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Karin Fjellman writesTonight! First-ever CHIRP Night at the Rocking Horse

What are you doing on a Tuesday night, other than catching up on last week’s finale to The Walking Dead? CHIRP announces its newest community partnership with Logan Square’s finest indie rock bar & restaurant, The Rocking Horse, which boasts a huge drink selection of sixteen taps and more than sixty bottled brews, not to mention some amazing edibles. Come out tonight to eat, drink, and hear CHIRP DJs spin the finest in indie, psych, soul, punk, and more from 9:30pm onward! This month’s featured DJ is Karin Fjellman — you can see samples of her CHIRP Radio playlists here. CHIRP Nights at the Rocking Horse happen on the first Tuesday of each month. Look out for us next month! We hope to see you there!

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Categorized: Event Previews

Patrick Masterson writesPatrick Masterson’s Best of 2010

Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members' top albums of 2010. The next list is from CHIRP Radio DJ and Assistant Music Director Patrick Masterson. (Click here to get the complete list of CHIRP Radio members' picks.)

It would be unfair to present a top ten list that wasn’t strictly comprised of Windy City artists when we had such a good year here, so here are my favorite new Chicago releases of 2010 to back that up.

  1. Judson Claiborne – Time and Temperature (La Societe Expeditionnaire)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Chris Salveter and company’s second LP as Judson Claiborne appropriately mirrors the cover with a zebra in a deep forest of mist: Time and Temperature is a powerful, constantly shifting chiaroscuro where acoustic light breaks through the dark themes of the lyrics. Easily one of the best records of the year by any measure.
  2. Disappears – Lux (Kranky)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    This one’s for the record collectors. Probably my favorite Chicago live band, Disappears had some trouble getting this out; when Lux finally arrived, it felt as much like a sigh of relief as anything else. Good news followed a good year for the band: Follow-up LP Guider arrives in January 2011. Mark your calendars.
  3. JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound – To Love Someone (That Don’t Love You) 7” (Addenda)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Nevermind that I helped package these (FYI, 50 is not the same as 40), “To Love Someone (That Don’t Love You)” is a supreme slice of retro-soul listening for those with even half an interest in the Daptone stable, generally regarded as the gold standard for this sort of thing. On the flip, “Everything Will Be Fine” is a Booker T-inspired b-side to match the best of Charles Bradley. Do not miss this.
  4. Jason Adasiewicz – Sun Rooms (Delmark)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    A fixture of Chicago’s jazz scene for the few years that I’ve actually been following it, Adasiewicz did something a little different with Sun Rooms by stripping down his typical sound (backed by the Rolldown quintet) to a trio with drums and bass. It could’ve sounded hollow and sparse, but the extra space only allowed his vibraphones to thrive. An incredibly rich listening experience and definitely my favorite jazz record of the year.
  5. Cave – Pure Moods EP (Drag City)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Last year it was the twisty Psychic Summer, this year it was a three-track vinyl-only EP that rode the (hawk)winds of krautrock jamming and self-exploration that, though self-limiting at times, worked awfully well for late-night radio runs. “Brigitte’s Trip (White Light/White Jazz)” is almost as good of a title as the EP itself.
  6. Male – German for Shark (Other Electricities)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    It took me a little while to finally listen to Male’s sophomore album, but German for Shark sparks with more playful experimentation than last year’s more coherent All Are Welcome. Led by Jon Krohn and Ben Mjolsness, the sounds range from ambient nothingness to glitched-out remixes hitched to the back end of the album. I’m not sure I like it more than All Are Welcome, but its best moments caught my ear faster.
  7. Exploding Star Orchestra – Stars Have Shapes (Delmark)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Stars have shapes? How about stars have exploding orchestras skronking out in one of the better free-form avant-everything monsters to hit the CHIRP airwaves this year? Led by Rob Mazurek and featuring a host of rotating cast members, ESO did what they pretty much always do as well as anyone this side of the equally polarizing Bird Show Band. Undulating and uncompromising, Stars Have Shapes is some gnarled top-shelf jazz.
  8. Skooda Chose – TFM2 (Get Money Gang)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Excepting Freddie Gibbs, this mixtape by the K-town native is my favorite Chicago(-area) hip-hop release of the year. Signed by Twista a few years back, Skooda’s been pedaling his verses for awhile but this (TFM = Top Five Material) is the cream of the crop thanks to guest verses from The Cool Kids, David Banner and others. Also, and I have no way of confirming this, but dude has been shot ten times, which has to count for something.
  9. Verma – Salted Earth (Self-Released)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    If you scroll down on Verma’s MySpace page, you’ll see the image of two figures strolling along a dune in deep space. That’s pretty much what Verma embodies: psychedelic sandstorms on far-away planets. It was interesting to hear the live-take instrumental material of their self-titled debut in July, but Salted Earth, out this past month (featuring songs from their original three-song EP), is different and slightly more appealing.
  10. Mavis Staples – You Are Not Alone (Anti)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    A gospel n’ blues legend in her own right, Mavis Staples has also worked with Bob Dylan, Curtis Mayfield and Prince in the past, so what’s a Jeff Tweedy collaboration to her? But this is hardly tossed-off stuff. I mean, “I Belong to the Band” – did you hear this? The Tweedy originals? That weirdly defeatist Randy Newman cover? Mavis is still a must-listen after 60 years.

