"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.

Midnight by Lewis Watson

Saloni Jaisingh | May 2017

After a break of three years, singer-songwriter Lewis Watson embarked on his return through the release of his new album, midnight. Watson returned home to England and into the studio with a live band to record this 11-track album. Under the production of Anthony West (of Oh Wonder), the album was completed in just a few weeks.

Keeping the well-loved acoustic melodies introduced in his preceding EPs and debut album, Watson built upon his musical influences to create a new, eclectic sound. Somewhere between Ed Sheeran-meets-Jack Garratt, midnight is sonically poetic and gentle, whilst instrumentally captivating. From the ambient songs, “slumber” to the nostalgia-inducing hit, “little light”, midnight encompasses the evolution of Lewis Watson as an artist.

Jonathan Richman: The Best Show I Have Ever Seen Live

Emily Cosgrove | April 2017

Over the past few weeks, I had the amazing opportunity to see THE Jonathan Richman live and in the flesh, not once, but TWICE. For those of you out there who do not know who the iconic Jonathan Richman is, shame on you. Just kidding, but you really need to check out this guy. He is truly a living legend.

For a little bit of background, Jonathan Richman was formerly the front man of a rock band called The Modern Lovers. The band was formed in 1970, but their recordings weren’t released until over six years later, and they actually only have one full album. They didn’t have much popularity while they were actually a band, but their sound was way before its time and paved the way for much of the new wave and punk rock movement. Some of the former members even went on to join bands like The Cars and Talking Heads. Crazy, right?

Later on, Jonathan went on to perform in different incarnations of The Modern Lovers, but the music heavily strayed to a more storytelling, folk-driven, and oftentimes comedic style. He eventually went on to a solo career, which he still pursues to this day at age 65.

 I got into The Modern Lovers about two years ago, but never really was aware of Richman’s solo career until maybe six months ago. Once I heard his stuff, I was hooked. His song “I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar” became my PARTY ANTHEM (seriously, listen to it). I constantly found myself checking different concert websites, desperately awaiting the day that I finally saw a Chicago tour date featuring Jonathan Richman. Then one day, MY LIFE CHANGED.

I was sitting in a bathroom of a music venue at U of I (don’t ask), when I saw the most beautiful words appear before my eyes on a poster for a venue called The Accord. It read: APRIL 1st, JONATHAN RICHMAN W/ TOMMY LARKINS ON THE DRUMS. I just about died. Even though the show was going to be two and a half hours away at a college I was not a huge fan of, I KNEW I HAD TO GO. I immediately went home and bought my tickets to see Jonathan at The Accord. Soon after that, I got a notification that Jonathan Richman would be performing at Lincoln Hall about two weeks after the U of I show. TICKETS BOUGHT.

So, let’s get to the reason I’m writing this article: the shows themselves. The first show at The Accord was life changing, to say the least. I am going to be honest, lately I find myself not enjoying going to shows as much as I used to. Maybe it is because I have seen too many bands that are awful live. Maybe it is because I hate crowds lately. Either way, I was excited for this show, but my expectations were set low at first.

Jonathan performed the show on guitar with his drummer Tommy Larkins (whom he has been with for 24 years!). I was not enthused, I thought it would be pretty lame since there wasn’t a backing band. BUT I WAS SO WRONG. Jonathan went through a ton of songs, most of which I did not know, but I enjoyed every minute of it. I was standing front row, and let me tell you, the man makes such intense eye contact with each and every single person in the audience. He sings into your soul. Seriously, that is the only way I can describe it.

He sang songs in Italian, Spanish, French, and of course, English. He ad-libs, does funny dances, prances around the stage with bells and maracas. You can tell the man doesn’t take himself too seriously, but what he does take seriously is his passion for performing. He isn’t the best singer, but that is all part of his charm. He has such raw emotion and power to his voice. You can just feel it. I have never experienced anything like that at a concert performance. Throughout the entire show, I had a gigantic smile on my face. A big, stupid smile I couldn’t get rid of; so big that my cheeks hurt at the end of the show.

The show at Lincoln Hall was similar, but even better, if that is possible. He added a few new songs to the set list and switched it up a bit, which I was excited about because he actually sang some Modern Lovers songs. He seemed even more comedic, more passionate, and more enthusiastic this time, which I didn’t even think was possible.

