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Silhavey & MachineGun Mojo Blow Roof Off Subterranean; Weekend Lineup 10/15 to 10/17

October 15, 2010

Wednesday night at the Subterranean Lounge on North Ave proved to be an exhibit of a very diverse array of Chicago acts. The four bands on tap (along with some Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale on tap) made for a great night out.

First up was Silhavey, hailing from northern Indiana. These dapper gents – pictured to the left – play power pop just the way I like it: quick and quirky. Lead singer Stephen Dranger takes center stage with his 88-key symphony orchestra. Yes, indeed, in Silhavey, the almighty, shapeshifting keyboard forms the center of their musical universe. Read more…


An Inside Look at MachineGun Mojo

October 13, 2010

[MachineGun Mojo is playing tonight at the Subterranean on North Avenue in Wicker Park at 8:30 PM. Tickets are $8]

Josh Kanuch’s eyes light up as we sit at the bar at Jake’s Pub, waxing rhapsodic about music: “All of a sudden it became what I wanted to do. In the way a priest is summoned to preach, you know? I mean that’s a bad analogy, but that’s how it feels. Regardless of what happens, I know I’ll be doing this, I just want to create music.” Josh – better known as Rooster – is the lead singer for Chicago-based psychedelic folk-rock outfit MachineGun Mojo, and he and bassist Matt Dimare were kind enough to sit down and chat about their music, their experiences in Chicago, and their upcoming show tonight at the Subterranean Lounge.

Equal parts rock, early country, late-60’s psychedelia and folk storytelling, MachineGun Mojo is comprised of Josh and Matt,  Shawn Haybic on lead guitar, and Mike Hauser on drums, at its core, though their many regular guests keep the lineup interesting. Matt tells me that they officially formed on January 1st, 2009 – a little tired from the festivities of the previous night, “we weren’t writing any gems that day.” But the combination of old buddies and college friends stuck, and the thick-as-thieves foursome immediately took to learning songs from each of its versatile songwriters. And it’s clear that they all have that ineffable passion for creating that propels Josh Kanuch. Key to MachineGun Mojo’s diverse songwriting is the diverse background of their musical tastes. Shawn tunes in to classic punk, Josh to acid jazz and avant-garde classical, Matt to more traditional folk, and, universally, the band adore the Beatles – certainly great places to start. Read more…

Up Ahead: Interviews with local rockers MachineGun Mojo and Silhavey

October 10, 2010

Hope you’ve had a great weekend! Coming up this week will be the first installment of profiles on totally-kickass, totally-local musicians. Heartland-inflected MachineGun Mojo borrows a page from the rich Americana tapestries and sophisticated country-rock of acts like the Band and the Dead, with a little more grit and some bar band muscle.  Check out their MySpace and give ’em a whirl – you’ll be glad you did.

Silhavey, also indigenous to the Chicagoland area, plays the sort of smart, hooky power pop that you might expect from OK Go or the Long Winters. They build clean, propulsive tunes around crisp guitar lines, artfully incorporated harmonies and even employ horns to great effect. Check out their song “Jungle” below and their Myspace here.

So what do these acts have in common? Well, they’re playing a show this Wednesday, October 13th at the Subterranean Lounge on North Ave in Wicker Park. Mojo headlines, with Silhavey and acts Chatty Cathy and Bear with Hawk Fist supporting. You can catch an interview with MachineGun Mojo right here tomorrow night (or Tuesday morning, if I’m lazy) and a post-show chat with Silhavey on Wednesday. Be sure to check it out! I’m told that money spent at the Subterranean is money well spent, so…yeah. Be there.

03 Silhavey Maru Jungle by illuminatedwax

Last Minute Weekend Lineup, 10/8 to 10/10

October 8, 2010

Hey hey! Good weekend of music coming up. I’ll make the highlights short and sweet.

Today, October 8th:

10 PM Local post-rock/instrumental outfit Del Rey will be exhibiting their considerable talents at Lincoln Hall (on Lincoln Ave, just above Fullerton) for a mere $10. Something of local heroes, tonight is a special occasion, as the band celebrates the release of album Immemorial.

