ISSUE #54 / April 4, 2019
Trouble In Mind
The official follow up to last years phenomenal debut Negative Houses, dark art rockers FACS join the fray of local March releases with the equally excellent Lifelike. Joined in the studio by new bass player Alianna Kalaba, members Brian Case (guitar) and Noah Ledger (drums) let you have it from moment one with the delightful dirge of “Another Country” and the coiled intensity of “In Time.” Ledger’s measured beats and Kalaba’s deep tones set the backbone for Case’s ripping distorted chords that rend through the record like a precisely aimed arrow. Carefully constructed from influences ranging from shoegaze and industrial to post-punk and rock, FACS one of a kind sound (the closest might be Case and Ledger’s old act, Disappears) is a declaration in rock. Intense and unrelenting, Lifelike eats at the core of the definitions of music and forms a new code for how to absorb and appreciate a band that fits between the cracks, pushing outward to carve their own groove in the ever expanding universe of rock.
They are opening for Drab Majesty at Garfield Park Conservatory on Friday May 17th. Tix Are $25.
Not For You
Not For You
Whipping your brain into shape, Chicago’s Not For You comes bursting out of the gates on new EP Drift with a burner in “Look Quiet,” that finds Lindsey Sherman shrieking over her bandmates mayhem at every corner. While the more melodic “Covering” and “Hiding” pull in next, they are no less hard hitting. Pasha Petrosyan’s syncopated drumming and Michael Dunne’s form fitting bass lines layered together with Sherman’s minor toned guitar create a mealiu of sound that forms a dull roar. The whole thing could be off-putting if it didn’t work so damn well. Closer “Last Place” wraps up the too-short four-tune effort with a post-rock bow, the trio wrapping around each other for the finale chaotic finale that smartly leaves you wanting more.
They are opening for Chris Cohen at The Hideout on April 17th. Tix are $10.
Third Coast Percussion
Perpetulum: Philip Glass, Gavin Byrays, Third Coast Percussion
When you are one of the premiere modern classical percussionist ensembles and the rockstar of modern composition wants to collaborate, you don’t say no. Third Coast Percussion is based out of Chicago, and the quartet of Sean Conners, Robert Dillon, Peter Martin, and David Skidmore have been entertaining music lovers of all types for fifteen years now. They have won Grammys, performed with many legends of modern classical and jazz, and now have had Philip Glass, (arguably the most gifted modern composer), write his first piece for percussion ensemble for them. The three-part composition includes a cadenza and is bookended with a piece by English composer Gavin Bryars, which TCP also commissioned, and an electro-acoustic work by Skidmore, with pieces by Dillon and Martin rounding out the hour and thirty minute opus. Perpetulum is a masterclass of the percussionist ensemble. ”Chamber music fan” does not have to be on your resume to enjoy this adventure for the soul. It is as inventive and beautiful as music comes.
Third Coast Percussion is appearing at the Symphony Center on Sunday May 12th. Reserve your FREE seats!
The 22nd studio album from indie icons Mekons arrives from local imprint Bloodshot Records with blistering social commentary and a cacophony of sound that is as pure and full of uncompromising art rock madness as their first record in 1979. Flowing through many phases, as any band that has lasted forty years does, the Leeds-based ensemble has broken in a depth of members throughout the years, but the one thing has remained the same even through their heavy synth pop period- the Mekons are the real deal. Deserted tumbles from the speakers, never stopping to ask if you’ve had enough, blowing past the listener with only a few breaks in ballads “How Many Stars?,” and alt-country leaner “Andromeda.” Every other tune hits with a sledgehammer at your instincts which leaves us with one question: what is good music? An ingenious device that serves as a metaphor for where we are as a World as this decade winds to a close. With Chicago resident Jon Langford and Tom Greenhalgh- the lone original members- the Mekons have endured many changes but have survived as a unit and are producing some of the best work of their long career.
The Hideout is hosting the iconic group on July 12th and 14th. Both shows are SOLD OUT!