There is not enough that can be said about Jonathan Richman. I cannot believe that I am so fortunate to have seen a living legend like him twice in such a short period of time. I’ll say it now and I’ll say it again: the only way to know if an artist is a great performer is if you can attend one of their shows not knowing a single song, yet still enjoy it. Even though I knew a few songs Jonathan played, most of them I did not know. Some were even in a different language! Yet, I was still captivated the whole time. This was still one of the best performances I have ever seen.

Bottom line: if you ever get a chance to see this man live, DO IT. Drive miles and miles if you have to. He is mesmerizing, he is enthralling, and he is everything that is good in this world. It is 100% worth it.

Judge Judy and Executioner Takes the Stage

K.P. Peters | April 2017

Max Bottner, DePaul Dropout, performed a solo set for his band Judge Judy and Executioner April 8th at Club Soda. 

After deciding to leave DePaul’s film program, Bottner is refocusing his energy on music. The artist says he realized that film wasn’t what he really wanted to do, but making music makes him happy. With only two quarters under his belt, Bottner has tons of love and support from the DePaul community, which was clear by the friends that cheered him on in the crowd.

Though a solo set is unusual for the band, Max did an excellent job. He won the crowd over with musical talent, humorous stage presence, and great tunes. Throughout his performance, Max matched his baritonecore style music with mouth-organs and guitar playing. For those of you not at the show, baritonecore is how Bottner describes his music, which is shaped around deep vocals. Mouth-organs refers to the plethora of harmonicas he played. This music is something you shouldn’t miss out on again.

 

A Punk Rock Gallery Unites the Music Community

Nikki Roberts | April 2017

On April 1st, I attended the Ramones: What is this, punk rock? Nope.  It is a photo show at the Co-Prosperity Sphere in Bridgeport. Nearly thirty-seven years ago, photographer Frank Jackowiak not only saw the Ramones play at College of Dupage in Glen Ellyn, IL during the band's college tour in 1980, but he also photographed the then up-and-coming punk group. 
 

 

Ramones: What is this punk rock? // April 1st, 2017

"They put on a performance, like a heart and soul performance. Every ounce of energy was in that. Like I said-musical perfection," said Jackowiak while reminiscing about the concert. 

The show came into existence when Jackowiak decided to take his set of 3.5 x 5.5 prints from the Ramones show out of a manilla envelope and show them to his curator and friend, Leilani Arguello. Thus, the idea for a punk rock photo show was born.

"What we wanted to do when we talked about doing a show was have an experience that was more than visual. We wanted it to be auditory; that's why the band is here," explained Jackowiak. "We wanted it to be tactile; that's why you got swag and there's food so you can socialize and it's like eating off the band's deli tray."

The photo show certainly accomplished its goal of creating a backstage vibe for its viewers. From the moment I entered the community center, I was greeted with VIP treatment. Along with the other guests in attendance at the free event, I was handed a lanyard with an all access pass that read "VIP RAMONES WHAT IS THIS PUNK ROCK ALL ACCESS" and directed towards the open bar and snack table. 

Jackowiak's blown up photos of Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, and Marky adorned the walls of the community center, along with text, chalk art, and collages that all held relevance to the College of DuPage show. 
 

ramonesphotocollage

 

Ramones photo collage

In addition to the visual art, The Ungrateful Punks preformed an energy packed 43 minute set of Ramones songs while the crowd sang along and contributed a few "Gabba Gabba Hey!"s. The group even invited Jackowiak up to take over vocals during a handful of songs.
 
 

ungratefulpunks

 

The Ungrateful Punks

The photo show was much more than just an opportunity to showcase long forgotten photos, however. Jackowiak expressed that his goals for the event included challenging viewers to pursue their art, encouraging viewers to meet new people, and to spread positivity within the artistic community. Inspired by the effort put into the photo show, Professor Moptop of WXRT hosted similar Beatles themed events at the College of DuPage. It seems that Jackowiak's dream to influence others to create is already in motion.

"We're hoping that people walk out of here, and they get a positive feeling. Maybe they walk out and say 'well I should get my band back together,' or 'maybe I should finish that pottery project,' or 'I should write that book'; something positive. Especially today, I think anything that can be done as a positive thing for someone else is what every body needs...we're hoping people come out this door and go 'what the fuck just happened here?'"

