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.

Ibeyi's Second Album "Ash"

Lela Gaye | October 2017

Twelve.
Twelve days.


It has been twelve days since Ibeyi dropped their second album, “Ash”, and ever since
my head has been spinning in romance for these two talented artists.

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The discovery is quite amazing. It was one of those boring Friday nights when you’re
just scrolling on all your music sites, social media accounts, and different friends’ Spotify
playlists looking for something new. For me, I often end up on one of my Apple Music
playlists that always has something beautiful that slipped through the cracks.


Around about 11:30pm on this Friday night I make it to my “The Late Night Menu”
playlist. Just by the name, I knew I was going get what I needed. Initially I was drawn by
the album art; I was intrigued by this face covered by a paper face. It was so fascinating
that I needed to hear the song that came wrapped in this cover. The song on the playlist
was Ibeyi’s new single “Deathless”, featuring Kamasi Washington.


All I can remember from that listen was needing to share it. It was an unapologetic,
ruthless anthem. The strong instrumentation on “Deathless” is different than their softer
sounding songs such as “Mama Says” or “Stranger/Lover”, but still emotional like every
other song they write. In these TWELVE days I’ve listened to both their albums and
anything else I can dig up.


Again, it has only been TWELVE days since I’ve even discovered and given myself time
to listen to their music, and it is honestly a shame it took me so long to come across
them. I feel like they’ve fulfilled a part of me that I didn't even know I needed.


It is a rarity that a sound so deeply rooted in a mixture of cultures sounds so fresh and
contemporary. Ibeyi is just that. They are composed of twin sisters born in Paris, France
from a black-Cuban father and white French mother. They use the sound their Yoruba
ancestors kept alive to push messages of immortality.

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This new record is a journey of the pride in being a fearless woman, and a story of joy
and hope. There are some great samples and features ranging from Meshell
Ndegeocello to Michelle Obama. I mean, if you ain't intrigued by Michelle Obama, you
ain’t woke!


The duo will be performing at the Metro Chicago for 30 Days in Chicago presented by
Red Bull Sound Effect on November 13th. I’ve already got my tickets and cannot wait to
see them take their sound to the stage.


Hope to see you all there!

"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!

THE NEW SUBURBIA; A review of Hard by The Neighbourhood

Ally Schell | October 2017

With its rock sound The neighbourhood hit the charts in June 2013 with their infamous song “Sweater Weather.” This was the catalyst for many new fans to begin vibing with the band. Jesse Rutherford, the vocalist, provides deep tones along with his band members. Jeremy Freedman, Zach Abels, Mikey Margott, and drummer Brandon Alexander Fried tie this band together. They began their humble beginning in 2012 as they decided to use the british spelling of the band’s name chosen by their manager. Now with two albums out, along with a remix, we waited to see what would be next.

But now, it's here! They taunted us on Twitter by posting the word “Hard” to a wall. Soon after, they released their EP called Hard.

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The first song, “Roll Call,” shows us an even slower and moodier side to this band. They also feature a nice synthesizer over Jesse’s voice that reminisces throughout. If you go back to the Wiped Out! album, this track will connect with“R.I.P 2 My Youth.” “Then we got older, not good.”, Jesse states.

Unlike “Roll Call,” ‘You Get Me So High’ is a simple song that features the beats traditionally expressed in The Neighbourhoods songs. The dropout of the drums, by Alexander, puts emphasis on his lyrics; comprised of wanting things to be the way they used to be because that would make him “high all the time.”

“Noise” starts with a familiar guitar sound that brings us to an Arctic Monkey’s vibe.
“Noise” is distinctively much louder in both instrument and voice to bring rawness to the vocals. He repeats over and over that he doesn’t “want to be like you.” This is a reference to someone who made him feel like he turned into an animal after being with them. Then, there comes a dropout. It is just Jesse at the end of the song exclaiming, “So now I'm second guessing real life and if you left I still wouldn't feel right.” This shows that no matter what has happened, he still doesn’t want to leave. Whether that be the history behind it or that the bad times eventually will become good. No matter what he states he will never be the same.

With light guitar and birds chirping we enter our second to last song “24/7.” “24/7” is about two different people who struggle with time. One is a daddy’s girl who can’t seem to get enough time before her father wants her home, the other is a rebellious guy who is rushing everything but can’t seem to get enough time. Jesse tells them both that he will be there for them whenever and that he will believe in them. He says that they call him whenever, 24/7 even! Then, at the end, he says that we only get enough time and that he worries himself about time. The goal of this song is to bring us all together and listen to each other while we are still here.

Finally, “Sadderdaze” begins. Much like the first song, it’s a lot more mellow. It talks about a boy, most likely younger, who takes time on his Saturdays to strum his guitar and forget about the world. However, once he says “Finally he found a way to reach the sky but he didn't know what he'd find,” he changes his tone. He describes how Saturdays aren’t the way they used to be. He also mentions that he’s is making mistakes now that he is older. He emphasizes this to show that Saturdays are now sadder days and they constantly keep using him.

    All in all, this bracing EP is one for the books! I highly recommend listening. The completion of this EP is a new and eccentric start for The Neighbourhood. But don’t have too much fear, they are the same dudes we know and love with their alternative rock sound at the forefront.

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.

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.