Sound Citizen http://soundcitizen.com Chicago music and reviews. Thu, 25 Sep 2014 19:05:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.6.1 Sound Citizen Radio brings Chicago's best live, local music right to you. We play local bands, tell you where you can go seem them live, and make recommendations of upcoming Chicago concerts. We also feature occasional ticket giveaways, so don't miss a single episode! New podcasts are on Wednesday nights, to get you ready for the weekend. Want to submit your band for consideration? Send an email to soundcitizenmike@gmail.com Mike Phillips no Mike Phillips mm.phillips@yahoo.com mm.phillips@yahoo.com (Mike Phillips) Sound Citizen Radio - bringing Chicago's best live, local music indie music, chicago music, live music Sound Citizen http://soundcitizen.com/images/scmini.jpg http://soundcitizen.com The Gnar Wave Rangers Bringing it to The Abbey Pub http://soundcitizen.com/the-gnar-wave-rangers-bringing-it-to-the-abbey-pub/ http://soundcitizen.com/the-gnar-wave-rangers-bringing-it-to-the-abbey-pub/#comments Thu, 25 Sep 2014 19:05:47 +0000 Mike http://soundcitizen.com/?p=2027 Looking for a band to see in Chicago this weekend? The Gnar Wave Rangers will play Abbey Pub this Saturday. And you should gather up a couple friends with open minds and a thirsty disposition, and go see them.

Admittedly, we know very little of The Gnar Wave Rangers aside from two facts: “Gnar” means “Get Nasty and Rich”; and judging by the lineup, these guys are happy to poke fun of themselves and you, too.

Johnny Swoon-VØX
Spicey Mang-BA$$
Butterscotch Bill-DRUM$
Gnat Riddler-GU!TAR

The sound is a melting pot of punk, low-fi rock, and funk. Allow me to use a few tracks from their new release, #GetNastyAndRich, as examples.

Crazy 4 Ur Luv reminds me of the delightful and melodic wackiness of Frank Zappa.
Moon Snake is an all-out scream fest.
Freddy Free Me evokes the sounds of your favorite Brit punk.
There is a Light channels The Editors and Psychedelic Furs.

And that’s all within the front half of the new album.

To sum it up, The Gnar Wave Rangers are eclectic, they’re going to f@#% s#!$ up at The Abbey, and you’re going to have fun.

You can listen to #GetNastyAndRich here.

Buy tickets to the show here.

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The Random Kids: Delightfully Different http://soundcitizen.com/the-random-kids-delightfully-different/ http://soundcitizen.com/the-random-kids-delightfully-different/#comments Tue, 26 Aug 2014 14:40:02 +0000 Mike http://soundcitizen.com/?p=2019 Paul Leo and Evan Munz are The Random Kids—two 23-year-old guys from Oak Park who are damn determined to do it independently. They wrote, recorded, and produced their latest album, Dire Dire Docks, all on their own. (They got some help with the album cover but we won’t hold that against them.)

Dire, Dire Docks plays out like a band exploring their favorite styles of music without being overly concerned about landing on one particular sound. And as a fully independent outfit, why the hell not? While it might sometimes lead to a lack of cohesion (trying really hard not to use ‘random’ here), that’s easily overshadowed by the sheer enjoyable nature of the songs. The Random Kids give off an undeniably pleasant, breezy vibe—perfect for your bluetooth beer cooler at the backyard barbecue.

But where are the comparisons, you say? OK, fine.

Throughout the album you’re going to hear some Local Natives. Sometimes the songs dip into Beach Boys territory. If you’re looking for some retro 80’s sounds, you’re going to get them from time to time. And some of the more playful tracks remind us a little of… The Monkees. Not exactly what you’d expect to come out of the Chicago suburbs, Yale, and Indiana University, eh? But hey—when were fulfilled expectations ever all that fun anyway? Dire, Dire Docks is fun—plain and not so simple. Even if you can’t put your finger on it, The Random Kids have something going on here.

Have a listen to the album below. A few of our early favorite tracks are “Five Itty Bitty Secrets” and “Swingin’ in the Breeze.”
It’s also available as a free download, here.

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Welcome Milwaukee’s The New Red Moons http://soundcitizen.com/welcome-milwaukees-the-new-red-moons/ http://soundcitizen.com/welcome-milwaukees-the-new-red-moons/#comments Wed, 02 Jul 2014 21:34:48 +0000 Mike http://soundcitizen.com/?p=2013 When you get an email about a trio from Milwaukee releasing their sophomore album, you expect to hear something down to earth. Perhaps understated but bar-worthy. What doesn’t immediately come to mind is “sophisticated” or “intriguing.”

