Vinyl Theatre @ Beat Kitchen Review

Sabrina Miresse | November 29, 2017

Vinyl Theatre’s sound is maturing and Chicago reacted to it with lots of energy. The Milwaukee band played with Portland duo Patternist and Chicago group The Giving Moon at Beat Kitchen on Nov. 29.
 
Vinyl Theatre is an alternative pop trio consisting of lead vocals and guitarist Keegan Calmes, keyboardist Chris Senner, and Nick Cesarz on drums. Mostly known for their electropop sound from their 2014 debut album Electrogram, this band is changing their sound up with the 2017 album, Origami. This nine-track album showcases Vinyl Theatre’s guitar-centric rock sound. 
 
The 85-minute Vinyl Theatre set at Beat Kitchen was opened with new song, “My Fault,” and featured all of the band’s tracks from Origami.
 
Back in 2013, the trio branded their electropop sound with the release of their Gold EP. These songs had high energy tech-pop sounds that still underlie the band’s image.
         
The shift from the EP to their debut album Electrogram in 2014 was a slight marker in what their sound was becoming. The album included songs that came off catchy and absorbable to audiences. Especially with the song “Breaking Up My Bones” that gained popularity quickly.
 
Origami is more intricate, fluid and consistent. This album shows growth and a new rock flare through the more guitar heavy songs. The electropop, Two Door Cinema Club-influenced sound is still there, but a more unique style has been crafted.
 
The echoing creativity that shines in Origami is truly impressive. “We were working full time jobs when we wrote Electrogram, and we didn’t have the time to put everything into music. Origami is just a more well-rounded version of what we want to do as a band,” Calmes said to The Chicago Vibe.
  
The emotion behind the Origami compilation is one that instigates happiness. Calmes explained that the band had more time to draw from their influences with this album, including Catfish and the Bottlemen and The Killers. This was evident in the lyrics and sheer intimacy of the tracks.
 
From seeing Vinyl Theatre live in their earlier years, the one thing that has remained unchanged is the bright attitude and energy the band brings to stage.
 
The crowd at Beat Kitchen was filled with true fans who were dancing, singing and vibing with Calmes’ stage presence. The energetic group of people were the first concert crowd I’ve ever seen start a Conga line.
 
Throughout the show, the production quality showed to be much superior to their earlier music. The sound was more powerful, and the vocal techniques and guitar solos were impressive.
 
The band closed with the popular tune “Breaking Up My Bones” and an intense drum duo between Senner and Calmes.  
 
Electrogram was the infantile sound and Origami is growing from there,” Calmes said to The Chicago Vibe.
 
Origami by Vinyl Theatre is now available on vinyl at shows and online here.

Joywave @ Lincoln Hall Review

Saloni Jaisingh | November 21, 2017

“Thanks, Thanks for Coming”, is both the name of Joywave’s current tour, and the ninth track off of their sophomore album, Content. In a sold-out room at the iconic Lincoln Hall of Chicago, Joywave brought their music, new and old, to life in front of an eager crowd.

Four standard PC Screens lit up accompanying Joywave on stage as their visuals. Colorful images, designs, and videos flashed across these screens, expanding on their live show experience. Then entered Daniel Armbruster (vocals), Joseph Morinelli (guitar), Sean Donnelly (bass), Benjamin Bailey (keyboards), and Paul Brenner (drums).

After thoroughly enjoying Joywave’s set at 101.1WKQX’s PIQNIQ in 2015 and seeing them open for Young the Giant and Cold War Kids this September, I was looking forward to experiencing their own headlining show and seeing how it would compare to those powerful sets.

Starting off their set with Content’s self titled song, a more ambient track that gradually becomes more intense, Joywave captured everyone’s attention immediately. Making sure to include songs from both of their albums and EPs, their nineteen song set list was sure to please any fan hoping for an eclectic setlist. Tracks such as “Destruction” and “It’s a Trip” were sure crowd pleasers, while songs such as “Going to a Place” and “Confidence” slowed down the vibes of the room. I was very excited to hear “Nice House” live, which enchanted the audience. This acoustic-based song has always been my favorite off of their debut album, How Do You Feel Now?, and I hadn’t heard it live to date. “Tongues”, a bop familiar to everyone in the concert hall, was the second to last song of the show that peaked the energy for the final time of the night.

Setlist aside, Joywave is one of those live acts that won’t have you feeling left out if you are unfamiliar with their music - you can still rock out to their material even if you don’t know the lyrics. That’s the beauty of Joywave’s music through. Strong, articulate lyrics hand in hand with unique and infectious electronic beats.

Lincoln Hall was the perfect venue for Joywave to play, the quality of production in this intimate of a setting was a great feat. With vibrant colors lighting up the packed concert hall and Armbruster’s engaging stage presence, everyone was captivated. While fans were packed in, there was still room for them to move which is good because of Joywave’s contagious rhythms. Whether fans were nodding their head or tapping their feet, Joywave had people moving.

Armbruster’s dry humor charmed the crowd and he convinced us of his love for playing shows in Chicago. He had everyone jumping up and down along with him to each track. I always thought Joywave had amazing energy, but they took it to a whole new level on this headlining tour. They demanded the audience’s attention with their captivating stage presence and interacted with the audience a multitude of times.


Joywave, naturally, finished off their set with “Thanks. Thanks for Coming”. This polite closing on behalf of the band’s part wrapped up their set and ended their show. The second leg of this tour has just been announced, and I strongly recommend checking out Joywave in a city near you. Get tickets here.

Photo by Mary Ellen Matthews via Billboard

Photo by Mary Ellen Matthews via Billboard

Bad bad hats, Basement, and The Front Bottoms review

Kailah (K.P.) Peters | October 2017

October 26th, The Front Bottoms put on a night to remember at the Metro. The first band to perform was Bad Bad Hats. Though this band doesn’t have big following they made a name for themselves that night. They played their more popular hits, “It hurts” and “Midway.” This band is a mix of mid-western manners and hard rock and roll. The crowd was thrown for a loop when lead singer Kerry Alexander opened her mouth to talk.

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Her mid-western charm came out. Her talking voice was sweet, well-mannered and almost shy. This is not what you’d expect from her harsh and honest lyrics. After she chat with the crowd she played a more aggressive song. I was astounded when the sweet mannered Kerry shredded her guitar solo. Their Minnesota origin doesn’t soften the edge of their music.