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Categorized: Best Albums of the Year

Topics: best of 2010

Clarence Ewing: The Million Year Trip writesComing Soon: Beats and Blogs, A Musical Hotspot at Subterranean

Mark your calendars now: on Saturday, December 18th, Betta Promotions and Loud Loop Press present a very special showcase of music, as well as a spotlight on 17 of Chicago’s local independent web focused music blogs, inclduing your’s truly, CHIRP Radio!

It all goes down at Subterranean (2011 North Avenue), where White Mystery, Hollows, Rabble Rabble and Radar Eyes will be rocking the house. More info will be posted shortly, but be sure to clear your schedules for what will be a great evening of music and community!

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Categorized: Event Previews

Topics: community, concerts

Clarence Ewing: The Million Year Trip writesClarence Ewing’s Best of 2010

Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members' top albums of 2010. The next list is from CHIRP Radio's Assistant Online Media Director Clarence Ewing. (Click here to get the complete list of CHIRP Radio members' picks.)

  1. Sleigh Bells – Treats (Mom & Pop Music)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    The debut album from duo Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss is a hail storm of big, visceral, static-and-feedback-soaked fun, both anchored and elevated by the sugar and spice of Miller’s catchy-as-hell hooks and Krauss’ assured, flirty vocals.
  2. Delorean – Subiza (True Panther Sounds)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Waves of sunny, pastel happiness from the Spanish former punk-rockers. It’s been said that great music transports you to other places. Whenever I listen to this album I want to be somewhere in southern Europe dancing on a beach.
  3. Laetitia Sadier – The Trip (Drag City)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    This solo effort from Stereolab's lead singer is an expertly crafted, urbane, emotionally open Euro-pop that reflects the melancholy of life without ever becoming maudlin.
  4. Avey Tare – Down There (Paw Tracks)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Music as (swamp) water. Listening to Animal Collective or one of its members, I usually get the feeling I'm hearing something intensely personal, expressed digitally. Avey Tare’s solo album is no exception, as is his relentlessly unique uses of rhythm and song structure.
  5. The Depreciation Guild – Spirit Youth (Kanine)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Sweeping, romantic guitar-and-synth dream-pop peppered with old-school computer blips. "Dream About Me" was my favorite single from this past summer.
  6. Reds and Blue – Son of the Stars (Addenda)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Hip and groovy dance floor post-punk with a distinctly New Wave pop feel, due in no small part to Ellen Bunch’s sharp, slinky vocals.
  7. Azure Ray – Drawing Down the Moon (Saddle Creek)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor use electronics and acoustic guitars to weave graceful and passionately intimate confessions, with vocals that only occasionally rise above a whisper.
  8. To Rococo Rot – Speculation (Domino)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    The Berlin trio with the palindromic name conjures up an engrossing collage of deep beats and atmospheric grooves, continuing post-rock’s style of meditation and experimentation.
  9. Various Artists – Tradi-Mods vs. Rockers: Alternative Takes on Congotronics (Crammed Discs)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Various Western World artists explore and interpret the urban tribal music of Kinshasa, Congo, and create a kaleidoscope of unique hybrids that never lose the spirit of the source material.
  10. Blue Giant – Blue Giant (Vanguard)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    A vibrant blend of contemporary pop-country and alternative folk that alternates between thoughtful ballads and driving, anthemic jams.

