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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Transmission

Concert Mon Jun 30 2008

F#$% Yea Yeah

99.jpgFor many bands the idea of playing two shows in one night might be completely unrealistic, but not for Brooklyn’s darling duo Matt and Kim. In fact, Chicago fans may remember the two separate performances that they rocked at last years Lollapalooza, and how appreciative and energetic each set was. In the last two years, Matt and Kim have toured the world, and brought their vibrant smiles and fast-paced pop punk to crowds of all sizes. To think they started out touring in support of their debut self-titled album in 2006 by playing house shows, and now they are headlining a very aggressive festival tour.


The F Yeah Tour consists of 28 shows in 27 days, and 26 people traveling in a '92 Bluebird bus running on vegetable oil. It is possibly the worst/best idea ever. It is a festival that combines music, comedy, and art, and in years past had only taken place in LA late in August. However, it was also the goal of curator 22 year old Sean Carlson to take the show on the road. So with bands including Matt & Kim, Circle Jerks, Dillinger Four, The Death Set, Monotonix, Crystal Antlers, Dan Deacon, Paint it Black, Team Robespierre, Brother Reade, Japanther, Brutal Knights, Totally Michael, Mannequin Men & more the Bluebird bus will arrive in Chicago on July 3rd. The Chicago line-up will include music from Matt & Kim, Monotonix, Team Robespierre, Mannequin Men & Crystal Antlers, comedy by Nick Flanagan + Hannibal Buress, and artwork from Space 1026. $12 / 7:00pm / All Ages / Stan Mansion / 2408 N Kedzie

Matt & Kim will also be playing at The Hideout on July 3rd as part of a free (RSVP only) show presented by Colt 45 with The Death Set and Hollywood Holt. For more information and to RSVP visit Colt 45.

Jason Behrends / Comments (2)

Concert Mon Jun 30 2008

This Thursday: Charm City art-rockers hit the Bottle


Free-form sampladelic mo-fos: Wzt Hearts

Vibrant independent music scenes don't just sprout up overnight. They're nurtured, they grow, they evolve through the efforts of a number of artists and participants.

Case in point: Baltimore, which was recently ranked as having the nation's "Best Indie Scene" by Rolling Stone magazine. When I had briefly lived in Baltimore about five years ago, the scene in question was starting to gain momentum. There were, however, only a couple of legit venues to accommodate all of the homegrown creative energy that was brewing in the city at the time. It wasn't enough to provide ample room for the variety of local bands that were coming together, let alone to book many of the notable out-of-town artists who came knocking. So people would pull together and find some way to make things happen -- often utilizing one-off, makeshift, or non-sanctioned venues. Sometimes this situation led to ideal experiences; such as being able to see Godspeed You! Black Emperor play in an abandoned church, or being one of only fifty people to circle up and face off with Lightning Bolt's brain-flattening blastitude close-up at an unannounced show in someone's warehouse loft space.

Such was the nature of the scene that the experimental Baltimore outfits Wzt Hearts and Thank You evolved out of. Various members from each group are involved in operating the city's current loft-space venue, Floristree. They're also closely allied with the Wham City collective, and both bands frequently tour and perform together. Wzt Heart's second album, Threads Rope Spell Making Your Bones, was released several months ago on the Carpark label, while Thank You's sophomore album has just appeared via Thrill Jockey. Both bands have been invariably described as "psychedelic," which seems fair enough if put in the tradition of psychedelia's tendency toward leave-no-sound-untreated sensory overload.

Continue reading this entry »

Graham Sanford

Review Fri Jun 27 2008

Explode on Contact

Alltruisms_cd.jpg“Clusterbombs are like rappers… all they need is enough spins”

The image of a stack cd’s falling from a cargo plane and landing in a barren field in Laos or the Sudan or wherever, lying shining and clean in a patch of dry brown grass or sand, is very appealing to me. Waiting for a child to come along and investigate, explore like only a child can, it is motionless, silent until the day it explods in the child’s mind. Filling it images of life, death, war, and love, the mind expands with new ideas on music and the possibilities of life.


Chicago’s Alltruisms, member of Giraffe Nuts crew, is about to drop his debut album Clusterbombs on July 1st. This album is a perfect example of what Chicago hip hop can be. Working with a variety of Chicago producers like Maker (of Glue), Earmint, Overflo and K-Kruz, this album is packed full of beats that explore the roots of Chicago music. Constructing this album over the last four years, Alltru has traveled the world collecting thoughts and stories, and now presents his unique view on life and hip hop in the form on brightly colored, well-design package waiting for the hip hop to pick it up, give it a few spins and watch it explode. If you think hip hop should be about something more then nail polish, skate boards, and pagers, then give my man Alltruisms a good listen.

[MP3] Alltruisms – Nine-Digit #

Clusterbombs will be released on July 1st through Gravel Records, and features appearance by Verbal Kent, Rusty Chains, Doomsday, Roadblok, Mooswangs, J-Zone, and DJ PRZM (R.I.P.). You can stream the album here.

Jason Behrends

Concert Thu Jun 26 2008

Gonna be a Big Star

Haley_Bonar_3.jpg“They all hate you tomorrow when no one buys your single…”

How do you judge success in the modern era of music? Who is a star and who is not a star? One of the main concerns musicians and pr companies have when dealing with on-line media is whether or not the buzz or hype will actually translate to supportive fans. If you believe that it does, then the “Most Blogged Artists” section of Hype Machine would have more meaning then the Billboard Top 200, and we all know that Girl Talk is not out selling Coldplay. In fact, he is releasing his latest album for free. So who is the “Big Star”?


On the title track of her fourth studio album, 24 year-old, Haley Bonar takes an interesting look at the music business. She tells the tale of a musician whisked away and promised the world, only to be dropped when sales don’t meet expectations. It is this view that may explain her loyalty to the small Minnesota label, Afternoon Records, that has released each of her albums. It is clear that the main focus of this young star to make quality music that she can be proud of, and not to be launched and dropped like so many others. The quality of “Big Star” shines through on each intimate track, as she tells the stories of life and the need for substance.

[MP3] Haley Bonar - Big Star

Haley Bonar will be opening for Hayden on Saturday (June 28th) at Schubas. Tickets are $15 and the show starts at 10:30pm. This is a 21+ show. Images above courtsey Dominick Mastrangelo.

Jason Behrends

Contest Thu Jun 26 2008

Really Quick Contest: Get Some Walter Meego

For two (that's 2) lucky readers, we've got some sweet sweet Walter Meego swag to give away. Not only will you get a copy of their new album Voyager, but we'll also send you a poster and some killer stickers, courtesy of Almost Gold Records. Just be the first (and second) to email us at contests (at) gapersblock (dot) com with the subject line: I want some Walter! and we'll whisk the goods out to you ASAP. Not sure what's a Walter Meego? Read about this cool Chicago-born dance music duo in our feature to your right. Update: We have our winners! Thanks to everyone who wrote in!

Anne Holub

Feature Thu Jun 26 2008

Wanna Be a Star: The Rise of Walter Meego

Currently, Chicago is home to three of the "hippest" bands in the country. In rock we have The Russian Circles, in hip-hop The Cool Kids, and in dance music we have Walter Meego. Justin Sconza (vox) and Colin Yarck (beats/synthesizers) grew up in Beverly and Park Ridge respectively, and first met while attending the University of Illinois back in 2003. Self-releasing their self-titled debut ep in 2005, they began to gaining national attention through the support of blogs and a growing number of fans.