After Bad Bad Hats revved up the crowd Basement kicked it into high gear. This British rock band got the crowd pumped. During their performance crowd surfers came out (and got shut down by security). Their guitar riffs and energy shook the building. You could feel the bass of their songs in your bones.

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As the crowd waited for the Front bottoms to perform the venue played “Say it ain’t so” by Weezer. The whole crowd united to sing the modern classic. Words can’t describe the feeling of unity and bliss this moment evoked. Even without live music Metro managed to capture the beauty of concerts.

The Front Bottoms took the stage and everyone was thrilled. Their performance included more than just audio. The band set up screens on both sides of the stage to project visuals that aligned with the songs. This performance was mostly new songs off their latest release “Going Grey.”

The Front Bottoms opened with “You Used to Say (Holy Fuck).” The crowd jumped and danced along to the indie hits. A large portion of the crowd brought alien balloons with lights in them. These were thrown around the crowd. Bouncing over heads and on stage, the balloons created a euphoric atmosphere.

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At one point the crowd started throwing items up on stage. The first was a hand-made The Front Bottoms banner. It included the Chicago skyline and the band’s name. Brian Sella, the lead singer, held the banner above his head so the crowd could see. Then he had stage hands hang it up. Next a fan threw a hat on stage. After laughing at how sweaty it was Brian gave the hat to drummer Mathew Uychich to wear. Immediately afterwards another fan threw a Chicago hat. This hat landed on Brian’s guitar. After a good laugh he decided he had to wear it.

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As Brian said, this concert was definitely a night to remember. With old and new songs coming together I’d keep an eye out for where The Front Bottoms goes next.

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LPX and RAC, 10/13/2017, Metro Chicago Review

Chae Wohn | October 2017

With her vibrant, firetruck-red hair and equally crimson jumpsuit, LPX sang her heart out before RAC and his touring crew took the stage at the Metro earlier this month. Lizzy Paplinger put indie duo MS MR on hold to pursue LPX, a solo project where, as she told Billboard, she felt she had the freedom to be bolder. And bolder she was. Unlike the slower, tamer hits of MS MR, like “Hurricane” and “Bones,” Paplinger’s powerful vocals ripped through the intimate space of Metro. LPX is all about empowerment and living unapologetically. She and her bandmates bounced all over the stage in their matching suits. At one point, Paplinger mixed cocktails for her guitarist’s birthday. The most memorable bit of her performance was her popular new song with DJ What So Not, “Better”. Paplinger recognizes her own worth in the song, denouncing her ex-lover’s refusal to do the same. Overall, LPX is a project to keep an eye on; its sheer force and confidence are highly infectious.

André Allen Anjos, known as Remix Artist Collective (RAC), performed with his wife, who goes by the name Pink Feathers, Speak vocalist Troupe Gammage, and artist Karl Kling. RAC established himself by remixing indie tracks, like Foster the People’s "Houdini" and the Shins’ “Sleeping Lessons,” back in 2012. He’s got quite a wide variety of projects under his name, remixing many indie artists, releasing his own full-length albums, and even creating an original soundtrack for sci-fi Steam game Master Spy in 2015. RAC produced “Strangers”  in 2013 and “Ego” two years later. “Ego” is packed full of features from loved indie rock artists. K.Flay’s raspy vocals make “Heartbreak Summer”, while Rivers Cuomo of Weezer graces the upbeat “I Still Wanna Know”.

That night, RAC performed a live set as the final night of his Ego Tour, with primary vocals done by Troupe Gammage, alternating with Pink Feathers and Karl Kling. There was a good mix of tracks played, including classics like “Hollywood” and “Cheap Sunglasses,” but of course, most tracks were off “Ego.” The surprise came towards the end of the night when a familiar track began playing. RAC brought to life his version of “Say My Name” by Odesza, which was nominated for a “Best Remix” Grammy award in 2016 (and for good reason). RAC's guitars added another level of depth to the song that translated beautifully live, and I’m glad I got to witness this meshing of two of my favorite artists.

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RAC concluded the night by playing “Let Go,” featuring the lovely Pink Feathers. As I've listened over the years, I’ve noticed that RAC has remained remarkably fresh. I still listen to many of his tracks on a weekly basis. His style has solidified into hopeful, bright pop anthems, with splashes of synths, nostalgia and heartache here and there. My first love will always his “Houdini” remix, and I’m impressed with the way RAC has made a name for himself from the very beginning. I have no doubt that his next album will be fully representative of his previous successes.

 

 

Ariel Pink's Dedicated to Bobby Jameson Album Review

Emily Cosgrove | October 2017

Ariel Pink is one of the most unique artists I have ever encountered in my life. His enigmatic style makes him seem more like a character than an actual person. At least, as a fan of his, that is how I view him. He has a very distinct sound—lo-fi, with a very clear 80s influence. Yet, the only fitting way I can describe his style of music is simply “Ariel Pink”. He has a truly unique style that many have tried to replicate, but solely belongs to him.

His newest release is his eleventh (!!!) studio album, titled Dedicated to Bobby Jameson, and in my opinion, it is his best album yet. He manages to show a more intimate side, while still maintaining the signature Ariel Pink sound he is known for.

Upon hearing the album title, I was really curious. Who is this “Bobby Jameson” character this album is dedicated to? At first, I thought it was just some fictional character, maybe an alter-ego of Ariel’s. But, upon some research, I learned some very interesting history behind the album’s name.

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The man this album is dedicated to was actually a musician who is a very interesting, obscure character in Hollywood and music history. In the 1960s, Bobby Jameson was supposed to be THE next big thing. He opened up for the acts such as The Beach Boys and his career looked extremely promising. Once the singles he released hit the charts, they failed. He tried to release music under different names and guises, but for whatever reason - his career failed and he faded into obscurity. He ended up becoming reclusive and struggled with addiction for the rest of his life up until his death.

