Monday, November 24, 2008

Canasta releases free remix album

Download: Canasta - "Impostors"
Download: Canasta - "Slow Down Chicago"
Download: Canasta - "Shadowcat"

Chicago indie-rockers Canasta have released a free remix album of their record We Were Set Up. The remix record, titled We Were Mixed Up, can be downloaded here.

In the meantime, catch up with a few songs of their We Were Set Up release at the top of the post.

Canasta MySpace Page

Video: Kanye West - Live at the American Music Awards


Friday, November 21, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Alla In The Studio Recording New EP

Alla, the wonderful, Mexican non-union equivalent to Stereolab, have been in the studio recording a new EP which will consist primarily of covers, in addition to some new material. The psych-pop trio is laying down the tracks over at Semaphore studios. According to the band MySpace blog, they recorded a "mind-blowing" version of Terry Riley and John Cale's classic "Church of Anthrax", describing it as "almost 10 minutes of epic madness." Other newly recorded songs include a new track called "Si Se Puede", and a cover of The Residents' "New Hymn". As of Sunday, the band had laid that one down, along with remixing "Si Se Puede" and tantilizing us with the promise of a "contemporary cover" which will remain a surprise.

To read more details, go here. Pick Es Tiempo, one of the year's best, at your local record store.

BIlly Corgan...Yikes

Just watch this. Via Stereogum. Also, is that Paul Stanley on the microphone encouraging Corgan? What the hell is Corgan. If this is some Andy Kaufman-style stunt, it's really poorly executed. This is like watching Robert De Niro's nightclub routine at the beginning of Raging Bull.

Video: Hey Champ - "Cold Dust Girl" (Plus New Mixtape)

The video is old news, but the mixtape "Jet Set" is not. Download it here. H/T Chicagoist.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Show Announcement: Fetla CD Release Show @ Double Door

Download: Fetla - "Sweet Disaster"
Download: Fetla - "Oh Baby"

Fetla: Sweet Disaster Release Show
w/ The Summer Salts and Sick of Sarah
December 10, 2008
Double Door
1572 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622
Double Door
21+, $7

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

Video: Pegboy - "That's When I Reach For My Revolver" (Live at the Beat Kitchen)

A Mission of Burma cover, from Pegboy's album Earwig. The Burma original is from their classic 1981 EP Signals, Calls, and Marches. Video from Pegboy's performance at the Beat Kitchen this past Saturday, the 15th.

Pegboy MySpace Page

Friday, November 14, 2008

Video: Pelican - "Lost In The Headlights"


Pelican MySpace Page

Video: Tom Schraeder Record Release Show

Tom Schraeder Promo Video: Schubas Saturday 11/15

Saturday, November 15
3159 N Southport
10 p.m.

Tom Schraeder MySpace Page

Sunday: Blasted Diplomats, Death Ships @ Sub-T

Blasted Diplomats MySpace Page
Death Ships MySpace Page

Flyer: Pitchfork 500 Release Party

School of Seven Bells - Alpinisms

School of Seven Bells
Alpinisms (Ghostly International, 2008)
Grade: B

Download: School of Seven Bells - "Connjur"
Download: School of Seven Bells - "Chain"

Just to get this out of the way: Alpinism, in its singular form, is another name for climbing up mountains (which at least explains the album cover). Alpinisms, the debut record from School of Seven Bells, a trio featuring former members of The Secret Machines and On! Air! Library!, certainly feels as if its trying to scale newfound creative heights by incorporating many ideas into their music.

By incorporating elements of world music, synth-pop from late-80s era of new wave (the guitar tones on “Connjur” directly emulate Depeche Mode’s work circa Violator), and psychedelic sound-shifting, School of Seven Bells create a diverse mélange for the listener to explore. Opening track “Iamunderdisguise” suggests Enya discovering dub reggae, but with much, much more listenable results, and “Wired for Light” incorporates Middle Eastern motifs. Most of the tracks on Alpinisms are backed up by steady electronic hi-hat drums, much like the ones heard on My Bloody Valentine’s classic “Soon”.

