Ticket Giveaway! Audio Tree Launch Party.

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new music company in town called Audio Tree. And on March 10, they will officially launch with a full night of music at Chicago’s Lincoln Hall.

It’s sold out but you can be there … FOR FREE!

Through this exclusive Sound Citizen ticket giveaway, a handful of Sound Citizen readers and guests will attend the Audio Tree launch party and enjoy three outstanding bands — Portugal. The Man, Kellen & Me, and Soil & the Sun — in one of Chicago’s finest music venues. Did I mention that you and a friend get to go for free?

To enter the giveaway, simply “Like” the Sound Citizen Facebook page or, if you’re not a Facebook user, subscribe to Sound Citizen via email, to the right. We will announce the winners on Friday, March 4.

We’ve come to know Audio Tree well leading up to their official launch and we couldn’t be happier to have them in Chicago. Coming soon, we will feature more about the time we’ve spent with Audio Tree’s founders and show you what makes this music company special and such an asset to the Chicago music scene both for fans and musicians.

Enter the giveaway now, and stay tuned for more on Audio Tree!

Below, you can get see some video of the three bands playing the launch party.

Portugal. The Man


Kellen & Me


Soil and the Sun


2011 Grammys Recap

That was the most entertaining Grammy Awards I’ve ever seen. Naturally, controversy will be called — perhaps because Justin Bieber lost Best New Artist to Esperanza Spaliding (who?), or that Lady Antebellum won Song of the Year. But while the actual awards given out at the 2011 Grammys might have been a bit random they were, for the most part, fair. But that’s not the story.

The 2011 Grammy Awards showcased the magic of live music performance. It started with Lady Gaga, who lived up to her zaniness with “Born This Way.” And although she had some sort of mutant/alien thing going on, it was somehow tastefully tame, by her standards.

Cee Lo Green channeled Elton John then out-did him by breezing through the feel-good “Forget You” complete with a Muppet backing band — yes, awesome Muppets — all while wearing a massive peacock-as-gladiator costume. Unfortunately, Gwyneth Paltrow caused an awkward distraction.

But the performance everyone was waiting for would come from Eminem. With a backdrop of raging fire, Shady did “Love the Way You Lie Part 2,” and he killed it. He was sharp, agitated and explosive. Afterward, the Grammy audience was buzzing, literally, during the next award introduction. See video of Eminem’s 2011 Grammy performance, below.

Mumord and Sons did justice to their genre, along with Avett Brothers and a still-alive Bob Dylan. Rhianna sounded great. Incidentally, am I the only one that feels like she’s crossing into skank territory up there? There were other notables, including Justin Bieber and … Barbara Streisand.

Finally, Arcade Fire’s blistering rendition of “Month of May” prefaced the most shocking of all the awards — victory for Album of the Year. It’s a much-needed breath of fresh air for the mainstream music industry. And what better way to close out the awards? As @SPIN put it, “Win Butler just casually placed a Grammy on top of his amp. Then started playing the best song he ever wrote.”

The 2011 Grammy Awards was a huge success for music. Mostly, because such incredible care was put into the music itself, the stages, and the performances. It was fun. Diversity was on display and every performer brought their best to the stage. Except for J. Lo and Marc Anthony. What the hell was that?

List of winners and nominees.

Eminem performs “Love the Way You Lie, Part 2”


Ticket Giveaway! Fences at Beat Kitchen.

christopher mansfieldGood music on a Tuesday night? For free? At a great venue? What’s not to like?

Fences, a Seattle-based band fronted by Christopher Mansfield is coming to Chicago’s Beat Kitchen on Tuesday, February 15. Fences is on tour supporting their debut album, which was produced by Sara Quin of Tegan and Sara fame. The album was recently named a “10 Best Albums You Might Have Missed in 2010” by SPIN magazine.

To enter to win two free tickets, either subscribe to Sound Citizen via email (up and to the right) or “like” our Facebook page. We will pick a winner Monday evening, February 14. When you win, try the gumbo with corn bread at Beat Kitchen – good stuff.

Below is a free download of Fence’s new single, “Girls with Accents.”

Should you not win and still want to go, buy tickets at Beat Kitchen’s website.

The Black Keys and the Evolution of Music Video

We all know the traditional music video is dead — MTV took care of that a long time ago. But there’s always room for innovation. And so it appears with The Black Keys’ latest video for the song, “Howlin’ For You.” Could this be the next evolution of the music video?

The video (below) plays out like a movie trailer — interesting enough — but with the song itself providing just background music. The video is a full narrative and there’s even a full cast; including Corbin Bernsen, former Playboy model Tricia Helfer and “Sir” Todd Bridges of Diff’rent Strokes. The Black Keys’ stuffed dinosaur even makes an appearance.