This whole mystery behind the persona of Bobby Jameson ended up capturing the attention of many people, and he now has a cult-like following. The dedication of this album to Bobby Jameson is fascinating to me—does Ariel relate to this enigmatic, troubled character? Does he just enjoy his music? I really appreciate that Ariel drew attention to a figure who didn’t get the success he deserved. I listened to some of Bobby Jameson’s work, and it is very good. So, thank you Ariel for introducing me to such an iconic character with a somewhat tragic story.

But—back to the album! Listening to it, there is no doubt that this is an Ariel Pink album, yet it has a new distinct flair that gave me a pleasant surprise. The album opener, “Time To Meet Your God”, is a high-energetic song that could have been a track featured on Ariel’s last studio album, Pom Pom. But, in the following tracks we are introduced to a different Ariel than we saw on the last album.

One of my favorite tracks on the album is “Dedicated To Bobby Jameson”, which is a little bit of psychedelic-70s influence and a little a bit of surf-rock, of course all with an Ariel Pink spin. The track, which takes its name from the album’s title, describes Bobby Jameson as “a Tinseltown tranny, and the mayor of the Sunset Strip.” It is a totally infectious, super fun track with a groovy vibe that reminds me of going on a night out with friends.

I think my favorite track of all is “Do Yourself A Favor”. It is so different from the entire album, and from most music that Ariel Pink creates. I was actually shocked when this track came on; I was completely blown away and I have had it on repeat ever since. It is such a raw, emotional song done almost all acoustically. It is just a totally honest, stripped down song which is completely different from the huge persona Ariel usually channels in his songs. It is such an intimate, real song that makes me view Ariel Pink as not just a big superstar character, but an actual person. It’s beautiful.

There is not a bad song on this entire album. I think the thing that stands out on this album, and every album, that Ariel Pink makes is his voice. It is extremely versatile. He does not necessarily have a classically trained voice, but he does unique things with his voice that no one else can do. One minute he is shouting in an almost robot-like manner, in another he is singing a soft, sweet love song. I cannot emphasize how different each and every song on this album is from one another, which is all thanks to Ariel’s amazing ability to transform his voice. He is truly a vocal chameleon.

Ariel Pink has wowed me once again with Dedicated To Bobby Jameson. I cannot wait to finally see him perform a full set (the only other time I ever saw him was at Pitchfork, and his set unfortunately was cut way short because of rain), and cannot imagine how amazing he will be to see in an actual venue on Halloween weekend.

Ariel Pink will be performing at Thalia Hall in Chicago on Saturday, October 28th. If you don’t already have your tickets, I highly recommend you buy some here. He is an outstanding talent, and really delivered on this new album.

Bad Suns @ Metro Review

Saloni Jaisingh | October 20, 2017

Over the course of three years, I have seen Bad Suns perform in a few environments: opening for The 1975 in the Spring of 2014, playing a packed room at Schubas Tavern in the Summer of 2014, performing in the middle of a GAP store on Michigan Avenue in the Fall of 2015, filling up the Old National Centre in Indianapolis in the Spring of 2017, and now delivering my favorite set of theirs to date right here at Metro in Chicago.

I arrived at the venue eager to see what awaits me on the Love Like Revenge Fall Tour. I entered just after their second openers, Hunny, had wrapped up their set and was met with a full audience patiently awaiting the arrival of Bad Suns. While making my way through the dense crowd and to the photo pit,  I overheard the chatter of excited fans - many of them talking about set list expectations and reminiscing on the last time they saw Bad Suns. This prompted nostalgia from me as well, and I realized just how excited I was to see Bad Suns again.

At 9:30pm, the venue’s playlist was cut to silence and the crowd roared a cheer as Christo Bowman (vocals), Ray Libby (guitar), Miles Morris (drums), and Gavin Bennett (bass) took the stage. The crowd was ecstatic to hear the opening notes to “Disappear Here”, the self-titled track off the band’s latest album. Bowman belted the lyrics and the crowd echoed in unison.

Their twenty-song set featured an eclectic mix of songs off of Language & Perspective, their debut album, and their latest release, Disappear Here. It was a great surprise to hear “Twenty Years”, a song off of their 2014 EP, Transpose, included in the set as well - it has always been a favorite of mine. They accompanied each track with a unique composition of lighting and colors, expanding on their live performance experience.

The band’s vibrant act enticed the audience. Tracks such as “Dancing on Quicksand” and “Daft Pretty Boys” captivated the crowd and had everybody dancing to the California-pop melodies of Bad Suns. Bowman slowed down the vibe of the show with more reflective songs like "Maybe We're Meant to Be Alone" and “Defeated” followed by a stripped down version of the intro to “Matthew James” before he brought back the energy in the room to maximum levels. He expressed his love and appreciation for the audience a multitude of times and climbed on top of the crowd not once, but twice during the show.

It has been amazing to physically see the progression of Bad Suns through these past few years - watching them play on a bigger stage, performing to a bigger crowd, and with a bigger set juxtaposes the very first time I saw them. Their evolution in terms of music as well as stage performance was very refreshing, and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for this band. Get tickets to see them on the Love Like Revenge Fall Tour here.

Gryffin @ Bottom Lounge Review

Evan Hazlett | October 2017

Last weekend I had the privilege of attending and photographing Gryffin’s show at the Bottom Lounge as well as his performance at the Mike’s Harder launch party event. This was truly a dream come true because I have been a fan of Gryffin for a while now and had the opportunity to see him at Lollapalooza this past summer. His performance at Lolla took my breath away and since then he has become one of my favorite electronic music performers.

Many of Gryffin’s songs inspire emotions within the listeners. My favorite “Heading Home,” is one of these. Me and my best friend Jenna first heard this song in a promotional video for Electric Forest, an eight-day festival spread over two weekends in Rothbury, Michigan. This song captured our excitement to attend the festival and over the next few months became a song that described our friendship. When I think of home, I not only think of Detroit, Michigan, but I think of this song, and my best friend Jenna. When I heard this song on Friday I felt nothing but pure joy. With the crowd showing their funkiest moves, and Gryffin on the guitar, it was truly a perfect moment.

My favorite aspect of Gryffin is how talented he is at mixing the electronic portion of his music and playing the instrumental parts. Throughout his performance, he often plays the guitar and piano. This adds an amazing feature to his electronic based music. It shows that he is not simply pressing play as many DJs do today, but he is creating the music and sharing his diverse talent.

