Tag Archives: Chicago

Welcome Milwaukee’s The New Red Moons

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.)

Long Islands, Happenstance, and The Burning of Rome

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.”

Chicago Bands at Lollapalooza, 2013

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.

You Can See The Music!

Certain music can make you feel a certain way. I suppose it’s why we find ourselves attracted to solemn music when we are blue, and upbeat music when we are happy. You might listen to some music to stay in a good mood, or switch it up to get yourself out of a foul mood.

But what if you could actually see how music makes you feel?

That’s the idea behind eMusic’s Aura project, according to eMusic Editor-in-Chief J. Edward Keyes.

“We started thinking about those ideas, and how certain albums have real emotional resonance,” says Keyes. “So the next natural step became, how can we do this in the real world, to show the connection we all have and the reaction we all have to music?”

Electromusical Energy Visualizer

Clockwise, from top-left: Lower Dens, Beach House, Iceage, A$AP Rocky

The solution: Step into the eMusic Electromusical Energy Visualizer (recently showcased at Chicago’s Pitchfork music festival), place your hands on the device, strap on some headphones, and start listening. Then you get a visualization of how that music is making you feel.

Believe it or not, there’s science behind it. The sensors on your hands pick up the electrical vibrations and fluctuations in your body while you listen to the music. Then the aura cameras translate those pulses and reflect it to you, photo-booth style. You can see mine, on the right.

So what did I learn? I like hip hop (specifically A$AP Rocky), because it makes me feel courageous and happy. Beach House, predictably, makes me feel peaceful, while Lower Dens brings out my magical and passionate sides. Copenhagen’s hottest punk band, Iceage, makes me feel ambitious and … loving?

I must say, it was extremely interesting to see and I found the results made rather good sense. So what does Keyes hope will come of all this?

“The idea is just to reinforce that eMusic is a site for people who love music, and develop strong connections with music. I really feel like we’re moving toward a time when music becomes so transient. We have a lot of cool applications for music, but I feel like it lessens that deep strong connection that a lot of us have with it.

J. Edward Keyes

J. Edward Keyes

“When I was a teenager, you saved your allowance and you bought that one record. You played it and fell in love with it and knew every corner of it. I get a little sad as I feel like we move past that, and music is just a switch you turn on and off.

“One of the things that we want to try to do is bring that back. To say: This should be an important thing. that you have a reaction and a response to, and it becomes a part of who you are.”

We love everything about eMusic’s Aura Project. Anything that helps us grow that deep appreciation–love, actually–for music is A-OK in our book. Head over to the eMusic Aura Project and experience something for yourself. You might be surprised by what you find!

Duo del Sol: It’s Finger-picking Good

by Nate O’Neil, special contributor.

Latin folk? Experimental classical? It’s hard to assign a genre to the LA-based Duo Del Sol. But we’re not picky around here. If it’s good, we’ll go with it.

The band consists of Chicago native Tom Farrell on guitar and Montevideo, Uruguay native Javier Orman on the violin. For most of their debut EP, Mira, Farrell and Orman play polyphonically yet these two men make the dissenting melodies work in this mostly instrumental project.

In the first track “A Manu,” Farrell plays Latin-style guitar riffs while Orman plays progressions that are very reminiscent of something found on a folk record. The fast progressions and decrescendos found in “A Manu” really make the track. Another great uptempo song on Mira is “Panic That Way.” Essentially, the song progresses like a suspenseful film narrative, possibly a Western horse chase through the Southwest, with Farrell’s rapid performance and Orman’s frenetic violin work.

For a softer tone, you can look to the last track called “Lights Out.” It is a very somber tune that reads like a story of heartbreak with the violin crying out for sympathy. Of all five tracks on the album, “Lights Out” sounds the most conventional. Overall, Mira is a bold musical journey worth taking. If you’re in the Chicago area, you can see them perform at Jerry’s on 1938 W. Division on July 22nd to experience their unique sound live.

Learn more about Duo del Sol on their website.
And stream Mira, here.

New Music Review: The Heart Pills

the heart pillsHave you ever heard of tin can folk punk music? No? We didn’t either, until The Heart Pills came calling. Now we can say that we not only know all about it, but we like it. A lot.

The Heart Pills hail from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Which is curious because it’s not a place you might normally associate with folk or punk. Tin cans, maybe.

Nonetheless, they just released their debut album, “To Paul, From Dad 1951″ (named after an inscription on a found book about pirates, on a sailboat, as it were.) That’s kind of an interesting story. But not nearly as interesting as the music.

The punk comes through–in some of the more frenzied songs, and when the vocals start to shake. The folk’s job is to steady the entire album, sometimes overtly and other times deftly hidden. The tin can… that’s the unexpected; the sharp edges, sometimes creepy undertones, and the down-to-earth, unapologetic disposition of the lyrics.

The Heart Pills are different, and damn good. They are one of those bands you know will quickly graduate from the local bars to more prominent venues in music-hungry cities. In August, they arrive in Chicago. We recommend you check them out.

Below are a couple of songs from their new record, and a few upcoming tour dates below that.

Hear more of the album and see a couple of videos on The Heart Pills website.

July 12: House of Rock, Eau Claire, WI
July 26: Wilson Park, Menomonie, WI
August 16: The Reptile Palace, Oshkosh, WI
August 17: TBA, Milwaukee, WI
August 18: Ace Bar, Chicago, IL
August 23: Cause Spirits and Soundbar, Minneapolis, MN
August 24: The Red Carpet, St. Cloud, MN
August 25: Quinlans, Duluth, MN
August 30: Phoenix Park, Eau Claire, WI