Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Here’s What You Should Be Doing Tomorrow Night - CIMMfest No. 6 - First Day

If you’re a fan of catchy hit singles from the 1960s, you won’t find a better one-two-punch than the one being delivered as part of the opening day festivities for CIMMfest No. 6 tomorrow night, May 1st. At 6:15 PM, a modern day version of Candy Store Prophets, comprised of members of local bands The Hushdrops and The Chamber Strings, will bring back fond memories with Celebrate The Songs Of Boyce And Hart at the Logan Theatre Lounge. The original Candy Store Prophets were Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart’s backup band. Admission for Celebrate The Songs Of Boyce And Hart is free.

There will be a screening of Rachel Lichtman’s documentary Boyce And Hart: The Guys Who Wrote Em directly after the concert, at 6:45 PM in the Logan Theatre.  Even those who already know how heavily involved Boyce and Hart were in the success of The Monkees, will likely be surprised by this 81-minute look at the number of hits this songwriting duo penned for other artists. Boyce and Hart also had their own big hit with “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight.” There will be a Q and A with Lichtman and Bobby Hart. Admission for Boyce And Hart: The Guys Who Wrote Em is $10.

There are a number of other shows going on as part of CIMMfest tomorrow night, including Yo La Tengo and special guests at Concord Music Hall at 9:00 PM. Admission for this 18 and older show is $24. See the CIMMfest website or pick up a program (Reckless Records downtown has them) to see the full schedule.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

CIMMfest: On The Nights Before

When CIMMfest (Chicago International Movies And Music) No. 6 officially kicks on May 1st two days from now, it will pack 70 films, 50 bands, and 99 events around town during a four-day visit that lasts through this Sunday, May 4th. The 48-page program, which is available at various stores and venues, gives a thorough breakdown on everyone involved and everything that’s taking place. You can also check the website for the full schedule, including a few pre-CIMMfest activities being held tonight and tomorrow night.

Styx Live: The Grand Illusion/Pieces Of Eight will be shown tonight at Film Row Center at 1104 S. Wabash Avenue at 6:30 PM. Presented by The Ears organization, Columbia College, and CIMMfest, this concert was filmed at the Orpheum Theatre in Memphis, Tennessee.

An All-Ages Kickoff Party at Double Door at 7:00 PM tomorrow night features a performance by the blues band Davina and the Vagabonds. The opening act will be soul music aficionados/deejays Windy City Soul Club. 

Joe Angio’s 96-minute documentary Revenge Of The Mekons, a look at the winding career of the legendary English punk band that now calls Chicago home, will be screened at 7:30 PM Wednesday night at Lincoln Hall. There will be a Q and A session afterward that includes director Joe Angio, along with Mekons members John Langford and Sally Timms. Langford, in addition to his numerous musical endeavors, is an on-air personality at WXRT. I heard XRT DJ Marty Lennartz talking about this event on his weekly Big Beat show last night, and stating that he (Lennartz) would also be involved in the Q and A session. Admission is $10.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Slumgullion - PM Version

Karen Gillan has nothing to fear from mirrors in this movie.
Photo from the Not Another Happy Ending Facebook page.

I did an AM version of Slumgullion earlier today. Here are a few more items.

Tomorrow is the final day to check out critically acclaimed local artist Nicholas Sistler’s SWEATSHOP exhibit at the Images Gallery on Wilson in Chicago. There will be a closing reception from 5:00 to 8:00 PM, and Sistler will conduct a tour of the gallery at 7:00 PM. Call 773-772-6726 for information. 

Old 97’s will likely be performing songs from their new Most Messed Up CD when they headline Hopefest 2014 at Park West on June 21st. So far, there’s no mention of any other acts on the bill. Admission is $30 ($35 day of the show) and $75 will get you reserved seating. Proceeds from the event will support the work of The Chicago Coalition of the Homeless

Earlier today on BHT I mentioned some of the TV and film stars who will be guests at C2E2 (Chicago Comic And Entertainment Expo) at McCormick Place this weekend. Lots of fun, no doubt, but Doctor Who fans might be looking to the north with a sense of envy. According to writer Dan Casey from The Nerdist website, Matt Smith and Karen Gillan will be among the celebrities gathering at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo. They have a panel discussion scheduled for tomorrow at noon. I don’t have any recollection of Smith and Gillan ever visiting Chicago, but hopefully they’ll consider it someday.