Paradoxically, Alpinisms’s main flaw is that these elements tend to blur together over the course of an entire record. Not helping matters is when the dual female harmonized vocals veer toward the melodramatic, especially on tracks where Kate Bush’s ethereal singing style serves as a one-way ticket toward weepy willow territory, as on “White Elephant Coat”.

But Alpinisms is at its best when School of Seven Bells write straightahead pop songs with ambient twists, as on album highlights like “Face To Face on High Places”, the dreamy “Half Asleep” and soothing album closer “Canal”. Before returning to the world-music motifs that were present earlier in the album, the record takes an epic turn toward Krautrock with an 11-minute epic “Sempiternul/Amaranth”.

The song itself encompasses what’s both wrong and right with Alpinisms as a whole. At the track's beginning, the witchy vocals tend toward the grating. Once the group settles into a motorik groove, then it gets really interesting, as the trio finds new and exciting ways to explore sound and texture. By being experimental within some degree of convention, School of Seven Bells create compelling dream-pop music. It’s unfortunate that their dabbling with other forms doesn't succeed as well as it perhaps should, but hopefully future releases will retain that sense of adventurism while maintaining a greater compositional success rate.

School of Seven Bells MySpace Page

Cross-published on MFR.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Video: Pugs Atomz ft. Dave Ghetto & Deuce Eclipse - Memorial


From the Pugz Atomz MySpace Blog:

"I started this animated 8 bit music video (think nintendo tabletops) back in May and finally got her done this month enjoy... Taken from the album "Conversations with a Chamelion" on Gravel Records".

It was definitely worth the effort. Love the Super Mario Bros. 2 graphics references!

Pugz Atomz MySpace Page

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Black Metal Prank Phone Call

null - Watch more free videos

Spotted over at the Chicago Reader Crickets blog. Too, too funny. Not only that, but it helps put into the perspective that "records ain't evil." Awesome on so many levels.

Cross-published at MFR.

Billy Corgan Invites Heckler On-Stage, Somehow Manages To Look Worse


Alltruisms To Quit Music?

In a post titled "Dear Chicago: F*ck You, I'm Leaving", up-and-coming Chicago rapper Alltruisms says the following:

"I'm going to Mexico, I'll be back in 4 months. If anyone cares about my music, let me know, that stuff keeps me going. "

So leave a comment about how his music is awesome. Because it is.

Russian Circles Announce 12" Split With These Arms Are Snakes

Taken directly from the band's Myspace Bulletin

Sargent House is releasing 1000 of these beauties made special for their European Tour together. Half will be dispersed amongst the good people overseas and half will be available to the fine folks of these now great United States (thanks Obama).

How can you get one? Well they will be available at the Sargent House store as of November 15th and through Vinyl Collective With One long ass never released before Russian Circles track or as we refer to those their Hit Single and two sick ass new and never released tracks from These Arms Are Snakes.

Russian Circles - Philios
TAAS - Camera Shy
TAAS - Trix

Russian Circles are currently recording their follow-up to this year's Station.

Video: Common Interview on Hot 97

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ponytail Do Transcendent Daytrotter Session

Balitmore's Ponytail take the unique majesty of sonic squalor and use it to create epic, spacious jams. So what happens when you strip all of that down and give a loud, raucous band acoustic instruments? What does it sound like? The answer is Zepplin. Go to Daytrotter and listen to the group re-arrange four songs from its surely Best-Of contender Ice Cream Spiritual. The most striking example is "Celebrate The Body Electric (It Came From An Angel)", the intro of which sounds like Led Zepplin's "The Battle of Evermore". It's pretty impressive, actually.

Listen to the original, then head over here for the acoustic one.