However, it wasn't until 2007 that things really started to heat up. The band released its second EP, Romantic (Brilliante Records) and blew crowds away at the SXSW festival. In July 2007 they signed a big multi-album deal with Almost Gold Records, a label that has helped the careers of acts like Bjork, The Arcade Fire, and recently Peter, Bjorn & John. The band began working on its first full-length studio album, which was fittingly titled Voyager (released May 27th, Almost Gold Recordings), as it has launched these Chicagoans into a whole new orbit. In last two month, their music has been heard on ABC's Ugly Betty, and been the focal point the latest Heineken beer commercial. Their music is a combination of infectious pop dance beats, live guitar, synths, and unique vocals.

Voyager Meego.jpg

Recently, Colin Yarck of Walter Meego was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Gapers Block: Transmission: You are being billed as dance music from Chicago, but do you think the location of the band plays a role in their musical development or sound? Are there specific sounds or scenes in different cities? Does dance music in Chicago sound different then LA or Detroit?

Colin Yarck: I definitely think wherever we are located at any given time will have an effect on our music. I don't, however, think that wherever that may be will necessarily make us sound like other music from that region. And yea there are specific sounds in different cities. Wherever people are getting together to create will also create like patterns and movements. Although, the speed with which information can now be transferred really shortens the distance between disparate places and scenes.

GB: I read that you guys now live in LA. What prompted that move?

CY: Yea we're in sunny SoCal now. We're born and raised in Chicago. It was just time for a change. We were entertaining the idea of going to various other places and LA is the one we settled on.

GB: Speaking of moving, you seem to be transitioning away from pure dance music into more of a rock hybrid with your live guitar work. Is this a conscious effort on your part to move away from dance music?

CY: It's a conscious effort to pave the way for a future of making whatever we may feel like at the time and not be pigeonholed into one specific genre.

GB: Did you ever think your music would be the sound of a national ad campaign or played during a national broadcast television show? Are there limits to what you are willing to endorse?

CY: No. We didn't imagine anything like that but it seems pretty cool. And yes, there are limits to what we might endorse.

GB: The title "Voyager" represents the launch of your career. Keeping with that theme where would you like the shuttle to land?

CY: I don't think we feel like landing quite yet...

GB: What's next for Walter Meego?

CY: Recording, remixing, pool parties, tanning (not in a booth), recording, the occasional mint julep, and tour in the fall.

Walter Meego's first full-length album, Voyager, is currently out on Almost Gold Recordings.

About the Author:

Jason Behrends is an accountant and father of four by day and an insomniac blogger/writer at night. He runs the arts and culture blog What to Wear During an Orange Alert and the soon to be launched Orange Alert Press. In addition, he is the Art Editor for the on-line literary journals Thieves Jargon and decomP, and the Music Editor for This Zine Will Change Your Life. He has a series of interviews being published by the downstate Rural Messengers Press.

Anne Holub / Comments (30)

Random Wed Jun 25 2008

Obama's Geeking Out for Stevie Wonder

I doubt that we'll see Barack Obama jamming out to Stevie Wonder while munching on a turkey leg this weekend at the Taste, but the presumed Democratic presidential nominee does dig some classic '70s rock and R&B. The latest issue of Rolling Stone takes a look at what's on Obama's iPod—Stones, Dylan, Jay-Z and The Boss (and we don't mean, Daley).

Anne Holub / Comments (1)

Concert Tue Jun 24 2008

Save the Date: 12th Annual Block Party @ Hideout Announced

blockParty2008saveTheDate.jpg


It’s June, it’s wonderful, and you’ve just initiated your official summer kickback session. But before you sink into some soft summer grass where you will remain lackadasically wonderful for the next two months, take one last moment to plan ahead slightly. This week the Hideout announced the lineup for their 12th Annual Block Party scheduled to close out a promisingly solid Chicago summer of music. The outdoor festival, dubbed an “increasingly international local music festival”, will take place outside the Hideout on Wabansia Sept 20 - 21.

Continue reading this entry »

Emily Kaiser

Concert Tue Jun 24 2008

The World At Your Doorstep

Chicago is blessed with some of the best free public music programming in the country, if not the world. In addition to the incredible array of music programmed in the festival format, the series that occur in Millennium Park provide access to top notch jazz, world, and classical music for the whopping price of free.

This week brings us two incredible concerts in Millennium Park, both part of the Music Without Borders series programmed by Department of Cultural Affairs music guru Michael Orlove. Come out and enjoy the serene setting and soulful sounds by an array of Dominican musicians on Thursday and the African music superstars Orchestra Baobab on Saturday.

Continue reading this entry »

Daniel Melnick

Contest Mon Jun 23 2008

Scream, Scream In the Heat of the Night

battleroyale_promo5.jpgI imagine it all comes down to why you listen to music. Do you want to dance around the living room? Are you looking to relax and hear a tale of someone else’s troubles and successes? Do you want to sing along while driving to work? You might have a different mix (or playlist) for each mood. Well, what if you wanted to do all three? If that’s the case then Minnesota’s The Battle Royale has the answer.


On their latest release from Afternoon Record’s, Wake Up, Thunderbabe, John Pelant (vocals, guitar), Grace Fiddler (bass, vocals), Sam Robertson (organ) and Mark Ritsema (synth, vocals) shift styles and genres with ease. In fact, the way they have designed the album it is formatted in a classic Side A/Side B style. The first half of Thunderbabe is full of throbbing floor shaking dance tracks like their indie hit single “Racecar”. The second half of the album runs at a slower pace, but is flush with sing-a-long near campfire tracks starting with the gentle “Scream, Scream”. So regardless of your mood, and regardless of what you think a “Thunderbabe” is, The Battle Royale have what you are looking for.

[MP3] The Battle Royale - Racecar
[MP3] The Battle Royale - Scream, Scream

The Battles Royale will at The Empty Bottle tomorrow night (Tues. June 24th) with Darling and Canasta. The show begins at 9:00pm and tickets are $7.

Jason Behrends

DVD & Video Sun Jun 22 2008

Review of Work Series: Musician DVD

Ken Vandermark, part of an emerging avant-garde jazz canon, is a musician. In this well-edited documentary DVD in the Work series, he has a lot on his plate doing what he loves to do. This is less about him as a microcosm of jazz than it is about the challenges of playing music that isn't hugely commercially successful and dealing with the goings-on surrounding it.

This hour-long documentary follows Vandermark through private time composing new work, to rehearsal, to preparation to being on the road, and pretty much those steps in between that signifies the hustling aspect of being a touring musician. We see him packing and loading the van for stops around the world, and only once or twice do we see him nod off, which probably adds to his mystique of being one of the hardest working musicians alive today.

As for the music, there are two performances featured, which will give newcomers ideas of just where he is these days, but the focus of the movie isn't on the music per se, and that's a refreshing change from tour documentaries, taking the viewer behind the scenes into how the artist conducts business, plays with others, and deals with the grind. Enjoyable, but I doubt it's illuminating for anyone who has a friend who's a musician doing gigs in any of Chicago's small venues and is doing what they have to do to keep the music going. And despite appearing in more than 100 albums, Ken Vandermark is just that; working to keep the music coming.

The DVD is available at the Work Series online store, and is available for rent at quite a few indie rental places in this fine city.

Troy Hunter

News Sat Jun 21 2008

Girl Talk Feeds Fans, Critters

Between his quickly sold-out 2007 New Years Eve appearance at the Empty Bottle and the overwhelming crowds that swamped his third-stage appearance at the Pitchfork Festival last summer, it's fair to say that Pittsburgh-based mashup maestro Girl Talk (aka Gregg Gillis) has a solid fanbase in this town. And in case you were too busy to catch the news as it spread across the web yesterday, he's now making his forthcoming album, Feed The Animals, available in advance by way of a pay-what-you-want download via his own website and label, Illegal Art.