Meanwhile, Gillan’s chilling new flick Oculus has been getting mostly positive reviews in the Chicago press, (I think Redeye was the only paper that panned it) for director Mike Flanagan’s pacing and Gillan’s acting. Critic Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune wrote, “Gillan rattles through a considerable amount of exposition in Oculus, and has a way of doing so that it makes the whole premise faintly comic yet completely grave underneath.” Still, I think I’d rather see Gillans romcom Not Another Happy Ending if it ever comes to America. 

Slumgullion - The AM Version

Tickets went on sale earlier today for Echo and the Bunnymen’s August 10th show at Metro and Bryan Ferry’s September 21st show at the Chicago Theatre. Tickets for Paul McCartney’s July 9th show at the United Center go on sale Monday at 10:00 AM.

Congratulations to Buddy Guy on the 25th Anniversary of his Buddy Guy’s Legends blues club. The downtown venue will be marking the occasion tonight with live music by Lane and Breezy Rodio, $3 Buddy Brews, and a raffle for Buddy Guy’s Blues Legends t-shirts.

Tributosaurus will be performing the entire Abbey Road album by The Beatles tonight at the Copernicus Center on Chicago’s northwest side. Partial proceeds from Tributosaurus Becomes THE BEATLES, VOL. 7, Abbey Road will benefit the Betty Hemmert Music Scholarship Fund.

Betty Hemmert was the mother of WXRT DJ Terri Hemmert, who hosts the weekly Breakfast With The Beatles show in addition to her daily mid-morning time slot. Last week, she mentioned the The Beatles 50 Years Of Memories Show at the Curly Tale Fine Art gallery at 16 W. Erie. The exhibit will feature vintage posters, original advertising, collector vinyl, original art, and photographs. There’s an opening night reception from 6:00 to 10:00 PM tonight, and the exhibit runs through May 23rd. Hours are Tuesday - Saturday 11:00 AM - 6:00 PM. Sunday Noon - 4:00 PM, Closed on Monday.

C2E2, the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo kicked off its 2014 visit at McCormick Place today at 11:00 AM and will remain open until 7:00 PM. Actress Eve Myles from Torchwood will host a panel at 4:45 PM this afternoon, followed by a signing in the Autographing Area. Other guests this weekend include Marvel Comics founder Stan Lee, Alfie Allen, Kristian Nairn, and Natalia Tena from Game Of Thrones; Jaime Murray from Defiance; R J Mitte from Breaking Bad; Chase Masterson from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine; Ernie Hudson from Ghostbusters; and Svengoolie. Several comic artists will also be on hand, along with loads of vendors selling art, t-shirts, action figures, and all kinds of imaginative fantasy-related goods.

826CHI, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center, is staging a sci-fi/cult film themed fundraiser at the St. Vincent de Paul Center on Halsted tomorrow night from 8:00 PM to midnight. Prom 9 From Outer Space will feature an open bar, costume contest, silent auction, raffle, and dancing. Advance tickets are $55 for one, $100 for two, and $60 at the door.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

CD Review: The Squires Of The Subterrain - Self-Titled

There are several mysteries in the universe, but determining the origin of Chris Earl’s fascination with music isn’t one of them. The Rochester, NY-based singer/multi-instrumentalist has released a number of albums since 1992, working with bands and as a solo artist. The common thread has been creating songs that would have fit in perfectly during the original British Invasion and garage rock era. On Earl’s latest effort, a self-titled CD under the fanciful band name The Squires Of The Subterrain, he pretty much plays all the instruments (with a bit of help from guitarist Phil Marshall, trumpet player Scott Bradley, and bassist-backup vocalist Kit Nelson) and creates lush harmonies by layering his vocals.

