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Erin Van Ness writes‘Tis the Season Here at CHIRP!

When you hear the phrase “tis the season,” what’s the first thing you think of?

While it can mean something different to everyone – reliving concerts from the year with best friends, getting together with family far away, or finding the perfect present for a loved one – there is one meaning that everyone can agree upon: tis the season to give.

This holiday season, we encourage you to give back to CHIRP. Your tax-deductible gift will help CHIRP continue to provide the best in local, independent radio, homegrown here in Chicago.

So please, tune in to and let us be the soundtrack for your season. And, while you’re there, cruise on over to and show us what this season is all about: giving back to those you appreciate.

As always, thank you for your support and Happy Holidays from your friends at CHIRP!

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Categorized: CHIRP Radio News and Info.

Michelle Nadeau writesCHIRP Radio Best of 2011 (Michelle Nadeau)

Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members’ top albums of 2011. The next list is from DJ and Assistant Fundraising Director Michelle Nadeau.

(Click here to get the complete list of CHIRP Radio members’ picks.)

  1. Yuck – Yuck (Fat Possum)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    It almost makes me feel yucky how much I’ve listened to Yuck in 2011, pun not intended. But why should I? They’ve earned their place on my playlists! Maybe it’s their delicious 90’s throwback garage rock sound or perhaps it’s Daniel Blumberg’s amazing fro that instantly reminds you of Sideshow Bob (not in a super creepy way, though). I cannot wait to hear what this London group does next.
  2. James Blake – James Blake (Universal Republic)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Staying with the theme of amazing UK-ness, but completely changing, well, everything, the music of James Blake has had a huge impact on 2011. Not only has he stretched the genre of dub-step into a calmer territory, much more accessible to all, but the kid is brilliant! At the time of the release in February, he was 21! And now, he’s a household name. Well, a household name in my shabby apartment.
  3. St. Vincent – Strange Mercy (4AD)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    To start, I’ve always liked Annie Clark. Not only does she have a beautiful voice, but the sounds she creates in her music are wonderfully obscure, albeit sometimes out of place in my life. That was until…she released the beauty that is Strange Mercy. Incredibly eerie and at times makes you feel awkward (“I’ll make a living telling people what they want to hear”, “If I ever meet that dirty policeman who roughed you up”), Annie Clark has found a permanent place in my heart and my Google Music.
  4. M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming (Mute)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Perfect. Epic. Thank you Anthony Gonzalez for bringing this gem into my world. Snowboarding film soundtracks around the world rejoice!
  5. Wilco – The Whole Love (dBpm/ANTI)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Yes, I’m from Chicago. Of course I like Wilco. And I love Jeff Tweedy (did you see the YouTube video of his renditions of The Black Eyed Peas at the Hideout? Priceless). So I’m automatically inclined to own this album on vinyl, cd and mp3. But, the best part about it all? This album rocks. Amazing. All I will say is…the bookend tracks changed my fall. But no, I don’t have a Wilco sticker on my car, thanks for asking.
  6. Cut Copy – Zonoscope (Modular Interscope)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    I’m proud to say that Cut Copy is responsible for my nominee of “Most Fun Show of the Year” at the Pitchfork Music Festival. These Aussies sure know how to get the crowd going! It also doesn’t hurt that this 2011 release oozes of new wave-ness and pop, both sounds are core to my heart.
  7. Bibio – Mind Bokeh (Warp)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    I’ll be honest, before this release, I didn’t exactly know a ton about Stephen Wilkinson. Well, if I’m being honest, I still don’t quite know much about him. But I do know that I have continually been recommending this incredible mix of pop and ambient to listeners and friends worldwide.
  8. The Decemberists – The King Is Dead (Capitol)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    This album received a lot of press. And why shouldn’t it have? This album hit #1 in the charts and brought The Decemberists to an almost untouchable level. They probably won’t be doing much touring in the likes of Schuba’s anymore. But in other cool news, I heard on NPR that one of the tracks is literally about nothing. Absolutely nothing. The words don’t even make sense. Shoot, The Decemberists don’t need to make sense to make glorious music. They just do.
  9. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues (Sub Pop)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    I was slightly saddened to have Fleet Foxes headline Saturday at Pitchfork this year. Especially because the 2010 headliner was LCD Soundsystem. ‘Nuff said. But, I was pleasantly surprised to see how well they performed under that pressure and the sparse Chicago stars. I found the album getting more and more playtime in my collection and it turned out to be the perfect not-quite-so-much pop album that was perfect in more that 13 different moods.
  10. Cave – Neverendless (Drag City)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Psych-prog-rock from Chicago. Need I say much more? Smooth, deep, guitar, bass or drone, these guys have got it figured out. These tracks bring you somewhere deep in your brain and leave you there for anywhere from 6-15 minutes.