As far the download is concerned, Gillis is giving his fans three options. For the interested, any price will get you high-quality mp3s of the album, five bucks will get you the same plus one additional continuous-track version of the entire album (which is how Gillis claims he'd prefer people listen to it), and ten dollars gets you the downloads plus a physical copy of Feed The Animals when it's officially released in September.

Since the Illegal Art site was inaccessible at the time of this writing, it appears that traffic might be heavier than the site can handle. Whatever the case, it looks like there's now a mirror link for the download here.

Girl Talk hits the road later this summer and will be making his appearance in Chicago at Lollapalooza on August 3. Feed The Animals will see hardcopy release on September 23.

Graham Sanford

Concert Sat Jun 21 2008

Triple Optics: Dilated Peoples @ Double Door

When people say they hate rap, they usually point at any number of commercially successful residents of the gangsta sub-genre. Citing the overwhelming negativity, all rap becomes these guys, even as a plethora of other artists slog through and make good music.

Dilated Peoples, the three man operation from Los Angeles, has long held the battle standard for the underground hip-hop sub-genre, rocked the Double Door last night. Opening acts 88 Keys and Aceyalone did their thing to varying effect (note to aspiring artists, if you forget your own damned lyrics, you better cover it up pretty well).

In my own preview of the show, I wrote that DJ Babu, the turnablist extraordinaire, wasn't expected to show up. In their previous visits to the Chi, he wasn't there. Oh, but he was definitely in the place last night, as the video feed projected to two huge screens focused on his hands and lyricists Evidence and Rakaa powered through a mix of old favorites and new material. Dilated's set was high energy which weren't doused by low microphone levels.

Overall, a very good show played in front of an appreciative crowd by artists who keep it decidedly non-gangsta. "We're proud of this underground shit," Evidence said. And we're happy to partake of it.

Troy Hunter

Random Thu Jun 19 2008

Jocks vs. Punks in Wrigleyville

A flotsam bit of Chicago musical history from a certain ominous year. "The Cubs? My sister likes 'em." Here's to knowing how to stagger your clientele.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Update: Our friend Steve helped identify some of the people in the clip...

"That guy in the top hat is Devon from Out of Order. Their big song went as follows: 'Took you out to dinner. / Thought you were a winner. / You're so lame. / Why are you so lame? / You're so lame. / Why are you so lame?'

"The band onstage is D.O.A. from Vancouver. Their lead singer Joey Shithead wrote a book last year called I, Shithead. And it's good, too!"

Graham Sanford / Comments (1)

Artist Thu Jun 19 2008

The Black Angels Deliver Neo-Psychedelic Rock to the Masses

directions-big.jpg

I first learned the word chiaroscuro in a poem written by an architect. It has to do with a notable use of light and shadow, and I think it's a lovely way to describe the album built by Austin-born Black Angels, Directions to See a Ghost. Yes, they've got the guitar drone thing going on, but it's delivered in that appropriate ethereal way that comes along with the moniker of neo-psychedelic rock. Even their name, derived from the Velvet Underground's "The Black Angel's Death Song" is appropriate, given their dreamy, far-away lyrical delivery, and the way their songs conjure up of some Warhol Factory-esque room with too many pillows and not enough ashtrays.

The Black Angels psychedelic voice is stronger and more developed than their cousin — the indie shoe-gaze band. They've played Lollapalooza ('07) and SXSW ('08) to critical acclaim, and they're just perched (absolutely perched) on the verge of something big here. You're not likely to catch them on the radio, as most of their tracks span well over four minutes, but you get the feeling from the album that this band is just not all that into radio play. This is the album you're going to break out at 2am and groove to on your futon. It's the one you're going to play while you drift off to sleep (and likely have some pretty amazing dreams with this as your soundtrack). The album itself, plays like a oil wheel light show, infused with sitar ragas and some really interesting percussion work. The Black Angels are delivering psychedelic rock that not only honors its roots, but provides listeners with a cleaner, more delicious sugar cube.

[mp3]: The Black Angels – "Doves" (from Directions to See a Ghost)

[mp3]: The Black Angels – "The First Vietnamese War" (from Passover)

The Black Angels play Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie Ave., Friday, June 20. The Warlocks open at 9pm. Tickets are $15.

Anne Holub

Concert Wed Jun 18 2008

Here are My Hands

Venna.jpgIt was nearly a year that I saw Wisconsin’s Venna open for Page France. Playing to a crowd of twenty, the group, powered by the vocals of Heather Hladish, sat in chairs in front of the stage and played a beautiful acoustic set. Seated next to Heather was husband and guitar player Marky Hladish (The Felix Culpa), and you could tell by their occasional glances and grins that these songs were crafted with love and passion. As Heather sang the chorus of "Eulogy", “here are my hands”, I realized that this was her offering to the world. These songs were an intimate extension of her, who she is and who she wants to be.


That night they handed out free homemade demo ep’s wrapped in paper bags, tied with red string, with a Venna pin on top. Inside there was a vintage postcard, a hand-written note, and the 3 track demo. It was clear that this band had a sense of presentation that was both honest and crafty. Now as they release their official debut ep on Chicago’s Common Cloud Records this flare for presentation has been carried forward. The beautifully printed cardboard case came wrapped in green twine only adding to the mystery of what might be inside. The booklet inside was creatively photocopied and hand-stitched with green thread mapping out the lyrics in an interesting way. The six songs on the ep include a rerecorded version of “Eulogy”, but also songs like “Paper” that expand their sound instrumentally. Crafted with care, this is an exciting debut from Heather and Marky’s hands to yours.

Venna will be opening for Cotton Jones Basket Ride on June 21 at The House Café in DeKalb, IL. The show starts at 8:00pm and tickets are $8.

Jason Behrends / Comments (1)

Album Tue Jun 17 2008

Silver Jews draw from deeper well for new album

[Note: This review came to us from former Gapers Block: Transmission staffer Dan Snedigar.]

Jews by Brent Stewart.jpg

David Berman and unidentified pooch. (Photo by Brent Stewart)

Chicago's Drag City has a reputation for putting out challenging, diverse music, and plenty of Chicago scene superstar side projects. This week, the label cranks out the latest from poet David Berman's musical vehicle Silver Jews. Though occasionally and for the most part wrongfully categorized as a Stephen Malkmus sidecar, the Jews music has always trafficked in simple but potent music layered with some of the most intricate lyrics of the past few decades. On Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea, the band's fifth full length effort, the music draws from a well that has seemingly deepened since the band started touring extensively after over a decade as something of a studio lark.

The music remains country-tinged, often sounding like background music in a David Lynch honky-tonk. Songs like “Suffering Jukebox," are musical oddities, sounding at once like modern Nashville pap, but maintaining a jewel-like clarity and a respectably poignant lyrical punch. “Party Barge," borrows notes from the Rolling Stones and maintains an almost Jimmy Buffet-like irreverence while weaving in shore sounds and driving guitars.

The shiny new production can at times be frustrating, leaving fans of the Silver Jews early work pining for the stripped down simplicity of albums like American Water, and while there may be as many near misses as hits, the album represents an interesting step forward. It shows a band coming into true professionalism musically while maintaining frontman Berman's lyrical voice, unmatched in modern music.

-Dan Snedigar

Dan was a Chicago resident until he recently moved to Montana where he's a freelance writer and attorney.

Anne Holub

Concert Tue Jun 17 2008

Jim Ward's New Direction


Over the last ten years, Jim Ward has contributed to a couple bands who've garnered massive amounts of praise. As the head behind Sleepercar, he's ventured rather far from those origins with an album, West Texas, sounding nothing like anything he's been involved with before. Instead of post-hardcore reminiscent of Fugazi or Quicksand, West Texas is, oh, a bit more geographically stereotypical for a band from... west Texas. It draws from Gram Parsons and reminds listeners of the Bottle Rockets or Old 97s more than, say, Helmet.