Ty Segall & Freedom Band
Rock and roll insanity abounds as Ty Segall and his friends in Freedom Band come to town to justly demonstrate their virtuosity with new live record Deforming Lobes. Recorded at L.A.’s Teragram Ballroom, this blistering thirty-five minutes covers a multitude of Segall’s catalog. It’s a must for any guitar fan, rock enthusiast, Segall diehard, or newbie. Electric solos, lengthy jams, and wholly awe- inspiring rock is all jammed into this amazingly compact package. The ultimate live Ty Segall experience once again laid out for the world to experience. Just plug into the nine-minute-plus opener, “Warm Hands,” and if you aren’t hooked, you might want to consult your physician because something is really wrong.
Always a road hog he will be back in Chicago sometime soon. But we just saw him at Music Frozen Dancing in February, so it might be a bit before he is back.
When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
Darkroom / Interscope
Mixing pop music’s fast beats and industrial music’s electronic melochany tones, 17-year-old singer Billie Eilish juxtaposes the two genres to create her emotionally intriguing album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? Floating along the themes of life, death and relationships, the maturity of this album is reflected by Eilish’s soft vocals contrasted by harsh industrial and dubstep melodies. In the 14-track album, the two melodies are combined as they rely on the song’s theme and lyrical compass. In songs “bury a friend,” “i love you,” and “xanny,” the teen enlists soft electronics, instrumentals, and haunting vocals as she discusses rather mature themes including the death of a friend (rumored to be the late rapper XXXtentacion), celebrities abusing Xanax, and her romantic relationship. Other songs in the album have acoustic influences as well. In the song “8,” Eilish uses a ukulele and a higher pitch, reminding listeners of her youth and developing spirit. While this light-hearted melody plays in the background, Eilish wallows over a relationship failing at the hands of unrequited love. Although a lot of the themes are pretty mature for a 17-year-old, this is not uncommon in this generation of musicians. Eilish has surround herself with a crew of rather famous individuals who recount mature experiences in their own musical careers. Eilish creates an emotionally heavy mood within the album that can be related to by listeners young and old.
Billie Eilish is performing a double-header at The Aragon Ballroom on June 9th, at 2pm and 7pm. The show is sold out, resale tickets start at $225.
Transmit Sound / Thirty Tigers
Never one to shy away from political and social issues, Jay Farrar has always called it as he saw it. After parting ways from Uncle Tupelo and fellow songwriter Jeff Tweedy (who went on to found Wilco, of course), Farrar struck out on his own with Son Volt and cultivated one of the most respected and longest running alt-country acts. With Union he lays out a collection of tunes capturing this moment with the courage of his ‘60s forebears (Neil Young and Bob Dylan) to call out the injustices we are currently battling. Anti-immigration, wage gap, racism and the ever-evolving fight against the corruption of power all make appearances with highlights like ,“Lady Liberty,” “The 99,” and opener, “While Rome Burns.” However, the real star here is his story-songs that capture life in the communities that don’t make the news such as “Rebel Girl,” “Reality Winner,” and “Holding Your Own,” all populated by people that are left behind or fighting to make themselves heard. The real nail in the coffin of hate is closer, “The Symbol,” that tells an immigration story from a first-person perspective that is honest and unflinching. History will tell whether this album will share the tale of how we persevered this time of unrest or how we succumbed.
Thalia Hall is hosting them on April 27th. Tix are $28.
Real Life Buildings
Ohio and West
With a story of overcoming, New York low-fi darlings Real Life Buildings return with Ohio and West, their first work since frontman Matthew Van Asselt had to undergo emergency surgery that damaged his vocal chords. Van Asselt spent time deciding whether it was time to let the band go or soul searching for where he belonged, but in the end he had to close the door on Real Life Buildings. This final effort, recorded before the surgery and just now being released is rather prophetic. In their bio, they proclaim that, “Ohio and West is about music and about cycles: the movement through a song, only to be followed by another song, the ups and downs of touring, time passing, trying again.” An ironic portrait given what occurred afterwards, but all the more effective. This is real life, in all its unfortunate and awkward glory. A chapter coming to a fitting and affecting end.
