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The CHIRP Blog

Karin Fjellman writesCelebrate our successful fundraising campaign tonight at Crown Tap Room!

Yes! We hit our goal for our spring fundraising drive yesterday — and it’s all thanks to your amazing support! So tonight, come out and celebrate with us for a night of great local music and merriment. It all goes down at 9:30pm at Crown Tap Room in Logan Square, and features music from Dark Fog, Unmanned Ship, and Black Wyrm Seed! Hope to see you there!

CHIRP benefit at Crown Tap Room
2821 N Milwaukee Ave

Dark Fog
Unmanned Ship
Black Wyrm Seed

$5 suggested donation

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Categorized: Event Previews

Shawn Campbell writesWe did it!

Thank you so much to everyone who contributed during our spring fundraising campaign! You helped us meet — and pass — our $10,000 goal!

We’re so grateful to you for your belief in and support of CHIRP Radio. Since we launched last January (and even before), hundreds of you have stepped up to support live, local radio for Chicago and beyond. CHIRP truly is a labor of love, built and staffed by more than 150 volunteers, and without our listeners and supporters, none of our work would be possible.

Whether it’s a campaign like this, a Record Fair, or another CHIRP effort, it’s amazingly humbling and exciting to see the warmth and enthusiasm our supporters feel for the station. Thank you so much for believing in us, and for making this station possible.

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Categorized: CHIRP Radio News and Info.

Mike Bennett writesFriday iPod/MP3 Shuffle—Happy Birthday Tommy James Edition

Tommy James may not have exactly been a bubblegum singer, but he paved the way for the style with his early simple hits, like “Hanky Panky” and “Mony Mony”. As his career went on, he showed more sophistication, coming up with classic Top 40 hits such as “Crystal Blue Persuasion”, “Dragging The Line” and his triumph as a songwriter, the psychedelic pop gem “Crimson and Clover”. Tommy has recently penned an acclaimed memoir, still plays out on occasion and has made millions of people happy. In his honor, get your iPod or MP3 player, hit shuffle, and share the first ten songs that come up.

  1. Buddy Holly — It’s So Easy (The Buddy Holly Collection): Buddy sure made it seem so easy to write instantly hooky rock songs. I first heard this song in a hit cover by Linda Ronstadt, and Linda knew not to mess around with the arrangement, just let Buddy’s songwriting do the trick. This has a really playful vocal from Buddy and is a great mix of pop with rock ‘n’ roll underpinnings.
  2. Bread — Everything I Own (Anthology): Speaking of hooks, very few early ’70s songs are as memorable as this classic from the pen of David Gates. During the ’70s, critics acknowledged the craft, but savaged the sap. Nearly 40 years down the line, it sweetness and sincerity overcomes any cheese factor on this terrific song.
  3. Roberto Jordan — Juntos Felices (40 Temas Originales): This Mexican singer made a good living covering Anglo hits of all types. These recordings are a bit low budget and feature some of the most unintentionally haunting backing vocals ever. This is Jordan’s take on The Turtles’ “Happy Together”, which takes on a bit of a melancholy gloss with the production. It’s as if the backing thinks the singer is full of crap.
  4. Nothing Painted Blue — Drinking Game (Placeholders); A great tune from what might be this California band’s best album. Franklin Bruno was a limited vocalist with quite the vocabulary (no wonder he wrote a book on Elvis Costello’s Armed Forces album). Bruno was an adept composer, with solid melodies and creative song structures. This song has a whiff of Costello, but also some ’70s R & B elements, and a memorable chorus.
  5. Yello — Ballet Mecanique (Claro Que Si): So much of Yello’s music, before they totally fell into dance floor fodder, sounded like it was made for film soundtracks. The structures were dramatic, and the keyboards were layered to allow for sonic space and room for Dieter Meier’s dramatic vocals. On their first three albums, every song had at least one or two ridiculously catchy parts. This song has a memorable guitar repeating guitar figure that comes in midway through that sounds like Snakefinger playing reggae.
  6. Japan — Ghosts (Left Of The Dial: Dispatches From the ’80s Underground): This band, featuring David Sylvian and Mick Karn, did an artier post-punk variation on the moodier side of Roxy Music, down to the vibrato in Sylvian’s voice. This is another cinematic band that really uses sonic space well, to the extent that I wonder if members of Talk Talk were Japan fans. A very creative composition that really resonates.
  7. Michael Nesmith — Joanne (Older Stuff (The Best Of The Early Years): This was a minor Top 40 for Papa Nez, and it is one of his best country compositions, sharing a certain melodic quality with other Wool Hat classics, like “Different Drum” and “Some of Shelly’s Blues”. Here, Nesmith shows off his vocal range, with many lines in the verses requiring him to yodel into Slim Whitman territory. Early ’70s Nesmith is so frickin’ good.
  8. Papas Fritas – Flash Lightning (Pop Has Freed Us): This Massachusetts indie band was so charming, playing catch songs with a variety of ’60s and ’70s pop influences. On this career spanning compilation, they threw in some cool covers, like this suprisingly effective take on a tune from Tom Verlaine’s first solo album. While much of Papa Fritas’ music was cute and cuddly, they could rock, and the guitar work on this song shows they could match Verlaine’s intensity.
  9. Pulp — TV Movie (This Is Hardcore): After the gigantic success of A Different Class, Pulp delved deeper into their music, with longer compositions of greater intensity. Thus, the album wasn’t as immediate as its predecessor, but all of the great qualities of the band, especially the personality and lyrics of Jarvis Cocker, are still there, albeit in more challenging form. This album has held up very well over time, and could arguably be called a classic.
  10. The Cardigans — My Favourite Game (Gran Turismo): An edgy rock tune from the fourth album by this Swedish band. Even when they were playing in more of a ’60s soft pop style, it was evident that The Cardigans were a rock band, and they let that side show more on Gran Turismo. Unfortunately, this didn’t catch on, which is a shame, because the songs are well crafted and Nina Persson sounded as compelling as ever.