This is the first time I’ve seen a music video that actually puts the music in the background, instead focusing much more on the narrative. But it’s not the first time The Keys have experimented with video. The aforementioned dinosaur starred in “Next Girl” and an early music video release of “Tighten Up,” both of which took a decidedly less-than-traditional approach to the music video.

It’s an interesting concept and, really, it makes sense. Thanks to YouTube and the Flip handheld video camera, fans can watch countless hours of live footage of their favorite bands. And that’s great. But it also means that the standard music video needs to offer more than just stylized re-creations of a performance (I’m looking at you, Pearl Jam). They need to tell a story. Well, mission accomplished with “Howlin’ For You.”

So, while the music video is no longer a factor on television, it could be that we are entering the next golden era of the music video … online. Are The Black Keys onto something here?

Watch the video, and you tell me.


New Fleet Foxes, Tour Dates & Free Download

Fleet Foxes are set to release their second album, Helplessness Blues, on May 3 then launch a supporting tour (tour dates below), starting April 30 in Vancouver. But right now, you can hear the title track by clicking the button below. And if you like it, download Helplessness Blues for free.

It sounds exactly like what you would expect from Fleet Foxes; highlighted by Robin Pecknold’s lofty vocals and the sweeping tunes that evoke scenes of a groovy hippie girl basking in a sun-soaked field of flowers. In other words, it’s quite pleasant.

Helplessness Blues

Fleet Foxes Tour Dates:

07-01 St. Austell, England – Eden Sessions
07-02 Arras, France – Main Square Festival
07-03 Werchter, Belgium – Rock Werchter Festival
07-04 Paris, France – Days Off Festival
07-06 Poznan, Poland – Malta Festival
07-08 Lisbon, Portugal – Alive Festival
07-10 Turku, Finland – Ruisrock
07-14 Toronto, Ontario – Massey Hall
07-16 Chicago, IL – Pitchfork Music Festival
07-17 Minneapolis, MN – State Theatre
07-18 Kansas City, MO – Uptown Theater
07-19 St. Louis, MO – The Pageant
07-21 Denver, CO – Fillmore Auditorium
07-22 Salt Lake City, UT – Red Butte Garden Amphitheater
07-23 Boise, ID – Knitting Factory
07-24 Troutdale, OR – Edgefield Amphitheater
08-11 Oslo, Norway – Oya Festival
08-12 Gothenburg, Sweden – Way Out West Festival
08-13 Rees-Haldern, Germany – Haldern Pop Festival
08-14 Saint-Malo, France – La Route du Rock Festival
08-16 Brighton, England – Brighton Dome
08-18 Hasselt, Belgium – Pukkelpop Festival
08-19 Biddinghuizen, Netherlands – Lowlands Festival
08-20 Brecon Beacons, Wales – Green Man Festival
09-06-07 Seattle, WA – Paramount Theatre
09-09 Reno, NV – Grand Sierra Theatre
09-10 Berkeley, CA – Greek Theatre
09-11 Big Sur, CA – Henry Miller Library
09-13 Santa Barbara, CA – Santa Barbara Bowl
09-14 Los Angeles, CA – Greek Theatre
09-15 Phoenix, AZ – Comerica Theater
09-17 Tulsa, OK – Cain’s Ballroom
09-18 Austin, TX – ACL Festival
09-20 Jacksonville, FL – Florida Theatre
09-21 Raleigh, NC – Raleigh Amphitheater
09-23 Columbia, MD – Merriweather Post Pavilion
09-24 Brooklyn, NY – Williamsburg Waterfront
09-25 Holyoke, MA – Mountain Park
09-29 Ann Arbor, MI – Hill Auditorium?
11-10 Copenhagen, Denmark – Falconer Theatre
11-11 Weissenhauserstrand, Germany – Rolling Stone Weekender
11-14 Zagreb, Croatia – Tvornica
11-15 Vienna, Austria – MuseumsQuartier
11-17 Rome, Italy – Atlantico
11-19 Bologna, Italy – Estragon
11-20 Milan, Italy – Teatro Smeraldo
11-21 Zurich, Switzerland – Komplex
11-22 Fribourg, Switzerland – Fri-Son
12-01 Leeds, England – O2 Academy
12-02 Minehead, England – All Tomorrow’s Parties

Lollapalooza 2011 Headliners Announced

According to Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune, and citing “reliable industry sources,” Lollapalooza 2011 will feature headliners Eminem, Foo Fighters and Muse.

A pretty good start, so far. Eminem might be 2011’s top entertainer, when all is said and done; Foo Fighters will be playing off a new album and always have energy to spare; and Muse, while I’m frequently underwhelmed by their music, do put on an impressive stage show.

Kot also reports that Best Coast, Girl Talk, Crystal Castles and Lykke Li will perform.