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CHIRP DJ writesDreams Are Illegal in the Hood

Urban Punk is the newest street wear line created by husband and wife team, Fred and Fallon Jones. Since the launch in March 2009, they have become a hit in the Chicagoland area.

Urban Punk was established after the two creative personas formed the idea because they were fed up with the stereotypes and violent acts that were happening in Englewood. Finding unique apparel to wear to house parties was also an issue in which Fred encountered.

The raw and edgy types of clothes in the Urban Punk collection evoke a different way of expressing oneself opposed to guns and drugs. The logos consist of multi-colored lettering, with the initials U and P intermingling. “It is what it is,” says Fallon of Urban Punk. It can be different for each person who wears it, with the meaning of their clothing subjective to one’s own thoughts.

Their latest designs show a baby holding up the middle finger. Fallon adds this expression can mean many things, including “F” society right now especially since the nation is under so much stress. “If the message offends you then, Urban Punk is not for you,” says Fallon.

Who are they? Fred, a tall overwhelming friendly individual and his beautiful wife Fallon are the owners of this urban movement and are both native southsiders. Fred and Fallon wanted to create something that helps and has ties to the Southside of Chicago. Stereotypically, people envision the Southside full of gang bangers and drug lords. How ever this is not the case with these two individuals who do not fit this stereotype. They are extremely intelligent and eloquent.

They embodied, “the get fresh attitude and straight forward bluntness of the clothing,” as Fallon likes to describe the concept of Urban Punk.

While speaking with them you could not help but notice their attire, Fallon dressed in hot pink leopard leggings, black bangles and a black Urban Punk T-Shirt. Fred rocked an inspired theme “Kid & Play” high top fade, high top sneakers coupled with a black Urban Punk hoodie to complete the ensemble.

Throughout their hard work and creative vision, UP has grown from a local grassroots movement to now catching the eye of some very influential people within the music industry. The patriarch of the funk music genre, George Clinton is a fan of their designs and fashion forward clothing line. In addition, famous Chicagoans are beginning to take notice like Phil G and Rhymefest.

“We are not your cookie cutter line,” says Fred. Urban Punk has a fall look book coming out and they are making efforts to remain timeless. The Jones’ say they are willing to work hard despite the fact money is tight, all efforts are going into what they believe is a great opportunity.

For more information on Urban Punk visit @ and to purchase their t-shirts visit Leaders 1354 (located 672 N. Wells Chicago, IL).

Share November 30, 2009 Share on Facebook Tweet This!

Categorized: Community


Mike Bennett writesiPod/MP3 Friday Shuffle — Black Friday Shopping Edition

It’s the Day After Thanksgiving! So please do your patriotic duty and go shopping! There may be a $10 DVD player or a Jonas Brothers robot set that you have to get! When you take a break from rampant consumerism, please grab your iPod or MP3 player, hit shuffle and share the first 10 songs that come up. Yes, the gift of music is always the best!

