Thursday, February 20, 2014

REVIEW: Radar Eyes - Community 7" (Requiem Pour Un Twister)

The latest from Chicago scene vets Radar Eyes is a double-sider if ever there was one.  Anthony Cozzi and his band of lonely pranksters keep raising the bar for themselves and Community ratchets it up yet another notch.  Shout-able hooks, intertwining guitar leads, driving rhythms, vintage synths and impeccable stripped-down recording techniques are all hallmarks of this disc.  If you close your eyes while listening to it you might swear you were back in 1986 at some cool underground new wave party in New York or Berlin surrounded by swaying teenagers with too much hairspray and too little ambition.  Upon opening your eyes you'd realize that its 2014 and this band rules.  Q: Seriously, is Chicago really killing it this hard right now? A: Yup.  Get it here.

NEW VIDEO: Angel Olsen - Hi-Five (Jagjaguwar)

Angel Olsen is a name I've been hearing a lot lately so I finally decided to check in on what all the fuss was about.  Upon viewing her latest music video for the track "Hi-Five" I've come to the conclusion that fuss is well warranted.  Olsen's sound brings together so many fantastic elements and wraps them all up in a universally-appealing bow that harkens back to some timeless age that the modern world has long forgotten, but which also maybe never existed.  "Hi-Five" combines elements of psych, country, southern rock and pop while Olsen's laid back twang sits nicely over the top with an appropriate amount of fuzziness.  The use of texture and arrangement in this recording might be its most impressive attribute.  Its an excellent marriage of lo-fi and hi-fi techniques that give the recording depth and character.  I don't mean this in a bad way at all, but this is music that I could listen to in the car with my mom and we'd both enjoy it.  The video itself features Olsen alone on a dark set filled with various pop art props.  Get her latest LP, Burn Your Fire For No Witness, out on Jagjaguwar Records here.

REVIEW: Melkbelly - "Newed Snow" b/w "Theme From Blar III" digital single (Public House)

I got a chance to check out this sweet thrashy, noisy Chicago band last week at Wally's World.  I'm pleased to report that their records are just-as-if-not-more kick ass than they are live (which is pretty kick ass).  Melkbelly is fronted by Miranda Stokes whose voice pierces through the band's dense wall of fuzz like the edge of a samurai sword and she does it with considerable control and, for lack of a better word, charm...babely, red-headed charm.  Mark my words, you are gonna hear more about this band in the future.  Yet another feather for your cap, Chicago.  Get it here.

REVIEW: Wild Apes - S/T EP 7" (self-released)

Wild Apes (Portugal) really have their shit together.  This EP is a tastefully executed, "radio-ready", offering of hummable garage pop.  The production value is impressive (especially for a self-release) and the songs are superb.  I would definitely describe this as a "post-Strokes" record.  And while there are definitely some similarities between the two bands- in the song structure, arrangements and production value- the vocals are considerably different (I like this dude's voice way more than Julian Casablancas) and Wild Apes enlist far more fuzz tone and isn't that the primary ingredient for making cool rock n' roll records?  The answer is "yes".  Get it here.

REVIEW: Food Court - She's Away (Radio Edit) digital download (self-released)

One of our favorite Aussie groups, Food Court, have just made one of the tracks off their last EP, Smile At Your Shoes, available for free download.  They've shortened the track for some sort of strange broadcast format called "radio".  If I remember correctly people used to listen to these devices called radios because they used to play music that you actually might want to hear.  For the sake of nostalgia maybe one of the broadcast centers (commonly referred to as "stations") will pull their heads out of their asses and play something cool again.  Like this track.  Get it here.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

REVIEW: Today's Hits - Sex Boys 7" EP (Randy Records)

by Steve Wichelecki

The 10 seconds or so of buzzing guitar fuzz beginning the "Sex Boys" 7" lets you know this is not going to be the usual Today's Hits release. This monotone distortion then suddenly bursts forth into a gritty pop symphony of tight-as-can-be drums, a guitar quavering with tremolo and a bass line holding it all together. Yes, this is Today's Hits recorded with the live-band lineup, something that, if you live in Chicago, you know has been a long time coming. If you're reading this, you already know the Today's Hits story and the prolific James Swanberg, so I won't repeat that here. "Sex Boys" is the vinyl debut for the Chicago outfit on Randy Records, a four-song offering with Swanberg on bass and vocals and Chicago rock veterans Kenny Alden and Andy Martin on guitar and drums, respectively. For this release, the group decided to record four of its more chill songs, with themes ranging from the poignant to the romantic. It was said that Swanberg's writing style is pop haiku; while I agree, I like to think of it as songwriting al la Dee Dee Ramone: Make your point, don't fuck around, end the song. The songs on this record are superb, and the cherry on top of this banana split is the incredibly vintage-sounding production. It sounds lo-fi but not shitty, giving the record a great old-fashioned garage rock vibe.  Get it here.

REVIEW: Tweens - "Forever" track leak (French Kiss)

We're on the edge of our seats awaiting the debut 12" from Cincinati's Tweens on French Kiss Records in April.  Our appetite for trash pop destruction has been somewhat satiated by the few tracks that the label has leaked.  The latest is a romantic, ballsy, epic number titled "Forever" and its pure magic.  Bridget's voice embodies the pensive emotion of a young person reading the book of love for the first time and trying to make sense of its twisted and convoluted plot line.  For my buck its one of the best female voices in rock n' roll today (Shannon of Shannon and the Clams would be high on that list too).  Peyton and Jerri pulsate together like a couple of dudes that have played in bands together their whole lives which makes sense cuz that's what they've done (check out their band Vacation....their shit is cool).  Overall this track is like an updated version of a Bangles or Go-Go's record.  Its 100% pure garage pop gold.  Can't wait to hear the rest of the album!  Get it (on April 8) here.

REVIEW: Gnar FM 2: Gnar Tapes Compilation #4 cassette (Gnar Tapes)

Gnar Tapes has always been great, but their recent decision to put out Hello, We're The Lemons by our hometown buddies, The Lemons, really solidified their place in this bloggers heart.  They've followed up that release with an eclectic comp: Gnar FM 2.  Not only does this tape feature our boys The Lemons and Todays Hits, but it also features a cavalcade of awesome bands, both old and new, including: Pretty Things, Fungi Girls, The Memories, R. Stevie Moore and much moore.  Get it here.