The CHIRP Blog
Get ready for a three night “Modern-Day Multimedia Rock Opera” at the Viaduct Theater!
CHIRP is thrilled to have the energetic 10-piece King Pignacious performing “A Swine’s Rise to Power”—a music and multimedia concept show about the hog army’s hard fight against employer based healthcare. Or, in their words, the fight to “Cut the Tubes and Free the Youth.”
If you’re a fan of great music and daring performances (being a CHIRP listener suggests you are), you won’t want to miss any of these three great shows.
Sat 8/28: w/ Red Hot Annie’s Burlesque Show and Stephanie Rearick
Sat 9/4: w/ Four Star Brass Band
Sat 9/11: w/ Fluid Minds
Tickets for each night are only $10 and one-third of that will help CHIRP in the fight for excellence in independent radio. We can’t wait to see you there!
THE VIADUCT THEATER
3111 N Western Ave.
Doors at 9pm. Show at 10pm. 21+
Read more and RSVP online!
His insistent ultra-Irish voice was the perfect vehicle for songs about teenage kicks, Mars bars, perfect cousins and wanting to be a male model. Feargal Sharkey was urgent and powerful, a perfect combination of bravado and uncertainty (the former, of course, masking the latter), and an energetic, lantern-jawed frontman for the pride and joy of Derry, Northern Ireland, The Undertones. While it’s possible that the ‘tones would have been successful with another singer, due to the high quality of the songwriting, Sharkey was the spirit that made the songs reach their full potential. Sadly, he has not come along with the boys since the band reunited, and wisely, the band found another Derry singer who sounds a fair amount like Feargal. Let’s pay tribute to Mr. Sharkey by grabbing the ol’ iPod or MP3 player, hitting shuffle and sharing the first 10 tunes to come up.
- Kenickie — Millionaire Sweeper (At The Club): A short-lived British all-female rock band who were named after a character from Grease (I think Jeff Conaway played him in the movie). Kenickie was somewhere in between Voice Of The Beehive and The Primitives, They specialized in wistful mid-tempo observational pop songs like this one. Romance never went very well in their songs, and this tune has a slight girl group vibe with a modern edge, and it comes across as sad but not utterly resigned to the prospects for love in the future. This is worth checking out as it is in dollar bins throughout the country.
- The Swingin’ Neckbreakers — Little Miss Copycat (The Return of Rock): The Neckbreakers are an excellent example of why garage rock will never get old. The blues chord progressions are standard, while the playing is spirited and Tom Jorgenson’s rough vocals are full of personality. The Neckbreakers were more than capable of Sonics-like intensity, which they balanced with lighter tunes such as this one.
- Glen Mercer — Whatever Happened (Wheels In Motion): The name might not be familiar, but Mercer is one of the main men behind The Feelies. He released his first solo album a few years ago, and it’s exactly what you’d expect from a Feelie. A heavy Velvet Underground influence and a mix of quieter songs with slow burning rock tunes ornamented with percussion fills. This is the best song on the whole album, and it fits in the burner category, creating a droning groove that could last forever as far as I’m concerned. I hope Mercer (or The Feelies) have something in the pipeline, as he is still a creative force.
- Steve Forbert — You Cannot Win If You Do Not Play (The Best of Steve Forbert): One of many artists who was unfairly saddled with a Bob Dylan comparison, Forbert was a talented folk-pop songwriter with a raspy voice. His biggest problem wasn’t as prolific a songwriter as he needed to be to put out really top notch albums. But every album had some gems on it. This is an upbeat bluesy folk-rocker. Nothing amazing, but Forbert is fully engaged and this song must have killed live.
- Divinyls — Back to the Wall (Essential Divinyls): The Aussie band best known for “I Touch Myself” started out as a ferocious rock act. I saw them open for the Psychedelic Furs in 1983, and they remain one of the loudest bands I ever heard. Saucy singer Christian Amphlett had one of the coolest raspy voices around. The band always had a penchant for hooks and their sound smoothed out as time went on. This is a mid-tempo slice of drama with a bit of ’60s pop influence. Good tune.
- Little Richard — Slippin’ and Slidin’ (Peepin’ and Hidin’)(The Georgia Peach): This is one of Richard’s own, but it sure sounds like a Fats Domino song, because of the distinctive voice of the one and only Richard Penniman. He’s not as crazed as on his best known songs, which only allows one to hear what a fabulous singer he was when not pushing the needle in the red. One other thing — his early sides always feature great musicianship, especially the drumming, which really swings.