  1. Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions — I Loved and I Lost (The Anthology 1961-1977): One of Chicago’s soul greats, Mayfield mastered so many different aspects of soul.  This is superb tender ballad, with Mayfield emotionally rendering the lyrics with his falsetto, but never oversinging. The horn arrangements are really sweet on this track.
  2. Sloan — Live the Life You’re Dreaming Of (Never Hear The End Of It): This Canadian power pop band may not have peaked yet.  One of the few bands that has managed to carry four songwriters without any of those dreadful “artistic differences,” and, more amazingly, maintain its core sensibility, Sloan may have reached a peak on this 2006 album.  The band churned out 30 songs which displayed every facet of the band from hard rock to pop on par with XTC and The Beatles to tender ’70s singer-songwriter type material, like this song, one of the few numbers on the disc that runs past four minutes.
  3. Split Enz — Ghost Girl (Corroboree): Two weeks in a row for this Enz album.  This is a mid-tempo tune from the pen of Tim Finn and showcases his wonderful voice.  This number is heavy on the atmosphere with some alternating spooky and lacerating lead guitar from brother Neil and an ominous bass part.
  4. The Shazam — Gonna Miss Yer Train (Godspeed The Shazam): These guys are the Southern Cheap Trick, playing hard power pop influenced by The Who, The Move and, of course, the Tricksters themselves.  In keeping with the title, this song chugs along, driven by a heavy bass line.  Like the best early Cheap Trick the heavy rock is leavened by some strong melodies, particularly coming out of the chorus.
  5. Fleetwood Mac — Storms (Tusk): In some circles, this 1979 album, a million dollar double album that took two years to come to fruition, was considered an overstuffed mess.  Over time, some folks claim that this is the Mac’s best moment.  Certainly, this is where Lindsey Buckingham was able to unleash his inner Brian Wilson, and there are a lot of inspired tracks.  That being said, the overall product lacks a bit of cohesion.  Which isn’t the worst thing in the world, as the quality of some songs was revealed over time.  This is a good example, a gentle Stevie Nicks ballad, with a very (and appropriately) restrained performance from Stevie.
  6. The Beatles — For No One (Revolver): A devastating break up song from the pen of Paul McCartney.  This is a brilliant construction, with Macca’s elegant melody riding on top of the ebbing, percussive piano.  On top of that, his lyrics are economical, yet they tell a full story.  This is pretty close to a perfect song.
  7. Peter Brown — Dance With Me (Fantasy Love Affair): Brown was a D.I.Y. disco artist who managed two Top 40 hits — this tune and “Do You Wanna Get Funky With Me?”.  I remember that he was featured on 60 Minutes, which was investigating the disco phenomenon.  It turned out he recorded the bulk of this album in his bedroom.  The song is a mid-tempo disco tune with strings, a prominent bass and that pea-soup beat.  And the best part of the song is the middle eight, with soulful backing singers doing a choral “Row Row Your Boat” thing with the phrase, “You gotta keep dancing, because you’re making me high, you gotta keep, keep dancing, keep making me high.“  Or something like that.  Over 30 years later, this song still sounds pretty cool.
  8. Danny Wilson — Girl I Used To Know (Meet Danny Wilson): Suave Scottish pop from the band who had a hit in the ’80s with “Mary’s Prayer”.  If you like that song, chances are you’ll dig the tunes on their debut, as they all exude that passionate romanticism.  This song manages to mix the falsetto vocals and swirling keyboard sounds with a shuffling rhythm that could have come off of a contemporary Smiths record.
  9. Shoes — Will You Spin For Me (Silhouette): The pride of Zion, Illinois!  These power pop legends could not find an American label after being dropped by Elektra in the mid-‘80s.  Hence, this album was originally only an import.  Their earnest harmony laced guitar pop having fallen on deaf ears, the band threw scads of keyboards into the mix in an attempt to be more contemporary.  It didn’t work over the course of the album, but on this track the electronics enhanced the tune, rather than worked against it.
  10. John Lee Hooker — Wednesday Evening (The Legendary Modern Recordings): What a commanding performer.  There are only three elements in this ‘arrangement.‘  Hooker’s guitar, which plucks out bent notes and reverberating rhythmic strums, his wounded voice, and the constant sound of his foot tapping a rhythm on the floor.  Even if you can’t fully grasp the lyrics, you know this dude is in trouble, and you can only hope the song he is singing is going to save him.

Share November 27, 2009 Share on Facebook Tweet This!

Categorized: Friday MP3 Shuffle


Nicole Oppenheim: Ear Candy writesMidwestern Housewife: I’ll Take the Physical Challenge

Holidays are anniversaries of a sort. We’re celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Winter Solstice/Saturnalia/Festivus like we do every year, by getting together with our families, eating huge meals, watching TV, and giving gifts. These holiday get-togethers are usually hectic and always chock full o’ nostalgia—we miss those family members and friends who are no longer with us and we reminisce about the events of past holiday seasons. We can’t help it. It’s either something in the air or those tasty gingerbread lattes that everyone mainlines this time of year.

