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The CHIRP Blog

Jocelyn writesA Little Birdie Told Me

That CHIRP would be participating in a Tweetup on Thursday, November 12th from 6:30 -10:30 p.m. at Tweet (5020 N. Sheridan Rd.). What’s all this? CHIRPing, Tweeting? It’s all a bunch of noise to you?

To those of you who are confused or are unsure why this matters, let’s take it from the top. CHIRP is going to participate in a Tweetup. It’s a meetup of people who mostly who know each other from twitter . Twitter + meetup = Tweetup. But if you aren’t on Twitter, it’s a way to learn more about CHIRP and meet people who are interested in independent media — Windy is also co-sponsoring.

I use Twitter for a variety of reasons (yes, I’ve been known to lament that there’s been Christmas items at Walgreens since September!), but one of the reasons it’s so helpful and fascinating to me is its presence as a de facto news reporting source. There have been countless times I have seen reports of a news item somewhere and gone directly to Twitter for the follow-up; getting the rest of the links, websites and good ol’ populous commentary that the web is so famous for.

I’ve also found a great community of people there. Done some networking, but mostly found a group of people who are interested in the same things I am: arts, culture, music, working for change, being active citizens. Twitter is truly what you make of it — it can be a fountain of mundane information or it can be a resource for valuable content.

C’mon out to the Tweetup. Learn more about CHIRP and Windy Citizen. Have a drink and a pancake with us. Be a part of the community of people interested in independent media and take that interest to action. It’ll be a great way to meet new people. At least, that’s what a little birdie told me.

Share October 28, 2009 Share on Facebook Tweet This!

Categorized: CHIRP Radio News and Info.

Mike Bennett writesiPod/MP3 Friday Shuffle — 51 Years of Smurfs Edition

What’s the iPod/MP3 Shuffle? It’s just a way to get people to share music and foster some discussion. I started doing this on my Facebook page a while back and it’s been great seeing friends exchange comments on each others lists. Every Friday, I get out my 120 GB iPod (which has about 24,000 songs now), hit shuffle and write about the first 10 songs that come up. Sometimes the 10 songs are kind of conventional, sometimes there’s a lot of obscure stuff. So check mine out and please add your own shuffle or discuss other people’s shuffles!


It was 51 years ago that the French devised an evil plan to get Americans to spend money on a cutesy cartoon. Yes, the Smurfs made their first appearance in a comic book. On another note, it was eight years ago that Apple introduced the iPod. So there are two good reasons for you to get your iPod/iTunes/MP3 player, hit shuffle and share the first 10 tunes that come up with everybody in Internetland:

  1. The Dentists — My Heart Is Like a Town You Moved Away From (Deep Six): The Dentists were an ’80s British indie pop band who almost everyone says got worse when they signed to a major. This basically translates as:* the music became a bit more slick and professional, as the songs were always catchy. I have had very little exposure to the band’s early stuff, so I only have to go on their two U.S. major label albums, and they contain lots of well crafted, jangly pop songs with clever lyrics, as indicated by the title of this song. It’s not all melancholy jangle, there’s a nice crunchy guitar instrumental break.
  2. The Virgin-Whore Complex — Succumb (Succumb): This is the type of band that would weave in excerpts of the Zodiac Killer’s letters into a song. In fact, they actually did this on a different song on this album. The basic approach is arch pop songs with decadent or macabre song writing. This song has a strummed mandolin (or is it a ukelele?) with mysterious keyboard sounds in the background, while the singer sketches out some bizarre scenarios that one should just give in to.
  3. The Ramones — Danny Says (End Of The Century): For some, this Phil Spector produced album is when the Ramones jumped the shark. While this album doesn’t rank up with the band’s first four classics, this was an album that the Ramones had to make. The band’s whole identity was based on taking classic ’60s pop-rock forms and playing them in speedy rocked up fashion. Why not try to just make real ’60s styled pop with one of the masters? The songwriting wasn’t consistent, but there were some songs that were truly Spector-worthy, and this charmer would have sounded great with Ronnie Spector or Darlene Love doing the lead vocal. Not that Joey doesn’t sound swell on this.
  4. David Garza — This Euphoria (This Euphoria): Garza is a Texas rocker who developed a big regional following. On his major label debut, he mixed big pop hooks with flights of fancy. On this song, he breaks out the falsetto on a psychedelic-pop number that shows that all of his years of making homemade recordings had made him quite the producer. The layers of guitars and keyboards and the use of various reverb and panning effects is very impressive. He was probably one big break away from becoming a star.
  5. The Undertones — Family Entertainment (The Undertones): The sugar coated spunky, punky pop of The Undertones has rarely been replicated. They fell somewhere between Ramones and Buzzcocks, probably leaning a bit more towards the latter, with so many of their songs driven by catchy lead guitar parts. And there’s also the unique and endearing lead vocals of Feargel Sharkey and, on this track, the great sing along chorus and the synchopated Gary Glitter style drum beats.
  6. Johnny Cash — Ring Of Fire (The Legend): Listening to this on headphones is a trip. The mariachi horns, backing vocals and Johnny’s plucked guitar are on the left channel, while his vocal is on both sides, and the drums, bass and the other guitar part are on the right. Oh, and there’s a piano on the right side too.
  7. The Living End — Roll On (Roll On): This Aussie punk band comes off like a cross between the early Clash and Green Day. Their gimmick is that their bass player plays a stand up bass, and sometimes they throw in a bit of rockabilly. But for the most part, this is full of big fat melodic guitar riffs, non-specific “political” lyrics, and choruses that usually involve a bit of group shouting. This is pretty rousing.
  8. Simon & Garfunkel — Kathy’s Song (Old Friends): For whatever reason, Simon & Garfunkel doesn’t seem to get bandied about as a hip ’60s influence, as opposed to let’s say The Kinks or The Zombies. But Paul Simon wrote so many great songs. He had the ’50s rock and pop background, but was also attuned to the ’60s folk scene. He was at the forefront of the blending of folk and pop (along with The Byrds, Donovan, The Beatles and others) and wrote some of the best lyrics of the era. This is pretty much a straight folk tune, with Art Garfunkel apparently taking a bathroom break.
  9. The Morells — Don’t Let Your Baby Buy a Car (The Morells): From the first come back album from this classic Springfield, Missouri roadhouse band. The Morells were on par with NRBQ, playing rock ‘n’ roll, country, R & B, power pop, and anything else that’s rootsy. This is a jaunty mid-tempo honky tonk number with Uncle Lou Whitney telling a cautionary tale (“cause there she goes/and there you are.”).
  10. Yo La Tengo — Sometimes I Don’t Get You (I Am Not Afraid Of You and I Will Beat Your Ass): This 2006 YLT release is bookended by droning Velvet Underground inspired numbers and in between, the band indulges in a variety of different styles. This is a tender ballad with Ira Kaplan breaking out his falsetto. The song definitely has a bit of a soul vibe, though it’s more twee soul than deep soul.

