ISSUE #72 / August 15, 2019
sign me and give me money please
Pooky’s self-titled debut album, Pooky, is a rock ‘n’ roll album that shows good, straight rock is not going away. Pooky is the type of album you can show your dad and say that there are people making rock albums like they used to. The album is influenced in several ways with a great overall sound that integrates elements of psyche with ‘50s pop and other styles of rock that the genre has lent itself to over time.. Whether it is a New Orleans-style trumpet and tuba making an appearance on the softer acoustical guitar lead love song, “By the Bay,” or a rocking blues style guitar solo on “Swamp Feet,” there is a wide range of rock on this album for any fan of good music to pick up on. Lead by Duncan Lee who has contributed to Sun Cop’s latest album, The Levee, Sun Cop returned the favor and produced this album. Lee has a uniquely soft voice that immediately brings Jeff Buckley to mind. “New Mourning” starts out as a garage rock song to satisfy those needs and then transitions into a slowed-down ballad with a group harmony that finishes with a wonderful guitar solo. “2024” is the straight rock song that you can show to your dad next time he says, “They don’t make rock music like they used to.”
Pooky currently does not have an upcoming show.
Love & Nappyness
Matt Muse follows his 2018 debut album, Nappy Time, which landed in Lyrical Lemonade’s Top 50 Chicago projects of 2018, with Love and Nappyness. Muse wastes no one’s time and gets right to the point. The seven-song EP is only twenty minutes and thirty five seconds long. The piece of work is all about love whether towards yourself, siblings, parents, or others. Muse starts with loving thyself because to love someone else you must learn how to first love yourself. In “Love Wrong [Eros]” Muse raps, “I got a love-hate relationship with love” as he comes to terms with understanding love and knowing thegive and take in a relationship that is filled with love. On this track as well, Muse shows his ability to rap and sing and has a deeply soulful voice as he sings the chorus. Muse’s rap flow is very precise and is not something you see from a majority of artists so early on in their musical careers. In “Myself [Philautia II]” an influence of Chicago-style R&B comes through with bouncy keys that would only lead you to start to bop along with the music. “Shotgun Interlude” is a fun throwback to when you were younger with a skit that’s between Muse and his brother and trying to see who gets to sit shotgun in the car. In “Shotgun [Philia]” Muse honors the brotherly love he shares with the ones he grew up with and promises not to forget about them. “Family, Still [Stroge]” is an emotional track where he imagines a conversation with his mother who has gone on and tells about his siblings and how proud she would be of them for all they have accomplished. Making a piece all about love and the ups and downs it brings is not an emotionally easy thing to do.. Muse does a wonderful job channelling those emotions into a deeply introspective piece of work.
Matt Muse is having an album release show at Schubas on Saturday August 17th. Tickets are $10.
How Do You Love?
Young love. In it's throes, we're consumed by it. It burns with an intensity we can't begin to express. As we get older, some remember it with fondness and some with regret. Love has been examined over and over. It is probably the most written about topic in all of human history with second and third being drinking and murder (some of the best songs are about all three). The Regrettes make a thorough start-to-finish examination of this perfectly delicious concept album. From crush and flirtation and confusion, to head-over-heels, to first fight, to heartbreak and healing, they are taking what we already love them for: bouncy, clever songs steeped in rock history applied to this timeless topic of love. These chicks come at this with a fresh perspective and a keen eye to what has come before them. Punk is obvious, but you get doowop, surf rock, and ska, too. They are incredible musicians that can play it all with perfect execution and blend it into their own sound. "The Game" is one of my favorite tracks demonstrating all of the above. That perfect high-hat over the chorus, so lightening-fast it tickles. While the lyrics cut to the quick, "And tell me why it has to be so damn complicated, I'm thinking something, so why shouldn't I say it? All these rules seem so fucking dated, I'm a hypocrite, cause yeah, the game, I played it." They end the song with a change of tone, cutting back to surf-toned guitar, joined by a distant chorus of, “ah-oooah-oooah-oooah-ah” with what sounds to me like spacious metallic spring or plate reverb. It makes a sound so perfectly reminiscent of ‘60s pop. You can pull any track and find stellar lyrics and a melodic/rhythmic hook.
So how do you end an album about love? With a happy ending? With heartbreak? The title track "How Do You Love?" conveys how experience brings confusion and anxiety. When you see some happy couple, it hurts, and you cannot help but look at their smiles with disdain; “I think it must be fake like a fake spray tan.” You are left with complete and utter cynicism.
That is until you start the record over.
When you do, that opening poem, “Are You In Love?” has a bit of jaded foreshadowing, “If you answered yes to all the things above, Then yes, my friend, I’m sorry- it appears you are in love.” To all those lovers out there, you have our sympathy.
The Regrettes are coming October 11 at The Metro, $20.
Any Human Friend
On her third album, Any Human Friend, Marika Hackman has perhaps encapsulated life for 20-something city dwellers in the modern age. Swinging between random promiscuousness and self-induced loneliness, the British songwriter has dropped her previous incarnation as a solo folkster and recruited a full band to see out the complexities of her 2019 musings.
One of the most fascinating psychological trends, to me, of the current generation is the extremes of our identity. In the age of social media, everything needs to be more shocking, gleeful, or depressing than that of yesterday’s news. If we’re looking for sex, we need it to be a random stranger we never see again. If we’re in a beautiful and far off locale, we are defined by the likes our Insta pic gets. If we’re depressed, we decide to suicide-run Area 51. Hackman pens songs about yearning for love and human connection, like in “send my love,” and her sexual insatiability on “all night,” but decries the underlying theme in both with the line, “You’re such an attention whore!” on “the one.”