At the risk of sounding like a bad Hallmark commercial, as I stood in a favorite coffee shop debating the merits of hot spiced cider versus said gingerbread latte, I came to the conclusion that life is short. This silly decision shouldn’t have required the amount of time and brainpower I was giving it. So, I’ve decided to make my new year’s resolution early this year—or late, depending on how you feel about Rosh Hashanah. It goes something like this: Don’t waste time sweating things like mortgages, waist circumference, and whether anyone at future class reunions will notice my ever-deepening crow’s feet. (Of course they will. And they’ll all have their own sets, too. Oh, the joys of aging.) Enjoy the time here because it is a precious thing that should be spent it in the company of loved ones and friends. Engage in enjoyable tasks, not tedious ones.

Why the platitudes, you may ask? You can chalk it up to holiday-related nostalgia, but, as with many things, you can also blame Facebook. Thanks to a status update by one of my cousins, I was recently thinking about the last words of famous people. It got me curious, so I googled some of them. You’d be surprised how many pages are devoted to the subject. By and large, there were three themes: One, I’ve been a bad, bad person and am going straight to hell, so don’t bother praying for me (aka Repent Sinners! The end is near!). Two, I’m going to say something funny because I fancy myself a renegade and humor at this point seems inappropriate enough to cement my irreverent persona (see: Humphrey Bogart, Oscar Wilde, Dylan Thomas). Three, most applicable here, life is so short that I would give anything I possess to have just a few more minutes with the people I love. My dad falls into this latter category, so I find it especially poignant. (Sidenote: cancer sucks.)

This is what was on my mind while searching for just the right toy for my kids this year. I’m sure I’m not the only person on the planet to think about death while in a toy store at Christmas time, but really—what‘s the point? Is it worth giving yourself an ulcer worrying about whether Toys R Us will have enough of this year’s cool toy so your kid(s) won’t curse your name on Xmas morning? And what exactly does that teach your kids? What’s the point of walking around in a Norman Rockwell-inspired fog of idealized family life when in reality the same idealized set of people tend to drive you past the point of rationality in a mere 20 minutes? Of course you’ll have a profanity-laced meltdown a la Clark Griswold in “Christmas Vacation” if you set yourself up like this. Who was it who said that TV is the only thing that keeps families from killing each other over the holidays? Whoever it was was surely a modern day sage. (Now that I think about it, perhaps it was Bart Simpson. Yay, Simpsons writers.).

So, why do we delude ourselves into thinking materialism or notions of perfection are remotely important? And why do they always enter the forefront of our collective mind this time of year in particular? I realize these questions have been asked ad nauseum—Miracle on 34th Street, anyone?—and, because I’m not terribly clever, I’m asking them one more time. Seriously. So I’ve decided to dare my readers (all three of you—Hi, Mom!) to make this holiday season as stress-free as possible. Find the thing that drives you craziest about the season and neutralize it.

Hate buying useless crap for people just because it’s the holiday season and you think you have to? I dare you not to do it. Maybe buy one really nice gift, or, better yet, make something for your loved ones (DIY!! DIY!!) and leave it at that. It will be much more meaningful to the recipient(s) than a truckload of junk du jour and you will escape the mall zombies and subsequent stress, not to mention the amount of money and resources you’ll save on wrapping accoutrements. Your relatives will thank you and so will Mother Nature.

Hate cooking a huge meal for everyone—or worse, cooking a huge meal and then having people gripe about it? I dare you not to do it. Start your own tradition of pizza and/or Chinese take-out at holiday gatherings. I know I give thanks for my local restaurants all the time, why should the holidays be any different? Or have each of your guests bring a favorite food for dinner. Sure, you may end up with an entire table of donuts, goldfish crackers, and peanut butter cups, but is that really such a bad thing? At the very least it will be memorable, and isn’t that the point?