Honorable Mentions

  • Korallreven – "The Truest Faith" + "Loved-Up" + "Honey Mine" + "A Dream (Mix Tape)" (Acephale)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    To me, this Swedish duo’s hypnotic, celestial tracks don’t sound like the “Next Big Thing” as much as “The Next Step” in electronic music, where melodies, samples, effects and grooves all melt together until they become indistinguishable.

Some more outstanding singles from 2010...
Coltrane Motion, "I Forgot There Was a War On"
El Guincho, "Bombay" (including the [NSFW] video)
How to Dress Well, "Ready for the World"
The Radio Dept., "Heaven's On Fire"
Twin Shadow, "Savannah Howel" and "Slow"
Laura Veirs, "Sleeper in the Valley"
Warpaint, "Undertow"
Zola Jesus, "I Can't Stand"

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Categorized: Best Albums of the Year

Topics: best of 2010

Richard Paul - The Quest writesRichard Paul’s Best of 2010

Chirp Radio's Best of 2010 continues with selections from CHIRP DJ Richard Paul.

  1. The Books – The Way Out (Temporary Residence)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    We've all always known these guys were geniuses.  This is their absolute masterpiece.
  2. Four Tet – There Is Love In You (Domino)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Everything this man touches turns to gold.  That is 100% accurate for his remixes.  After Everything Ecstatic, I was a little worried about his full-length work though. There is Love in You proves Kieren Hebden still has some Rounds left in him yet.
  3. Pantha du Prince – Black Noise (Rough Trade)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Track after track of sheer brilliance.
  4. Hot Chip – One Life Stand (Astralwerks)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Enjoyable, feel-good album.  Noteworthy tracks are "Brothers" and "Alley Cats."
  5. Faux Pas – Noiseworks (Sensory Projects/Heroics)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    A full-length can't be full enough from Australia's Tim Shiel.  After several EPs and sporadic demos this was a very welcome treat in 2010. Highly recommend you frequent his personal blog.
  6. Foals – Total Life Forever (Sub Pop)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Solid tracks from UK's Foals.  One of the most chill-giving songs of the year, "Spanish Sahara."
  7. Twin Sister – Color Your Life (Infinite Best)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Seems this is the most underrated album of the year.  Flew low under the radar with songs that should be getting much more time in the spotlight.
  8. The Chap – Well Done Europe (Lo Recordings)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    I thought these guys were done for with their past two releases being bombs, but they pulled out some nice songs true to their old style in this album.
  9. Caribou – Swim (Merge)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Every song is good on this album. But I felt they were all rather similar; the album played it kinda on the safe side, not very exploring.  This knocked it back a few spots on my list.
  10. Balmorhea – Constellations (Western Vinyl)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    I love me some instrumental post-rock.

Close Call

  • Belle & Sebastian – Write About Love (Matador)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Still havent gotten around to listening to this album all the way through, but sounds to me like one of the years best albums.

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Categorized: Best Albums of the Year

Topics: best of 2010

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