Ponytail MySpace Page

Let's Get Out Of This Terrible Sandwich Shop Announce Record Release Party

Let's Get Out of This Terrible Sandwich Shop
The Mugs (No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn, NY)
Team Band (Rock Your Face Off City, USA)

Friday, November 14th
3159 N. Southport
10:00 PM | $8.00

The show is in celebration of the goof-rock quartet's new release, an EP titled Pain Makes You Older. The record will be released on brand new light blue vinyl 7" EP.


New Kanye West - "Heartless" (Mastered) - plus new version of the video

Heartless from kwest on Vimeo.

Download: Kanye West - "Heartless"
Download: Kanye West - "Love Lockdown" (via)

Yeezy has released new versions of previously released material. The first is a mastered version of his song "Heartless", which finds West continuing in his new, dark musical direction while actually rapping, and another version of "Love Lockdown", the first single from his upcoming 808s and Heartbreak. Additionally, there's the VIMEO version of the "Heartless" video, which is at the top of the post.

Cross-published on MFR

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Dials Play Special Benefit Show in Evanston

From the band's MySpace Bulletin:

(Society for the preservation of arts & culture in Evanston)
Evanston, IL

6:30 PM - Luke Turck
Dave & Rena
Susie & Arielle
7:30 PM - 8 Miles South
8:30 PM - Dave Specter, Jimmy Johnson & Sharon Lewis
10:00 PM -The Dials

Bobfest is a special event to help support the Bob Whitman Research Foundation, which supports cancer research, primarily melanoma and to support families who have children with chronic illness. There's a special $50 package includes show and dinner catered by Dave's Italian Kitchen. There will be free admission at 9 PM for The Dials set.

Amoeba Amore is out now.

The Dials MySpace Page

Tours: Animal Collective

11/6/08 - Santiago, Chile - Industria Cultural
11/8/08 - São Paulo, Brazil - Planeta Terra Festival
11/9/08 - Buenos Aires, Argentina - La Trastienda
11/13/08 - Lima, Peru - Centro Fundación Telefónica
1/12/09-London, England - Koko
1/13/09 - Glasgow, Scotland - Glasgow School of Arts
1/14/09 - Manchester, England - Club Academy
1/15/09 - Brighton, England - Concorde 2
1/16/09 - Paris - Bataclan
1/17/09 - Leuven, Belgium - Stuk
1/18/09 - Berlin - Postbanhof
1/20/09 - New York - Grand Ballroom
1/22/09 - Chicago - Metro
1/23/09 - Los Angeles – Henry Fonda

Note that the modern psychedelics are playing Chicago the day before their latest record (the cover of which serves as the image for this post) is released. A jubilant show is to be expected.

Video: Smashing Pumpkins - "99 Floors"

A new song from their upcoming DVD If It All Goes Wrong, a documentary/concert film which is about their 19-show residency at San Franciso's Fillmore Auditorium. Via.

New Kanye West Video - "Heartless"


Cross-Published on MFR.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Two New Radiohead Remixes (One from Thom Yorke Himself)

Download: Radiohead - "The Reckoner" (Remixed by Stephen Murray)
Download: Thom Yorke - "Harrowdown Logic Jump Rmx" (Remixed by Thom Yorke)

Two new Radiohead remixes have come to light in very recent times. First off is one from Thom Yorke himself, in honor of the historic US election. The remix is of a track from Yorke's solo debut, The Eraser. Of the song, Yorke writes:

in celebration of nov 5th
jonnys burthday
amid bonfire and fireworks in the UK
and the dawn of a new era in politics in the USA
i humbly donate a remix of harrowdown hill that was finished ages ago during the band webcasts,
a small reminder of the dark days of Bush's....

Indeed, Yorke's debut, as much of the rest of his work in Radiohead, contained a lot of paranoia. Perhaps this will be the last of such material. If it is, it would be a shame. Thom Yorke is at his best when exploring despairing feelings.

