miller. His eccentric pop sensibilities made his last band Game Theory a favorite among critics, if not a household name. Miller still has the same fascination with sound bites and musical fragments that got a little out of hand on Game Theory’s double disc Lolita Nation. Fortunately, he’s also retained his ability to create energetic pop arrangements, so all the songs that emerge from the clutter are gems.

Plants And Birds And Rocks And Things balances punchier rock songs like “Rosy Overdrive” and “Jimmy Still Comes Around” with the lighter-than-air confections “Even You” and “Aerodeliria.” Miller even wraps a beautiful melody around “Slit My Wrists,” which makes the song’s suicidal resignation all the more haunting. “Spot The Setup” offers some of his angriest lyrics to date. Such songs are usually not the road to commercial success, but it’s likely Miller doesn’t really want to bring his unique vision to the Top 40 anyway.

Note: Scott Miller has a critically acclaimed book out now, titled, Music: What Happened? For info, check out the Loud Family website, using the link above.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Ravinia Park Becomes A Cool Place

Photo taken from The Go-Go's Facebook page.

Ravinia Park was literally a cool place this past Friday night, as a below average temperature greeted an audience that had come for a double bill of 1980s rock. Luckily, The B-52’s and The Go-Go’s knew what to do to save the party. Although it has been at least 30 years since both of these groundbreaking acts made their debuts, they thoroughly entertained their fans at Ravinia with a number of big hits.

The B-52’s came on first, with original members Kate Pierson, Fred Schneider, Cindy Wilson, and Keith Strickland joined by longtime backup musicians Paul Gordon on keyboards, Tracy Wormworth on bass, and Sterling Campbell on drums. I was surprised by how much of the band’s material I was unfamiliar with, and even the people in the designated dance section in front of the stage seemed less animated during these songs. Still, everything was energetically rendered, with Wormworth and Campbell providing a steady, irresistible backbeat.

“Private Idaho” and “Give Me Back My Man” from 1980’s Wild Planet came early in the set and were well received, but “Roam,” from the 1989 release, Cosmic Thing was the first song to really get everyone up and grooving. “Party Out Of Bounds,” also from Wild Planet, was a blast, with Schneider giving lines like, “Disgusting things you’d never anticipate!” a theatrical flair. The B-52’s closed with a rousing rendition of “Love Shack,” which left a roaring audience demanding more.

The two encores came from the band's self-titled debut; the first being an extended and playfully spooky take on “Planet Claire” that was worth the price of admission alone. Pierson trilled along with the synthesizer while Schneider traveled the entire stage doing a robot walk. “Rock Lobster,” the impossibly silly new wave hit that first caught the attention of so many people back in 1979, served as the perfect finale for a concert that found The B-52’s still bringing the fun.

Seeing The Go-Go’s onstage again was a welcome development after the 2010 Farewell Tour was canceled due to an injury to guitarist Jane Wiedlin. This time out, there has been no talk of retiring, and all five original members look like they’re glad to be back. Lead vocalist Belinda Carlisle belted out the clever lyrics of “Skidmarks On My Heart,” one of several songs performed from The Go-Go’s debut, Beauty And The Beat, which was recently released in a two-disc 30th Anniversary Edition. The harmonies and vocal interplay were first rate on “How Much More,” “Fading Fast,” and the punkish “This Town” and “Tonite.”

The band opened with the title track from Vacation, and also picked “Get Up And Go” from that 1982 effort. There was a nod to Carlisle’s solo career with “Mad About You,” as well as Wiedlin’s collaboration with Sparks, “Cool Places.” It could have been my imagination, but it looked like Caffey was imitating Sparks goofball Ron Mael’s unique facial expressions while she played the keyboards on that song. A rollicking cover of The Stones’ “19th Nervous Breakdown” was a pleasant surprise, and The Go-Go’s went deep into their catalog for “Unforgiven,” from the solid but sadly overlooked 2001 comeback effort, God Bless The Go-Go’s, and “The Whole World Lost Its Head,” which can only be found on the Valley Of The Go-Go’s compilation.