- The Clash — Somebody Got Murdered (Sandinista!): As time marches on, more and more people are appreciating the greatness of Sandinista!. Obviously, over the course of nearly 3 hours of music, not every song works. But so many do. Joe Strummer and Mick Jones were spinning out some of the most amazingly diverse rock ever. This song is almost the flip side of the band’s angry cover of “Police On My Back”, with Jones full of empathy, decrying the taking of a life. The melody is fairly simple and guitar riff that drives the song is anthemic, but played in a toned down fashion.
- Sparks — How You Getting Home? (Indiscreet): My iPod is on an Indiscreet kick, apparently. This is Sparks’ take on ’50s rock and roll. You can hear some basic traditional rock, but with loads of extra chords and tempo changes that take traditional song structures and twist them. This song actually has about five or six different sections that mix together so fluidly that they might go by unnoticed. This is a second tier Sparks song, yet it still provides another example of the genius of Ron Mael.
- Wondermints — Darling (Wonderful World of Wondermints): The second Wondermints album is chock full of covers. This is a fantastic treatment of a song by The Stories, who are best known for their cover of Hot Chocolate’s “Brother Louie”. “Darling” is much more in the vein of The Left Banke, which is no surprise, since there were two former Left Banke members in The Stories. The Wondermints should do another covers album.
- To My Boy — Outerregions (Messages): This British band was a throwback to the ’80s post-punk synth-pop groups. This song sounds like Orchestral Maneouvres In The Dark meets Erasure (or any Vince Clarke project). This song is excellent on many levels, from the big hooks to the layered arrangement to the fine use of dynamics. A shame this didn’t capture the public’s fancy.
Incredible local music! Amazing drinks! Cool raffle prizes! It’s all at CHIRP Night at the Whistler! Check out this month’s featured local artists, In Tall Buildings & Helen Money, while DJ STV SLV (of Hood Internet) and Dena Masley (CHIRP) spin records throughout the night. A portion of the bar’s proceeds goes to CHIRP.
CHIRP Night at the Whistler
2421 N. Milwaukee
9:30pm – 2am
In Tall Buildings confounds expectations on their new self-titled Whistler release, unless you’re familiar with the force behind this project. Going by the name alone, you might think that In Tall Buildings would create an artificial and electronic sound, busy with blips and beeps but devoid of all life, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Indeed, there is a warmth and sense of space throughout the eight compositions on this debut that is palpable, and comes as a welcome refuge from the daily hubbub of urban life. Once one learns that In Tall Buildings is a solo project from Chicagoan Erik Hall, a guitarist and percussionist in NOMO, bassist in His Name Is Alive and drummer in Saturday Looks Good To Me, the quality of the songs and performance is less of a surprise, but the writing and the sound is still more contemplative than one might expect. The territory is the road well traveled of acoustic folk, but Hall does bring a fresh approach that warrants a close listen.
Another stellar example of musical work by an alter ego is Helen Money, the nom de plume of classically-trained cellist Alison Chesley. Lovers of music first had the chance to fall in love with Helen Money when she was known as the Alison half of Jason and Alison, and the love only got deeper with the advent and flowering of their group Verbow. Since the end of Verbow in 2001, Chesley’s cello has appeared on records by Anthrax, Broken Social Scene, Russian Circles, Chris Connelly, Disturbed, Poi Dog Pondering and Bob Mould (who produced the first Verbow record). Chesley’s second album under the name Helen Money, In Tune was recorded at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio studio and released last fall on Table of the Elements. The release features eight beautiful original compositions of vastly varying styles and paces (from chop-chop rock to dark ballads) and an awesome Minutemen cover. When she plays the CHIRP Night at The Whistler, she will have just returned from playing in the avant garde ensemble Carte Blanche (with Rhys Chatham) and under the Helen Money moniker at the Berles Rock Festival in Switzerland, and she will be opening for Shellac and Mission of Burma starting this September.
CHIRP currently is experiencing connection problems with our stream provider, Live365. Because of this, we are running backup programming — this is why you’re not seeing current information in the playlist and “now playing” sections of CHIRPradio.org. We have informed Live365 of the problem, which is on their end, not ours, and hope they will remedy the issue very soon. We apologize for the inconvenience, and we appreciate your patience.