But that’s exactly what you get with The New Red Moons and their new album, Mesmérisme.

These guys are tight. Joe McIlheran’s vocals are precise and controlled while his guitar riffs compliment, rather than complicate the overall arrangement. Kavi Laud’s drums and Jeff Brueggeman’s bass roll right along too, so that the songs are what shine, not any of the individual musicians. In my book, that’s a hell of a good start to a new-ish band.

But what does it sound like? Well, if you haven’t hit the play button on the video below, I’d put it something like this: I hear Queen. I hear Muse. I hear backwater blues, and a little foot-stomp. The New Red Moons are a little difficult to pin down, which is good. “Cheating on You” brings a kind of bluesy slow funk vibe. “This Can’t Be the End” carries some front porch swing feelings with it. Together, on the same album, it works.


If I had to pick on anything, it’s a couple of the ballads. While heartfelt and somewhat relaxing, they don’t seem play to the strengths of the band just yet. It’s a small nit to pick.

Mesmérisme is available for download on The New Red Moons website. We’ve already listened to it several times and it gets better with each spin. Vinyl will be available on July 11. Here’s something else I like about this band, from their website: “Like the last album, we limited ourselves to what we could play live, and that meant no double tracking, and no trickery.”

You can catch them live in Milwaukee, July 11 at Club Garibaldi, and in Chicago, July 24 The Abbey’s Green Room. (Gents, bring your own Spotted Cow. Chicago lacks it.)

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Deerhunter, “Back to the middle” http://soundcitizen.com/deerhunter-back-to-the-middle/ http://soundcitizen.com/deerhunter-back-to-the-middle/#comments Tue, 24 Sep 2013 20:01:51 +0000 Mike http://soundcitizen.com/?p=2006 We’re digging this new track from Deerhunter over here.

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Mumford & Sons’s Ballsy Career Move http://soundcitizen.com/mumford-sonss-ballsy-career-move/ http://soundcitizen.com/mumford-sonss-ballsy-career-move/#comments Mon, 05 Aug 2013 19:14:30 +0000 Mike http://soundcitizen.com/?p=2001 One way bands explode on the music scene and sell millions of records is to spearhead an entire genre at the right time. Take Mumford & Sons–they’ve made countryside rocking bluegrass hot, and themselves a big pile of money.

Then the bandwagon gets heavy, slow, and plodding. The idyllic countryside becomes a chic marketing strategy (looking at you, Lumineers) and the music becomes a little less pure, a little more annoying–almost insulting. If not careful, the spearhead becomes dead weight.

So how do you stop from becoming a punchline? If you’re Mumford & Sons, you plunge the spearhead deep into the shriveling heart of the genre itself. You parody yourselves and every quality people will eventually hate you for–the down-home posture; the banjo shredding; the brotherly harmonies; the emotional orgasm of every song. And you do it with a music video featuring some of the most likable actors of your target demographic.

You might think this would be band suicide. And I guess that’s possible. But a preemptive strike such as this forces you to take a side. It places a decision at your feet–whether you will remain a fan of the music (and the band) for what is, not just when it is. It’s a decision that Mumford & Sons knows damn well you’d make anyway, eventually. Only now, it’s on their terms. They just took control of their own fate.

My decision is made. Long live Mumford.

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Long Islands, Happenstance, and The Burning of Rome http://soundcitizen.com/long-islands-happenstance-and-the-burning-of-rome/ http://soundcitizen.com/long-islands-happenstance-and-the-burning-of-rome/#comments Wed, 03 Jul 2013 17:43:53 +0000 Mike http://soundcitizen.com/?p=1993 While walking to a show at Lincoln Hall, we come across a chalkboard sign outside Lilly’s, on Lincoln Avenue. “$5 Long Island Ice Teas”, it reads. Inside there’s a band playing loudly. And no cover charge. The perfect detour.

So there we are—four guys who instantly (and significantly) elevate the median age of said establishment, sipping Long Islands and taking in a new band before our planned show.

AguilarThe Burning of Rome, from San Diego, is playing in front of no more than 20 people in the bar (it was an impromptu gig, as they were returning from Summerfest) and all of them are transfixed—us included—along with front man Adam Traub’s girlfriend’s mother, who is gleefully boarding the band for the night. “They’re such nice guys!” she tells me.

