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The CHIRP Blog

Bobby Evers writesRediscovering Our Record Collections: Harvey Danger’s “Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone?”

My sister went to California and informed me of a new song I absolutely had to hear. But because we had DirecTV with MTV2 back at Mom and Dad’s, I’d already heard it. I didn’t get the record right away; I borrowed it from a friend and listened to it over and over again before buying it myself. Thankfully I was able to exchange an Everclear CD at K-Mart and traded it for this disc.

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Categorized: Rediscovering Our Record Collections

Mike Bennett writesFriday iPod/MP3 Shuffle—Happy Birthday Phil Lynott Edition

He was the charismatic black Irishman who melded Irish folk music with hard rock, sometimes sprinkling in some Van Morrison, yielding the indelible classic, “The Boys Are Back In Town”. If you ever see a video of Thin Lizzy, one thing is obvious — Phil Lynott was a rock star. While U.S. success was fleeting, Lynott fronted the band known for its dual lead guitars, cranking out dozens upon dozens of great songs and top notch albums like Jailbreak, Live And Dangerous and Black Rose (A Rock Legend). When punk and new wave came blasting out, Lynott didn’t run and hide. He rubbed shoulders with them, paying tribute on the tune “Back in ’79” (from his first solo album) and working with Midge Ure of Ultravox. Today, you can hear other bands influenced by Thin Lizzy, such as Ted Leo + Pharmacists (check out “Timourous Me”, which is pure Lizzy homage, though Ted claims otherwise). Let’s pay tribute to the great Phil Lynott on his birthday by grabbing the ol’ iPod/MP3 player, hitting shuffle, and sharing the first 10 tunes that come up.

  1. Jawbox — Send Down (Novelty): A number from the second Jawbox album, which found the band starting to really define its angular post-punk sound. This tune isn’t as intricately constructed as later song and has more of an early emo anthem vibe. In that respect, it plays a little bit closer to a Naked Raygun song. J. Robbins has a powerful enough voice to pull it off.
  2. Neil Finn — Souvenir (Try Whistling This): Finn’s first solo album did a great job of building on what he had been doing with Crowded House. This means Finn continued to pen superb sophisticated pop songs with layered instrumentation, articulate lyrics and melodies on par with John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Andy Partridge and Robyn Hitchcock. This song has a neat structure, using synthesized strings in the verses to play static parts to build tension, released by a jangly guitar that kicks the chorus in. The song has many parts to it, and they flow together seamlessly.
  3. The Sights — Talk To You (Are You Green?): These Detroit area garage rockers came in early during the wave of revivalists — i.e., right around the time of the The White Stripes. The band see-sawed between riffy proto-punk and cheerful Kinks-y pop tunes. On this song, both sides are on display. Which is very cool.
  4. Mott The Hoople — Momma’s Little Jewel (All The Young Dudes): A mid-tempo track with a little barroom piano added to the mix. This song sounds like a more playful version of Free.
  5. Big Dipper — Wet Weekend (Supercluster: The Big Dipper Anthology): A spin off of the likeminded Kansas post-punk pop band The Embarrassment, Big Dipper specialized in catchy rock tunes that were just a little bit askew. The lyrics often were a bit off-beat and the rhythms and melodies had little wrinkles that indicated they came from a post-Velvet Underground/Big Star world, rather than a more mainstream perspective. This is a very typical song, with a bouncy rhythm and a strong lead guitar line throughout the entire track, building up to a big chorus. This is the essence of ’80s college radio.
  6. Kitchens of Distinction — In a Cave (Love Is Hell): The Kitchens, on their first album, hadn’t fully fleshed out their big dramatic rock sound, but it was already pretty big. This is a slow burner of a song with ample helpings of the reverbing My Bloody Valentine-ish guitar work that was their trademark. Unlike MBV, the Kitchens had a much more spacious song, which was needed so vocalist Patrick Fitzgerald could have room to emote. These guys were lumped in with the shoegazer movement, for good reason, but they had the most vocal personality by far.
  7. The Guess Who — Baby’s Birthday (Shakin’ All Over): Before this Winnepeg, Canada band became stars for hits like “American Women”, they were a pretty typical ’60s rock band. They had a garage rock phase, but even during that period, they tried on all sorts of styles. This is a jangly rock tune that sounds somewhat like a Mike Nesmith Monkees’ tune. Randy Bachman’s twangy guitar sounds great.
  8. The Jam — Strange Town (Direction, Reaction, Creation): A fantastic tune that combines a Motown rhythm with a classic Brit pop tune. This is one of those songs that clearly inspired bands like Blur, The Smiths, The Stone Roses and others. Paul Weller at his best.
  9. All — Sugar and Spice (Allroy Sez): After Milo left The Descendents, Bill Stevenson formed the similar All. The first All album is an outstanding pop-punk record, chock full of great songs. Moreover, the playing, especially in the rhythm section, is really creative, giving the songs a unique stamp. This song is a warning about a girl who is going to break a friend’s heart. It has a dramatic, ominous feel to it, and has a super cool middle eight where the song breaks down to a whisper before slamming into the urgent chorus.
  10. Watermelon Men — Seven Years (Children of Nuggets): If someone hasn’t put together a compilation of this ’80s Swedish garage band, they should. The Watermelon Men really captured the feel of the original era of garage bands, with better fidelity. This song is one of those doomy folk-psych garage tunes.

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Categorized: Friday MP3 Shuffle


Erin Van Ness writesKing Pignacious and His Merry Swine: One Awesomely High-Concept CHIRP Fundraiser

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!

3111 N Western Ave.
Doors at 9pm. Show at 10pm. 21+

Read more and RSVP online!

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Categorized: Event Previews


Mike Bennett writesFriday iPod/MP3 Shuffle—Happy Birthday Feargal Sharkey Edition

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

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Categorized: Friday MP3 Shuffle


Karin Fjellman writesCHIRP Night at the Whistler next Monday!

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
No cover

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.

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Categorized: Event Previews

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