At times on the new CD, Earl comes across as a one-man version of The Rutles, mimicking Beatles songs for satirical purposes. “Private Gherkin’s Psychedelic Silly Mustache Band” finds him combining the spirit of  “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” with “Yellow Submarine” and throwing in references to touring vans, groupies, inter-galactic travel, and pickles. “Dr. van der Jagt” evokes the Fab Four for a seemingly non-ironic tribute to a medical doctor, and on “Happy Ending,” Earl joyously dives into a bag of psychedelic tricks from 1967. Aside from the catchy “You Gave Me The Cold Shoulder (to cry on),” Earl isn’t too interested in romantic relationships. “Widows” is a melodic tribute to fallen soldiers from the viewpoint of two women who’ve lost their husbands to war, and “Attitude And Altitude” salutes a pioneering woman aviator.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

CD Review: Archie Powell And The Exports - Back In Black

When I mentioned Archie Powell And The Exports’ upcoming CD Back In Black a few weeks ago here on BHT, I predicted it would have more power pop songs on it than the AC/DC album with the same name. After all, Archie Powell And The Exports have two previous releases, Skip Work and Great Ideas In Action, that are filled with catchy melodies and satirical lyrics. Little did I know that the group’s “desire to capture [the] sound and spirit of their high-energy live show”* would bring about such aggressive changes.

This new effort uses harder arrangements and a fair amount of primal screaming to focus on the devastating effects of unrequited love. Powell, who writes just about all the songs, creates a character who’s so distraught that he’ll never touch or kiss his dream girl that he locks himself up in his room, indulges in lurid fantasies, and contemplates suicide. There are some crazy things on this CD. At times, it’s like Powell turns out the lights, puts a flashlight under his chin, and runs around screaming. “And in my mind I’m still not convinced I’ll ever be fine,” he sings on “Electrocute My Heart,” which is one of the better and less manic songs on the new CD.

The stream-of-consciousness horror and (not specifically stated) depravation of “Scary Dream” is delivered via Powell’s rapid-fire delivery and the driving beat of guitars and drums. “Everything’s Fucked” also sports a rampaging arrangement, providing further proof that Archie Powell and The Exports have the chops to perform at this level of intensity. Still, Back In Black isn’t entirely a successful transition.

Powell sometimes swaps his usually clever lyrics for cryptic images of insanity or self-destruction. Plus, his Looney Tunes Tasmanian Devil screaming on songs like “Lean” just doesn’t cut it. “Mambo No. 9” is a powerful and catchy instrumental, so adding screams there is just gouging the lily. On the other hand, “Tattoo On My Brain” is a dark masterpiece that sizzles with lines like, “Just a tattoo on my brain/Remind me how you made my agenda for going insane /You can tell that it’s a train wreck/All this gray will have some color in a hot sec.” “Jump Off A Bridge” showcases quick rhymes set to an off-kilter and fun arrangement; “Holes” and “The High Road” are also standout tracks. Powell settles down a bit at the end, with the light and melodic “Everything’s Cool.”

Ultimately, Back In Black gives Archie Powell And Exports some hard-edged indie rock cred, but here’s hoping this new approach becomes part of the band’s palette rather than the dominant color.

* From the official Archie Powell And The Exports press release. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

You Can Read It In The Sunday Papers

Slumgullion got squeezed out of the schedule this week, due to International Pop Overthrow, Record Store Day, and the holiday. But here are a few odds and ends regarding the entertainment scene.

Chad And Jeremy are celebrating their impressive career with a British Invasion 50th Anniversary tour that features special guests Gerry & The Pacemakers, Billy J. Kramer, Mike Pender’s Searchers, and  Denny Laine. Six dates have been announced for September, in Montclair, NJ; Philadelphia, PA; Westbury, NY; Alexandria, VA; Pittsburg, PA; and Valley Center, CA. The Westbury show is on the verge of being sold out.

Congratulations to David Bash on bringing another successful round of International Pop Overthrow to Chicago. In a classy move, Bash dedicated this past Friday night’s showcase to Jim Ellison since it was the late Material Issue singer’s birthday. Phil Angotti performed an Ish song during his Friday night set in honor of Ellison. Bash is off to his hometown L.A. for a little R and R, and then he’ll be bringing IPO to Detroit from April 24th through the 28th. If you missed IPO - Chicago, you can find a thumbnail sketch of every act that performed here in earlier posts here on BHT.  

I had a brief window of opportunity yesterday morning to visit Reckless Records downtown for Record Store Day and then came right back home again to leave for a family get-together at my sister’s house. At RSD, I added to my collection of 10" EPs by getting Meltdown With The Ramones. Also got some free CDs and vinyl, including a four-song CD by The Strypes. A tip of my Underground Garage cap to the staff at Reckless Records for being so efficient and friendly.

