ISSUE #63 / june 6, 2019
The Curls are a band I have seen, photographed, and enjoyed live on many occasions. Live, this is a band that practically smacks you in the face with the experience of seeing them. The colors, the dancing, the groove, and the sheer number of them often spilling off the stage. They have been playing more and more of the songs off Bounce House in their live performances in the past year. The runaway hit “Bad Boi” was released as a single off this new album in September of 2018- nine months ago- so this is a long/much anticipated album release. It's interesting to hear the recorded approach after having gotten to know the live renditions so well. I am more accustomed to having the opposite experience with touring bands, but this is the joy of seeing local bands as they write new material.
So how do the recordings compare? All the things I love about The Curls' live shows are here: The horns. The vocals. The extremely tight rhythm section. Some really delicious guitar work. There are a lot of elements to balance. This well-crafted recording means that they choose what stands out in sharp relief within the mix at any given moment. Then there are the elements we don’t get in the live show: There are some really cool effects, multiple horns, and vocal layering. There are some subtle mixing decisions that make listening in headphones a must. All those things together make listening to the album a multidimensional experience. All the songs made me want to move which is something we’ve come to expect from The Curls. Lyrically we have The Curls’ sharp edged humor. (There is something in MickFansler’s tone that can make it hard to take any lyric at face value.) The opening track, “Welcome 2 the Bounce House” smacks of satire. Does that stop me from enjoying it? Nope. I will happily take a bit of humor in my art rock. “Love Dot Com” caught my attention when the lyric, “How can I be close to anyone but you?” twisted in the next section to “How can I be afraid of anyone but you.” That speaks for itself, really. One of the things I love about The Curls are the multiple vocalists. So I was thrilled when “Isn’t It Funny” started and we got a third voice! Guest vocalist Sophogus has a soulful quality that contrasts perfectly with Fansler’s growl. When Anna Holmquist comes in with their sweet backing vocals, this three part sound is perfection.“Hit ‘Em Where it Hurts” is one of those songs I didn’t realize hadn’t already been released; it is so much a part of the band’s live repertoire. Holmquist’s elastic voice takes on a robot-like quality that makes the song iconic the first time you hear it. Of all the songs I knew would be on this album, I was most anticipating hearing “Picture F[r]ame.” It really blew me away the first time I heard it live. The recording doesn’t disappoint: The layers of horn parts. The chucking guitar. The slow build at the end as Fansler is joined by Holmquist and then a chorus of voices chanting “Fame, Fame, Fame, Fah Fah Fah Fah Fah Fah Fah Fame!” Or is it Frame? Regardless, the music evolves and devolves into beautiful joyous noise.
Their last show with Holmquist in the group will be at The Observatory on June 15th!!!
Also check 'em out at a free show Monday July 1st at Empty Bottle.
TREE , Parallel Thought
The Wild End
Soul Trap / Parallel Thought
Chicago soul trap legend TREE has been producing smooth groove hip-hop for years, and for his unparalleled third release in the first half of 2019, he has teamed up with Jersey producers Parallel Thought for The Wild End. Titled after TREE’s Cabrini Green youth and with cover art from famous Chicago photographer Marc PoKempner that hung in the Art Institute for years depicting a young TREE in the famed projects that gave the record its title, circa 1988. Deep and poignant, this clearly personal work speaks volumes on the Black Chicago experience. With his laid-back style, teaming perfectly with Parallel Thought’s funky, lounge-style production, TREE has created yet another gem that will live on in Chicago hip-hop legend. With his prolific nature, be on the lookout for more from this local treasure in the months to come.
Be on the lookout for any TREE shows coming up. We weren’t able to find any but CCS will keep you updated!