While there are still moments (notably "Sound the Alarm") where Ward lets his past slip into West Texas, there is hardly anything on the album to link him back to his other bands. The alt-country leanings showcase a brand new side to his songwriting. The grand structuring of a genre he admits to being relatively new to shows off his ability to work outside of his old comfort zones. Or perhaps he's just a late bloomer.

Sleepercar headlines the Empty Bottle on Wednesday. Chicago bands Dollar Store and Talldarkstranger open. The show starts at 9PM and admission runs $10.

James Ziegenfus

Random Tue Jun 17 2008

Lollapalooza: Visualized

One youngster went to Lollapalooza back in 1992, and it left quite an impression on him (and his opinion of big music fests) over the years. If you'd like to see one festival-goer's reminiscences, in beautiful graph form, then head on over to this clever NYTimes article and see how your memories of three hot summer days of music might compare.

Anne Holub

Concert Tue Jun 17 2008

Dukes of the Ionosphere

Over the past five years or so, plenty of people have, thankfully, gotten the heads-up that there's far more to the Norwegian music scene than black metal. Be it the leftfield nu-jazz explorations of Jaga Jazzist, the sonic experimentation of Maja Ratkje, or the brooding synth-pop of 120 Days, Norway's been an engine of creative musical energy for well over a decade now. And now it looks like it might be time for one of the country's best-kept secrets to get some overdue recognition. The Trondheim power trio Motorpsycho have been in action for over 15 years, and now have a dozen albums to their credit; but it's only due to the release of their latest CD, Little Lucid Moments, on the Rune Grammofon label that they've started to get some attention from beyond their native shores. Rising to the occasion, Motorpsycho will be playing in Chicago this Sunday as they hit the U.S. for a rare stateside mini-tour.

As far as Motorpsycho's music goes, the labels "psychedelic" and "prog" have been consistently bandied about, and comparisons to mid-period King Crimson have been numerous. Fair enough, especially given how the band -- as demonstrated by Little Lucid Moments four tracks -- favors lengthy, ambitious songs and complex arrangements. But, to their credit, Motorpsycho don't seem to have much truck with many of prog's parochial jazz-, blues-, and Canterbury-rock clichés. They also pass on the usual spacious, fusion-derived grooves, opting instead for a tightly-coiled, dynamic rhythmic center -- a controlled frenzy that's brilliantly sustained thanks to the recent addition of former Gåte drummer Kenneth Karstad. In fact, it's fair to say that the trio is most impressive when they kick everything into high-velocity mode, which they do at least half the time, pushing everything into overdrive while guitarist Hans Magnus Ryan's buzz-riffage spills and sprawls and aims for the uppermost altitudes. It all testifies to some uniquely seasoned musicianly stamina, and to why the band might be one of the more impeccably-named outfits currently striding the Earth. As far as power trios and points of comparison go, the melodic hyper-chugging chords that crop up in parts of the album's 21-minute title bring to mind later Hüsker Dü -- with all the crafty alt-pop leanings -- but if the Hüskers had kept with their earlier punk/thrash ethos of shooting to set the land speed record.

Motorpsycho headline this Sunday night at the Empty Bottle, in one of only three stops on their current tour of the U.S. Grails and Nadja open. 1035 N. Western, Doors open at 9 PM. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door.

Graham Sanford

Concert Mon Jun 16 2008

Free Show! Free Show!

R-1266508-1205162936.jpegWho ever said you can’t get something for nothing? True, the free concert is a rare event, mainly because cd sales are down, and full time musicians need concert attendance to pay the bills. However, this Wednesday the Toronto-based duo of Ethan Kath and Alice Glass (a.k.a. Crystal Castles) will perform songs from the self-titled debut for free! It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago that they came through town with Health and completely blew me away. As their set begin the house light were cut, it was pitch black as Ethan began to play. Slowly, he built a melody that echoed through the darkness, building to a massive breaking point. As the music erupt a lone strobe light was turned on, and Alice began to jump and scream. For the next hour she did not stop jumping, occasionally swinging the strobe from her neck, the show was a non-stop dance party.


Opening for Crystal Castles, is the soon to be buzz band Chicago’s Pretty Good Dance Moves. They are re-releasing their debut Ep on July 15, and then doing a KEXP in-studio on July 16. Pegged as a trendy dance act, PGDM will prove the world wrong by showing their depth and range and the ability play a wide range of styles. This trio blends electronic music with just the right amount of organic elements to create an exciting brand of music that will allow you to bring out your best dance moves (or at least your pretty good ones).

Crystal Castles, Pretty Good Dance Moves, LMNOP, and Franki Chan will be performing for free at The Double Door on June 18th. A $10 suggested donation is appreciated. All contributors will receive a limited edition silk screen show poster and partial proceeds will go to benefit Rock for Kids. The doors open at 8pm and the show begins at 9pm.

Jason Behrends

Concert Fri Jun 13 2008

A Night in the Box

anightinthebox_promo2.jpgIt is all too easy to listen to a band and drop them into a category or comparison, and then just leave them to fade away. On first listen, Write a Letter (May 27th Afternoon Records) from A Night in the Box, has very familiar sound in some parts. The band is billed as raw blues-rock fusion, but the vocals of Clayton Hagen come across a combination of Jimmy Page, Jack White, and the frizzy haired guy from Wolfmother. This is not a bad thing by an means, but I don’t want make this band sound likea Led Zepplin cover (see Lez Zepplin) because the newly added violin play of Kailyn Spencer has helped this band create something unique and very compelling.

Rounding out the band are Alex Dalton and Travis Hetman, and Alex, Travis, and Clayton have been friends since high school. Each member of the band sings on this album only adding to the complex nature of their sound. With banjos, harmonicas roaring, and guitars wailing, this Minnesota band prides itself on its live performances. Don’t miss their trademark fidoras or their soulful blues music!

[MP3] A Night in the Box – The Rich Man’s Table

A Night in the Box will be appearing at Elbo Room on June 15th with Bad River, Dynamic Box, and Malace Finn. The show starts at 8:30pm and tickets are $7. All shows at Elbo Room are 21+.

Jason Behrends / Comments (1)

Concert Fri Jun 13 2008

Where's the Ikea? (a travelogue of my trip to Sweden)

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I can add up all the good promo loot I've received from music blogging on one hand. There's the Asthmatic Kitty t-shirt, the hundreds of promo cd's and the occasional sticker or button. Except for that t-shirt I could take `em or leave `em. In fact I no longer accept music cd's as a format. So when I was offered an expenses paid trip to Sweden, as a result of the Swedish indie pop music blog I write, I thought at first it was some kind of cruel joke. But now as I sit here in an apartment outside of the Hultsfred festival grounds it's all starting to sink in.

Hultsfred is Sweden's largest summer festival on par with Lollapalooza and Pitchfork. They have international headliners like Rage Against The Machine and Babyshambles, but I'm primarily here to see the Swedish acts. However at 2:30 am on Saturday the Chicago hip hop group The Cool Kids play. I've promised my editor here that I'll cover that but let me just repeat that start time - 2:30 AM!! We'll have to see about that.

So far we've been treated like royalty (or "starbloggers" as Swedish National TV called us in this interview) with a nice two day stay in Stockholm and now a three day trip to Hultsfred. My first two impressions about Sweden were the amazing number of babies - turns out they're in the middle of a baby boom and just the amount of greenery that covers the land just minutes outside of Stockholm. It's a beautiful country.