One aspect important in any show, is energy. This is another area that Gryffin excels in and made his show on Friday worth wild. Whether it’s while he mixes or plays guitar and the piano, or simply dancing with his audience, he never fails to keep his body and facial energy high. You can see the love and enjoyment he has in his music and this causes the audience to keep their energy high and never stop dancing.

From two outstanding openers, (ayokay, and Autograf (who I ought to mention is a Chicago native) to the colorful lights, and vivid visuals, Gryffin really gave attendees their money’s worth. Throughout my time at the show, I did not witness one attendee not having the time of their life. There was one man in particular who stood out to me above all else. His dance moves were stellar and lasted from the very first song of the opener to the final song of Gryffin. There was not a moment I did not see this man’s feet moving and arms twisting.

Gryffin’s performance at the Mike’s Harder event was quite different because this was a DJ set. He still played his well-known songs. Hearing them a second time was nothing less than a sweet treat. Although this performance did not contain any live instruments, Gryffin brought back many throwbacks and the audience reacted with loud screams of gratitude.

Anyone who is looking to have some fun should attend one of Gryffin’s shows in the future. From the wild dance moves, to the emotional ballads, every aspect of both of Gryffin’s performances added to the overall sensation. I can only look forward to what Gryffin will bring to audiences next and what the future will hold for himself and his listeners.

“Who Truly Remains” - Capt. K’nuckles

Kody Steele | October 2017

In his second album, “Who Truly Remains,” Capt. K’nuckles brings forth thought provoking monologues, combined with an eerie production style and a lot of raw energy. The album is reminiscent to the early work of Tyler, the Creator. Each time I listened I found songs that had more to offer than I first realized. This album requires you to come back time and time again, leaving you with new interpretations as a listener.        

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I believe that the strength of this album can be found with the fourth, fifth, and sixth songs consecutively. The fourth song, “.intruders.” delivers a head-bobbing flow and a reference to the album title, “Who Truly Remains.” This track gives us a look into the concept Capt. K’nuckles had in mind for the album. The next song on the album “.gorilla.palmz.” delivers a track that makes you feel like you can take on the world. It’s a song I could see me and my friends putting on in the car for a night of partying. The sixth song of the album “.arrow.to.the.head” was my favorite track. I believe it is the most well-rounded. It put forth the recognizable production style of most of the other tracks, solid flow with tight rhymes and high listenability. Capt. K collaborates on this with Ace Cadet and Swami See, giving a back and forth between the featured rappers’ styles. The compliment of sound it provided makes it a song I will come back to repeatedly. Ultimately, these trio of songs stood out to me as a group and really sets the artist up for success on the rest of the album.

As far as inspiration towards the style of music he puts out he claims to look mainly within himself. He notes that he keeps this as honest as possible by not listening to much music that comes out now-a-days so that it won’t spark ideas that are not his own. Something I believe worth noting about this artist is the relationship between Capt. K and his producer, Schlong Pong. When asked about the production of the album Capt. K responded,

“I met him [Schlong Pong] on a forum a while ago and he is from Germany. He hasn’t told me his name or what he looks like, but I prefer to keep it that way because I think it’s super sick that he keeps his identity hidden as it shows me that all that matters is the sound”. 

 With that said the dynamic seems to be working and they really complement each other. After giving a good listen to the album and speaking some with the artist, “Who Truly Remains” is an album to take a solid look at and Capt. K an artist to keep an eye on. One live performance has already taken place mid-August of this year. I’m curious to see how this album will translate to a live performance because I believe the raw energy connecting with a crowd will truly be something to experience. No date has been set for the next performance, but I know I will be keeping an eye out for it.

Listen on Apple Music, Spotify and CDbaby.

 

Warble Daze Review

Emily Cosgrove | October 2017

I really didn’t know what to expect when going to Saturday of Warble Daze this year. Although this is the second year the festival took place, this was the first year I heard about it. It was held at the Logan Auditorium, which is one of the few venues I have not been to in Chicago. What I did expect was an amazing show; and it was.

The line-up for the whole weekend was awesome, and I was so upset I couldn’t make it both days. It featured mostly local bands, with a few bands who made the trek across the country.

The Saturday line-up included Town Criers, Cafe Racer, Joe Bordenaro, Acid Dad (from New York), The Nude Party (from North Carolina), and Modern Vices. Many of these bands I have seen before, but it was cool to see some new acts I hadn’t even heard of.

Warble Daze features solely rock music, which worried me a little bit. I’ll be honest, I love rock, but to have six bands perform the same genre of music back-to-back sounded like it could have been a little bit boring. I was surprised when each band managed to deliver their unique brand of rock and roll.

The festival featured a variety of vendors and DJ sets as well. I appreciated this because it allowed attendees to get the chance to take a break from the show and explore other things music and art related.

As for the venue Logan Square Auditorium, I was surprised at how spacious it was. It looks way different than any music venue I have been to in the city, and since it is an event space used for a variety of events I was shocked that the sound was pretty decent. It really is a historic, vintage-feeling place.

Warble Daze is a promising festival. It aims to keep it local, with a very DIY-feel and many local bands and vendors. I really appreciate the Chicago-centric feel the festival has, yet they still make it a point to bring in bands from other places with a similar sound and vibe. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing Warble Daze grow!

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ASAP Mob @ UIC Pavillion Review

Ally Schell | October 2017

During any concert, there is always an experience. With ASAP Mob, it was a delight. The set design was one I have never seen before, with the front of a Lamborghini personalized for the DJs on stage, and a huge screen in the back featuring the word “ASAP”.  I have never seen a crowd cheer so loud and scream the lyrics along with the artist; it was almost a euphoric experience.

In the beginning, artists such as Treez Lowkey and Key! were featured along with some members of ASAP Mob before their actual show. It was cool to see in the back some of the ASAP crew watching their fellow performers present their work on stage, and you could see the whole UIC Pavilion vibing as well. 

The crowd waited for ASAP Mob as they all chanted. Suddenly, the curtain came down and we could see the Lamborghinis and screen, but still no ASAP Mob. They all again proceeded to scream, “ASAP, ASAP, ASAP”, as the screen began to show the crew backstage. They started to sing, but I couldn’t hear them over the excitement of the crowd! Personally, I couldn’t wait to see ASAP Rocky. When he came out in front of the screen, a girl shouted “Flacko!”, which is what he refers to himself as in many of his songs.