Run Around the Sun
Merge / Rock Action
The Scottish indie-pop duo had a tough act to follow up to their 2017 release, Strike A Match, which won Scottish Album of the Year. Though, with Rachel Aggs on guitar, Eilidh Rodgers on drums, and the two of them sharing vocals, SACRED PAWS is picking up where they left off. The bouncy, fun, and mood-changing sound which they are expanding and honing, comes across effortlessly. Each song is fast-paced, full of beautiful instrumental and vocal exchanges between Aggs and Rodgers, and features great horn placement throughout the album. The album’s instrumentals make you want to dance- not just sway back and forth. Lyrically, the songs are self-reflective, inspirational, and let you know it is ok to practice individualism. In the song, “Is the Real,” these ideals come across strongly. With lyrics like, “It gets heavier every day. You can feel the pressure building in the cloud. Don’t wait till tomorrow,” and, “Cankered all the time, is this real? A lonely figure hiding in the crowd, Don’t wait till tomorrow,” are advising the listener to take action as soon as you realize something is wrong. Being self-reflective is tough in itself, but to use that and put it in your music takes immense amounts of courage. We are grateful Aggs and Rodgers did. This truthfulness and openness is genuine and makes connecting with Run Around the Sun is so easy.
Sacred Paws is playing at the Beat Kitchen on Sunday July 28th. Tickets are $12.
Left Lane Cruiser
Shake and Bake
Alive Natural Sound / Left Lane Cruiser
Straight from Fort Wayne, Indiana comes the ferocious garage blues of Left Lane Cruiser. With a killer guitar attack and driving drums, the trio runs full steam into Shake and Bake, a collection of tunes about life on the road. Freddie J. Evans plays a loose style guitar that brings to mind the great blues styles of modern masters Jack White or Dan Aurabach with a whole lot of dirty thrown around. From the down-home electrified blues of “Smoke Keeps Rising,” to the more classic, “Smooth Commander,” Shake and Bake will make you fall for blues rock all over again!
They’re from right down the road so be on the lookout for Left Lane Cruiser’s next Chicago gig.
Dark Throne was one of the original morbid-minded black metal malcontents whose nightly shrieks and howls helped to define the second wave of black metal, fomenting a riff between the upstarts of the ’90s and they’re campier, deliberately droll forbearers. Comprised of Nocturno Culto and Fenriz, the duo has blazed through seventeen albums together, picking up arrant viral strains of DNA from other beasts in the extreme metal menagerie, while tainting the gene pool with their own regressive samples of primitive punk, putrid thrash, and twisted trad rock. Their latest release Old Star mercifully diverts from the stale retread of 2016’s Arctic Thunder, veering into full-on doom metal with a patterned crunch of crust punk catharsis. Cuts like the pulsing, brooding, hate-mongering “The Hardship of the Scots” takes blues riffs, mangle them horribly, and buries them under so much polluted dirt not even Robert Johnson would dare unearth them. Other tracks like the “Duke of Gloat” give a twist to cross-over thrash that harkens back to the frightening charm of Blaze in the Northern Sky as well as the brash rush of Trouble’s Psalm 9, and the guttural churn of Sodom’s Agent Orange. Dark Thrown barrow a good number of pages from fellow greats on Old Star, but these elements are bound together into a tight, enjoyable album that isn’t rewriting the playbook, as much as sorting out what’s worked from theirs and others catalogs and bringing these elements into the radiant glow of a pale moon's light. Dark Throne has proved again there is still a glint of blazing grandeur emanating from these ancient stars, as they gleam in the inky depths of the northern sky.
Psychedelic Porn Crumpets
And Now For The Watchamacallit
What Reality? / Marathon
Can we all agree that “Psychedelic Porn Crumpets” is one of the more interesting band names? When you hear this name for the first time, you have to double check to make sure your heard it right and then promptly ask, “what they are like? The answer: intense psychedelic rock. The Crumpets hail from Perth, Australia and are becoming synonymous with the more widely-known bands from Australia, like King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, and Tame Impala.