On to the music. One of the best (small, undiscovered) Swedish bands I've seen so far has been Little Marbles. as I've written elsewhere they somehow bring together elements of MIA, Mystere De Voix Bulgare and the best of Swedish twee. They're an unbelievably young duo from Gothenburg. Here's there single from their just released debut EP.

[mp3] Little Marbles - Melon

Oh and p.s. they've never heard of Ann Sather's over here.

More from Sweden soon...

-Craig Bonnell

Anne Holub

Feature Thu Jun 12 2008

Air Guitar Heroes

Everybody knows air guitar, yet U.S. Air Guitar (usairguitar.com) is its own animal. A combination of rock and performance art, air guitar is a creative outlet--a chance to be a rock star for a few minutes. Anybody can do it, no equipment or lessons necessary, making it one of the few truly democratic art forms around. Tonight in Chicago, locals compete for the regional championship--the winner going on to compete in San Francisco Finals on August 8. The U.S. champion of that event gets the big prize of the deal--the chance to represent the U.S. and compete in Finland at the Air Guitar World Championships, the Olympics of Air Guitar.

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Skeety Jones (2007 Chicago winner). (photo by Tien Mao)

Strange as it sounds, Air Guitar as a competitive "sport" was founded in Finland, not in the U.S., the birthplace of rock-n-roll. A group of Finnish students initiated the championship in 1996, with the ideal of promoting peace as a motto. They believed that if everyone played air guitar, nobody would hold a gun. The championship came stateside in 2002, with the help of New York branding representatives Cedric Devitt and Kriston Rucker, now the co-commissioners of U.S. Air Guitar. Having read about the Finland event in the Wall Street Journal, Rucker immediately told his buddy Devitt about the typically American event that appeared to be excluding Americans. "I was shocked that the U.S. was not represented," says Rucker. The two friends headed to Oulu, Finland to investigate then returned to set up the U.S. version in 2003.

In just five years, U.S. Air Guitar developed its own eclectic flavor. Past judges include author Malcolm Gladwell, Rachel Dratch of Saturday Night Live, and Jason Jones from the Daily Show. A motley crue of people are attracted to Air Guitar, from punk rockers to accountants and doctors. "I've seen old men, 16-year-old girls, architects from London," notes Bjorn Turoque (Dan Crane), a second place N.Y. winner who became MC and ambassador of U.S. Air Guitar, author of To Air is Human, and star of the film, Air Guitar Nation. "All walks of life are welcome."

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Bjorn Turoque (MC and air ambassador, star of Air Guitar Nation and author of To Air Is Human). (photo by Tommi Kohonen)

The democratic element is perhaps the biggest appeal of Air Guitar. No specific background in necessary. "There is no type of person who wouldn't be a good at air guitar," says Rucker. How it works is simple. Contestants sign up for any number of regional championship by going to the website, picking a city and signing up. Many have never learned been in a band or learned how to play an instrument. They pick out a killer costume, prepare a song and get sixty seconds to rock out on stage. If they make it to the second round they get two minutes on stage.

Although it sounds simple enough, competition is fierce and preparation is essential. "Originally I didn't train at all," notes Turoque. "I got drunk and went on stage, ended up in second place." In subsequent years, however, Toroque learned the importance of training, spending several weeks before a championship working on his moves. The bigger Air Guitar gets, the higher the level of performance is required. Contestants often watch videos of past shows to prepare. "The more people do it, the more they train and work harder," says Rucker.

And Air Guitar is growing. Last year U.S. Air Guitar championships occurred in fifteen cities; this year they're up to twenty-three. There have been two American World Champions: C. Diddy (David Jung), in 2003, and Sonyk Rock the following year. According to Rucker, winning is about exuding a certain combination of charisma and air guitar style. "You gotta be able to rock a crowd on stage. You gotta have that je ne sais quoi weirdness that's kind of hard to define."

It's not easy to be good at Air Guitar, but there are perks for those who manage to win. Winners get to be a bit of a star for a while, travel around the world, go on talk shows, etc. In the words of Bjorn Toroque: "I would say in no uncertain terms Air Guitar has changed my life, for the better. I entered this competition, the very first in U.S., on a whim in 2003, since then I've logged countless air miles, met lots of air groupies. I've been around the world, all in the in pursuit of an enviable art form."

For Devitt and Rucker, Air Guitar is a sport that belongs up there with the other American greats—baseball, basketball and football. "We're trying to create America's fourth sport," notes Rucker. "Soccer is trying to but we don't think its' going to work out." As Rucker points out, Air Guitar is more American than soccer. "Almost everybody does it, whether they realize it or not. Arguably, this is the home of rock-n-roll."

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William Ocean (current U.S. Champ) - (photo by Dan Eckstein)

Without a background in music or knowing how to play the guitar, Air Guitar provides unknowns the opportunity to perform at some of the country's biggest venues, like the Bowery Ballroom in New York, or the Roxy in LA. And for the audience, the show is immensely appealing. "I've had people come up afterward and say it was the best concert they've seen in fifteen years," says Toroque. "It's like great rock combined with a great piece of performance art, and then put into a sports environment, where it's competitive, so it's a bit of everything," says Rucker.

Open to all, Air Guitar is like American Idol yet without the necessity for extensive training and exceptional musical talent. "People expect air guitarists to be losers with mullets who live with their parents, and often that is the case. But often there are some spectacular performers out there," says Toroque. For the Chicago regional, eyes are on Nordic Thunder, the 2006 Chicago winner.

Rucker sees Air Guitar becoming more commonplace. "I think it's the kind of thing that bigger it gets the better it gets. With Air Guitar, you feed off the crowd, who legitimates you being up there. Every year its getting bigger so the more the merrier."

The 2008 Cuervo Air Guitar Championships, Chicago Regional tournament occurs tonight at the Metro. Doors open at 8pm; show at 9pm. Tickets are $14. 18 and over.

~*~

Marla Seidell is a Gapersblock contributor.

Anne Holub / Comments (1)

Concert Thu Jun 12 2008

Local Pride

Like your alt-guitar rock a little poppy, a little on the early-90s-strong-female-vocals side? Well, buddy boy, you're in all sorts of luck. Not only do Chicago-based trio The Locals fit that very bill, but they're also playing a show at the Elbo Room to celebrate the release of their CD, Big Picture. The rocking shall commence on Saturday, June 14, with Bon Verba, Apteka, Dropmore Scarlet, and Welcome to Ashley also playing that night. Check The Locals' website for more deets.

Kara Luger

Concert Wed Jun 11 2008

Rising Starr

fevermarlene-2.jpgIs it just me or do a lot of best and most genuine bands go virtually unnoticed? In the matter of one calendar year Milwaukee’s Fever Marlene has released two albums (Civil War 6/07 and White China 3/08), and both are filled with a combination of catchy pop tunes and soaring anthems. Lead by the vocals and song writing of Scott Starr, these albums are filled energy and an honesty that is truly magnetic. Once they find the right crowd the possibilities are endless.

I believe that every music fan has at least one band that has turned them into die-hard, completist, screaming, crying fan. You own and know every song, b-sides, imports, soundtracks, and you find yourself saying things like “There is just something about his voice,” or “She can do no wrong!”. It is an unexplained phenomenon how a band can affect someone so deeply and leave another with a blank stare. For me the voice of Scott Starr has caused this strange chemical reaction. Musically, Fever Marlene is a blend of electronic beats and organic instrumentation placing them somewhere between Walter Meego and Colin Meloy. It is a very enjoyable blend that I am sure Chicago fans will enjoy and embrace.