After this weekend, the photo show will continue to run by appointment only. However, you can see Jackowick's photos this Friday and Saturday from 6-9pm at the Bridgeport Prosperity Sphere at 3219 S. Morgan. On Saturday night, the community space will also be hosting Zine Fest, so swing by to check out the latest work from a variety of local artists! 
 

Beach Bunny

Nikki Roberts | March 2017

beachbunny

Singer-songwriter Lili Trifillio, better known as Beach Bunny, has been sending infectious waves of her surf-pop sound throughout Chicago for nearly two years. Currently a sophomore at DePaul, Beach Bunny’s love of music began when she picked up a guitar in the 5th grade. “Music has always been present in my life,” said Beach Bunny. “For a while, I was in an indie girl duo called fingers x crossed. However, as time passed, Beach Bunny evolved into a solo project in 2015.”
 
Her first release, ANIMALISM, came out in December of 2015 and draws heavily from female inspirations such as Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast and Molly Rankin of Alvvays. In my opinion, the standout track of the EP is “6 Weeks” due to its powerful chorus. By varying the chorus during the song’s outro, Beach Bunny shows off her impressive vocal range and ability. Heartbreak is an overarching theme of the EP, but the singer also gives credit to her friends in groups Oceans & Oceans and Home Burial for encouraging and inspiring her as both an artist and an individual.
 
Beach Bunny next followed up with Pool Party, which was released late last summer and is filled to the brim with sunny surf vibes. This 5-track EP features her smooth, rich vocals paired with dainty, melodic guitar lines. My personal favorites from this release are the opening track, “July,” and the fourth track, “Ghost.” “July” sets the tone for the EP with lyrics that reminisce about memorable summer moments. On the other hand, I enjoy “Ghost” because the vocals are passionate, compelling, and cover a larger range than the rest of the songs on the EP. Pool Party is the perfect soundtrack for spring; it's great for coping with Chicago's wintery March while simultaneously paving the way for summer 2017, which happens to be when Beach Bunny will be releasing her next EP, Crybaby.
 
While the lyrical content, drawn both from heartbreak and inspiration from her friends, will be similar to her past releases, the young singer promises Crybaby will be a step above her previous releases in terms of quality and sound. Beach Bunny describes the sound of her upcoming EP as “the feeling you get when ice cream melts.” As of now, Crybaby is set to be released on June 1st.

If you’d like to hear her surf sound live, Beach Bunny will be preforming at a variety of Chicago venues over the course of the next few months. Be sure to catch her at the Greenhouse on April 1st at 8 pm, and later that night at Prismatic at 9 pm. She will also be appearing at Sidestreet on April 21st at 6:30 pm, at The Drunken Donut in Joliet, IL at 7:40 pm, and at the DePaul Lounge on May 11th.

The Internet - Steve Lacy's Demo

Lela Gaye | March 2017

I’m having an existential music crisis. For the past few months I’ve been in the headspace that if I am not recommended new music, my friends don’t like it, or I don't randomly discover artists from a concert then I won't listen to it. I just don’t have time to filter through good and bad because there is too much music out here. Steve Lacy’s Demo was something I discovered on my own and I am so glad I took a chance with. Recently The Internet (the band, not the indescribable source of information) has been constantly on my playlists. Their third album, Ego Death, had such a smooth and new sound. The mixes and features from Kaytranada, Vic Mensa, and Goldlink are genius.
 
Every member of this band adds really different tones to the music. Individually their performances on their solo projects are truly unique, but still have similar remnants of The Internet. 18-year-old band member Steve Lacy dropped a “song series” about two weeks ago. He says, “This isn’t an album because that's coming later. I just needed to get this music out.” His producing and guitar playing in The Internet is fresh and smooth but, on his project, entitled Steve Lacy’s Demo, Steve shows off his vocal ability. The first song on the demo, titled Looks, is a dance track that taps into attraction and desire. Not only is he skillful in writing, guitar playing, singing, and producing but being the millennial he is, Lacy recorded the entire project on his iPhone. Often, people think you can only record in a studio and you need so much money to book a studio, but that's played out. Lacy simply takes his smartphone out and records that shit.
 
If you are looking for hard chords with sweet melodies this is your guy. This is our first listen to a body of work from Lacy before his album drops. I just hope it’s coming within the next few months, at least before 2017 ends.