And Now for the Whatchamacallit, is the third album put out by the Crumpets and feels like a rapid recollection of a dream or drug-fueled trip from frontman, Jack McEwan. This makes for a wild ride through the album, and makes you anxious for the next tale. From carnivals packing up and leaving town, to space exploration, to planets light years away, the underlying message is that McEwan is struggling with fear of social anxiety. This comes through in the opening lines of “Social Candy” with the lines, “What a colossal navigational problem, I seem to be a vegetable,” and, “I’m the creation old mate Frankenstein had, Dead end signals from head to feet.” To end the album with “Dezi’s Adventure” serves as a reminder to sometimes take a step back and review what is going on with yourself and not let the days of your life pass idly by. On a lighter note, Whatchamacallit, is filled with head banging anthems certain to give you whiplash.
Psychedelic Porn Crumpets will be returning to Chicago on September 25th at Lincoln Hall. Tix are $16.
A friend posted a meme the other day that, without explaining too much, boiled down to an expression of displeasure over the fact that Anthrax is consistently counted amongst the four horsemen of the ‘80s-thrash apocalypse. This was very relatable content for me because Anthrax is, (has been,) and will always be, indisputably, trash. It got me thinking, though. Which Bay-area band does deserve to run with Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer as the fourth compatriot in this cruel cavalry? Thankfully, Death Angel released their ninth LP Humanicide last week, so I didn’t have to burn too much brain juice thinking about it. Death Angel is one of those phenomenal old-school bands, still going hard into their fifties,and laying waste to expectations year after year. Humanicide is definitely a follow-up to 2016’s The Evil Divide, continuing the trend of incorporating newer styles of metal into their classic formula of lightning-fast, lock-jawed grooves, fusing their sound with metallic hardcore on “Aggressor,” stomping pyscho crossover punk in the vein of Suicidal Tendencies on “I Came For Blood,” and plaintive, melodic death metal ala In Flames on “Immortal Behated.” Mid-tempo, punk-proofed Metallica homages like, “Alive and Screaming,” and the bellicose “Ghost of Me” help vary the flavor of the album’s offerings and keep things tasting fresh. The undisputed highlight though is the title track, “Humanicide,” with its epic, winding guitar intro and spilling drum fills that breaks into an absolute land-speed, record-setting peel of steel-melting, fire-breathing grooves, chain-breaking hooks, and an absolutely rabid and raw vocal performance courtesy of the always engaging Mark Osegueda. This opener really sets the tone for the rest of the album and readies the listener for the bloody frenzy to come. There might not be much hope left for the human race, but if this is our swan song, at least we’ll be going out on a high note.
Death Angel is touring Europe this summer. Keep an eye out for Chicago dates when they return in the fall.
Above the fuzzy distortion-soaked post-rock, Ky Brooks potent spoken word lyrics cut deep through the noise that becomes humdrum background we all deal with on a daily basis. With their debut full-length Honey, the Montreal trio creates a metaphor of inner-versus-outer dialogues that reaches into the subconscious and produces a full meal to chew on. With Brooks poetically leaned observations set to crunching guitar and drums so low in the mix they nearly disappear at times, Honey comes off as more of a spoken word piece set to music, but it doesn’t stop lungbutter from being just as aggressively tactile as any other rock band the prolific city of Montreal is producing at the moment.
lungbutter doesn’t appear to have any tour plans at the moment.
Heavenly / [PIAS]
Pip Blom has been producing infectious indie rock straight from Amsterdam for a few years, and she has finally released a glorious full-length; Boat. With guitar rock falling off the last decade, it’s been left to the young female generation to bring it back, and Blom is at the top of the heap. Along with acts like Snail Mail, Soccer Mommy; locals Beach Bunny and Girl K; and many, many other acts, Blom is working to save guitar-based indie rock, one hook at a time. This is what the future of rock sounds like, and we can’t love it enough.
Unfortunately, they only have a few shows planned on this side of the pond in the fall, and Chicago is not on the slate.