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Finally, they all came on stage to sing “Yamborghini High” and the crowd went absolutely nuts.  Seeing all your favorites on stage was one for the books! Then they sang “Walk on Water” and the crowd was just as hype.  I pondered around the crowd to see if anyone was in distress in this situation, but everyone seemed to be so happy they could barely contain themselves.

I had a chance to talk to a guy named Abriel who had a meet and greet pass on, and I asked him how his experience was meeting the crew. He stated his disappointment, as he had not met the crew because there were complications on the list of meet and greets. He had said nearly half of the line was booted out, even though they had passes to meet them. He tried to talk to a representative, but they weren’t there to console his pain.  He also said that meet and greet people were allotted to get front row for the pit, but they had let general admission in early.

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Although this was a disappointing experience for Abriel, I talked to other people in the pit. One girl from Cicero couldn’t believe she was there to celebrate with ASAP Mob. She purchased a hoodie which looked like an artist had hand-drawn the whole thing in pen. The merchandise was astounding.  After all the cliché merchandise I have seen, this merch was clearly thought out for the fans.

Whether it is the band merchandise or the Lambos on stage, I can most definitely say this experience was different than any other concert I’ve been to. I have never been to a rap concert before this one, but it ranks high on my list as one to beat!

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Magic City Hippies @ Lincoln Hall Review

Chae Wohn | October 1, 2017

Self-proclaimed indie funk band Magic City Hippies has always oozed a blithe, sun-drenched attitude. Beginning as Robby Hunter Band, they released an album under the title "Magic City Hippies" in 2013 and changed the band's name after its release. As Magic City Hippies, the band debuted the “Hippie Castle EP” in 2015. Fanfare became a popular indie favorite that has remained in my mind after all these years with its unique, radio-style intro and mysterious, hazy allure. Since then, Magic City Hippies released singles “Heart Wants” and “Hush” in 2016.

The night's opener, Lovejoy, was a band from Chicago that stole my heart instantly. Vocalist and guitarist Duncan Lee has a smooth, bold voice with slightly rough edges that works well for their sound of psych rock. Trumpet player and equally powerful vocalist Kris Hansen added jazz into the mix. With summer-centric songs like "Sandcastle Isle" and "Wait by the Water,” how could they not be a perfect complement to Magic City Hippies? Their cover of David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream” is something I’ll treasure for a long, long time. It was a stunning homage to Bowie packed with verve, and they made their mark as one of my favorite show openers.

Magic City Hippies picked up the pace again with a cover of "Somebody to Love Me" by Mark Ronson, a song they seem to enjoy covering quite often and do so fantastically. They played most of their songs under Robby Hunter Band, like Corazón and BUST. Something that amazes me about Magic City Hippies is their ability to create a musical environment that fosters both an indie funk and R&B sound. Robby Hunter occasionally raps or speaks in the middle of his songs, particularly “Never Say No,” which is a prime example of their indie-R&B style.

Magic City Hippies decided to save the reckless adventure, Hippie Castle EP, for last. I almost wish they didn’t play “Limestone,” because I knew how hard it’d hit me. This track is an emotional punch in the gut compared to the happy-go-lucky tracks on the Hippie Castle EP and Magic City Hippies album. “Limestone" pours out the pains of loving something temporary, and loving someone, or yourself, with destructive tendencies.

But it’s back to shotgunning a beer and jumping into the pool. Magic City Hippies kicks off an aggressive version of “Fanfare” that electrified me even more than the first time I heard the studio version of the song. They chose to conclude the night with the fan favorite, and the room buzzed with joy when they played the familiar radio sample intro. “Fanfare” will always hold a special place in my heart. The first time I heard it, I couldn’t believe how easily it took me to Miami. Magic City Hippies themselves explained it the best way possible on the song’s RapGenius page:

"The song begins as you are driving in your car, switching radio stations- until you find the alluring, triumphant, 'Fanfare' that welcomes you into the world of the “Hippie Castle”. You are instantly transported to our hidden bungalow, nestled amongst a lush jungle of diverse flora and fauna. Where women lay sun bathing along the edge of the pool, and the keg blasts the golden soda of the summer, into our mouthes, and random thrift store cups, and glasses.[…] This is the spirit of the times.” 

While their songs generally sound playful, Magic City Hippies' lyrics are surprisingly insightful. "The only thing in life you’re owning is this little moment inside a sphere,” BRNT reminds its listeners. And they’re right. I exited into the fall night air walking on clouds, and it took me the walk home to realize I may not be in laying in a pool somewhere in Miami, but I’m in whatever life I get to call mine. This show couldn't have been a more perfect remedy for regrets and a reminder to forgive yourself and let go of the things that plague you, even if it's not quite summertime.

Billie Eilish @ Schubas Review

Kailah (K.P.) Peters | October 2017

For such a young artist, Billie has built herself a large following. Last week on October 12, Billie Eilish played a sold out show at Schuba’s. For those of you not there, my sincere apologizes let me fill you in.

The performance started with an ambiguous feel. As the theme song for The Office played, Billie and her brother Finneas O’Connell took the stage.  Though Billie was sick and couldn’t reach her high notes, she still gave an energetic performance. The 15-year-old star bounced around the stage, letting the music move her.

At one point in the set, Billie let her brother take the mic. He performed an acoustic version of “I’m in Love Without You” and left the crowd in awe. His voice is deeper than Billie’s, giving the show a fun variation. He still maintained the sad acetic that Billie is notorious for. After that performance, I will anxiously await more music from Finneas. I have no doubt this family has talent running through their veins.

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When Billie picked up her Ukulele the crowd got excited. We all waited for the ring that would cue up “Party Favor.” Instead, she performed a ukulele cover of “Hot Line Bling” then made the transition to her song.

When performing her hit “My Boy”, Billie and Finneas present a dance. This was one of the coolest parts of the set. The artist let her shoulders bounce with the beat and kicked her feet to the bass.

Eventually, the set had to end. Billie closed the show with “Bellyache,” revving the crowd back up after “Ocean Eyes.” If you missed her this time - be sure to catch her the next. As long as she keeps making sick music, Billie is only going to get more popular. She started by selling out Schubas but it won’t be long before she is selling out shows at Thalia Hall.