10 PM Over at Schubas, San Francisco-based Film School will take the stage, sure to cause any fan to swoon with their beautiful and intricately written songs. Often labeled a shoegaze band, it doesn’t do them near enough justice, as their penchant for writing strong melodies (amidst all the warm, cradling echo and fuzz) really makes them a standout act. Tickets are $12. Check out a track from their 2008 album Hideout below.

Film School – Go Down Together by Big Shoulder Beat

Saturday, October 9th:

6:30 PM Riot Fest rages on at the Metro Theatre this weekend, celebrating punk in all its incarnations. Tomorrow influential emo band Cap’n Jazz will be headlining. If that’s a sentence I never thought I’d write here, something to remember is that early emo – and the “second wave” spearheaded by albums like Weezer’s Pinkerton – was substantially less about the self-pity you see in modern punk-pop and more of the serious, and often anguished, undertones that were able to coexist with memorable hooks and concise songwriting. This show is worth it just for a history lesson, and to see openers the Smoking Popes. Tickets are $21, $23 the day of.

9 PM British-born soul and funk singer Jamie Lidell will be taking his craft – elements of old-school funk with dirty, roughed-up production and plenty of looped instrumentation – to the Bottom Lounge on Lake Street near Ashland. Tickets are $20 and the show will be well worth it, especially if you’re looking to move.

Sunday, October 10th:

3:30 PM Electronic maestro Dan Deacon will be playing a show for only $5 at the Illinois Centennial Monument in Logan Square. Deacon’s production is invariably interesting, with traditional and electronic instruments used in abundance, but his live shows are purported to be truly spectacular. Get out there while the nice weather lasts! Brought to you by the friendly folks at the Empty Bottle and Goose Island Brewery.

Dan Deacon – Woof Woof by dervortex

And looking ahead to Monday, make it your goal to go see Miike Snow at the Riviera Theatre. This Swedish production team has the best of many worlds – catchy, effervescent synths, great beats (and great percussion), and vocals in the Michael Jackson register. Their debut self-titled release was absolutely huge last year, and rightly so. If you like downtempo numbers, fear not, they have those too. Tickets are a bit pricier ($35)…get em while you can. And listen to “Cult Logic.” On repeat.

Miike Snow – Cult Logic by Big Shoulder Beat

The Acorn and Basia Bulat (Softly) Rock Schubas, + Tuesday and Wednesday Lineup

October 4, 2010

Thursday night marked my first show at the relatively legendary Schubas Tavern just off Belmont in Lakeview, and man was it a good introduction. It’s impossible to read/hear/talk about Schuba’s without the intimate size of its back room being mentioned, and truly, that little rectangle is a wonderful place to see music. And parts of it are such a tight squeeze that you’re likely to cross paths with band members as they sneak in a PBR for some liquid courage before sets.

Opener Basia Bulat, an Ontario-born singer of Polish descent, took the stage promptly at 9 PM, bringing a little slice of Appalachia with her. Hers is a folk band of five, fleshed out with rich string bass and viola, sharp percussion, the occasional ukulele, and, though her guitar featured prominently in the set, predominantly the bright and dulcet tones of the autoharp. Read more…

Weekend Lineup: 9/30 to 10/3

September 30, 2010

It’s shaping up to be a fine weekend for live music around town. I’ve included some of the highlights here.

Tonight, September 30th:

9 PM Dancy, futuristic rockers Klaxons will be playing at Lincoln Hall. Show is $15…go dance your butt off (or at least move chaotically) to their delightful synth-heavy weirdness. Check out songs “Gravity’s Rainbow” and “Golden Skans” from their debut.

9 PM The Acorn, a folk music collective from Ottawa, will be taking their lush, intricate sound to Schuba’s over in Lakeview. Tickets are a mere $12…highly recommended! Listen to their track “Restoration” below. They’ll be supported by singer-songwriter Basia Bulat.