Honorable Mentions

  • The Drums – Portomento
    Zola Jesus – Conatus
    tUnE-yArDs – w h o k i l l
    Kanye West & Jay-Z – Watch the Throne
    Seapony – Go With Me
    Starfucker – Reptilian
    Katy B – On A Mission

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Categorized: Best Albums of the Year

Topics: best of 2011

Stephen Dobek writesCHIRP Radio Best of 2011 (Stephen Dobek)

Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members’ top albums of 2011. The next list is from DJ and Assistant Music Director Stephen Dobek.

(Click here to get the complete list of CHIRP Radio members’ picks.)

  1. Gang Gang Dance – Eye Contact (4AD)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    New York’s Gang Gang Dance stole the show for me this year. In an era when genre descriptors are used to exhaustion GGD escape easy categorization. Their sound isn’t tied to any particular time, or any particular place, it’s unfamiliar and weird but at the same time it’s totally intoxicating and a hell of a lot of fun to listen to.


    Favorite Song – ‘Glass Jar’

  2. Mark McGuire – A Young Person’s Guide to Mark McGuire & Get Lost (Editions Mego)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Released in April, A Young Person’s Guide is a collection of older material from this extremely prolific Clevelander and member of Emeralds. The 2 disc collection is pure instrumental magic, and serves as a great entry point for anyone unfamiliar with his music. His latest album, Get Lost is an electro-acoustic journey that shows McGuire’s mastery of the guitar and all the wonderfully different sounds you can make with it. This stuff is introspective to the core, and will easily transport the listener anywhere their mind desires.


    Favorite Songs – ‘The Marfa Lights’ & ‘Alma’

  3. Big K.R.I.T. – Return of 4Eva (self-released)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    2010’s K.R.I.T. Wuz Here piqued my interest in this Mississippi native and his follow up to that superb slice of Southern hip hop has been my constant companion ever since. R4 isn’t necessarily memorable for K.R.I.T.‘s prowess on the mic, but rather his abilities as a producer. He rolls out track after track of soul-kissed magic that is pure Dirty South, recalling the likes of Outkast and UGK. With a Def Jam contract now under his belt the sky seems to be the limit.


    Favorite Song – ‘Get Right’

  4. The Weekend – House of Balloons (XL)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    The debut mixtape from Toronto’s mysterious The Weeknd spread through the interwebs like wildfire. House of Balloons collected over 200,000 downloads in a matter of weeks and quickly made these guys into a household name. It’s easy to see why. As far as contemporary R&B goes there aren’t too many artists, The-Dream aside, that are doing stuff like this. The beats are so good they might buckle your knees if you’re not prepared, and when combined with Abel Tesfaye’s considerable pipes and a penchant for darker subject matter this stuff becomes downright sinister in the best way possible.


    Favorite Song – ‘The Morning’

  5. Miracle Fortress – Was I the Wave? (Secret City)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Driven by endlessly positive and propulsive drum beats Was I the Wave? is a fine follow up to Miracle Fortress’ debut, which garnered the one-man band a Polaris Prize nomination. This time around Graham Van Pelt is dabbling in the synth-pop of Depeche Mode and other 80’s stalwarts and taking his sound to a whole new level.