Share October 23, 2009 Share on Facebook Tweet This!

Categorized: Friday MP3 Shuffle


DJ JMZ writesChicago Independent Potential

Chicago Independent Radio Project is completely volunteer run. No one is making money from this endeavor. A bunch of music lovers just thought, “Hey, we should start an independent radio station.” Well, that was a couple years ago now, but soon it will be up and running. Beginning in January, you’ll be able to tune in online and hear disks jockeyed by real live people, and hopefully within the next few years you’ll be able to tune in on the old fashioned radio to the same station and rock out during your commute.

What CHIRP has accomplished so far is no small feat, and I’m not sure people truly realize how much an independent radio station could mean to Chicago (the FCC certainly doesn’t.) As the media forever falls into the abyss of corporatization, our country basks in capitalism, and new technologies usurp the old, the independent world finds its spaces endlessly fluctuating – up and down, more and less, something akin to the Emperor tightening its grip on the galaxy: the more it tries to hold onto, the more will slip through its fingers.

For a big metropolitan area, Chicago has a lot of “small scale” potential. Small art stores, galleries, and indie venues dot the map, but few things beyond the streets themselves tie them together, they lie in the ether waiting for those “in the know” to go and check them out. Of course that is part of the draw, being one of the few-ish to know, and these places can’t always handle a large crowd, for a multitude of reasons. CHIRP, however, can handle all of these people, and then some.

CHIRP has a virtually limitless threshold for the independently minded media and arts consumer, many of whom are the same people that venture out into the city to discover the independent stores, galleries, and venues. In the independent’s world competition is not number one. Cooperation is. Originality must always be the Independent’s weapon of choice and it must work through the conduit of community. CHIRP has the potential to be that conduit; a “physical” entity around which community can be built.

This is what CHIRP should, in part, be (aside from a radio station.) CHIRP can reach out to those underground and independent groups and shine some light on them, exposing their alternative offerings to those who are interested in being a part of a scene, a community, or even a movement. Hopefully, if you have come to this website, and if you are reading this, you know what I’m talking about and are one of the many in this city and country who are tired of being spoon fed the same superficial and sensationalist media. If that’s the case you’ve come to the right place.

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Categorized: CHIRP Radio News and Info.


Nicole Oppenheim: Ear Candy writesMidwestern Housewife: The Halloween Edition

Hey, kids! It’s that time of year again. Time to carve up squashes and gourds so the squirrels, rats, and pigeons can eat them before you’re able to use them as luminaria. Time to invest in bags of high fructose corn syrup-laden treats to pass out to the costumed neighborhood kids who ring your doorbell. Most importantly, time to sing yours truly a rousing and heartfelt “Happy Birthday to You”!!!