Interdependence’s New Single Explains What It Means To Be “Human”

Nikki Roberts | March 2017

Interdependence is a three-piece goth/punk band based out of Orland Park. After releasing a five-track EP entitled Self Destructive, in October of 2015, the band is preparing to release their debut album in May of this year.
 
To build anticipation for the band’s full-length debut Interdependence released “Human”, the first single from their upcoming album, on March 10th. Typically, singles are meant to be representative of the musical or thematic content of the entire album from which they are released. For this reason, “Human” is a peculiar first single, because it is a nearly five-and-a-half-minute long rock ballad.
 
When I first listened to “Human” I immediately envisioned it as a My Chemical Romance bonus track. The opening guitar line is somewhat reminiscent of Green Day’s sound on their album 21st Century Breakdown. The song features two male vocalists: one who sings the verses and one who sings a lyrical bridge; there is no distinguished lyrical chorus. At the end of the song their voices come together for the outro. The lyrics of “Human” are about remembering a lost love and the emotions the singer still clings to about this lost love. One lyric that stood out to me was “your voice rings out like my favorite tune”. The somber, yet hopeful, lyric adds to the song’s overall air of nostalgia.

A Night with The Growlers

Emily Cosgrove | March 10, 2017

The Growlers show I attended at the Metro this past Friday was a show I had been looking forward to for a very long time. I am a huge fan of the band; I previously saw them at the Metro in the fall of 2015, and also saw them more recently at Thalia Hall last September. Since I am a fan and had seen them multiple times, I sort of had an idea of what to expect, yet this show held many surprises.
 
One thing that caught me by surprise was that this show was all about The Growlers. Bands typically have one or two openers, especially at a big venue such as the Metro. In fact, every time I have seen The Growlers they have had an opener. But this time, there was no openers, which allowed the band to play for almost two and a half hours! This completely blew my mind. The Growlers were able to play hit after hit, off of their extensive past discography and their newest album City Club.
 
Something that really defines The Growlers is their unique sound, which they coined as “beach goth”. The only way I can describe this sound is a gypsy-esque, surfer sound, mixed with a million other influences. This wide array of influences really gives The Growlers their own unique sound of which I have never heard another band encompass.
 
Their uniqueness of sound allows them to adopt a very chill performance quality. Although Brooks Nielsen (the lead singer of The Growlers), may not be a crazy, in-your-face front man, he somehow manages to capture the audience’s complete attention with his cool, laidback persona. The whole band does not do much more than sway around, yet somehow they are able to put on an incredibly entertaining performance due to their catchy, original songs and flamboyant style.
 
The Growlers are a band I will continue to see over and over again live. They never disappoint, and always put on a great show. I was even more impressed with them after this most recent show. They established that they are not only talented and entertaining, but are able to play an extremely long set filled with all of their classics, which is a true gift to their fans.

KO from MØ

K.P. Peters | March 2017

Though pop is a guilty pleasure of mine I must admit, MØ was an amazing performance. She owned the stage like it was the only place she could have been, even though she spent very little time there. MØ performed laying down, in the crowd, on the balcony; basically anywhere and everywhere she could. She was high energy and the crowd loved it. This sold out show had everyone singing along and falling in love with her amazing performance. One of the most notable things, besides her high energy, was the use of strobe lights. They were set back stage, illuminating MØ from behind. This gave her an otherworldly appearance. The show truly was surreal.

MØ is a young Danish singer-songwriter, most notably known for hits like Kamikaze and Final Song. Her mix of powerful vocals and bubbly synths makes every song a hit. She combines romantic lyrics with a fun beat and a powerful performance, all this means I would happily walk through the snow to see her anytime.

If you are a fan of Grimes, Twin Shadow or anything in that genre I strongly recommend you give MØ a listen.

Sofar, So Good

K.P. Peters | March 12, 2017

Last night, March 12, Sofar put on a private show just for DePaul students.

It showcased Kaina (@kaifu), Femdot (@femdotdotcom), and Iris Temple (@iristemplemusic) all of whom are DePaul musicians.

This Sofar concert was the most intimate show I have ever been too. All the musicians kept the music as simple as possible and expressed the emotion behind it in a beautiful way.