Fever Marlene will be appearing at the Double Door this Friday (June 13th) in support of Donita Sparks with The Prarie Spies and Waste. Doors open at 8:00pm and tickets are $10 adv/$12 dos.

Jason Behrends

DJ / Dance Wed Jun 11 2008

Saturday: Riddim Method DJs Cater to "Low-End Necessities"

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L-R: Mashit methodists Kid Kameleon, DJ C, and DJ Ripley

If you follow the more experimental fringes of electronic music, chances are you've seen Oakland-based "beat strategist" Kid Kameleon popping up in a number of places lately. Aside from his regular contributions to XLR8R magazine and a number of other music publications, he's also netted a lot of big-ups for the steady stream of "grubstep" mixes that he's dropped via the internet -- most notably his "Aim High" and "Aim Low" dual mix sessions that were getting pinged around the web this past December. This weekend, Subterranean and Mashit Records welcome Kid Kameleon and his frequent collaborator DJ Ripley to Chicago as the pair take to the decks for a special headlining appearance.

Kid K and Rip both share a strong affinity for the more experimental offshoots of Caribbean-derived rhythms -- especially for such woofer-taxing fare as grime, dubstep, ragga-jungle, and breakcore. That being the case, they've also each gained global reps for spinning an eclectic, genre-spanning variety of beats. On Saturday evening, they'll be joining up with their Riddim Method associates DJ C and Chrissy Murderbot for the club's recurring "No Mas Tequila" dance event. NMT helmsman DJ Zebo will also be joining in for a set. Considering that line-up, it should make for an eclectic evening of bass-heavy, leftfield groove. Downstairs at Subt, doors open at 9 PM. Free before 11 PM, $5 after.

Kid Kameleon - "Aim High" mix (download)

DJ Ripley - "To The Party Members" mix (download)

(Mixes courtesy of Mashit)

Graham Sanford

mp3 Wed Jun 11 2008

Take your protein pills and put your helmet on

On Friday the 13th, you, along with the crew of the Space Shuttle Discovery can Wake Up with Calexico...in Space. Apparently Arizona Congresswoman Gail Giffords is a big fan of the Touch & Go artists, and her husband just happens to be Shuttle Commander Mark Kelly. You can tune in to NASA TV at 4am CST on the 13th, or check it out online (click NASA TV Live). Or, you can just download the free track "Crystal Frontier" [MP3] and rock it on the ole terra firma on your own time.

Anne Holub

Radio Tue Jun 10 2008

Ephemeral Sounds

The Third Coast International Audio Festival and the Prelinger Library are looking for radio ephemera -- take bits from two out of five books posted on this site, add a recording of a stranger's voice and turn them into a short audio story.

Submissions are due by August 3. Four pieces will be selected to be included in the Third Coast Festival Conference in October. And there's a chance your piece will also be played on Re:sound or Vocalo.org.

Andrew Huff

Venue Tue Jun 10 2008

The Jazz Showcase Lives

Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase, the premier venue for seeing live Jazz in Chicago for over 60 years now, will reopen after a year-plus relocation hiatus this Thursday, June 12th. Pushed out of their previous location on Grand Ave after their rent bill nearly doubled, their new location is in the historic Dearborn Station in the Printers Row area.

The Showcase is one of the only places in the city you can hear national jazz acts every week. Joe Segal began presenting jazz as a student at Roosevelt University in the 1940s and turned it into a lifetime career. Over the history of his club, he has presented (nearly) every big name in jazz: from Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk to Cecil Taylor and the Art Ensemble of Chicago.

On top of their usual national acts, the Showcase is going to expand into more local programming, and their format will now be set up so that after the jazz sets the club will transform into a local hang for musicians to jam and audiences to enjoy. Stop by and check out the new location of the Jazz Showcase at 806 S. Plymouth Court, on the eastern side of Dearborn Station.

Daniel Melnick

Concert Mon Jun 09 2008

Well Pressed

Chicago is at its sultry, sweaty best in the summertime. Perhaps that's what Quarterstick's latest find, The Uglysuit, had in mind when they recorded their dizzy, summery single "Chicago." Although the boys are really from Oklahoma City, the poppy, if not a bit hippily, lush chorus serves well as an anthem for anyone, anywhere.

Catch the crew as they swing through Chicago at the Hideout on Saturday, June 14, prior to their debut release in mid-August. The Uglysuit will be playing alongside the likes of heavy psych-southern rockers Pontiak and boy-girl hushed-pop duo Wye Oak.

Kara Luger

Review Sat Jun 07 2008

Legends don't stay still: Wayne Shorter at the CSO

Jazz is an old artform. One that has changed over the decades, from big-band to bop to the capricious directions artists are free to take nowadays, with or without the permission of gatekeepers who deride their contributions as "not jazz." Most any musical genre has its share of arguments about what's "real" and what's not.
Wayne Shorter is really beyond all that. In a career that has lasted since the 50s, he's a saxophonist without modern peer and a composer without measure, being involved with the signature tunes of jazz greats who are on nickname basis with the music public, like Trane and Miles. His forays into world music and progressive jazz do not mark the wish of a musician to become more popular as those sub-genres have become more popular, but as someone who is merely exploring and testing his own limits. Hell, the man turns 75 soon; the dues are paid.

Continue reading this entry »

Troy Hunter

Concert Thu Jun 05 2008

Party in the Park! See ya there at noon. Every Monday.

Every Monday from June 16th until the end of summer (August 25th), plan to spend a midday hour or two at the Pritzker Pavilion. It's there, from 12:15 to 1:30pm that Millennium Park, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and the Pitchfork Music Festival will present the annual Audible Architecture: Chicago Nightclubs at Noon lunchtime performance series. Typically a week-long event, the series expands this summer with each show a joint presentation between Pitchfork and one of this city's leading clubs or promoters.

There are some mighty good bands on this, certainly a few that we recommend skipping a corporate lunch or two to check out. Hell, bring your CEO along. I'm sure he'll enjoy it.

June 16th--Bird Names, presented by Bottom Lounge
June 23rd--Gary Higgins, presented by the Abbey Pub
June 30th--Killer Whales, presented by mP Productions
July 7th--Le Loup, presented by Schubas
July 14th--Bill Callahan, presented by JAM Productions
August 4th--Tortoise, presented by The Hideout
August 11th--TBA
August 18th--The Ex with Getatchew Mekuria, presented by the Empty Bottle
August 25th--Habib Koite & Bamada, presented by Martyrs'

Nicholas Ward

Review Thu Jun 05 2008

Live Review: Jamie Lidell @ Abbey Pub, 6/4

Three years ago when Jamie Lidell performed at the Museum of Contemporary Art, he was still known primarily as half of Super_Collider. His setup then was a table full of samplers, keys, and other buttons and knobs. Even though he was on tour in support of the soul-inspired Multiply album, he didn't stray far from his comfort zone. He spent much of the evening playing with electronics in a way that often seemed more for his own amusement than that of the audience. However, the highlights that night were when he stepped out from behind the gear and performed as a singer.

Last night at the Abbey, it was evident that Lidell has matured in a live setting. He appeared more aware of his strengths and weaknesses than he used to. With a full band (keyboards, guitar, drums, sax) backing him, he was free to be centerstage playing to the crowd. Although, for wildly varied arrangements of "When I Come Back Around" and "A Little Bit More", the band disappeared and let him run the show. Lidell clearly still enjoys experimenting with his electronic gear, but only once (during the 10-minute "When I Come Back Around") did he lose the crowd's attention by making noise simply for the sake of it. The Jim songs stayed close to studio form with some improvisation keeping them fresh. (I can't imagine he puts on the same show twice.) When the set came to a close following a tremendous "Wait For Me" and the band departed, the audience continued the call and response until the encore. With much of Jim already played, they launched into "Game For Fools" and an arrangement of "Multiply" hardly recognizable until the lyrics kicked in. Now, if only a sold out show at the Abbey didn't make people feel like sardines, there may have actually been some good dancing too. But in lieu of that, the band gave a full effort that left them out of breath and us quite pleased. Jamie Lidell will return to Chicago for Lollapalooza. Who knows what tricks he'll have up his sleeve then?

