New Chicago Record Release: Two Star

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.

Go See Panther Style at Beat Kitchen

The Beat Kitchen continues its climb up the local music scene ladder this Saturday by featuring Panther Style, a rising Chicago band bordering rock and power pop, sprinkled with a little punk.

Panther Style will be playing off their brand new album, Emergencia (released May 31, 2011), which features squealing, edgy guitars complimented by Jeanne McClure’s strong but understated vocals that are reminiscent of Shirley Manson, at times, except for the occasional primal scream or two. Dan Lutger violently bangs the drums to make sure you don’t forget this is a rock band first and foremost, while Al Rodis and Melissa Koehl shred sexy guitar riffs and occasional solos that evoke fond memories of some of the best eras of rock – from epic hair bands to indie and punk revival.

Panther Style is the product of veteran Chicago rockers and a very welcome, refreshing addition to the scene. We like straight-up rock around here and that’s what you’re going to get on Saturday. Something else we like – live recordings, of which Emergencia is one, recorded at Chicago’s B-Side Audio.

Have a listen below then get your tickets for Saturday’s show – it’s going to be a good one.


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.

Sound Citizen Radio 11: Hideout, Kitchen, Hall

Welcome to another edition of Sound Citizen Radio. This week we celebrate three of our favorite Chicago music venues in The Hideout, Beat Kitchen and Lincoln Hall.

The past two weeks on we reviewed Local Natives, interviewed and reviewed Clem Snide and made some Austin City Limits recommendations. Check them out after listening to the podcast!


This week’s lineup:

Jonny Rumble, “BRZRKR”
June 25, Beat Kitchen, Chicago

Visqueen, “Jimmy vs. James”
May 31, The Hideout, Chicago

Gold Motel, “We’re on the Run”
June 11, Lincoln Hall