Without that tidbit, “nice guys” is about the last thing you would say in a game of word association with The Burning of Rome. With an album titled Death-pop (which includes the song Norman Bates) “frightening” might be more fitting. I imagine any self-respecting right-winger would call them “threatening.” They are gloomy and aggressive. Keyboards are pounded. Guitars are shredded properly—upright, on top of amps, in the crowd, on the ground, and on the sides of walls (pictured), thanks to the extremely entertaining Joe Aguilar.

I hear flecks of Black Sabbath (and Black Flag), early Soundgarden, and Bowie, along with a slurry of Devo, The Gorillaz, and the circus… not a band, but the actual circus. Above all, this is a talented group that plays with explosive passion. Unbridled, but not out of control. Definitely all-out entertaining. Passersby kept poking their heads in the door, and I kept willing them in—wondering how in the world you could hear such a thing and not stop in for a few minutes. And that’s not the Long Islands talking.

We chatted with the band after the show. So while I could see their music becoming a target of the next ill-advised crusade to protect the youth of America, they really are nice guys, and a lady. Honest.

Take a few spins, below.
By the way, the intended show was Rogue Wave. My review of that: “meh.”

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Chicago Bands at Lollapalooza, 2013 http://soundcitizen.com/chicago-bands-at-lollapalooza-2013/ http://soundcitizen.com/chicago-bands-at-lollapalooza-2013/#comments Thu, 11 Apr 2013 21:18:24 +0000 Mike http://soundcitizen.com/?p=1986 by Brynn J. Alexander

Although Lollapalooza has brought musicians and fans from all over the world to Grant Park since 2005, a surprisingly small number of those musicians actually hail from Chicago. Now that this year’s lineup for the festival has been announced, it turns out there are six acts from Chicago, and with a range of genres from hip-hop to indie to experimental rock, there’s something here for everyone.

Need Lollapalooza tickets?

Wild Belle is brother-and-sister due Elliot and Natalie Bergman. They grew up in Chicago, and will be playing songs from their debut album, Isles, at Lollapalooza this year. Their music is a mixture of indie rock with touches of ska and even jazz.

 

Barely out of high school after graduating early, The Orwells are set to explode this year, already getting attention from MTV and Pitchfork. With several EPs and a full-length album already released, they have plenty of material to entertain audiences this summer.

 

Chance the Rapper will certainly be one of the crowd favorites this year, as the young artist is making waves through the hip-hop world after being laughed at by his teachers and told that his music would never amount to anything. Chance has already toured with noted acts such as Childish Gambino, and has released several singles to national acclaim.

 

Fans of concept rock will want to catch Makeshift Prodigy when they play Lollapalooza this year. The Chicago-based band specializes in intense, story-driven songs, with a strong emphasis on the visual aspects of their performance.

 

Relative veterans Smith Westerns are back this festival season with a third album on the way, and will be rocking crowds this summer at Lolla with their special mixture of Brit-influenced glam rock. Their shows are always high-energy, and local fans will be glad to see them where they belong, on a big stage.

 

Last but certainly not least, Supreme Cuts will take the stage with their own flavor of hip-hop-influenced EDM and experimental electronica. Describing their sound as “apocalyptic cloud rap,” this duo will appeal to a wide array of electronic music fans, whether you’re into hip-hop or not.

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Jenny Dragon: Chicago’s Gypsy-Jazz, Folk-ish Band http://soundcitizen.com/jenny-dragon-chicagos-gypsy-jazz-folk-ish-band/ http://soundcitizen.com/jenny-dragon-chicagos-gypsy-jazz-folk-ish-band/#comments Fri, 01 Mar 2013 14:48:10 +0000 Mike http://soundcitizen.com/?p=1965 Jenny Dragon recorded their debut album, A Fair Souvenir, at Hi-Style Recording Studio in Chicago on vintage gear dating from the 1940s-1960s. Plenty of information alone to give it a full spin, in my book. But I’ll give you more reasons.