James Ziegenfus

Album Thu Jun 05 2008

Ground Control… We Have an Escape Plan

remotecontrolfrequencies_cd.jpg“Sometimes I feel like I’m on the wrong planet…”

Have you ever wondered what it would sound like if David Bowie and Slug (of Atmosphere) decided to join the space program? While on their first mission they might record a few tracks about their escape from Earth and all of the reasons for leaving. Unrehearsed, just pure improv rock and vocals mixed with hip-hop. The sounds from mission control and the odd space noise would occasional interfere with the recording, but it would all come together nicely. I may be dreaming, but that was the first image that popped into my head while listening to the latest shoegaze noise-rap album from Chicago’s Remote Control Frequencies.


Recorded at Stray Dog Recording Co., Tempus, finds old friends R-Rock (sampledelic songwriting and vocals) and L. Grant "LG" Meadows (drummer) back together again. With the help of friends, recording engineer David 'Player 1' Whitcomb (proprietor of Chicago's Stray Dog Recording Co), PJ Sumroc and Sharkula, this duo takes the listener on audio adventure through genres, time periods, space, sounds, and life. R-Rock (also the founder of The Secret Life of Sound, one of Chicago’s most eclectic labels) sing/raps over his own chopped up samples and LG’s raw beats. The album has almost a mysterious feel to it, aided by the lack of tracklisting and the use of alias, but also by the recording technique. R-Rock has this to say on the process, “sometimes we would record his drums at Stray Dog with me playing keys, and then I would take them home and chop them up and bring them back. Other songs on the record were completely improvised, recorded live in one take.” Another mystery is why the band has not updated their myspace page (since they do not have a website) since August 2007. That is explained with the plea to the all too famous Tom in the liner notes, but nonetheless it is not easy to obtain current information on these two. I think they like it that way.

For an escape from the earth's gravitational pull, check out Tempus from Remote Control Frequencies (TSLOS 017) released June 3rd. You can stream album here and purchase a copy here.

Jason Behrends

Venue Thu Jun 05 2008

The View from the Bathroom

In the comments of WindyCitizen's review of the Death Cab for Cutie show, a reader offers a great tip for getting a better view of concerts at Millennium Park's Pritzker Pavilion:

There's a really easy way to get the $10 tickets and then see the entire show: Stand on the ramp that leads down to the bathroom. For some reason Millennium security doesn't bother people that stand there, and it's a better view than a lot of people with the expensive seats have!

Now, don't everybody go out and try it all at once, or that loophole will be closed right quick!

Any tips on secret viewing spots in other venues?

Andrew Huff

Feature Thu Jun 05 2008

Chicago’s CLLCT: It’s Not a Secret Anymore

“cllct.com is great because it is founded on the same fundamental principle that the DIY scene is founded on: the desire to share.” – Patrick Ripoll (Chicago Musician and cllct.com member)

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The acronym D.I.Y. has come to represent many different ideals, concepts, and people over the years. It may mean one thing to Home Depot and something completely different to the desktop publisher folding and stapling on his/her bedroom floor at one in the morning. However, there is one universal truth when it comes to D.I.Y., and it is the idea of sharing, of not only the product but of the process.

In an era of myspace, blogs, and hype machines, you would think it would easy for a young musician to gain an audience. Well it is not as easy as you think. Even the smallest self-released projects have representation to send out e-mails and cds, following-up, promote tours and events. Where can the bedroom musician go to be heard, to share ideas, and to find validation in what they are doing? Last fall, 19 year-old musician Luke Morris (a.k.a. Secret Owl Society) of Shreveport, Louisiana felt he had something he wanted share, he was offended that the musician industry made it so difficult to simply give your music away, and he thought there might be other out there who felt the same way.

"To have a home for all these amazing musicians, who view music not as commodity, but as art, is something that is an absolute joy to be a part of." – James Eric (Chicago Musician and cllct.com member)

Since it's inception a mere six months ago, The Collective has featured 198 different musicians and house 289 releases. All are available to be streamed or downloaded for free. The collective's core contains several Chicago musicians, and is well promoted at several local shows. As a young site, Luke is still modifying the presentation, but the idea of sharing and the passion for music will never change.

Recently, Luke was kind enough to answer a few of our questions.

Gapers Block: Transmission: Where did the idea of the collective come from, and how long has it been in existence?

Luke Morris: The Collective website has only been around for a few months; November/December of 2007. The concept? That's been around for as long as I can remember. You can say that the counter-culture movement of the sixties made the idea popular, but they didn't quite invent it either. To answer that would be a philosophical question, something like: "Is a man taught generosity, or is he born with it?". Generosity and greed are two conflicting emotions that we all have, yet our lives are completely dominated by wealth and the acquisition of it. Somewhere along the line, the generous people must've lost some sort of battle with the greedy people. What I call 'the collective family' is the spirit of giving that lives on through all of us and unites us through a common bond, something given to us through the smiles of our grandfathers and the gifts of our uncles.

But, if you don't feel like being philosophical, the idea came around directly through the actions of the RIAA and the music industry. If they really don't want us sharing their music, then why should we? They can go to hell; we'd much rather be sharing music that wants to be shared.

"Luke really came out of left-field; one day, I had never heard of him, and before I knew it everyone I play music with was talking about him and the CLLCT...or the 001 Collective...or whatever it's called."Redbear. (Chicago Musician and cllct.com member)

GB: What is the ultimate goal of the cllct? Is it unique to each musician involved?

LM: I'd have to say that it's definitely unique to each musician - some of them just want to get their music heard, some of them have less noble aspirations, and some of them are completely involved in the whole scene and contribute immensely (there are so many that I can thank, but a few major players are James Eric, Russ of Tinyfolk, Steven Morris of Existential Hero, and Patrick Ripoll, just to name a few).

The ultimate goal, my ultimate goal, is to usher in some sort of new golden age for the music industry. A new business model for the art that doesn't focus on the business, as just the word leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Everything is changing with the internet, and everyone knows it — even major artists are jumping on the free-music-bandwagon by the assload. CLLCT, by itself, won't really usher in anything — but a thousand websites doing the same thing as CLLCT will. And I'm glad to be a part of it.

"[cllct.com] is a lot more appealing than the traditional sort of top-down model that places such a big separation between people who are making music and people who are interested in it and writing about it."Tinyfolk (cllct.com member)


GB: Have you been surprised by the response?

LM: Part of me, definitely. When the website was only a babe, I had no idea that so many people would champion it like they have - after the support of so many wonderful people, though, I felt like the family could conquer the world if it wanted to. In a way, it already has...who doesn't like free stuff?


GB: The Roaring Nineties compilation is a great idea and long over due. Are there more projects like that in the works?

LM: I got involved in CLLCT because a friend of mine asked me to. The music is free because it doesn't cost us anything to make it. The current media market pushes the idea that art is a consumable like anything else; that the purchaser should feel privileged for being able to purchase it. To me, the privilege lies with the artist, who is privileged to have the time and resources to be doing something she loves.

That being said, I'm also selling my latest album at shows, because I did put a significant amount of money into it. I wouldn't have a problem with people downloading it, though.