The first act, Kaina, blew the crowd away with her amazing vocals and harmonies. The best of her songs was Run. After her soulful performance Hip-hop star Femdot took the stage, or carpet. His quirky personality illuminated the room, making the crowd smile by performing into a remote and including us in all the songs. Last but not least was Iris Temple, who performed an all acoustic set. Their performance gave off a very folksy vibe, which is much different from their fully produced work. The band seamlessly mended both vocalists with the guitar and drum.

All in all, SoFar was so good. Anyone interested in the most intimate concert experience should attend a local show. Impressively, SoFar has roots in over 300 cities. Though it started in London, Chicago has become its 4th largest city. I know I am definitely looking forward to going to another show, and you should too.

Check out more information about SoFar Chicago and SoFar global at the links below.
https://www.sofarsounds.com/chicago
https://www.sofarsounds.com

Mickey Avalon Live @ Bottom Lounge

mickeyavalon

Emily Cosgrove | March 2017

This past Friday I went to see Mickey Avalon at Bottom Lounge, and I had NO idea what to expect. I had heard of Mickey Avalon because some of my friends are fans, and I knew of the songs “My Dick” and “Jane Fonda”, of which he is probably most famous for. I just sort of went on a whim because my friend really likes him and asked me if I wanted to go. I was not expecting much, but WOW, he is one of the most entertaining performers I have seen in a long, long time.
 
For those of you who do not know Mickey Avalon, he is a 41-year-old rapper who has been making music for over 10 years. A lot of his songs focus on controversial topics, like drugs and sex, based off of a lot of experiences from his wild past. His whole persona is extremely sleazy, raunchy, and provocative, yet he somehow manages to evoke pure sex appeal.
 
My friends and I were able to get really close to the front because his audience was mostly made up of people in their early thirties who weren’t obnoxious enough to be pushing and shoving one another (thank god because that is honestly something I cannot stand at certain concerts).
 
Mickey started his set and immediately I was super intrigued. He has such a suave, nonchalant vibe about him while he performs. He doesn’t use any big production while he is on, all he has is a DJ in the background playing off of a MacBook. BUT, what he does have is an AMAZING backup dancer who comes on during some of the songs.
 
I was super interested in how he incorporates a dancer onstage, so I looked up who the dancer is. Her name is Jillian Schmitz, and she is a professional dancer who has been in the industry for years. What she does onstage at Mickey’s shows is very reminiscent of burlesque, but not in the classic sense—she comes on in little cheerleader outfits or sexy lingerie, dancing and doing stripteases to Mickey’s songs. They have great chemistry on stage and half of the time she steals the show from an already great performer.
 
I always say that there is one way to know if an artist is a good performer: if you can go to their show without really knowing any of their songs, but still have a great time. Mickey Avalon played his hits and some new songs, and with the assistance of his bad-ass dancer Jillian, had an amazing show that I won’t forget.

Punk Rock Opera "American Idiot"

Jina Bute | March 2017


Expanding from punk rock band Green Day’s 2004 concept album American Idiot, this rock opera of the same name centers around three young men, Johnny, Will, and Tunny. Each of these three characters must learn to adapt to new lifestyles, as Johnny and Tunny flee their suburban home, while Will stays home to support his pregnant girlfriend. American Idiot addresses common themes in coming-of-age storylines such as searching for meaning in life, drug experimentation, military enlistment and relationships and heartbreak.
 
“What is the worst that could happen in our nation under a new media? A punk rock song cycle of political confusion, a war with oneself, a war at home, a war with the world. Who are the people that will stand in your corner and fight? Are they informed? Are you informed? Between the tweets, Facebook propaganda, and alternative facts, do you know what is worth fighting for? Are you ready to escape or give in? Do you feel homesick for places you have never been? Hearts you have never loved? What does it mean to be an American? An Idiot? Forget the story. Remember the message. Look at the world. It is bigger than the bubble you live in. Punk rock saved my life, or did it? P.S. Open your fucking eyes.” –Director’s Note

 Between each scene and even before the show started, clips of various political events and controversies played, such as Trump’s presidential campaign and public speaker Milo Yiannopoulos, to establish the atmosphere of political unrest. The production included all songs from the original album, as well as select songs from album 21st Century Breakdown. The score also included original songs and closed with “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” sung by the whole cast as the audience chimed in at the end.
 