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Categorized: Friday MP3 Shuffle

Topics: ipod, mp3

Mike Bennett writesFriday iPod/MP3 Shuffle—Happy Birthday John Waters Edition

While not a musician, rock ‘n’ roll has been part of the sensibility of the King of Trash, film director John Waters. His camp-gross out movies are partially grounded in a juvenile delinquent sensibility that came through on ’50s and ’60s rock and roll and R & B sides. Rebellion and free expression were a big part of his movies. As time went on the connection was more explicit, as in the ’50s rock movie homage Crybaby. This is especially true with his greatest commercial success, Hairspray. Most of the film’s budget went towards licensing to the copious slabs of prime obscure rock and soul songs that permeate the movie. It’s a shame the soundtrack on has 12 songs, as there are so many cult classics playing in the background throughout. Moreover, Waters gave us Divine, Edith Massey and Odorama. For all of that and more, let’s salute Waters by grabbing your iPod or MP3 player, hitting shuffle and sharing the first ten songs that come up.

  1. Brian Eno — China My China (Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy): Brian Eno’s early solo albums are art-pop classics, with dissonant guitar parts, angular melodies and inventive arrangements and instrumental choices. This song is somewhat in the vein of “Baby’s On Fire”, and between the floaty backing vocals, sing-song melody and prominently strummy guitar the whole thing just oscillates. A real gem.
  2. The Go-Go’s — The Way You Dance (Vacation): While Vacation is a quintessential sophomore slump album, suffering in comparison to the albums surrounding it, they were too talented not to have some fine songs. This tune could have easily fit on Beauty and the Beat, as it has all the elements of a good Go-Go’s song, from Belinda Carlisle’s vocals, to the strong chorus hook, to Charlotte Caffey’s great guitar work and Gina Schock’s rock solid drumming.
  3. New York Dolls — Pills (New York Dolls): This Bo Diddley song was perfect for the sleazy, trashy image and sound of the Dolls. This song doesn’t rely on the patented Bo beat. Instead, Johnny Thunders and Sylvain Sylvain play dirty blues guitars while David Johansson provides the perfect attitude for this classic.
  4. Jean Shepard — Under Your Spell Again (Honky-Tonk Heroine): Jean Shepard is a underrated honky-tonk vocalist from the late-‘50s/early-‘60s. She has just the right balance of hillbilly twang and polish, with a real dose of personality, making her sides consistently good. This is a fine version of a song popularized by Buck Owens.
  5. Soft Cell — What? (The Very Best of Soft Cell): Soft Cell was a one-hit wonder here in the States, but it wasn’t because they didn’t have some other great singles (which did hit in their native England). This is one the band’s best, with David Ball’s candy-coated keyboards, a somewhat Motown-y song structure, and a superbly overwrought vocal performance from Marc Almond. I wish the band had maintained this poppy sound for another album, before turning to their equally interesting, but darker, later material.
  6. The Sapphires — Who Do You Love (Girl Group Sounds Lost and Found): A fairly sophisticated song from the excellent Rhino Records girl group box set. This song has a mellower groove than the typical girl group song, and the lead vocal is relaxed but intent, with backing vocals that really stamp it as a genre exercise, albeit an inventive one.
  7. Hank Williams — Tomorrow Never Comes (The Complete Hank Williams): Even Hank Williams’ lesser known songs are worth a listen and this is a pretty standard country blues. The melody is simple, the lyrics economical and the song moves very well. This is almost as good as Hank’s big hits, which means it’s one hell of a song.
  8. The Wonder Stuff — Astley In The Noose (Eight Legged Groove Machine): This was a CD bonus cut, back in the days when they would throw them on to get you to fork over more cash for the CD, rather than the cassette or the vinyl LP. In their early days, The Wonder Stuff could do no wrong, as Miles Hunt and crew effortlessly churned out one great attitude filled Britpop song after another. This is a fun little snipe at the then huge Rick Astley.
  9. Jawbox — Sound On Sound (My Scrapbook of Fatal Accidents): This is a cover of an awesome Big Boys tune from a compliation of various odds and ends from the great career of Jawbox. While Big Boys were best known for their jumpy punk-funk, this is a moody, mellow song with a seething intensity underneath. The Jawbox version is more polished and not quite as good as the original, but they do a nice job.
  10. Bebel Gilberto – Bananeira (Tanto Tempo): Gilberto’s modern take on bossa nova showed just how timeless this Brazilian style of music is. This is her signature album, full of sunshiney songs that breeze by effortlessly with her wonderful jazzy vocals. I hope this song coming up on shuffle is a harbinger of warmer weather ahead in Chicago.