Sex is the primary driver of Any Human Friend, and while it may not be unique to detail the love between women, Hackman differentiates herself by being neither coy nor traditionally feminine. Calls of everyone wanting her “dick,” kissing and fucking, or when push comes to shove – taking care of yourself on “hand solo,” it’s brash and at times, a bit silly, but really – isn’t that what any single day on Twitter is?
Only 15 minutes to spare? Check out these 3 tracks:
i’m not where you are
Postscript: I usually write reviews on my work computer, but researching this album has me a bit concerned for a forthcoming HR discussion.
Marika visits Sleeping Village on Friday, Oct. 25th. Tickets are on sale now for a reasonable $15.
East Forest & Ram Dass
East Forest, a master of modern meditation music, has paired with the legendary beauty of the thoughts and stories of self-help guru Ram Dass to produce an hour-plus trip into the psyche and life of one of the giants of blending Eastern and Western philosophy. (A tangent on Ram Dass wouldn’t serve this project, so if you are unfamiliar, take a moment to look him up.) What multi-instrumentalist and composer Trevor Oswalt (the name East Forest comes from the German translation of his last name) has concocted with Ram Dass, using his electro-contemporary compositions mixed with guru’s voice and ideas is truly magical. A twenty-first century self help/meditation record that breaks all the tropes of the medium for an unforgettable journey through the mind of a true genius.
Becoming Nobody, a film on the life of Ram Dass by musician and artist Jamie Catto, is due out later this year.
There are no Chicago appearances scheduled for East Forest, who is known for his six-hour meditative concerts and other interesting, expansive projects.
Gaffa Tape Sandy
With a catchy, pop punk appeal and rough-around-the-edges charm, Gaffa Tape Sandy’s debut full-length Family Mammal is bursting at the seams with pure rock glee and plenty of emotive outpouring. Featuring Kim Jarvis (guitar) and Catherine Neilson (bass) trading vocals, and sometimes dueting to great effect, and Robin Francis pounding on his kit, they pick up right where 2017’s EP Spring Killing left off. Plenty of chant-along lyrics and snappy tunes back their heavy lyrical material in tracks such as “My Desperate House,” with Jarvis battling depression and a hard home life, or “Meat Head” where Neilson takes it to her ex. The peppy pop punk paired with smart, dark lyrics creates the dichotomy that makes Gaffa Tape Sandy work so well.
Gaffa Tape Sandy has yet to hit the States; hopefully Family Mammal changes that.
Seeker Lover Keeper
Seeker Lover Keeper is the Australian indie rock group comprised of Sarah Blasko, Sally Seltmann, and Holly Throsby. The super group’s album, Wild Seeds, is their first album back together since 2011. The group reconvened back in 2016 to start working on Wild Seeds. Naturally as super groups go, there are personal lives and careers that can keep members from continuing working together but when there is strong bond like the three in Seeker Lover Keeper, they find a way to collaborate again. Seeker Lover Keeper first album was a mixture of the individual artists’ songs, but on Wild Seeds, the group wrote the songs together. Each member showcases their skills not only through music, but in writing books and screenplays. A majority of the album is comprised of softer ballads and thoughtful folk. “More Women” begins with an upbeat tempo and some spacey keys layered among harmonies that nicely compliment the melody. “Two Dreamers” keeps up the pace with a fun summer vibe that sounds like their initial influence of Stevie Nicks. “You’ve Got a Story to Tell” is beautifully lullaby-ish that sends you off as a child to sleep to dream about what your own story might become.
Seeker Lover Keeper is currently only touring in Australia.
All You Have Is All You Need
Anyone wanna start a Melbourne Crowd Surfer? ‘Cause this town has it going on! Ainslie Wills’ second full-length is a tour d’force in gorgeous pop rock melodies paired with her astute and inspiring lyrics. All You Have Is All You Need brings the Australian into rare territory with masters like Natalie Merchant, Joan Osborne, and Paula Cole. With her charismatic vocals and no-nonsense observations, especially in highlights “Society” and “Clear Air After the Storm,” Wills paints a portrait of a world where women still have a long way to go to be viewed as equals. A true and fitting work for the post “Me Too” era and a ripe reminder of how far we all have to journey before the work is done. Or will it ever be?
She has no stateside shows on the horizon.
Rearrange My Heart
Che Apalache / Free Dirt
Bold, beautiful, and altogether addictive, the sounds of Che Apalache may come from the mountains of Argentina but their heart belongs to the dark woods of the Appalchians. The quartet from Buenos Aires has dropped their second full length, Rearrange My Heart, a potent mixture of latin folk and American bluegrass that they dubbed, aptly, Latin Grass. (The title of their first record.) Right off the bat they capture the imagination with the Spanish gem “María” before venturing into a gorgeous Appalchian style ballad in “The Dreamer,” capturing the journey of an immigrant child. And so goes the entire record: whether it’s the protest acapella “The Wall,” the wild blend of styles on the instrumental “New Journey,” to the gospel grass-trip in “Rock of Ages,” Che Apalache consistently and constantly surprises. Rearrange My Heart will be on our Americana playlist for a long time to come.
Che Apalache will be at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills on November 16th. Tix are $30.