According to Mark Guarino's article in a recent Sun-Times article, the Reckless Records in Wicker Park will move to a new location close by that will be three times the size of its old location. That’s good news for the indie record biz.

For those who missed singer-guitarist Phil Angotti and Friends performing Simon and Garfunkel’s entire Sounds Of Silence LP as part of the Record Store Day festivities at Laurie’s Planet Of Sound Records yesterday, he’ll be part of Ellis Clark And Phil Angotti’s Pin Ball Wizard Orchestra - A Special Mod Tribute to The Music Of The Who on June 7th at Mayne Stage at Chicago’s north side.

Also at Mayne Stage, Tommy Keene and Pezband will be sharing a bill on July 2nd.

American English will be bringing their Beatles tribute show to Durty Nellie’s in Palatine next Friday night. Led Zeppelin tribute band Kashmir is also on the bill.

But did he call her Queen Bee? According to writer Paul Sullivan in today’s Chicago Tribune, singer Lorde recently had a chance to meet former Kansas City Royals star George Brett, who was the inspiration for her mega hit song “Royals.” 

Friday, April 18, 2014

IPO - Chicago; Saturday Night Preview

Can they top this? Magatha Trysty fans might get preview of the next CD tomorrow night.

International Pop Overthrow wraps up its 2014 stay in Chicago tomorrow night, April 19th with an impressive lineup of Midwestern bands. Here’s the schedule. 

8:00 Crybaby: This five-piece rock band from Sleepy Hollow, IL brings an authentic blue/roots sound to songs like “You’ve Gotta Move.” 

8:45 Bob’s Your Uncle: This four-man group plays hard-edged pop with an emphasis on harmony vocals and strong melodies. Their latest release is titled Xplod-i-mite.

9:30 Magatha Trysty:  It’s been a kick watching this indie rock quartet’s progress since I first saw them at an IPO - Chicago show a few years back. Magatha Trysty’s sound is fueled by the dynamic tandem vocals of keyboards player Catherine Louise and guitarist Chris Bevard and taps into vintage new wave on songs like “Clairvoyant” and “Art Zero.” The group’s Your Clothes Will Wear Themselves came in at number 4 on my Top Releases Of 2012 list, and they’re currently working on a follow-up that Bevard tells me will be even better. 

10:15 Semi Twang: This critically-acclaimed Milwaukee band has been performing country/alternative music since 1985. Lead vocalist John Sieger is a prolific songwriter whose compositions have been covered by The BoDeans, Robbie Fulks, Dwight Yoakam and others.

11:00 The Pounders:  IPO founder David Bash recommends this Detroit band to people who like “high energy pop with a dash of jangle.” Their influences includes Elvis Costello, The Who, Burt Bacharach, and Radiohead. The Pounders released the full-length CD You And What Army, featuring the singles “Please Operator” and “The Latest Fashion” in 2011.

11:45 The Romeros Charismatic lead vocalist-guitarist Mike Vanderbilt performed a solo IPO-Chicago gig a few nights back, and he returns tonight with his garage rock band The Romeros. This marks the 10th year they’ll be gracing IPO - Chicago with energetic songs like “You Got Me” and “Brand New Girl” from their two CDs. A fitting act to bring this annual festival to a rollicking finale.

Record Store Day 2014

Record Store Day, an annual celebration of vinyl in all its 7, 10, and 12 inch glory, returns tomorrow, April 19th. The number of recording artists participating has grown over the years, and record stores now also seek to attract customers with live entertainment, and in some cases, fast food. People hoping to snag some of those limited edition or colored vinyl releases will need to get up extra early and be prepared to stand in line outside the record store of their choice. There’s a complete rundown of all the one-time treasures being offered this year on the official Record Store Day website. 

The challenge is getting around to the best deals and entertainment. Last year, WXRT air personality Terri Hemmert joked on her show about needing a helicopter to accomplish that, but a time-traveling TARDIS from Doctor Who would be even better. Hemmert will be making a guest appearance at the Val’s Halla Record Store in Oak Park tomorrow morning, and then later, at around 3:00 PM, at Lauries Planet Of Sound on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago.