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Categorized: Friday MP3 Shuffle

Topics: ipod, mp3

Erik Roldan writesA Coach House Sounds Conversation with Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc has been a steady fixture in Chicago for many years, forming after the dissolution of famed emo band Cap’n Jazz. Tim Kinsella has been the only permanent member of the group and has maintained steady out put under the Joan of Arc name.

The band recently recorded a session at Coach House Sounds, and you can listen to CHIRP for preview tracks of the session. Starting April 25th, you’ll be able to stream the entire performance at!

What the dumbest thing you’ve ever done in a basement?

Basements have probably been more formative to me than kitchens – I can’t cook – or living rooms – TV bores me – or bedrooms – my dreams aren’t very vivid. High school was of course spent in friends’ basements with malt liquor and bongs and a record playing while a movie is on and someone is playing guitar or bass along to the record. I once played a basement show naked. That was pretty weird, but not dumb.

I guess the dumbest thing might’ve been feeling bad this one time when that Led Zeppelin song “Thank You” came on while I was watching the girl that had just dumped me go to third base with this guy in front of everyone hanging out. Or we all got in the habit of pissing in this one drain in this guy’s basement so we wouldn’t have to go upstairs and face his parents while all fucked up and after awhile the drain started to reek of piss. But that was collective stupidity, not as stupid as feeling bad while that hokey song played.

Joan of Arc has a long history in Chicago. Can you tell me about one time when you realized this was YOUR city?

Eh, I’ve never thought of moving. My family and friends are all here. Everything’s simple. We travel enough and I have a terrible sense of direction, so it’s nice to come home and know where everything is. And when we were without a practice space for awhile a couple years ago, we moved everything into my gramma’s basement on Belmont for a couple weeks. Couldn’t do that anywhere else.

I guess one time, on a rare visit to a 4 a.m. bar, this Chad-dork-creep put his arm around my ex-wife and I instinctually grabbed him in an aggressive way. When he started to push me and threaten me, the bouncers, who I’d never seen before, kicked that guy out instead of me, even though I kinda started it. They pointed at me and said, “he’s cool.” Maybe that’s a perk of living in the same neighborhood for years and years?

Describe a scenario where Joan of Arc could be someone’s life coach and the top 2 life lessons you’d teach them.

It’s not so far-fetched really. The band has such longevity because of its “always open, revolving door” membership policy. We are quite a crew of misfits. Organizing it keeps me occupied, less likely to fall wayward. Whenever someone has better things to do or something going for them, they drop out for awhile. Then they lose a job or a girlfriend or whatever and the band is there to give a little structure to a wayward period.

So, lesson #1 – Entertain no pre-conceived expectations. Collaboration will only come from listening and being open to other people’s ideas, and with trusted collaborators, the unified vision will often surpass the depth and expressiveness of imposing one’s view.

And #2 – Remain conscious, alert and engaged. The world is an endless and inexhaustible splendor of wonders. The sublime strangeness of the world is endlessly inspiring if you are awake to it. The only true challenge is the stamina, so you have to fight off the oppressive war-mongers and feudal overlords that wanna drain you of imagination and fighting spirit. This battle is in itself endlessly inspiring as the capitalist pigs are gonna clamp down even harder before they inevitably die.

The future of the earth, not to mention our species, depends on this battle. What could be more inspiring than a battle for one’s life? And remaining conscious, alert and engaged is the necessary first step. Those pigs we’re fighting have all the power in the world at their disposal to hide the fact that there’s even a battle being waged! Fuck those pigs. Love will prevail!

Tell me about your CHS session—what did you like about it? Was there anything that surprised you or was spontaneous that came out in the recording?

Man, it was on St. Patrick’s Day, blah! The worst. We hadn’t rehearsed in a couple weeks, so we were very unprepared, but it went well. We played fine anyways. Lovely place Matt has there and everyone involved was real friendly and easy to work with. Good coffee. Cool set-up in concept and execution. Yeah, it was fun.

What’s happening? What are your current/upcoming shows or releases?

We are currently buried in writing a score for the Dreyer film The Passion of Joan of Arc to perform live. It’s been thrilling to work on. Totally stretching us to work in new ways, very exciting for us. And our new record comes out in May and then we go on tour through most of May through September, which is exciting, get to see our friends everywhere. Steady is the course.

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Categorized: Interviews

Topics: interview

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