My family always wanted the “perfect” holiday. The problem is that such a thing doesn’t exist, hence the quote marks. Mom and Dad may have wanted me to remember fondly the Cabbage Patch doll for which they engaged in fisticuffs with other suburban parents when I was 7, the perfectly-roasted turkey at each Thanksgiving, and the lack of televised football at family shin digs each holiday season, and I do remember that stuff. But I also remember them freaking out about charred potatoes au gratin (Dear God! Now what will we serve our guests?!?), a tarnished silver coffee service set (Mom’s gonna be pissed! It never looked like this at her house!), and post-party stains on the rug (Goddamn that kid! He doesn’t understand the value of anything!!) Why? In the grand scheme, did any of that really matter? My dad’s last words were about how much he loved me and my mom, not about how much he wished he’d polished up that sugar bowl for Grandma’s coffee on Christmas Eve 1982.

So I dare you to have fun this holiday season. I dare you to let go of the stress and create something meaningful. Enjoy each other’s company as best you can. This is what I want for my kids. They will be getting toys on Christmas, but only a couple. They will be getting a tasty meal for Thanksgiving—sans turkey carcass as we’re vegetarians. And most importantly, they will be getting sane parents who show them that we care about THEM, not about stuff. I dare you to start your own traditions this holiday season—whatever you find most meaningful—and free yourself from needless pressure and corresponding regret. Enjoy yourself, because life is short.

Share November 24, 2009 Share on Facebook Tweet This!

Categorized: Midwestern Housewife


Mike Bennett writesiPod/MP3 Friday Shuffle — Happy Birthday Mike D. Edition

You’ve got to fight for your right to birthday party!  Hey ladies (and gents), it’s a Beastie Boy b-boy b-day for Mike D.  So get out your iPod/iTunes/MP3 player, put it on shuffle, then hold it now hit it, and share the first 10 tunes that come up with everyone.