As those of us with October birthdays well know, this month belongs to ghosts and ghouls, not to us. Every year it’s birthday greetings with pumpkins and scarecrows, birthday cakes decorated with candy corn, and plush jack-o-lantern-themed birthday gifts. I hated it as a kid, but now I think it’s awesome in a kitschy kind of way. I mean, really—what better way to celebrate the day of your birth than with skeletons, vampires, demons and other symbols of death? Sweet!

So, yes, my birthday is nigh on 6 days away and for the first time in years I’m actually looking forward to it. Why? Because my husband and I are getting the f*@# outta Dodge! Woo hoo! My mom is coming in from out of state to watch the kids (and also get some quality grandma time with them) so that the hubby and I can have a weekend to ourselves. I can’t wait! It’s a chance for me to take off the 500-pound mantle of parental responsibility that I schlep around on a daily basis and don the carefree ingénue face that’s left over from the halcyon days of my youth. Okay, okay. So I’m too old to be an ingénue, not to mention infinitely over-experienced, but it’s a nice fantasy in which I like to indulge from time to time. Seriously, though, the difference between life with kids and life with kids at Grandma’s is akin to living a Jekyll and Hyde existence.

At home, I’m an ber-responsible mom of twins who dutifully reads and rereads toddler books to her kids, helps build forts out of folding chairs and comforters, composes new and exciting renditions of “Bingo”, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”, and “Old MacDonald,”— not to mention watching endless hours of quality children’s programming. I try to engage in activities with the kids that are fun for all of us, too, like building huge Lego towers and then stomping them into oblivion, pretending to be Godzilla. (I’ve even gotten Winchie to scream “MOTHRA!!” a couple of times!) It’s fun for the kids and it’s a surprisingly effective way to relieve stress for me. Win-win!

I should add, in spite of the fun activities, that most days when I’m in mommy-mode I feel like I’m 438 years old. Yes, I expose my kids to underground music, vintage claymation, and outsider art, which a true 438-year-old probably wouldn’t, but the extra responsibility is what makes me feel older than Yoda. (I know…I know…Yoda was 872 or something, but you see what I’m getting at here). In my mind when I’m with the kids, I’m this bizarre chimera with Queen Elizabeth II’s hair, my grandmother’s wrinkled octogenarian face, the body of the Venus of Willendorf, and the feet of a Hindu sage who is still getting used to walking over hot coals: cumbersome, frumpy, and, for lack of a better term, ooooooooolllllllddddd. When I look in the mirror, it’s me, but with a crusty, curmudgeonly veneer, not unlike the ubiquitous latex masks for sale in every Walgreen’s this time of year.

When the kids go away, so does said veneer. In my husband’s words, I lose that “dead look” in my eyes and the sprightly, mischievous sparkle I had as a nullipara returns. I suddenly feel like I’m 25 again and that the world is mine for the taking. I’m not beaten down, resigned to my fate. No! I am the Lizard Queen! I can do anything! I can shatter the veneer of responsibility with sheer will and shine all the brighter for it. I’ve been known to dance in the streets and sing bawdy songs about the circus. Never having been incarcerated, I have no idea how it feels to be released after an extended stay in jail, but I’m guessing it’s something like this.

Does that mean I hate my kids? My role as a mother? My life? No. Of course not. My kids are kick ass and I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world. I enjoy being a mom, if, for no other reason than to ensure that there will be artists, musicians, writers, and dreamers walking the planet for generations to come. I love having the time I do at home with my children. Watching them grow and learn has been the most joyfully edifying experience of my life. I have grown and matured right alongside them. Having had this experience, I would never return to life the way it was before they arrived.

But, tempus fugit and all that. It’s birthday time again and time for me to let my inner Hyde out to explore the world, if only for one short weekend. Like a kid, I’m hoping to get one of the two things on my b-day wish list: white 20-eye Doc Martens or a framed mirror decorated with pictures of vintage Mexican pin-up ladies, sequins, and glitter. (Fingers crossed!) But the best present of all will be from my mom: Time. Time to reclaim some of my pre-parenthood identity. Time to shed the veneer of responsibility for a while. Time to reconnect with my senses of humor, style, and self. Time for me. And, of course, time to eat my weight in peanut M&Ms and Almond Joys. Hooray for Halloween! Have a great one, y’all!

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Categorized: Midwestern Housewife


CHIRP DJ writesRediscovering Our Record Collections: Sloan’s “Twice Removed”

In 1994 I happened to have a decent local radio station still rollicking in its hey-day. That’s where I discovered Sloan. I remember hearing “Penpals” in the carpool home from school (when it was my turn to pick the radio station), wondering “Where is Algeria?” and “Who is this band?” It only took a few more glimpses on the radio to head over to Harmony House and pick up my first independent record, “Twice Removed” by Sloan. This was one of those records that I could play on repeat all day after school. It had a starring role on many mix tapes throughout high school. It made guest appearances throughout college and then kind of faded away into my CD collection.

Keep Reading…

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Categorized: Rediscovering Our Record Collections

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