They are not on tour, but we can still support them by heading to Bandcamp to buy this excellent record.
Deathcore fans: that intersection of extreme metal fans who have an interest in both metalcore and technical death metal, who seem to exist solely to for the sake of being disappointed, have had an especially hard time as of late. Deathcore has never been a respected genre, even within heavy metal circles, and its adherents have consistently borne the brunt of memes and other ridicule, taunting their love of breakdowns, cartoonishly down-tuned guitars, and garbled vocal performances. Many of the forebears of the genre have outright disowned it, exemplified by Bring Me the Horizon ringing in the New Year with a straight-up pop album. As fun as amo was, it certainly wasn't deathcore or anything like it. Knoxville, Tennessee’s Whitechapel (named for Jack the Ripper’s London hunting grounds) were absolutely guilty of turning away from the genre’s sound in favor of more traditional metal and hard rock performances, as recently as 2016 with Mark of the Blade. That album was considered by some critics to be a rock-bottom moment for their careers and the last gasp of their relevance within the heavy music sphere. The Valley changes all of this. Far from being a life preserver put around the neck of a drowning person, The Valley is a fully functional luxury yacht that the band roped together from various bits of flotsam, held together with the shearing hot anger of their wills, and sent crashing into the mainland, lighting a small coastal village on fire in the process. Yes, Whitechapel is back... and they are more dangerous than ever.
Whitechapel's seventh album demonstrates the full range of their attack. It starts out on the right note (no pun intended) with the crushing, plodding, hardcore opener, “Brimestone,” which sets the tone for the rest of the album, with its fire-breathing intensity and the viscera-stained gurgle of lead singer Phil Bozeman’s venomous rasp. The intensity of the opener is matched several times on the merciless pit of anger that is “Forgiveness is Weakness” (which features the line, “We all know you’re going to hell / Come back to life, I’ll send you myself / Take the casket from the dirt / You don’t deserve to be one with the earth” – chilling stuff), the plummeting groove trench “Black Bear” and the cloud-bursting tech-death of “We Are One.” The band’s dynamic range is further cemented by the deathly embrace and school of Corey Taylor clean-singing sections on “Hickory Creek” and “Third Depth.” The former embodies the massive surging harmonies of A Perfect Circle as they might be song during a corrosive sower of acid rain, while the later clings desperately to a preciously small patch of earth with the help of moody, dust-caked guitars while being battered on all sides by relentless winds of self-doubt and devastating sadness. The high point of the album is of course “When a Demon Defiles a Witch” with its charred, fiery riff salvos, and restraintless Aborted-esque vocals that spill forth from a bottomless well of pain, and its patient, reflective, acoustically-guided bridges. Its arresting on the first listen, and doesn’t get any less so on the fourth or fifth. “When a Demon Defiles a Witch” is also the most explicit song on the album to reference lead singer Bozeman's traumatic childhood, raised by a mother struggling with multiple personalities. Excerpts of his mother’s diary are reproduced throughout The Valley, layering Bozeman’s words with hers to the extent that the two trade personas, thoughts, and frames of mind, demonstrating both their inextricable connection and their intractable distance from each other.
The Valley is a triumphant heavy metal and hardcore album. A return to form for a band that is long overdue for recognition and the album deathcore fans have been waiting for. I don’t know what the band has in store for us in the future, but right now The Valley is the high point of their career and sees the group summiting the top of the proverbial heap.
Whitechapel will be tearing it up at Concord Music Hall on April 25th with Dying Fetus and Fallujah. Doors open at 5pm. Tickets start at $25.
March has served up a wealth of stellar debut records from all across the indie universe, and Kiwi Jr. rounds out the month with their first LP Football Money. Straight out of the indie rock mecca of Toronto, this guitar-centric quartet is a bit low-fi, with off-kilter chords and catchy hooks dominating, along with some ‘80s new wave thrown in for good measure. From the tongue-in-cheek “Gimmie More,” to the ironic “Nothing Changes,” to the anthemic “Swimming Pools,” Football Money just fills all the youthful nostalgia wells with freshness and of-the-moment feels. Just plain fun, with plenty left to chew on, Kiwi Jr. has a bright future.