There will also be a full schedule of live bands at Laurie’s:
Between 12:00 and 2:00 PM: Fake Limbs and Savage Sister;
2:00 PM: The Mountain Goats/John Darnielle
3:00 PM The Lemons
4:00 PM: Phil Angotti and Friends performing Simon And Garfunkel’s Sounds Of Silence LP
5:00 PM: The Handcuffs
6:00 PM: Silver Abuse
7:00 PM: Mazes

Singer-guitarist Ellis Clark will celebrate the release of his two vinyl albums this year by performing busker style outside the Vintage Vinyl in Evanston at 11:00 AM.

Reckless Records has various live bands scheduled at its Broadway and Milwaukee Avenue stores. Circuit Des Yeux will be performing at 3:00 PM at the Milwaukee Avenue location, followed by Dance Mania DJs at 4:00 PM; and Kim Deal, Kelley Deal, and Morgan Nagler at 6:30 PM. The Broadway location will have Ghost B.C. Convocation at 1:00 PM; Lord Mantis at 3:00 PM; and Video Bug at 4:00 PM.

The Rock Island Public House in Blue Island be have djs playing vinyl from 8:00 PM to 3:00 AM as part of These Old Men They Play Records

As for the records, there’s bound to something for everyone, including jazz, Country & Western, indie rock, heavy metal, and classic rock. WXRT jumped into the game last year with a vinyl version of its Live From The Archives, Volume 14, and the station will be offering Volume 15 on vinyl at select locations this year. I couldn’t begin to offer a comprehensive list of worthy selections, so here’s a short list of some of the more interesting records that will be for sale:

R.E.M. - Unplugged: The Complete 1991 and 2001 Sessions on 12” vinyl
Creedence Clearwater Revival -  The 1969 Singles EP on 10” vinyl
David Bowie - “1984” Picture Disc on 7” vinyl
Shocking Blue - “Send Me a Postcard” on 7” vinyl
The Animals - Self-titled EP on 10” vinyl
The Ramones - Meltdown With The Ramones EP on 10" vinyl
The Standells “Dirty Water” on 7” vinyl
The Specials - “Sock It To Em JB”/”Rat Race” on 7” vinyl

Once you’ve studied the Record Store Day website and compiled your own wishlist, you may need a few pointers on what to expect. 

Get there early. These rare editions sell out quickly. Some will immediately show up on eBay.

Bring your list with you. The stores I’ve been to keep all the records behind the counter, and you’ll be in line for a while before you’re waited on.

Finally, prepare for sticker shock. I’ve haven’t been able to find anyplace online that lists prices, so won’t know how much these records cost until the clerk places them in front of you. Some will be relatively cheap, while others can get expensive. Ask the clerk for one or two titles to start with; you can always request more if you’re still within your budget.

Happy hunting.

IPO - Chicago Preview: Saturday Afternoon

Photo from Freetoed's Facebook page.

Tomorrow is the last day of International Pop Overthrow’s  2014 visit to Chicago, but there are two showcases to check out. The afternoon showcase casts a spotlight on the upcoming generation of musicians, along with a guy who has been associated with IPO almost as much as its Founder/CEO David Bash.

Here’s the lineup for tomorrow afternoon. Acts are from Chicago unless otherwise noted. 

2:00 One Mighty Colin: These five young guys and gals are from the Rock Academy of Dupage, and perform cover versions of classic rock songs like Deep Purple’s “Smoke On The Water” or Boston’s “Foreplay/Long Time.”

2:25 Freetoed: This indie rock quartet, led by vocalist-guitarist Adam Muran, has logged several IPO - Chicago appearances. Influences include Wilco, Ryan Adams, and The Avett Brothers. At last year’s IPO - Chicago, Freetoed was missing its drummer, but still created a full-bodied sound via acoustic and electric guitars, and mandolin.

3:30 Slenderband: This group of four young dudes also appears to have sprung from the Rock Academy of Dupage. A YouTube video posted of the band shows it doing a nice version of Matthew Sweet’s “Girlfriend.”