  1. Mandy Barnett — Falling Falling Falling (I’ve Got A Right To Cry): Mandy Barnett is a wonderful country vocalist who has, unfortunately, not recorded much.  She put out a couple of records back in the ‘90s, but once those didn’t hit, she earns her dough playing Patsy Cline in a musical revue, and sometimes appearing at the Grand Ole Opry.  And Patsy Cline is certainly one of the reference points.  Mandy is a natural classic country singer.  On this album, she works with Nashville session pros, and the result is a time warp — this loping honky-tonk number sounds like it could have come out in 1965.
  2. Mott The Hoople — Crash Street Kidds (The Ballad Of Mott: A Retrospective):*  Mott is often lumped in with the ‘70s Brit glam rockers, primarily due to their association with David Bowie, who wrote their breakthrough song, “All the Young Dudes”.  But, for the most part, Mott didn’t have a glam sound.  The bands songs were more in line with Bob Dylan and The Faces.  They also had a proto-heavy metal side, more evident on their earliest work.  This song edges towards that, powered by a crunchy guitar riff.  The song also has a surprising use of dynamics, dropping into silence before launching into some more guitar tomfoolery.
  3. Dogmatics — MTV O.D. (1981-86):  In the wake of punk, there were bands all over America that played basic rock, but with a snotty edge.  Once a while, a band like that became The Replacements.  More often, the band was like Dogmatics.  This music isn’t quite as retro as garage rock, but it works traditional elements in a fresh way.  The band had relatively interesting lyrics, as on this slow bluesy dirge which laments a life wasted watching Quiet Riot and Martha Quinn for hours on end.
  4. John Hiatt — I Could Use An Angel (All Of The Sudden):  Hiatt is best known as a Adult Alternative pioneer, with a gruff voice and clever rootsy tunes.  Before he broke through with Bring The Family in 1987, Hiatt was actually positioned as an American alternative to Elvis Costello, Graham Parker and Joe Jackson.  His third and fourth records were very much in the Costello mode, but with thin production.  That wasn’t a problem for his Geffen Records debut.  Tony Visconti (production credits include David Bowie, T. Rex, Sparks, The Boomtown Rats) provided lush, dense backing for Hiatt’s snide, tense tunes.  This is one of the best songs on the album, a propulsive slice of drama.
  5. Prince — Dirty Mind (Dirty Mind):  The early-‘80s were such a rich period musically, because so many artists were disregarding genre boundaries and bringing different styles together.  Prince certainly did his part, bringing together his deep understanding of R & B and funk with the keyboard oriented sounds of the so-called New Wave.  This produced fabulous pop music.  I think one of the secrets is that the trebly keyboards and computer drums mixed with a heavier bottom that made Prince’s sturdy songs all the more appealing.  This song works a constant chilly rhythm with just enough melody to make it work.
  6. LCD Soundsystem — Thrills (LCD Soundsystem):  I’m sure that somewhere in the world, there is an LCD Soundsystem backlash, but I haven’t seen it.  Both LCD albums have been universally acclaimed.  James Murphy has mastered a modern electronic dance music vocabulary, but he has a strong sense of history, so influences like Kraftwerk, David Bowie, Television and The Fall, just to name a few, pop up in his work.  This song is a good fit after the Prince tune, as it also works a single rhythm to death, but Murphy layers the various percussive sounds and adds other variations to keep this lesser cut fairly interesting.
  7. Hepcat — Mama Used To Say (Right On Time):  This L.A. band played a more traditional R & B inflected version of ska than many of punkier ska outfits of the ‘90s.  This really is more of a pure reggae number, with bright horns and sunny vocals. Singer Alex Desert was in the supporting cast of the shockingly long lived Ted Danson sitcom Becker.
  8. The Young Nashvillians — Eagle Man (The Sad Smiles Of The Young Nashvillians):  A lot of high school and college students got together to jam in basements throughout America.  Some cut their teeth on “Gloria” or “2112”.  Others wrote silly songs, inspired by some of the post-punk and New Wave sounds of the time.  Most never recorded those songs, but The Young Nashvillians were discovered by members of The White Animals, a popular Nashville band of the early-‘80s, and they put out a couple of records, compiled onto one CD.  The playing is suspect in spots, but, for the most part, it’s good enough.  The songs are inspired fun.  This is somewhere between white boy funk and The B-52s, with some relatively ambitious harmony vocals.  Good stuff.
  9. The Beach Boys — Girl Don’t Tell Me (Today!/Summer Days and Summer Nights):  This is one of those pre-Pet Sounds songs that indicated what a terrific composer Brian Wilson was.  This is an mid-tempo acoustic love lament that sounds simple on the surface, but is full of sophisticated melodic tricks.  At different points, the melody rises and falls, in such an unconventional fashion, but without sounding dissonant or odd.  This wasn’t a major hit for The Beach Boys, but it ranks among their best songs.
  10. Peggy Lee — Don’t Smoke In Bed (Miss Peggy Lee):  I think Peggy Lee has one of the sexiest voices ever.  It’s honeyed and enticing, mixing a sweetness with a knowing edge.  Her readings of lyrics are always brilliant.  She captures the essence of the song.  On this break up tune, she balances the sadness of leaving a relationship with the knowledge that she is doing the right thing.  I’m no expert on torch and saloon singers, but that won’t stop me from declaring that next to Sinatra, Peggy Lee was the best pop singer of the pre-rock ‘n’ roll era.

Share November 20, 2009 Share on Facebook Tweet This!

Categorized: Friday MP3 Shuffle


Erin Van Ness writesMusic Is The Weapon

We are incredibly excited to be a part of Music is the Weapon 2, a DJ event that showcases and benefits local non-profits. Come by Between Lounge at 1324 N. Milwaukee from 930pm to 2am on December 12, have a drink or two, and get into the groove while you show your support for CHIRP. We’ll be splitting 15% of the bar proceeds with Rumble Arts of Humboldt Park. The more you drink, the more money we make! Not a drinker? Not a problem. CHIRP will be taking donations all night, so feel free to stop by, drop a buck or two in our donation jar, and get ready to dance! You must be 21+ to enter Between Lounge.

Share November 17, 2009 Share on Facebook Tweet This!

Categorized: Event Previews


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