The chart-topping single “Our Lips Are Sealed,” which surprisingly wasn’t saved for an encore, had everyone dancing and singing along, and The Go-Go’s closed with the exuberant “We Got The Beat.” Unfortunately, my wife and I missed the encore because we have to leave to catch two trains back to Palatine.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Slumgullion #66

Break Out The Cake And Champagne. Today marks my 500th post on Broken Hearted Toy, dating back to August of 2009. I’d like to thank my wife Pam for setting up this blog and offering so much technical, and occasionally, writing advice. Also, thanks to Steve Forstneger and John Vernon at the Illinois Entertainer for their support. I appreciate all the visitors, especially those who have taken the time to post a comment, or become followers of Broken Hearted Toy.

Thanks to the musicians who have sent CDs to be reviewed, and everyone who has kept me up to date on their various creative endeavors. The Valley Downs, Van Go, Go Time, The Handcuffs, Maple Mars, Ultraviolet Eye, Tomorrow The Moon, The Britannicas, Panther Style, WhiteWolfSonicPrincess, The Telepaths, Mimi Betinis, Linda Good, Todd Wright, Linda Matlow, Hugh Hart, Bud Monaco, Braam, This Is This, Julie Blore-Bizot, Jeff Kelley from Sunday Morning Coffee With Jeff, The Bad Examples, Cliff Johnson, Hollus, Kevin Lee, The Reptoids, Welcome To Ashley, Lannie Flowers, Matt Dodge & The Lobsters, Phil Angotti, Material Re-Issue, Matt Ryd, Severed Limb, Aaron Fox and The Reliables, Magatha Trysty, Red Light Driver, The Greenwoods, Roxy Swain, Dan Pavelich, and The Bradburys. I apologize if I’ve left any one out.

It’s also been a kick to hear from people like Bobby Elliott of The Hollies, Vicky Peterson of The Bangles, David Bash of International Pop Overthrow, Dennis Diken of The Smithereens, and Jon Auer of The Posies via emails, Facebook messages, and tweets, thanking me for writing about them.

Tie Dye One On. Peace Fest Chicago kicks off with a Drum Circle led by Huntress Diana at noon today at 1700 N. Stockton in Lincoln Park, just south of the zoo. The free festival, which will run through 9:00 PM on Sunday, is the work of musician Genral Patton, who will perform with the band His Privates late Saturday afternoon. Many of the 24 musical acts scheduled to appear, especially Sunday’s headliner Paradise Waits, lean toward the Grateful Dead school of rock, but hip hop, funk, reggae, ska, and country will be represented as well. Peace Fest Chicago will also have art on display, as well as vendors selling their goods.

Speaking Of Hippies And Yippies. Mary-Arrchie Theatre has already begun meetings in preparation for its annual three-day, virtually non-stop celebration of drama, comedy, and performance art. Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins Festival XXIII will be staged from 7:00 PM Friday, August 19th through very late Sunday, August 21st. Mary-Arrchie will be performing pieces, along with performances by Factory Theater, A Red Orchid Theatre, Rush Pearson, Theatre O The Absurd, Democracy Burlesque, Black Forest, and several others. My old comedy group Famous In The Future will continue its string of appearing at every Abbie Fest since 1989. FIF founder Frank Carr and Mary-Arrchie Theatre Artistic Director Rich Cotovsky (who authentically portrays the controversial Mr. Hoffman) are the only two individuals who have performed at every Abbie.

A Different FIF. Faith In The Fallen, a hard-hitting rock band featuring former Famous In The Future and current New Millennium Theatre member Guy Schingoethe, will be performing as part of five-act lineup tonight at Penny Road Pub in Barrington Hills. Faith In The Fallen goes on at 8:15.