Secondly, a remix by Stephen Murray, who has worked with Canadian artists such as K-OS and Nelly Furtado. There's a pronounced modern electro-hop vibe here, one that suits the music very well. Listen to both songs at the top of the post.

Titus Andronicous and No Age Announce Free Live Show in Chicago

Download: No Age - "Eraser"
Download: No Age - "Teen Creeps"

I'm going to let the Reader do all of the talking:

The new online music store ShockHound is sponsoring a show with both bands on the 18th at Reggie's Rock Club. For free. You do need tickets, though, and they're available through the ShockHound site (which also has a lot of sweet band T-shirts that aren't free).

This is a great opportunity to see two of the most buzzed-about indie bands in 2008 for the price of not-a-damn-thing. Both groups are overrated, with Titus oweing their entire career to side one of The Clash's self-titled debut, but at least the New Jersey based rockers put one an appropriately raucous and infectious live show given that context. No Age I only got a brief glimpse of at the P4K fest, but on record, the highlights (the two singles) are muddled down by not-very-interesting soundscapes.

That said, free is free. So the price is certainly right.

(Jon Graef)

Video: Deerhoof - "Offend Maggie"

New Common - "Changes" (Plus Brother Ali's Obama Track)

Download: Common - "Changes"
Download: Brother Ali - "Mr. President, You're The Man"

We're still celebrating over Barack Obama's historic victory on Tuesday night, and the celebrations happen to included tributes from various musicians. First off is Brother Ali's new track, a Marvin Gaye-sampling ode to the new President in which the Minneapolis rapper can barely contain his enthusiasm, but is also cautiously optimistic about the future (we have a lot to work to do, after all). Next is Chicago's own Common, whose new record Universal Mind Control will be released in December. His track "Changes" was written before the election, but was leaked yesterday. Seems more than apt. The track has a little more modern touches, in terms of the laid-back hip-hop beat, and Common's equally lax flow. But there's a definite line between Gaye's early 70s work and this new track. Listen to both songs at the top of the post.

(Jon Graef)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tonight: These United States @ the Empty Bottle

Post-Election Day Party
starring These United States
Wednesday, November 5th, 2008
@ the Empty Bottle
w/ Death Ships and Slow Gun Shogun

Download: These United States - "Get Yourself Home"
Download: These United States - "West Won"

Band Website
Band MySpace

Video: Common speaks about Obama Victory


Photos: Marnie Stern @ The Empty Bottle

All photos by Lee Klawans. For more, go here.

To read an interview I conducted with Marnie at the Bottle, go here.

Video: Obama's Victory Speech

(Part One)

(Part Two)

(Part three)

I was there in Grant Park. While Obama's speech was much more low-key than past speeches of his, I couldn't have been more proud to have seen, in person, a turning point in the nation's history. Watch this video.

Cross-published on MFR.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Video: Ben Harper and Tenacious D Cover Queen's "Under Pressure"


Live at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium, as part of the Beastie Boys' Swing State tour.

Lupe Fiasco Announces "LupEnd" as Triple Album


Well, rapper Lupe Fiasco is nothing if not ambitious. After 2007's The Cool, which was a very loose concept record telling the story of three different characters: the Cool (introduced on a track from Fiasco's debut record, Food & Liquor), the Streets, and the Game. Let's not forget about Mike History either. Discerning the narrative from the album's tracks was a little bit of a challenge, but that didn't stop The Cool from being one of the best records of its year. So what does Lupe do for a follow-up? Tamper his ambition. Oh, no. No, no, no. Instead, his supposedly final album LupEnd, is going to consist of three discs. Individually, they will be titled Everywhere, Nowhere, and Down Here.

Watch the video at the top of the post.

Lupe Fiasco MySpace Page

Top Ten Tracks on Reviewed in 50 Words or Less: 10/15/08--10/31/08

This is a couple of days late, due to the first of the month being on a weekend. So what you see below may not necessarily match what's on right now. Otherwise, have at it.