The Acorn – Restoration by Bella Union

Allllso at 9 PM Now this one is particularly interesting. Something of a music supergroup, Gayngs was formed as the project of musician Ryan Olson and a number of his prominent friends. All told, the project, sponsored by label Jagjaguwar  features Justin Vernon and others of fragile, layered art-folk sensation Bon Iver as well Ivan Howard of Rosebuds and rapper P.O.S. Their debut album Relayted has been released to huge acclaim…they draw sounds from R&B, electronica, and, according to all-knowing Wikipedia, some soft rock. Cool. Tickets are $18 and it should be a killer show at Metro Theater. Check out “Faded High” below. Also interesting? All tracks on the album were written at 69 beats per minute. Gives it that nice slow jam vibe.

Gayngs – Faded High by Big Shoulder Beat

(P.S. it seems like Justin Vernon is everywhere these days…including what I still contend is the first of a few weird tracks he recorded with Kanye West)

Lastly British/Sri Lankan rapper and in-your-face performer M.I.A. is bringing her world music-meets-hip hop-meets-a lot of attitude style to the Vic Theatre. Tickets are around $45 after convenience charges and such. And if you haven’t already seen the lengthy and provocative video for “Born Free,” do that now.

Friday, October 1st:

8 PM Remarkably eclectic lo-fi artist Eels (a vehicle for songwriter Mark Everett) is coming to Metro Theatre. Tickets are $26, and you’ll likely get the full gamut of roots to pop, introspective quiet numbers to looped string arrangements.

Saturday, October 2nd:

7:30 PM Ever-inventive musical alchemists Broken Social Scene are coming to town in support of their latest album, Forgiveness Rock Record. It stands up as well as any of their releases, and gives their fans more of the anthemic, guitar-driven numbers that they’ve come to expect, as well as fuzzy and understated tunes scattered among raw garage rockers (“Water in Hell”) and lovely electropop moments (“Sentimental X’s”). “Romance to the Grave” even features local act The Sea and Cake‘s Sam Prekop on co-lead vocals! And what’s that you say? They’re touring with BSS? Even cooler…expect their tight, jazzy pop to set the stage for the dizzying postmodern theatrics of BSS. Tickets are about $35 at the Riviera.

8 PM And, of course, the band I adore, Local Natives are playing Metro Theatre on Saturday. Tix (that you presumably already have) are $17.

Sunday, October 3rd:

8 PM Often either ebullient or angry, you can bet that the Thermals will imbue any topic with their high-energy punk pop stylings. Fun and accessible but still a bit raw, these guys have tackled politics and conservative Christian America (see 2006 album The Body, the Blood, the Machine) and continue to make thrillingly immediate music with all the punky energy you’d expect from a stripped down trio [somewhere, Broken Social Scene and Acorn fans are scratching their heads over how a band can exist with only three members.] They’ll be performing with Cymbals Eat Guitars, who came on the scene relatively recently with album Why There Are Mountains. Acclaimed for its use of the waves of symphonic guitar employed by bands like Built to Spill, occasionally raw and quirky vocals (think Pixies or some Pavement) and diverse instrumentation – strings and horns complement the alternately shimmering and pulsing guitar – they promise to be a great opener for the Thermals. The show is being put on by the Empty Bottle at the Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 North Kedzie. Tickets are $15. Black Math will also be performing.
Cymbals Eat Guitars Cold Spring by user4482946

Looking ahead to Monday:

Last one for now. Singer-songwriter Denison Witmer will be playing Schuba’s for $8. He is excellent and sometimes melancholy, but mostly excellent.

Have a great weekend! Look for reviews come Sunday/Monday.

Local Natives this Saturday (10/2) at Metro Theater

September 29, 2010

Be sure to keep your Saturday night open this weekend! L.A.-based brilliance Local Natives are coming to the Metro Theater – located at 3730 North Clark Street, not too far from the Addison Red Line. Doors open at 8 and show starts at 9…but here’s to hoping you have tickets already: just sold out. For those of you that can make it, do; Local Natives’ blend of folk instrumentation, impassioned vocals and jazzy chord progressions are really something special, and I rank their debut album Gorilla Manor in my top 5 albums of the year with ease. Check out track “Cubism Dream” below. And check back here on later this week for more reviews. Who knows? You may see some hyperbolic writing on these guys.

Local Natives – Cubism Dream by Jblz

Find the Metro’s full schedule here. On that note, Yeasayer is playing here for New Year’s Eve! How cool is THAT?