Some of the best musical numbers included “Jesus of Suburbia,” “Holiday,” “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and “She’s A Rebel.” While not all of the cast members’ solos stood out, Niki-Charisse Franco as Whatshername is who really stole the spotlight of the show. The cast as a whole offered a presentation of multiculturalism and other notable cast members include Robert Johnson as Will and Daven Taba as Tunny.

While only half of the cast members really shined, the fun choreography and sequence of the score still made the production very enjoyable. If you are a Green Day fan, you will definitely have the urge to sing and dance along; and even if you are not, the overall energy and enthusiasm will still provide you with a good time. With plenty of middle fingers, sex and sense of rebellion, Green Day’s American Idiot punk rock opera shows society what punk rock is really all about.

Playing At
Prop Theatre, 3505 N. Elston Avenue
www.PropThtr.org
Showtimes from March 3-19

What's Up with All Time Low's "Dirty Laundry"?

Lauren Stufflebeam | February 2017

All Time Low may not be the scrappy band from Maryland that we all grew up with anymore.

Since 2003, this band has clawed its way to stardom with every album they released. All Time Low has bounced around 4 different labels and released 6 albums with a 7th on the way. All Time Low is definitely not the "straight out of high school" pop punk band it used to be. On February 17th, the veteran band cemented its path of change with a brand new single. The single, entitled "Dirty Laundry", is the first song released with the band's new label, Fueled by Ramen. This coming June, All Time Low's new album called "Last Young Renegade" will be debuted. 

When I first popped in my earbuds to give "Dirty Laundry" a listen, my mouth about dropped to the floor. Immediately, I knew the "Dear Maria" days were over, and that this album would stray far away from a pop punk sound. The song starts off with gentle synth and low calming vocals from the band's lead singer, Alex Gaskarth. The beginning verses are nothing notable, especially since Alex Gaskarth has an impressive vocal range to flex. The chorus hits so smoothly, you almost don't realize that you are listening to it. Much to my surprise, the chorus ended with a high note that melts into the melody of the song. Although the chorus is not complex, it is entirely enjoyable and easy to listen to. The part of the song that took me aback the most was the bridge. Suddenly, the song bursts into the band that I was familiar with, leaving me happily surprised. All Time Low took the gentle melody and put some muscle behind it in order to make something new. "Dirty Laundry" left me utterly puzzled for a couple of days. After much thought, I came upon a consensus on what to make of this single. 

"Dirty Laundry" sounded like two different songs the first time I listened to it. However, there's a specific reason why the song was built the way it was. "Dirty Laundry" is one giant crescendo of emotion and a symbol of change. Alex was explicit in stating that the world is not the place we all thought it was and that All Time Low was ready to leap headfirst into change. The band does that single handedly with this song. They subtly proclaim their new voice, while simultaneously reminding fans that they remember their past. The upcoming album, "Last Young Renegade", will no doubt be another poignant statement from the band.

It's time to say goodbye to the "Dear Maria" days, but hold on for a new surprise just around the corner. 

Something New to "Love" by Lana

Emily Cosgrove | February 2017

On Saturday, the indie darling Lana Del Rey released her first single in almost a year, called “Love”. The queen of nostalgia kept us waiting, but for good reason: this song is very good. It stays true to her melancholic style, and is very reminiscent of the moody material she is well-known for. Yet, something stands out about this track. It adds an almost electronic, pulsing beat in the background throughout the song. At one point, it even pays a subtle homage to The Beach Boys, with the words “don’t worry baby”, repeated over and over again in her soft, velvety voice.
 
Two days after the initial release of “Love”, she released a video accompanying it, which is very similar to her past videos. It alternates between a few different shots, the first in all black and white, with lots of up close shots of her shy, doe-eyed face singing longingly into the camera. Throughout the video, some other shots are featured, shots that would seem random to someone who is not acquainted with her previous work. They feature grainy images of people driving in a pickup truck, seedy images of party scenes, and people smiling in the sunset. This harkens all the way back to her video for the hit song “Video Games”, which is the track that got her started.
 
In “Love”, Lana Del Rey offers up a new twist on her old material. It might not be anything completely revolutionary or new, but she has truly created a certain niche of music for her and her fans. Although I have said it many times, the feeling of nostalgia is so strong in each of her songs, it almost hurts. She makes her listeners yearn for something, a certain thing that is indescribable. She has simply mastered this concept by using her unique contralto voice, her knack for embodying a vintage aesthetic, and her complete originality.