"Rip It Up" - Town Criers' Debut Single

Emily Cosgrove | October 2017

Town Criers is one of the newer, up-and-coming bands in the local scene. I have definitely been hearing their name thrown around lately, specifically in promotional posters for Warble Daze, but hadn’t gotten the chance to listen to them yet. So, when asked to review their new single, “Rip It Up”, I was excited to give it a listen.

Since Chicago is a huge hub for rock music, I had high expectations for “Rip It Up”. This track is the only song currently on Town Criers’ Bandcamp, so it serves preview for what is to come from this band.

Here’s a snippet of their bio via Warble Daze: “Before even having a name to go by and only one song mentally written down, Andre Baptista, Scott Truesdale, Vince Pimentel, and Kevin Allen, were asked to play a friend's house show that coming Friday. The long black-haired boys got to the garage and cranked out a thirty minute Kinks influenced, "psych-punk", setlist to make the house show an unforgettable one.”

Photo by Micki Harris

Photo by Micki Harris

Town Criers are now taking the Chicago music scene head on with a debut EP in fall 2017 so their fans can listen to their music through headphones and live Day 2 - Saturday, October 14 at Warble Daze!

I really enjoyed their debut track. Although on their Facebook page, Town Criers describes themselves as simply “Chicago Rock N’ Roll”, they have a nice garage-rock, lo-fi sound to their music. These two sounds have been popular genres in Chicago for quite a while now, but Town Criers manage to stand out by providing us with this distinct, catchy single.

Since they do not have any other music online at the moment, I am excited to see them live on October 14th at Warble Daze. From genuinely jamming out to “Rip It Up", seeing the rest of their live set will give everyone a better idea of what’s to come from Town Criers.


Buy tickets to Warble Daze, the 2-Day Rock Showcase, here!

Indie Pop Newcomers, August Hotel, Release First EP

Kaiya Hietikko | September 2017

The Chicago-based indie pop band August Hotel recently released their debut EP entitled Charms. With four tracks, two of which being pre-released singles, the band is starting to make a name for themselves.

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The EP starts off with the 80s pop-inspired “Michigan Again.” It features a chorus that is easy to dance to and lead vocalist Joe Padilla’s distinct voice that makes it easy to sing along to. The bridge slows it down and gives a moment of reflection that leads into a fantastic guitar solo by guitarist Ryan Lammers. Overall, this first song holds the introduction of the EP very well and hooks you into the other three tracks.

The second track, “12AM,” was previously released and is what gave August Hotel the most press, so the inclusion of it on Charms just makes sense. After the first track, it gives listeners the chance to vibe along with the band, and the infectious simplicity of it just forces you to bob your head along to the beat. The chorus has a lovely build that would be great for a night of cruising around the city. August Hotel adds a bit of flair to this track as well with the inclusion of horns. As someone who is always a sucker for a horn section in indie music, this just added to the song as a whole. Lammers comes back again for another amazing solo in the second half of the song, and after a few repetitions of the chorus, the song fades out to lead listeners into the third track.

Photos by Kailah (K.P.) Peters

“Can I Be in Love With You?” starts very low, which is a fantastic transition from the second track, but quickly hypes back up and brings back the 80s-reminiscent vocals. Although they can sometimes be misused, they fit very well with August Hotel’s overall synth pop sound. This track has the best keyboards out of the whole EP and showcases the band’s versatility. The second half of the track gets a bit grungier, so those that prefer a more punk sound could really enjoy it. Of course, a lovely guitar solo once again highlights Lammers’ talent. This track has a very 2009 Franz Ferdinand feel, so if “No You Girlswas your jam, “Can I Be in Love With You?” will fit right in to your listening repertoire.

The EP finishes off with another highly danceable track entitled “Crystallized.” This track is heavy in keyboards, and keyboardist Craig Schwartz does not disappoint. Lammers finishes off with one last beautiful solo, and drummer Dean Sinclair holds his own throughout as well. Out of the whole EP, this track just begs to be sung along to and could easily be another hit for the rising group.

Overall, Charms does a great job of showcasing each member’s individual strengths and talents and could really launch the quintet into fame. With their synth-heavy dance beats and catchy choruses but overall chill vibe, I would highly recommend August Hotel to fans of bands such as VHS Collection, Vinyl Theater, or the 1975.

"Take Me" by Aly & AJ

Meghan Boyles | September 2017

Aly & AJ are back with a new music video for the song “Take Me,” and it’s so good. You might remember the Michalka sisters from their mid-2000s Radio Disney hits “Rush,” “Chemicals React,” and of course, “Potential Breakup Song.” Set all those tween pop memories aside and listen to the new single for what it is.

“Take Me” is inspired by the pop hits of the 80s. Fans have been comparing the new sound to Carly Rae Jepsen and modern-day Paramore. The music video, which is also 80s-inspired, shows the sisters as vampires in reference to the lyric “I know that you would want it if I could sink my teeth into you.” It gives off a more grown-up vibe for the sisters, who are now 28 and 26 years old. They have left their Disney Channel days behind.

“Take Me” is the duo’s first release in ten years aside from a 2009 single called “Hothouse” released under the name 78violet. The name change was supposed to signify a change in image for the sisters, but they canceled the album they were planning on releasing and decided to go back to their original name. They held off on putting out new music until now—their EP, appropriately named Ten Years, is set to release this October. Until then, you can watch the music video for “Take Me” on repeat and rejoice that Aly & AJ have returned.

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Warm Glow EP by Hippo Campus

K.P. Peters | September 2017

Hippo Campus is back with an unexpected EP titled Warm Glow. The EP contains three songs: “Baseball,” “Traveler,” and the title track.

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           The band successfully delivers hypnotic melodies with complimentary guitar. They mix a folk feel with an indie rock sound and create the irresistible appeal that is known as Hippo Campus. The lyrics of each track are meaningful and catchy. My favorite line goes, “my bones are tired of the body that woke me up today.”

            “Baseball” starts the EP off with a sound slightly different from their past. The first few lines are missing the band’s iconic harmonics. Though the vocals are different than expected, the song still maintains their notable sound.