Power Pop That Keeps On Giving. Bruce Brodeen, the former owner of the Not Lame record label, has just released Power Pop Prime No. 7. Subtitled, A Pop Geek’s Guide To Awesome: The Not Lame Years, the book can be purchased for $39.95 from the PopGeekHeaven website. Like every volume in the Power Pop Prime series, No. 7 comes with a limited edition various artists CD compilation. As an additional bonus to those who buy the book, Brodeen promises they’ll start receiving “special surprises via email that will not only enhance the value of your investment but enhance the experience of the content inside [the] book for you.”

Rockin’ The Tiki. The Brill Babies, a local band that covers rock and soul from the 1950s through the 1980s, will be part of a double bill with Hornstars tomorrow night at Cabana Charley’s Tiki Bar & Grill in Woodridge, Illinois. The music starts at 8:30 PM.

In My Life. Linda McCartney: Life in Photographs, a 288 page hardcover collection of photos taken by the famous photographer and wife of Paul McCartney, has just been published by Taschen. In addition to shots of The Beatles, Rolling Stones, and other iconic bands, the book, which was created with considerable input from Paul and other family members, is said to offer a glimpse of her personal life. Fellow Rolling Stone photographer Annie Leibovitz and art historian Martin Harrison contributed copy, and Alison Castle served as editor. On a related note, Chicago Tribune reporter Sandra M. Jones recently did a piece on Taschen opening a store inside the Art Institute Museum Shop in Chicago.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

He’s Not A Boy (He’s A Li’l Depressed Boy)

Recently, I was checking out The Like’s Facebook page for clues as to why this talented four woman band suddenly imploded. Amidst the pleas from fans for The Like to return, and assorted junk mail postings, I discovered a video featuring eccentric actress Diana Terranova talking to Sina Grace, one of the guys behind the indie comic Li’l Depressed Boy. As Terranova and Grace discussed in the interview, Li’l Depressed Boy is an odd character with no hair or ears, whose sad emotional state gets a tremendous boost when he’s befriended by a hot-looking, tough-talking hip chick named Jazmin. She affectionately calls him LDB.

The storyline for the recently released Issue Three: You’re No Rock N’ Roll Fun includes The Like performing at Jazmin’s birthday party. I was intrigued, not only because I’m a fan of The Like, but also because li’l depressed boy was what most of my teachers called me in grammar school. Plus, any appearance by a rock band in a comic book is fun.

The clerk at the Graham Crackers comic store in downtown Chicago responded with a quick “Oh yeah” when I asked if he was familiar with a comic called Li’l Depressed Boy, and led me over to what looked like the store’s last copy of Issue Three. Bassist Laena Geronimo appears on the cover, along with LDB and Jazmin. The entire band appears in its animated, mini-skirted splendor on the final three pages of the comic, performing the song “Catch Me If You Can” from its heavily 1960s flavored Release Me CD.

I’m not an avid comics collector, but Li’l Depressed Boy has a fun satiric tone, cool illustrations, and a positive attitude toward women. Even though LDB looks like a rag doll and seems reluctant to try pretty much anything, Jazmin coaxes him out of his shell with a mix of affection and wisecracks. Plus, she makes it clear she won’t take guff from anyone. She closes an anecdote at her party by saying, “At that, I just punched him in the face and walked away.” Li’l Depressed Boy is created by S. Steven Struble (writing, coloring, lettering) Sina Grace (penciling, inking) Zachary Trover (designing) and Nicholas Brandt (editing).

So whatever is going on with The Like, they can at least take solace in the fact that their fans miss them, and the creators of a hip comic liked their music enough to immortalize them on ink and paper. Maybe they could use a motivational visit from Jazmin.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

CD Review: Beady Eye - Different Gear, Still Speeding

Photo from Beady Eye Facebook page.

The post-Oasis band Beady Eye wastes no time on its debut CD proving that it can carry on nicely without vocalist-guitarist Noel Gallagher. “Four Letter Word” is a massive, freewheeling opening track that practically demands to be segued with one of Cheap Trick’s better songs on a mixed CD. That Beady Eye follows this monster with the acoustic, 1960s flavored “Millionaire” sets the stage for the way Different Gear, Still Speeding will keep shifting from one musical style to another throughout its 13 tracks.