4:15 Twins: Contrary to the name, there are four guys in this Waterloo, Iowa-based band, although Luke, Harper, and Joel Siles appear to be related. (Devin Ferguson is the fourth member.) Twins will most likely play tunes from their new CD Tomboys On Parade since it was released on April 1st. Their influences are a promising mix of Brit Invasion acts like The Beatles, Kinks, and The Who, along with power pop masters like Cheap Trick, The Paul Collins Beat, and The Plimsouls. These guys will have some traveling to do tomorrow; their Facebook page also shows them playing a 10:AM Record Store Day gig in Davenport, IA. 

5:00 Jeremy:  This single-named, Portage, Michigan-based singer-guitarist comes close to rivaling Dave Rave’s amazing IPO attendance record, having played the festival in several cities over the years. Jeremy draws inspiration from the 1960s and has released CDs on his own Jam label. His latest All Over The World, featuring energetic songs like “Cool Your Jets” and “Chain Reaction,” was released about 10 days ago. He can always be counted on for some powerful and extensive jamming during his live performances.

5:45 Dad’s Magazine: This group features musicians who’ve been in other notable bands, such as Food And Drug, Swinger, Sun Sawed In Half, The Webstirs, and Dad Factory. Influences include Guided By Voices, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, The La’s and The Ramones.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

IPO - Chicago - Friday Night Preview

I’ve been posting these International Pop Overthrow - Chicago 2014 previews for a week now, and once again, I’m amazed at the variety of talent IPO Funder-CEO David Bash is able to bring to this festival. But if I had to pick one night from this year’s schedule as a prime example of how impressive IPO can be, it would be the one that takes place tomorrow night, April 18th, at the Red Line Tap.

For traditionalists, you’ve got Phil Angotti and 92 Degrees, two of the three Chicago bands that took part in the first first IPO in Los Angeles back in 1999. (Angotti performed with The Idea; the third band was The Critics.) The Abbeys have performed at every single IPO - Chicago since it first started coming here in 2001. Anglophiles will enjoy Ben Jones and The Rifle Volunteers, while those with a taste for quirky music are bound to love The Ye-Ye’s. Trevor Pritchett and Josefina Asconap√© from The Choir are newcomers to IPO, but they’ll fit right in with their harmony vocals and catchy indie/powerpop arrangements.

Here’s the schedule for tomorrow night. All bands are from Chicago except where noted otherwise.

8:00 Ben Jones And Rifle Volunteers:  Anyone who enjoyed Beat Root’s performance at IPO - Chicago this past will want to check out Ben Jones and The Rifle Volunteers tomorrow night because they were the band backing vocalist Andrea Magee in Beat Root. As IPO Founder David Bash told me in an article for the Illinois Entertainer, “Ben Jones played IPO - New York a few years ago and absolutely fell in love with the city and, by extension, the USA.” Ben Jones And The Rifle Volunteers create catchy, soul-tinged pop tunes “Reach Me” and “Shangri-La” on their new release Shangri-La.

8:45 The Choir: Trevor Pritchett and Josefina Asconap√© of the duo The Choir aspire to create jangle pop, and that certainly comes across on songs like “Down And Out In New York And L.A.” and “One Word From Your Giant Lips.”
9:30 Phil Angotti: This singer-guitarist and one-time member of The Idea has taken a more introspective turn on songs like “My Old Records” from the 2011 CD People And Places, without sacrificing his knack for catchy melodies. He can also rock out, as he did on “I See Spaceships” from his 2013 effort Life And Rhymes. Angotti has also become a gifted mimic of other artists through his frequent tribute shows (The Bee Gees, The Monkees, Paul McCartney, etc) around town, so don’t be surprised if he springs a few cover versions on the audience tomorrow night. He’ll be covering the Simon and Garfunkel LP Sounds Of Silence as part of the Record Store Day festivities at Laurie’s Planet Of Sound Records on Saturday.

10:15: The Abbeys:  This band’s founding members, singer-guitarists Mike Cohen and Jeff Janulis, have spent years weaving Everly Brothers type harmonies together, so it’s no surprise they also have a band called The WhatEverly Bros. With The Abbeys, they can range from hard-edged power pop to the more bluegrass influenced tunes like “Say Them With Me” from their 2013 release File Under: Twang. Cohen’s satiric sense of humor surfaces on “Nobody Moves,” a slap at the narrow-minded crowds performers occasionally encounter in rock clubs, and “Johnny Cash Station,” which  slings a few barbs at C&W themed amusement parks C&W themed amusement parks. The band recently posted on Facebook that tomorrow night’s show could be their last show for a while.