            “Traveler” is the ideal middle song. It has all the things we’ve come to love about Hippo Campus: lyrical annunciations that create a unique melody, beautiful guitar and a sing song feel that anyone could sway to. This song centers around the idea of waiting for a girl who keeps letting them down. It’s beautiful sadness disguised in a pleasant song. Personally, I can’t wait to see the crowd screaming, “for a girl that I can’t see” along with the band.

            The EP concludes with the title track. This song is more mellow than the rest of them. Riding on slow guitar and sweet vocals, it is the perfect end to the new release. I strongly recommend you start every “warm glow” morning off with this band set on repeat.

CHON, Tera Melos, & Covet

Simon Handmaker | June 11, 2017

Math rock occupies a weird space in the terrain of modern music, something mostly owed to its dichotomous stylings and elusive, hard-to-pin-down nature as a genre. Like all genres, different bands incorporate their own flourishes into the hallmark sound and tropes that give the genre its distinct personality, but with math rock, these flourishes can lead to wildly different sounding groups that attract audiences that are, at times, polar opposites. 


CHON’s “Homey” Tour is a perfect example of this: of the four bands here - CHON, Tera Melos, Little Tybee, and Covet - only the first and last of these bear much sonic resemblance to one another. This pair shares a more relaxed, instrumental sound, full of reverberating major chords and Guthrie Govan-esque solos that somehow manage to sound chilled-out while shredding up the fretboard. Tera Melos and Little Tybee, however, couldn’t be more different and still find any common ground with their tourmates, or each other. The former is absolute sonic chaos; the three virtuosic musicians of Tera Melos seem at times to be playing entirely different songs, drums, guitar, and bass kaleidoscoping around one another in complex polyphonies before melting into ambient interludes or brief, chunky grooves. Little Tybee, on the other hand, plays almost hypnagogic, jazzy indie-pop, only connected to the other three bands by virtue of their talented, technical use of their instruments. 


It’s been awhile since any of these bands have been out on the road, so the Cobra Lounge show sold out pretty soon after it was announced. Especially impressive, considering it was a weeknight, but the enthusiasm was certainly there for these groups. The venue was already crowded by the time Covet took the stage, and although their set was brief, this Californian trio wowed the gathered audience. Guitar powerhouse Yvette Young set the bar unrealistically high for the following acts: her playing was pristine and her demanding style of writing sounded just as good live as it does on record. Bassist David Adamiak, while not playing particularly technical stuff himself, was clearly in tune with his bandmates, swaying and grooving to the music constantly, and Keith Grimshaw’s drumwork, while sparse and not as imaginative or jazzy as it could have been, was on point. Any reservations were shattered at the beginning of the first song, and their set was equal parts impressively performed and pleasantly enjoyable, matching the tone of their music perfectly.


Following their set, Tera Melos took the stage. (Little Tybee was supposed to play between these two acts, but van problems prevented them from making it to Chicago in time for the show.) For a band that invokes such a tornado of barely-organized chaos in the recording studio, their live show was pretty cohesive: each member of the trio was locked in with the other two and brought an insane amount of energy to an altogether incredible show. Pulling mostly from the math-rock-goes-pop vibes of their most recent two records, Patagonian Rats and x’ed out, their set alternated between relaxed and explosive; the recurring modus operandi was to let loose bombastic freakouts before mellowing out for a little while, giving the audience a chance to recuperate before the next explosion of energy. It worked perfectly, and their set went off without a hitch.


There was a surprisingly long break between Tera Melos and CHON, given that the latter had all their gear already set up on stage behind the former. By the time the young foursome had taken stage, audience anticipation was tangible. Having seen the band before, I had a solid idea of what to expect from their show, and it was mostly the same: really, really clean playing, but almost zero stage presence or audience interaction. Anybody who wanted to come to this show to hear music played live almost perfectly would have walked away happy, but those who expected a performance of any sort were surely disappointed by the band. None of CHON’s members did much beyond sway slightly while playing their instruments, which doesn’t really lead to a whole lot of excitement or fun. It’s easy to be impressed by how smooth they sound for a couple tracks, but anywhere beyond fifteen minutes into their show and you start to realize that seeing them live is basically wasted money when you could just listen to their records and get pretty much the exact same effect. It’s not an enticing prospect to just go watch four guys stand on a stage and noodle for upwards of a half hour while just standing there.


Overall, though, this was far from a bad show. All the bands sounded great, and even though the night’s capstone was relatively underwhelming, there’s still something to be said for just being around other people while listening to the music. If you’re a fan of any of the bands on this tour, I’d highly recommend seeing it, because it’s tough to not walk away satisfied with the opening acts, even if the headliner themselves doesn’t exactly take the cake.
 

Remo Drive and Hippo Campus

K.P. Peters | May 2017

Last night, Hippo Campus closed out their tour at the Metro. They were opened by rock band Remo Drive. Remo Drive is a three-piece band made up of Erik Paulson (vocals/guitar), Stephen Paulson (bass), and Sam Mathys (drums). This band combines powerful lyrics that are reminiscent of 2000’s pop punk bands, with catchy riffs and enticing drums. Erik Paulson sings with a pop punk vocal style, but somehow makes this band something more than all the other pop punks. Remo Drive uses interesting drum fills and guitar riffs to take their sound to the next level. They moved the drummer to center stage, allowing the crowd to see his energetic performance (possibly the most captivating drummer ever). Apart from their music, he was the best part of the performance.

After Remo Drive revved up the crowd, Hippo Campus took the stage. The band filled the venue with a sold out show, and boy did they deliver. The band describes themselves as “kinda pop.” That is the best way to describe their upbeat and melody driven, yet mellow sound.

Hippo Campus started the show with “Sun Veins”, and slowly progressed into “Way it Goes”. I’ve listened to this transition a number of times on the album, but there is nothing like seeing it live. Hippo Campus effortlessly blended the tracks together and took the crowd away with their smooth vocals.

I won’t lie, I was a little weary going to see this band live because their songs maintain a strong vocal presence that often changes octaves suddenly. Hippo Campus put those worries to bed.  The band executed every harmony, and transition flawlessly. They worked together like a well-functioning machine. Even from the crowd you could tell that they were all close friends. When they weren’t dancing all over the stage or reaching out to fans, they were interacting with each other.