A lot of people blame sites like myspace for helping to create a culture of musicians who care more about how many people they can get out to their shows than they do about making music — for creating the idea that everyone should think that they can "make it." I don't think the problem starts or ends with myspace — I think it goes much deeper — but a site like CLLCT is a remedy of sorts — an electronic safe space of sorts where you can maintain total control over how your art is presented, and where anyone with an internet connection can download a significant body of work, instead of just streaming four or five songs at a low-quality bit rate.

The family voted on it and that idea came out triumphant, so I can't take any credit. I'm definitely happy with the turn out — so many people sent in songs that I had to use two CDs.

This was my first time really selling a CD, even though it's only to pay for the upkeep of the site. I don't think I'm going to do it again; I'm debating with myself whether to just put the whole thing online right now and continue to have the option to buy it until it's sold out. A bi or tri-monthly compilation is definitely in the works, but there's no way any of them will be for sale, only up for free download.

GB: Have you thought about turning cllct in a record label?

LM: The 001 Collective (the forefather of cllct) actually started as a netlabel, but that didn't last any longer than a few weeks. CLLCT will never be a record label, however. Even if I wanted to, the logistics of trying to sell that many albums would give me a heart attack pretty damned fast. We're trying to move the industry forward, though, so I've been brainstorming on ways we can do that. Having an etsy-like site where bands can put up merch for sale is one option, figuring how to get the cllct music on movies and television shows is another. It's hard trying to find an option where the money aspect doesn't overshadow the art, and that's what we're trying to do.

"…an electronic safe space of sorts where you can maintain total control over how your art is presented, and where anyone with an internet connection can download a significant body of work, instead of just streaming four or five songs at a low-quality bit rate."Porches (Chicago Musician and cllct.com member)


GB: How has the collective helped you as a musician?

LM: Oh, in so many ways! I'm only nineteen and it helps a lot knowing that there are other artists out there like me. Some of my favorite artists are on CLLCT, and the beauty of their songs is entrenched in the emotion of the songs and not in the mixing or mastering.

I didn't think I would be doing so many collaborations, either. The collective community has been really fun to work with, and I love them all.

For more on cllct.com and the listen to any of the 198 musicians visit their website.


About the Author:


Jason Behrends is an accountant by day and an insomniac blogger/writer at night. He runs the arts and culture blog What to Wear During an Orange Alert, as the soon to be launched Orange Alert Press. In addition, he is the Art Editor for the on-line literary journals Thieves Jargon and decomP, and the music editor for This Zine Will Change Your Life. He has a series of interviews being published by the downstate Rural Messengers Press.


Anne Holub / Comments (2)

Random Wed Jun 04 2008

Keep the Crossover…or Expect a Backlash Beatdown

Heads up, y'all. In case you hadn't been paying attention, Chicago has become something of a hotbed for "hipster rap" in the past few years. This week's edition of the Reader, hitting the streets on Thursday, features an intriguing "Sharp Darts" feature by Miles Raymer on a new wave of haterisms – prompted by a couple of webzine articles that have recently stirred up some debate and are landing a number of Chicago hip-hop artists at the top of a couple of shit lists (see here and here).

Graham Sanford

Event Tue Jun 03 2008

Wednesday: "Father of Hip-Hop" Kool Herc to DJ at South-Side Dance Party


When he first arrived in the U.S. with his immigrant parents in 1967 at the age of twelve, Jamaican-born Clive Campbell, aka DJ Kool Herc, carried with him the seeds of a cultural movement. Bearing memories of classic DJ soundclashes and block parties in his hometown of Kingston, he would later aim to recreate similar events on the streets of the Bronx -- rigging up his own sound system with two turntables, PA columns, and a guitar amp, and setting up block parties in the park, spinning (against the disco trend of the time) a selection of funk, soul, and breakbeat-heavy selections that provided a dance-friendly vibe that folks weren't getting anywhere else. And with that, Campbell established the first of hip-hop's four elements, paving the way for all that would follow.

That, of course, is Hip-Hip History 101 -- so Old School that it's positively Pre-School. But, according to Herc, the role of playing selector and party-starter was always of a matter of knowing how to please a crowd. "When I started DJing back in the early '70s, it was just something that we were doing for fun," he wrote in his introduction for Jeff Chang's Can't Stop, Won't Stop. "I came from the 'people's choice,' from the street. If the people like you, they will support you, and your work will speak for itself."

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Graham Sanford

Concert Tue Jun 03 2008

Plan Your Tuesdays on the Terrace

Picture yourself on a beautiful summer day, lounging on the back terrace of the Museum of Contemporary Art, listening to local, world class jazz musicians while sipping on a finely mixed cocktail. Not only is this a possibility in Chicago, it happens every Tuesday from today, June 3rd, all the way through the end of September. There's no cover charge, and the programming is top notch.

Best of all, it's perfectly timed for your after work drink, running from 5:30 till 8 PM just as the sun starts go to down. Tonight, Corey Wilkes will kick off the series, a special event for him since it is also his birthday. In addition to repeat performances from Mr. Wilkes, the series will feature local legends like Fred Anderson, Dee Alexander, Ari Brown, and Jimmy Ellis, in addition to younger acts like Josh Berman, Jeb Bishop, and Greg Ward.

The full schedule for the summer follows.

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Daniel Melnick

Artist Mon Jun 02 2008

Sybris Releases Second Album, New Video

It's been nearly three years since Chicago indie-rockers Sybris put out their debut album. In the interim they've toured, played a lot around town, and taken their time crafting new material to their own satisfaction. Apparenly it was all time well spent, because in the past year, the group's managed to earn a reputation as a local Artist To Watch for 2008.

Sybris's sophomore album Into The Trees was just released on the Absolutely Kosher label. The video for the album's lead single, "Oh Man!", started circulating a few days ago and is now up on Youtube (or just see above). Currently, they're taking the new album on the road on a coast-to-coast tour. The bad will be winding returning to home turf in late June, just in time to play a set at the Belmont Arts Festival on June 28th.

[mp3]: Sybris - "The Best Day In History In Ever" (2005)

Graham Sanford

Transmission Mon Jun 02 2008

Muxing It Up

gbtxmuxtape.pngThe Transmission staff has put together its second muxtape mix, 12 songs you can listen to right now. We went with the theme of "Chicago," naturally -- songs by Chicago bands or that have the city in the title. Enjoy!

Andrew Huff / Comments (2)

Concert Mon Jun 02 2008

I Love Math

Who doesn’t really? All of those numbers, symbols, equations, you throw in geometry, and it is a party on the page. All right, I know school is out, and no one wants to talk about math, but I think we can make an exception for a certain band out of Dallas, TX. I Love Math is a project combining three parts The Deathray Davies (bassist Jason Garner, keyboardist Andy Lester, front-man/guitarist John Dufilho) and one parts Old 97’s (drummer Philip Peeples). On their sophomore album, Getting To The Point Is Beside It (Glup Records 5/27/08), Dufilho has not only found the right combination of band members, but he has also discovered the formula for making a quality rock album.


That formula rests solely on the principle of “simplicity”. Dufilho (also the drummer for Apples in Stereo) had this to say about this principle “Mostly, I wanted to write and record a very straightforward album. I wanted it simple, to the point, and didn't want to hide behind effects pedals, distortion, studio tricks, or irony". This is further applied by the bands unwritten rule, “No Cymbals!”. So yes, there are rules, formulas, and principles involved but you can leave you calculators at home, and simply enjoy the product that is I Love Math.

[MP3] I Love Math - Some Bridges Are For Burning

You can catch I Love Math with Old 97’s and Hayes Carll at the Metro on Thursday, June 5th. Doors open at 7:30pm for this 18+ show and tickets are $22.

Jason Behrends

GB store

Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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Blogroll

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  & Shops:

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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