11:00 The Ye-Ye’s:  This five-woman band covers 1960s hit songs, and sings them in French.

11:45 92 Degrees: This power pop trio of vocalist-guitarist Steve Steffens, bassist-vocalist Mike Galassini, and drummer Dane Svoboda has been an integral part of IPO- Chicago right from the start. It’s been a while since 92 Degrees released anything but the classic power pop songs like “I Love Her” from their vinyl EP, Money Makes The World Go ‘Round and “She’ll Never Know” from a self-titled CD co-produced with Jeff Murphy on the Shoes Black Vinyl label are as vibrant as ever.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

IPO - Chicago: Thursday Night Preview

Joseph Michael’s portrait of James Clark from The James Clark Institute website.

There are only three night and one afternoon showcases left before International Pop Overthrow moves on to rock the good people of Detroit. For the full schedule of the acts that have yet to grace the stage of the Red Line Tap on Chicago’s far northside, check the official IPO website. And as I’ve stated here numerous times, that website is also a great way to discover new music.

Bands are from Chicago unless noted otherwise, and some out-of-town visitors will definitely add to the fun tomorrow night, April 17th. Here’s the schedule.

8:00 James Clark This Toronto-based singer-guitarist returned to the studio just last month to start work on his sixth release under the name The James Clark Institute since 2004. He draws inspiration from Ray Davies, Elvis Costello, and John Lennon. “Company Hearse,” released last year on 7” vinyl, is a catchy, biting song with ringing guitars. It’s not clear whether his IPO gig tomorrow will be solo or with a full band. He does well either way.

8:45 The Injured Parties This power pop trio is led by Larry O’Dean, an eclectic singer-guitarist and former member of the band Post Office. He enjoys mixing humor with melody on songs like “Zingermans Deli” and “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” from The Injured Parties’ 2009 CD Fun With A Purpose. They’re in the midst of recording a second CD, so there could be some new tunes in their set tomorrow night.

9:30 The Red Wigglers  This six-piece rock combo includes two horn players and is led by vocalist Megan Tormey.

10:15 Lannie Flowers This Texas quintet visits a number of stops on the IPO circuit, bringing joy to power pop purists along the way. Vocalist-guitarist Lannie Flowers, backed by a full band, creates catchy songs that are reminiscent of The dB’s and Elvis Costello, as well as mid-1960s Top 40. “Looking For You,” from the band’s second release Circles, is a guitar-driven gem that has the immediate impact of a hit single. In 2013, Lannie Flowers nabbed four honors at the LA Music Awards.

11:00 Rollo Time This power pop band’s 2010 CD, Victims Of The Crown was filled with catchy tunes like “’Til It All Comes Down.” Singer-songwriter Jon Raleigh was formerly with The Time Beings. Influences include Cheap Trick, Smashing Pumpkins, and Off Broadway.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

IPO - Chicago - Wednesday Preview

Photo from Beat Root’s Facebook page.

International Pop Overthrow continues its annual Chicago visit, and will run through this Saturday, April 19th, at the Red Line Tap on Chicago’s far north side.

Here’s the lineup for tomorrow, Wednesday, April 16th. All acts are from Chicago except where otherwise noted.

8:00 Beat Root: IPO - Chicago kicks off on an international note tomorrow night with this band. Irish singer-songwriter Andrea Magee is being backed by Ben Jones and the Rifle Volunteers, who will be back Friday night for their own IPO gig. Beat Root’s music can be an energetic mix of rock and blues on songs like “Gun Down,” or have a more intimate feel, as on “Electric Skin.” Beat Root and Ben Jones and The Rifle Volunteers are currently touring America together.

8:45 Old Honey Drums: This indie rock/folk duo is comprised of Amanda Farmer and Scot Stewart. They weave harmony vocals and acoustic instrumentation into easy-going songs like “Four More Hours” and “The Something Blues.” Their self-titled three-song EP is available for free download on their BandCamp page.