1. Pallers - "Humdrum"

Download: Pallers - "Humdrum"

The newest addition to Sweden's purveyor of pop, Labrador Records, Pallers, a duo, lay the listener down in a blanket of cool, minimalist, electronic beats and crisp synth sounds ideally suited for bedroom listening. And not much else.

Grade: C

2. Plus Minus - "Snowblind"

Download: Plus Minus - "Snowblind"

The derivative innovation in this song is this: "Snowblind" bridges the gap between the electronic-pop of Death Cab frontman's Ben Gibbard's side gig to an upbeat variety of chiming indie-pop that his day job was perfecting in the beginning of the decade. I have the facts, and I'm voting eh.

Grade: C

3. Kanye West - "Robocop"

Download: Plus Minus - "Snowblind"

The thematic flip of the Chicago rapper's first person obsession ode "Love Lockdown", "Robocop" finds West at the receiving end of a jealous lover's unwanted attention. Moving forward in a synth-and-string focused R&B direction, "Robocop" finds West maturing musically. A compelling song, but past braggadocio also lead to more thrilling material.

Grade: B

4. Designer Drugs - "Zombies"

Download: Designer Drugs - "ZOMBIES!"

No need for BRAINS! when listening to this song. This isn't to say that it's stupid. Far from it. But the Daft Punk-isms of this instrumental dance track should be familiar to most listeners. Perhaps it could have been more distinctive had there been an air of spookiness added.

Grade: B-

5. Sebastien Grainger & The Mountains - "American Names"

Download: Sebastien Grainger and the Mountains - "American Names"

Former dance-punker trades in his fuzzy, dingy synth sounds for more lush, expansive synth sounds, swooning vocals, and anthemic guitar-pop. There's an infectious sense of romanticism in the songcraft, but also a strong lack of musical identity to differentiate "American Names" from the numerous other college rock band rehearsing right now.

Grade: B-

6. Of Montreal - "Id Engager"

Download: Sebastien Grainger and the Mountains - "American Names"

Kevin Barnes' alter-ego may be screaming at us all from a phallocentric tyranny, but his disco and funk sonic libations provide all the liberation that one could possibly hope for.

Grade: B+

7. Kanye West - "Coldest Winter"

Download: Kanye West - "Coldest Winter"

West's new found affinity for proper singing leads to another dark, keyboard-driven exercise in booming percussion and vocoded vocals (or is it Autotune?). Another worthwhile experiment, though one that suffers from an anti-climatic brevity.

Grade: B-

8. Parts and Labor - "Nowheres Nigh"

Download: Parts and Labor - "Nowheres Nigh"

The wonders that context can do for a song. At first listen, "Nowheres Nigh" sounded like a turn toward the boring conventional for a formerly ambitious band. In the context of the ambitious Receivers, this track sounds like the exhilarating anthem that band undoubtedly meant it to be. Mea culpa, Parts and Labor.

Grade: A-

9. Mos Def - "Life in Marvelous Times"

Download: Mos Def - "Life In Marvelous Times"

Stabbing synth lines, a militant beat, and group back-up vocals help propel this socio-economic commentary by one of hip-hop's most versatile emcees. "Bright moments always come back vivid" goes one line, and there's plenty that's vivid here, from a sonic perspective. But the dense production also gives a kitchen-sink feel that's a bit distracting.

Grade: C+

10. Lily Allen - "Everyone's at It"

Download: Lily Allen - "Everyone's at It"

Allen's "state-of the world" song, targeting everyone from politicians to young adolescents, shows everyone's favorite mouth runner ditching the ska-pop and moving toward a more 80s synth-pop sound. She's spunkier, and more distinctive when addressing personal problems, but the shift toward others doesn't detract too much from her ability to write a catchy tune.

Grade: B-