All native Chicagoans, they are not. Just one. And maybe that’s why the blues are just a newt’s eye in the brew. No, The Dragons come from all over the place–California, Virginia, Kansas City, Iowa. The singing duo of Jodi Jean Amble and Sarah Goldstein started in college, in Wisconsin, back in 1997. They formed a sister-like bond. Now, a remarkable part of Jenny Dragon’s story continues down that path–and you can read more about it here. And today, they’ve settled in our fair city. But let’s get back to that brew, yes?

jenny dragon chicago band1 part bossa nova.
2 parts gypsy-jazz.
1 part latin, 1 part blues.
2 parts folk
1 part doo-wop.
A pinch of hula (you’ll find it)

Shake it up and you get a self-described “heavy whimsy”. And unlike most selfies (does that work in this context?), it’s pretty accurate. Take, for example, the heavy subject of America’s history with nuclear testing (heavy), and write some lyrics then put it to a song that’s a little sultry, a little

Jenny Dragon is a new band, but they are not newbies. They are a coming together of veteran musicians. So you get a sophisticated sound that’s not real easy to pin down. When we asked guitarist Brian Sharpe about how they arrived in this unique place, he said, “I think our natural individual musical inclinations and aesthetic started leading us in this direction and we didn’t fight it.” Right. On. Would love to see these guys at the Green Mill on a non-shushing night.

It’s that time to turn it over to you. Bend an ear on “Boom Boom”, below. It’s the whimsical atomic bomb song. And hear more at the Jenny Dragon website.

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New Chicago Record Release: Two Star http://soundcitizen.com/new-chicago-record-release-two-star/ http://soundcitizen.com/new-chicago-record-release-two-star/#comments Thu, 10 Jan 2013 17:23:44 +0000 Mike http://soundcitizen.com/?p=1957 Here in Chicago, it’s sometimes best to immerse yourself in long, dark winters. To embrace them, rather than fight it. Kind of like the process of getting over a breakup. And that’s where bands like Death Cab, Bright Eyes, The Postal Service, and Chicago’s Two Star—who just released their debut album Lover, Our Lips Have Left Us—come to help get us through.

Two Star is Justen Hamilton (Guitar/Vocals); Steve Smith (Drums); George Watt (Bass); and Vlad Shapochnikov (Keyboard/Vocals). They are unmistakably power pop, and have learned plenty from their predecessors, as all good students do. The hooks are deep and the transitions sharp, while layered vocals and wavy lyrics string a common thread throughout the album.

Get a sense of Two Star by listening to “His & Hers”, below. A couple of elements you’ll hear that you’re not likely to find in most power pop compositions… accordion, and a church organ. And it’s not at all out of place. The rest will be a familiar call to cozy fires and warm memories of spring (or that gal or guy who left you out in the cold).

If you like what you hear, be sure to check out Two Star at Beat Kitchen on Feb. 2, as their record release tour continues. And you can hear the rest of Lover, Our Lips Have Left Us here. Good luck this winter, Chicago.

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5 Rocking Christmas Songs http://soundcitizen.com/5-rocking-christmas-songs/ http://soundcitizen.com/5-rocking-christmas-songs/#comments Mon, 17 Dec 2012 18:15:02 +0000 Mike http://soundcitizen.com/?p=1950 This year, in stores and coffee shops, I’ve been hearing a lot of Barbara Streisand’s Jingle Bells–hands-down the worst Christmas song of all time. So that put me on a quest to find some rocking Christmas songs to try to erase Ms. Streisand’s abomination from my seasonally fragile mind.

Here it is. I recommend some or all of them make it into your holiday rotation, for the sake of your own sanity.

Run Rudolph Run
Chuck Berry
The bellwether of all rocking Christmas songs.
Signature lyric: “Said Santa to a boy, child, ‘What have you been longing for?’
‘All I want for Christmas is a Rock and Roll electric guitar.’”


Father Christmas

The Kinks
What do The Kinks really want for Christmas?
Signature lyric: “Father Christmas, give us some money!”


Come On Santa

The Raveonettes
Relative newcomer to the Christmas rock scene, enjoy this Raveonettes song while you fade out with your evening-ending cocktail.
Signature lyric: “The tree looks beautiful, the lights are in your eyes.”


Christmas in Hollis

Run-D.M.C.
I guess you could cast doubt on the rock and roll credentials of this song, but it’s a yuletide classic in every way. And hey, it does rock.
Signature lyric: “Rhymes so loud and proud you hear it,
it’s Christmas time and we got the spirit!”


Merry Christmas (I don’t want to fight tonight)

The Ramones
Pretty much sums up what many people really want for Christmas–peace in the home.
Signature lyric: “I loved you from the start, ’cause Christmas ain’t the time for breaking each other’s hearts.”

BONUS:
Don’t Believe in Christmas
The Sonics
For those who are feeling a little Scrooge-ish, these 60′s garage rockers have you covered.
Signature lyric: “Well mom and dad said we could,
So i did what i should,
I hung my stocking on a wall,
I didn’t get a thing at all,
I dont believe in christmas!”

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