This week we are paying tribute to one of the more recent tragic figures in rock music, Elliot Smith. Smith got his start with the band Heatmiser, and then went on to an influential solo career, playing delicate songs with his voice rarely above a whisper, that often unfolded into beautiful melodic pop songs. The beauty never overshadowed the vulnerability that seemed to lurk in every song. Sadly, he died in 2003, and the mystery as to whether he took his own life or was murdered has still not been resolved. But today, on Mr. Smith’s birthday, let’s celebrate the great music he gave us by getting out your iPod or MP3 player, hitting shuffle and sharing the first 10 songs that come up.
- The 1900s – Acutiplantar Dude (The 1900s): This local band is still playing out, but they are taking their own sweet time recording a follow up full length to their debut platter. At their best, as on this song, they traffic in an orch-pop sound that lies between the urbane Belle and Sebastian and more retro outfits like The Ladybug Transistor. Please put another album out soon, guys (and gals).
- Porter Wagoner with Merle Haggard – I Haven’t Learned a Thing (The Essential Porter Wagoner): A cautionary tale from Porter, joined by Merle Haggard, of a boy who played songs in church but ignored the message, becoming a drinkin’, sinnin’ musician. What makes this duet odd is that suddenly, during the second verse, Merle starts singing, with Porter narrating the same lyrics over Merle’s vocal. What I find most interesting is that whatever lessons there are in the Bible, I don’t recall any strong anti-alcohol messages. But if this song saved one person from a life of alcoholism, it was well worth it.
- The Move – Mist on a Monday (Movements: 30th Anniversary Anthology): This is very proper baroque British psych pop with woodwinds and dainty keyboards and strings and stuff. It was just a couple of steps from this song to the formation of Electric Light Orchestra.
- Sparks – The Lady Is Lingering (Indiscreet): Indiscreet was Sparks’ Sgt. Peppers. The Mael brothers collaborated with legendary producer Tony Visconti on an album with lots of orchestration and augmentation, with the Maels trying on a lot of new styles. In comparison to most of the album, this song is incredibly conventional – just a catchy mid-tempo guitar track. Which, in its own way, makes it the most unconventional song on this delightful album.
- Empire – Electric Guitar (Expensive Sound): This band was led by Bob Andrews, formerly of Generation X. The music certainly has roots in the classic catchy punk of that band, but there are some darker post-post punk overtones. This song could certainly have been an anthem for Billy Idol to wave his fist to, but it is subtler, as the guitar (which is awesome on this song) is celebrated with suspicion.
- The Lackloves – Hallmark Stars (Take a Seat) (Cathedral Square Park): Mike Jarvis is a master of retro pop songs that evoke the best of the lighter side of ‘60s (and even ‘50s) rock. This song has some majestic power pop jangly power chords that set up the Buddy Holly-meets-The Beau Brummels verses. Then the song downshifts into the sweet chorus – it’s dynamics in reverse. The harmonies also kick ass. These guys still play Milwaukee from time-to-time and are always worth seeing.
- Mott The Hoople – Sweet Jane (All The Young Dudes): Around the time David Bowie was producing Mott and giving them commercial viability, he was also working with Lou Reed. Perhaps Ian Hunter and crew already knew of this Velvet Underground classic, but, if not, then Ziggy Stardust surely turned them onto it. Mott doesn’t mess around with the arrangement, and Hunter turns in his usual bang up glam-Dylan lead vocal to make this version, to some people, the definitive one.
- Pernice Brothers – Goodbye, Killer (Goodbye, Killer): The new Pernice album has more of a spontaneous feeling and Joe’s vocals are a bit looser (it’s a subtle difference). This is very noticeable on the title cut. This jaunty acoustic number sounds a little bit like an old Faces number, mixing with a typically buttery smooth Pernice melody. Very nice.
- Santigold – Shove It (Santigold): Santi White’s debut album is such a great summer pop record, mixing everything from new wavey pop to R & B to reggae inflected songs such as this put down song. Alas, until she follows up this platter, we’ll have to live with this LP for one more summer.
- Bob Seger – Shame on the Moon (Greatest Hits II): This is probably the song that Bob lifted the melody for “Fire Lake” from and Bob felt guilty, so he had a hit with this too. This was originally written and recorded by country singer Rodney Crowell, who was, for many years, Roseanne Cash’s husband. While some folks look at this as MOR cheese, this is one hell of a song and Bob knows enough not to mess with Rodney’s tune. It is a well-suited for Seger’s sandpapery voice.