Kiwi Jr. is currently not on tour.
Intense and engrossing, Low Dose’s self-titled debut just rips up the speakers as they dive full-tilt into their brand of sludgy post punk. Built from a couple of Philly’s hardest-hitting bands, Flight Amp and Legendary Divorce, Low Dose combines vocalist Itarya Rosenberg with the final lineup of Jon, Mike and Dan of Flight Amp to create melodic noise rock that just keeps coming at you; from the intensity in “For Sure,” right up to the peak of “Legendary Divorce,” (which surely highlights why Rosenberg left the band, if you can make out the lyrics), they lay it on thick and gritty. For those that enjoy purposeful and layered post rock noise as much as we do, you are in for a real treat from Low Dose.
They are supporting fellow rockers Something Is Waiting’s record release at The Empty Bottle this Monday, April 8th. It’s FREE!
Learning How to Talk
Kansas City has a long history of melodic orchestral indie rock, from the hard-hitting Kill Creek and Shiner to the emo-heavy Get Up Kids and The Anniversary, the central metropolis has had quite a few acts hit the national stage. Mess deserves to be among them. With a sublimely subtle and affecting self-titled debut, the young quartet crafts emotionally heavy numbers that are lifted by Allison Gilesman’s quietly gorgeous vocals and the unfettered, webbed guitars that populate each and every tune. There is looseness- a sense of space that embodies the vulnerability reflected in Gilesman’s lyrics- that shows a maturity far beyond the members years. Unlike many debuts, the latter half of Learning How to Talk outshines the front, with closing trio “Body Parts,” “Whole Again,” and “Boston,” finding Mess reaching a groove that is unusual in first full-lengths. Hopefully it’s a sign of their longevity, and we’ll be getting a whole lot more from this talented act.
They just played he SubT last week. They may be back before summer is over, be on the lookout.
Popular psych outfit White Denim returns with Side Effects, a follow up to last year’s excellent and highly-anticipated Performance. The Austin quartet hits from the very start with garage rock number “Small Talk” and just keeps the blows coming. After a two year break, it seems they’ve hit a prolific period with two records within the same year span, and while the first was great, Side Effects takes the groove to a whole new level. Whether it’s the contained, “NY Money,” or the psych-heavy “Reversed Mirror,” to the garage rocker “Head Spinning,” they have new surprises waiting around every corner. We’re hoping this isn’t the last in a duo of records that has taken their established sound and exploded into all forms of the genre.
They rolled through last September, but with this new one dropping, we wouldn’t be surprised to see them show up on a fall bill sometime soon!
Young Harlem rapper/singer covers and remixes Cardi B’s debut song and gets listeners’ attention, showing off her talents as she creates a debut album of her own. The 20-year-old’s freshman album, phAses, is titled perfectly to match the variety of musical personalities Melii personifies in each of the fourteen tracks. The singers shows off her sexy side,as in song “Slow For Me” (featuring R&B singer Tory Lanez) featuring a hip hop/dance beat a song about lover’s trying to be together. Melii turns to her tougher side on songs such as “Copy,” featuring another female artist Odalys, and “Gangsta Talk” showcasing hard hitting hip-hop beats that correspond to her lyrics. Melii continues to showcase her versatility by singing in Spanish. Incorporating the language broadens her to work with different types of artists such as Tory Lanez, who is no stranger to singing in a different language. The artist slows it down towards the end of the album, with softer hip hop melodies and beats traditional to a New York rapper, as on tracks “Anime Girls” and “Feel Me.” The singer shows she isn’t afraid to debut her vocal energy and versatility. Melii has already started her career with such success, with over a million followers on Spotify. Although this is her first album, she has produced so much more in her career’s infancy.
Melii is not touring Chicago. Hopefully we will see a tour for her new album.