Vocalist Liam Gallagher continues his long-time obsession with John Lennon, particularly on “The Roller,” a mid-tempo gem built on guitar and piano, and the epic, psychedelic ballad, “Wigwam.” He also tags his heroes in the high-speed and fun “Beatles And Stones,” proclaiming, “I’m gonna stand the test of time like Beatles and Stones.” There’s also some good time rock and roll to be found on “Bring The Light” and “Standing On The Edge Of Noise,” while Beady Eye takes a lighter approach with the lilting love song, “For Anyone” and the inspiring ballad, “The Morning Son.”

Different Gear, Still Speeding is filled with irresistible melodies and well-crafted lyrics, so it’s good to hear that Liam Gallagher has promised more CDs in the future. The band’s current tour includes a sold-out show at Metro in Chicago on June 18th.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Palatine (Teen) Idol

Photo from Storm The Front’s Facebook page.

Palatine has been holding its annual Battle Of The Bands for a number of years, but last night was the first time I’ve had a chance to check one of them out. The event is actually three contests in one, with representatives from The Palatine Jaycees choosing a band to perform at its Fourth of July Hometown Fest; The Village of Palatine picking a band to perform at its Downtown Street Fest in August; and The Illinois Park and Recreation Association tapping a band to advance in its statewide competition.

That could result in three separate winners, or one winner picked by all three organizations. At any rate, only The Illinois Park and Recreation Association choice was announced last night; the other two winners will be revealed later. The four bands that took the stage at the Fred P. Hall Amphitheater were picked from a field of about 30 applicants. ADHD, 42, Storm The Front, and On The Fly were all comprised of musicians in their teens, but despite their age, no one seemed particularly nervous. Each of the bands could have been more clear about the names and sources of the songs they played, but that’s a small complaint.

The relatively small crowd that gathered on an unseasonably chilly night was almost an equal mix of parents and the band members’ friends. The two factions didn’t mingle much. In addition to The Palatine Jaycees, The Village of Palatine, and The Illinois Park and Recreation Association, the competition was sponsored by The Drum Pad and The Music Room. For some reason, there was also a local dentist office in the mix, trying to attract new customers by having a guy handing out free toothpaste and brushes from a folding table. There weren’t many takers.

ADHD was the first band to appear, and like the other acts that followed, this trio made creative choices, with music that leaned toward cutting-edge hard rock. The three boys, who looked around 13, included a spirited Green Day cover and an energetic instrumental in its five-song set. “Fun for all ages!” the guitarist quipped at one point.

The numerically named 42 came on next, and opened with a breezy, jazz-flavored original. This co-ed mid-teen outfit with a charismatic female vocalist was the most bohemian of the four contestants, successfully tackling a different musical style with each of its three songs.

It was obvious from the moment the four members of Storm The Front took the stage that they were more polished than their competitors. They were also older, judging by the beard on the lead guitarist. Originals like “The Last Ride” combined high-speed guitars with raw but well-orchestrated vocal interplay, and when Storm The Front covered a vintage punk song, they nailed the intensity.

The four young guys of On The Fly had the awkward task of following this impressive display of power, but they seemed unconcerned. The hard rock/rap band has a first rate guitarist who doesn’t shy away from showcasing his skills, as well as strong original songs like “November, 1943.” Kudos to them for getting the job done instead of worrying about the bands who had gone on earlier in the competition.

Afterward, Storm The Front was picked as the winner by The Illinois Park and Recreation Association; The Palatine Jaycees and The Village of Palatine will announce their choices in the near future. All in all, it was encouraging to see these young musicians taking on challenges, working to meet them, and actively supporting each other throughout the Palatine’s 2011 Battle Of The Bands contest. They all have reason to be proud.

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