It’s such a rare and beautiful thing when you find a band that literally (yes, literally) makes it difficult to work. But that was the case with Phox this past Wednesday. Two tracks into Confetti, I found it hard to continue staring at an Outlook inbox; I was instead absolutely wrapped up in the gorgeous vocals and lush instrumentation, and much happier! Admittedly, the rest of my day was spent mesmerized by this fearless septet.
Photo by Connie Ward.
The Wisconsin-based band all graduated from Baraboo high school and began playing together in 2011. Having previously released a spattering of albums and EPs, Confetti is the outfit’s most recent release, from February of 2013. If you’re wondering what you’re in for, the band has described it quite well: Continue reading →
Austin has long been celebrated for its ever-evolving and active music scene. Described as a perfect way to cool down after SXSW, the sixth annual Austin Psych Fest features three stages of psychedelic rock, 60+ bands, and a variety of art installations and film screenings.
Returning this year are APF alumni and Austin locals, the Black Angels, who have been playing the festival since its 2008 inception. Joining them are fellow alum Holy Wave, Roky Erickson, and Indian Jewelry. Austin Psych Fest also runs its own label, the Reverberation Appreciation Society. Launching in 2010 with the release of Christian Bland and The Revelators – The Lost Album, it has become home to a number of Austin psychedelic acts. Representing the label this year are Elephant Stone, UFO Club (playing a Thursday pre-party), and Night Beats among others.
In addition to hosting a slew of local Austin bands, the festival invites international psychedelic and rock acts as well. Representing Canada are Suuns, Black Mountain, and Besnard Lakes. Liverpool’s Clinic, The Laurels of Sydney, and the experimental Swedish outfit, Goat, are all scheduled to grace the sunny Austin stages as well.
Austin Psych Fest kicks off on Friday, April 26, with pre-parties on Thursday night and celebrates psychedelic music and art for that entire weekend. We are looking forward to supporting a positive and rapidly-growing festival this year. If you are planning on attending, please share the bands you are most looking forward to seeing in the comment section below. I am very much looking forward to seeing Goat and Elephant Stone myself.
Spring is here, April showers are beginning to replace the gloomy Chicago winter, and “t-shirt weather” is just around the corner. This time of year is particularly special for music lovers and vinyl junkies like myself. Plenty of great record shows come around each Spring but the real vinyl event of the season is Record Store Day.
This annual record appreciation day will take place on Saturday April 20th and bring with it over 400 new releases and reissues from artists new and old.
The release list is generally heavy on vinyl releases, but this year includes the largest selection of CD releases in RSD history. Even a couple of cassettes made the cut. As in previous years, these releases are generally limited to very low quantities (sometimes as low 300-500), meaning it’s very likely you’ll miss out on some of these if you don’t get your shopping done early. Continue reading →
I go to a lot of concerts. This is probably obvious, as you are currently reading this post about a concert that I attended, but it’s certainly true. It’s the reason I often lack spending money and the reason I wanted to live in Chicagoland. With that said, one of my favorite experiences is going to a show and seeing a band I’ve never heard of before. It’s a thrilling gamble as you watch musicians set up their gear as you wonder how exactly they will sound and how good of a live show they will have. That’s not to say I frequently head to shows of bands I don’t know; what I generally do is avoid doing extraneous research for every group at every show I go to as often as possible. There’s few things as rewarding as being caught completely off guard by a live show, and it has led to many a purchased CD or shirt for a band I walked into a venue knowing nothing about.
Panoramic & True. Photo courtesy of Jake Szafranski.
I took this philosophy to heart when I walked through the crowd outside the Hideout on Friday, July 20 to see Art in Round, Reds and Blue, and Panoramic & True. The show was to celebrate the release of Panoramic & True’s latest album, Wanderlust, and when Alyssa (the majordomo/grand poobah of Midwest Action) first mentioned the show, I was intrigued mostly by the opportunity to see unknown (to me) bands play, but also to have an excuse to go to the Hideout again. So I purposefully ignored the links to websites and songs for the performers Alyssa sent, said I’d go, and took in the three bands shows as a pure introduction to their sound. And, as luck (or perhaps skill) would have it, I walked away satisfied, having enjoyed all three shows. Continue reading →
Gotta love the old interwebs, especially when it leads you to discover a great new up-and-coming band with only a single to their name. The band is called Broken Light, an indie pop (or as they dub it, “basement pop”) four-piece from Lafayette, Indiana. I recommend this band to anyone who is a fan of bands such as Deerhunter, Belle and Sebastian, and Real Estate.