9:30 Mike Vanderbilt And The Suburban Garage Sound: Mike Vanderbilt will once again be wearing a few different hats at this year’s International Pop Overthrow - Chicago. He was sporting a sort of Frank Sinatra fedora when I saw him checking out The Abbeys at IPO last year. Vanderbilt will also lead The Romeros when they perform as the final act of IPO - Chicago 2014 this Saturday night. His show tomorrow is billed as Mike Vanderbilt And The Suburban Garage Sound, but he’ll be making all the sounds himself. Vanderbilt draws inspiration from The Replacements, The Old 97s, and Cheap Trick.
10:15 The Viaducts: This trio often leans toward the harder-edged side of power pop, but lead vocalist, guitarist, and by his own account, handsome dude, Jimmy Rane also draws from Buddy Holly on “Your Smiling Face (Walkin’ By In Blue Jeans).” The clever “Drive-Thru Girl” taps into The Ramones. The band’s most recent CD Mission To Destroy showcases Rane’s songwriting and guitar playing.

11:00 Top Shelf Lickers: This punk/alternative quartet took a brash, fun approach on their full-length CD, Head First,  and it’s likely fans will find similar mayhem on the new six-song Heart Beats Brain, which is available on CD and limited edition white vinyl. The band lists NOFX, The Queers, and Pennywise among its influences.

Monday, April 14, 2014

IPO - Chicago: Tuesday Night Preview

First, a few items before moving on to a preview of tomorrow night’s lineup at International Pop Overthrow - Chicago. The annual music festival run through this Saturday at The Red Line Tap.

CHIRP Radio, fresh from its massive Record Fair this past Saturday, is bringing the Live Lit and Music series back to Martyrs this coming Wednesday, April 16th. The First Time: First Move will involve seven local celebrities spinning tales of an important first (first kiss, first car, etc), with each story followed by a song performed live by The First Time Three. The band is comprised of Steve Frisbie, Liam Davis, and Gerald Dowd, and can reportedly can cover anything from Wu Tang Clan to Sinead OConner to Hank Williams. The First Time: First Move is a benefit to help CHIRP Radio, and will be hosted by the station’s DJ Jenn Sodini.

Jeff Kelley wrapped up the latest season of  Sunday Morning Coffee With Jeff  about a month ago, and he’s already planning bits for when his weekly Internet series comes back in the Fall. In the meantime, hes serving up fresh Coffee via podcasts. The first two episodes, available on iTunes, show Kelley is already comfortable with the new format as he delivers an entertaining blend of commentary, music, and skits. I’ve contributed several bits to the Sunday Morning Coffee With Jeff Internet show over the years and I’m looking forward to getting involved with that again, as well as the CWJ podcasts.  

And now, here’s the IPO - Chicago schedule for Tuesday, April 15th.

8:00 Dylan Sires and Neighbors:  This Waterloo, IA trio has been racking up positive press for the way it crafts original power pop music from 1960s influences, along with a touch of neo-1950s artists like Chris Isaak.

8:45 Secret Colours: This is one of Chicago’s better-known practitioners of psychedelic rock, with a name that reflects strong British pop influences. The quartet plans to release two EPs this year, and will be promoting the first, the six-song Positive Distractions Part 1 at its IPO gig. The songs range from the guitar-driven “City Slicker” to the mostly acoustic and chilling “Monster.”

9:30 Common Shiner:  This indie rock quartet released Before They Sold Out: Part 2, an appealing digital album in 2013. The songs combine strong melodies and the intricate harmony vocals of guitarist Morgan Foster and keyboards player Michael James Brooks. 

10:15 Collectors Vocalist-rhythm guitarist heads this band that mixes indie rock and power pop, with a dash of punk as well. Influences include Badfinger, R.E.M., Cheap Trick, and The Buzzcocks. According to a recent post on the Collectors’ Facebook page, tomorrow’s show will feature “the classic 2004–2006 classic lineup” of Mazza, lead guitarist Andy Noonan, Bassist Joe DeBord, keyboards player Rob Oliver, and drummer Eric “Big Red” Prester.

11:00 Ariada Deriving its name from vocalist-keyboards player Lesleigh Arratia, this band mixes a variety of styles. “Blue & White Dress,” the most-played song on Ariada’s website, has an exotic sound that’s almost classical. The band released a self-titled EP last summer.
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