I was more than impressed by their performance of “South”, and taken away when they brought Remo Drive on stage to sing with them during “Buttercup”. Personally, I can’t wait to see them at a number of music festivals this summer including Lollapalooza.

Hippo Campus' Landmark puts them on the map

Emily Cosgrove | May 2017

Photo: Alice Baxley

Photo: Alice Baxley

As Hippo Campus heads to Metro tonight performing a rescheduled sold out show due to illness, I decided to look back onto their most recent work. After releasing several EPs and singles, Hippo Campus has come out with their first full-length album, Landmark--and it does not disappoint. 

Hippo Campus is a band that I have been hearing about for quite a while now. Their name is plastered on festival lineups, I have heard plenty of their songs, and I even saw them in September of 2015 at the House of Blues in Chicago. They are a band with a lot of buzz surrounding them, so I thought I should delve deeper and really give them a listen.

Landmark is all around a fantastic first full album. Other than being well-rounded, it manages to achieve and maintain an indie-sound while still being able to appeal to the general music listener. I fully enjoyed listening to it and wanted to review a few of my favorite tracks from the album.

The album opens up with the track “Sun Veins”. The only way I can describe this tune is chilling and enigmatic, with muffled vocals and electronic beats. It made me wonder what the rest of the album could possibly sound like. 

Next, we head into the second track called “Way It Goes”. This song could not be any more different than the opening track. It is upbeat and memorable; a perfect song to listen to on a dreamy summer day.

We have quite a few songs in the similar pop-sounding vein of “Way It Goes” (but don’t get me wrong, they are all phenomenal). Then we are hit with a track that blew my mind. “Poems” is the eighth track on the album, and is filled with emotion. The soft vocals are accompanied by dynamic instrumentals; this is a song on Landmark that really changes the pace of the album.

The next track, “Monsoon”, also features more emotional depth to the album. It focuses on the vocals, which gives the song a certain rawness that helps Landmark achieve an impressively mature sound.

One of my favorite tracks is “Boyish”, which was the first single released before the album was even announced. It allows this album to come full circle. We have another catchy song in a pop framework that I feel really captures what Hippo Campus is all about: it’s dreamy, it’s fun, it’s chill. 

Landmark was a great first full-length effort from Hippo Campus. I have to say, for a newer band, I am pretty impressed. This album shifted my view of Hippo Campus from just another indie rock band full of 21-year olds to a band who has what it takes to become the next big thing. 
 

Wavves release You’re Welcome four days prior to Chicago tour date

Nikki Roberts | May 2017

I couldn’t be more pumped to see Wavves at the Bottom Lounge with Post Animal this coming Tuesday night. To add to the excitement of what I’m sure will be an incredible show; the band released their sixth album, You’re Welcome, on Friday, May 19th.

Overall Rating: B++

Wavves is a rarity to me in the sense that every album they put out trumps their previous release, both musically and lyrically. You’re Welcome is a compilation of 12 songs that prove Wavves’s growing musical maturity. Additionally, this is definitely my favorite Wavves album lyrically.

 Personal Favorite: “Animal”

Artwork Rating: C+

While I’m a fan of the color scheme (especially since it means the record is being released on blue vinyl), I’ve come to expect killer artwork from Wavves, so bold text on a solid background was more than just a bit of a disappointment. You’re Welcome is easily the worst album cover of the band’s six full length releases. Hopefully any promotional artwork from this tour will be redeeming for this flop.

Average Song Rating (out of 10): 7.5

Daisy: 8.5

It’s easy to see why this song was chosen as both the opening track and the first single released off You’re Welcome. “Daisy” sets the tone for the entire album and demonstrates Wavves’s increasing musical maturity that is displayed in the following 11 tracks.

You’re Welcome: 6.5

The title track of the album draws in listeners with classic, catchy Wavves hooks. However, I feel like "You're Welcome" is one of the weaker songs on the album due to its simple structure and lyrical redundancy. My favorite part of the song are the opening lyrics, "sand trap, heart attack, pulling on a cigarette // low life, your life, sharper than a hunting knife." 

No Shade: 7

“No Shade” is reminiscent of something that easily could have fit in on V, the band’s fifth full length album. What sets it apart is its complex musical rhythms. Well- complex for a Wavves song.

Million Enemies: 8

The third single released prior to the album’s release date, this song took a while to grow on me. However, its thick distortion and diving bass line eventually won it a spot as one of my top songs on the album. Additionally, Nathan’s ability to poke fun at the band’s redundant song structures (“Another identical verse…”) is admirable.

Hollowed Out: 7

“Hollowed Out” showcases more vocal variety than Wavves has demonstrated in the past. This track is also one of my favorite tracks lyrically on You’re Welcome. Plus, who can resist the band’s trademark “weehoos”?

Come to the Valley: 7.5

Simplistic and catchy with two distinct, repetitive sections, this track reinforces Wavves’s image as a poppy surf rock band. Crack open a couple of brews and get situated on the beach for this one.

Animal: 9

“Animal” wins it all for me. By far my favorite track on the album, this song features my favorite lyrics from You’re Welcome, “the whole world covered in gasoline and burnin’ alive // I feel taken advantage of and empty inside.” Contrary to these lyrics, the song isn’t a total bummer-

Stupid in Love: 6

To me, “Stupid in Love” is the weak track of the album. What saves its rating is a fantastic, building chorus, which I will be screaming my voice out to on Tuesday night.

Exercise: 6.5

“Exercise” makes me a bit nostalgic for King of the Beach, the band’s first??? full length release. Its fast pace, thinner vocals and sudden key changes are a throwback to the band’s earlier days.

Under: 7.5

Beginning with an electronic beat, “Under” is a distinct indicator of Wavves’s changing style musical direction. As a long time fan, it’s exciting to see the band experimenting and growing more mature with the way they approach their craft.

Dreams of Grandeur: 8

“Dreams of Grandeur” is yet another reason that You’re Welcome is my favorite album in the band’s discography regarding lyrical content.

I Love You: 9

Wavves definitely nailed their opening and closing tracks on You’re Welcome. A ballad of unrequited love, “I Love You”’s guitar is the sexiest thing on this album and an excellent ending the band’s sixth release.