“Dawn of Nothing” is a track that makes quite the joyful noise; a great track that should be part of every road trip or summer soundtrack this season. With its light airy guitar melodies, exciting drum beat, and lighthearted vocal work, it all leads to a catchy-as-hell single that must be listened to. Continue reading →
It’s been a very warm, hazy summer, and this record being featured today is a very accurate music-based depiction of this current season. Enter into the laid back chilled out sounds of Founding Fathers by Chandeliers. Chandeliers are a Chicago-based electropop trio. If you are a fan of artists such as Washed Out, Neon Indian, or Purity Ring odds are this band/ this record will be very much up your alley.
Founding Fathers is this bands fourth release, and it’s a release that continues the trend of very laid back yet danceable electro pop this band has made before with prior releases. You get a taste of their atmospheric side with opening track “New Times” a very chilled out song with it’s stop-start beat that drives it and it’s atmospheric keyboards the song has a very laid back and let be vibe to it like much of the record does. The second track on this album “Le Corsage” get’s in touch a bit with some more danceable aspects. It’s a song that’s pretty impossible to not bob your head along to it’s undeniable beat. It also features very pleasant female vocal melodies still giving it a very relaxed atmosphere to it’s sound. The rest of this album retains it’s very chilled out yet danceable sound through out this album. Continue reading →
Bit of a two-in-one for this review, folks. Hank. is a math rock, post hardcore band from Champaign, Illinois. To sum up the sound of this band would be taking the math rock style of a band like Polvo and intertwining it with post hardcore/emo style of bands like At The Drive-In and Sunny Day Real Estate. All making up a group of very angry sounding young men. This review covers the two releases this band has to their name: their debut EP, The Schrader, and second EP release, The Venture.
I’ll start with The Schrader EP. The Schrader starts off with the track “200F8”, an angry call to arms track that propels into high gear and showcases skilled playing and many math rock tempo changes. The key track of this EP is “Dry The Whistle”. This track highlights the very tight rhythm section Hank. has in bassist Darwin Keup and drummer Nelson Cowan. It closes with very abrasive, steady-going guitar work sure to ensue some headbanging. Continue reading →
Common Loon is a Champaign, Illinois based psychedelic rock band with strong elements of dream pop presented in their song writing as well. This two-piece band consists of members Robert Hirschfeld on guitar and vocals as well as Matthew Campbell on drums. For a two piece, these guys make music that is as clean and polished as a band with four or five members to it.
The Long Dream of Birds is Common Loon’s debut album, and the record is a very captivating listen, being equal parts dreary as well as fun and rocking. It leads to a perfect mixture of what psychedelic rock should be. This style is demonstrated in full form on album opener “Dinosaur vs. Early Man”, a very beautiful yet groggy sounding track very comparable in sound to artists such as Spaceman 3 or Spiritualized. Things pick up and become more dream pop sounding with the track “Palestine Everywhere” a light breezy pop song with a very infectious, catchy melody sounding like something Galaxy 500 would have put out back in 80’s. Continue reading →
For John Rossiter, lead singer of self-described “party-angst” band, Young Jesus, music is simultaneously “both utterly depressing and totally exuberant.” And while the presence of those two emotions is common in music, their coexistence is not. Perhaps it is that unique paradox that has earned this young indie band the loyal dedication of the Chicago underground.
The members of Young Jesus come from humble beginnings. For instance, three of their four members have never seen their fathers without mustaches. With that genetic predisposition to Chicago-bred hipster irony, it comes as some surprise that the members of this band seem to evade the typical indie rock stereotypes. But what they lack in ironic sweaters and black-rimmed glasses, they make up for with plenty of garage-esque studio sounds. Keeping the long list of imperfections that accompany their record, despite its near-perfect writing and arrangement, seems like someone is throwing a bone to the cool kids. But when asked about the somewhat low-fi production of their debut full length, “Home,” Rossiter insisted, “We weren’t trying to make a low-fi record. We’re not trying to pander to any specific crowd. We just want to play rock and roll.” Continue reading →
I first met Chicago based-band Great Gray Buildings at a mid-week show at Subterranean in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. They took the stage right before my band was supposed to play. I remember gazing up at the stage, enamored with their tight sound and at keyboardist and vocalist, Kevin Whelan’s, passion. It was as if every note and every word mattered to him, and he wanted to express that emotion in full force to the crowd. As the band electrified and moved the room, I knew my band would be lucky to share the stage with them. I remember standing outside Subterranean after the show had ended, talking to the band about musical influences, and thinking to myself, “This must be the nicest group of guys I’ve ever met.”
Aside from being nice guys, Great Gray Buildings have made a name for themselves in the Chicago scene, winning the Deli Chicago’s artist of the month poll. “Chicago breeds creativity,” says guitarist Dan Hawthorne. “It allows genres to evolve and interact with each other, resulting in a huge variety of great bands and initiatives”. Dan, Matt, and Lee met at Wheaton College in the Chicago suburbs, where the music scene was tight knit, “as with any liberal arts college”, says drummer Matt Tanaka. “Everyone who was in a band was also in a band with someone else”. Continue reading →