Tag Archives: chicago music

Jenny Dragon: Chicago’s Gypsy-Jazz, Folk-ish Band

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.

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.

Enjoy This: Half Coyote

One of the real advantages to the Chicago music scene is that you never know what you’ll get, and there’s always something new and interesting right around the corner. Enter Half Coyote.

We can’t tell you too much about this Illinois-based band, mostly because their email address doesn’t seem to work, and they are not in a hurry to write about themselves anywhere. So, we’ll just share what we do know.

Half Coyote is not something you hear very often (those who have heard Devil in a Woodpile have a head start). Toy piano, banjo, ukelele…dogs–you’ll find it all here. But don’t think that it’s cartoonish hijinks. Rather, Half Coyote sounds about perfect for a back room, beer- and whiskey-soaked sway, maybe ending with a new friend or a black eye–either seems appropriate. (Hopefully, these guys are on The Hideout’s radar. If not, we’ll try to make that happen.)

We’ve heard a lot of half-baked folk music invade the scene over the last few years. This is not it. Half Coyote is all in. And the more we listen, so are we.

We invite you to have a listen to Finale Rack, below. And you can head to the Half Coyote bandcamp page to hear the rest of their EP, People Clothes (listen to ‘Politics’). Also, check ‘em out on Facebook.

Sound Citizen Radio 17: Chicago Bluegrass & Blues

This week on Sound Citizen Radio, we feature one band you can find at the Chicago Bluegrass & Blues Festival, as well as two other Chicago bands and one from Long Beach, CA. They’re all good and, hopefully, you get a chance to get out and see them.

If you have suggestions for future episodes of Sound Citizen Radio, please send an email. This week’s lineup:

Van Ghost, “Heartbroken on the Wrong Day”
December 4, Congress Theater

Dastardly, “Exercises in Self Loathing”
December 9, Schuba’s

The Fling, “Wanderingfoot”
December 4, Metro

The Ragtones, “Destruction”

Young Jesus Needs Your Vote!

An independent, original Chicago band needs your help. Young Jesus has been fortunate enough to have been selected to participate in Red Bull’s Rock the Route – a one-week tour down famous Route 66 where the bands challenge each other on and off the stage. The last stop is tomorrow, Friday, November 5 at the Viper Room in LA. But you don’t have to be there to help Chicago’s Young Jesus win. Simply text “YOUNGJ” to 72855. The winner gets a chance to record a new album professionally in Los Angeles.

Go ahead, text in a vote and help your local music scene.

If you want some proof as to Young Jesus’ talent, have a listen to Sound Citizen Radio 4. And if you like what you hear, download their EP.

Sound Citizen Radio 16: Don’t Call it a Comeback

This week we bring five great bands all playing Chicago concerts in November. You won’t want to miss this podcast or any of these shows.

It’s been a while since our last broadcast of Sound Citizen Radio, but we’re back. Thanks for staying tuned and for listening this week. We’ll keep bringing great music that you can hear locally, in Chicago.

This week’s lineup:

Dawes, “When My Time Comes”
November 10, Lincoln Hall

Coyote Grace, “A Guy Named Joe”
November 20, Martyrs

Smith Westerns, “Be My Girl”
November 5, Lincoln Hall

Horse Feathers, “Belly of June”
November 4, Schuba’s

Futurebirds, “Breathe for Days”
November 19, Schuba’s