    Favorite Song: ‘Everything Works’

  6. Pulseprogramming – Charade is Gold (Audraglint)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Chicago electro poppers Pulseprogramming came of age on this album, sounding like a fully coherent unit with a fully coherent focus. The somber electronics of Charade is Gold are mixed exceptionally well, and when listened to in headphones the experience is transcendent.


    Favorite Song – ‘Island Answer Anywhere’

  7. Ford & Lopatin – Channel Pressure (Software)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Joel Ford and Dan Lopatin don’t just pay lip service to the 1980s, they totally immerse themselves in the decade. Channel Pressure, the duo’s debut LP, is made using vintage synths and old school recording techniques, no laptops or Logic Pro for these guys. It would work well as a soundtrack for any Reagan era sci-fi movie.


    Favorite Song – ‘Break Inside’

  8. Tycho – Dive (Ghostly International)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Scott Hansen’s second album as Tycho is a pastoral mix of live instrumentation and electronics that is bathed in perpetual sunset. His slow burning synths were the perfect companion for the shortened days of fall and almost any outdoor activity.


    Favorite Song – ‘Coastal Brake’

  9. DaVinci – Feast or Famine EP (SWTBRDS)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    DaVinci has never sold out an arena, he’s never appeared on MTV, he doesn’t have a Grammy. The production value of his music, and the confidence he shows on the mic would make you think differently though. Feast or Famine is a slick set of 8 songs that further cements this San Franciscan as one of the hottest underground MC’s today. Big things are coming for DaVinci, but for now I just hope he keeps doing what he’s doing.


    Favorite Song – ‘Where My Dough At’

  10. Korallreven – An Album by Korallreven (Acéphale)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    If it’s Swedish and it’s pop then I’m probably going to love it. Case in point is the uber-lush debut LP from this Scandinavian duo, a record that puts a smile on my face and a skip in my step. Listening to it is to be transported a tropical paradise.


    Favorite Song – ‘The Truest Faith’


Honorable Mentions

  • Craft Spells – Idle Labor (Captured Tracks)
    G-Side – The One…Cohesive (Slow Motion Soundz)
    Rustie – Glass Swords (Warp)
    Junior Boys – It’s All True (Domino)
    Soft Metals – Soft Metals (Captured Tracks)

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Categorized: Best Albums of the Year

Topics: best of 2011

Erik Roldan writesCHIRP + Coach House Sounds Present: Village

Village is a Chicago-based, four piece rock band with earthy edges. Their music puts guitars in front, backed by vocals that remind me of Material Issue’s Jim Ellison. CHIRP is very happy to co-present their Coach House Sounds Session, available for stream at starting Tuesday, December 13th!

Keep Reading…

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Categorized: Interviews

James Vest writesCHIRP Radio Best of 2011 (James Vest)

Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members’ top albums of 2011. The next list is from James Vest.

(Click here to get the complete list of CHIRP Radio members’ picks.)

  1. Alexander – Alexander (Community Music)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Alexander Ebert created an album so diverse, so uniquely ambitious, it was instantly written off as unfocused. Maybe CHIRP heard a bit of itself when it put Alexander into rotation–an album with a Kevin Ayers sensibility, unbound by genre, an explorer and a mirror of it’s own vision and influences. Armed with a Jeff Buckley vocal range, Ebert puts together an album bursting with musical curiosities waiting to be appreciated.

    Island Song: “Truth”
  2. Timber Timbre – Creep On Creepin’ On (Arts & Crafts)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    If a young Elvis could have somehow been body swapped with Leonard Cohen, Elvis presumably would have ditched Rockabilly for Rhythm and Blues. Because such a situation isn’t possible, there’s Timber Timbre to put to rest what that scenario would have sounded like. The album is a haunted space–expansive, mysterious, and eerily exciting, making you want to cling to something you love.

    Island Song: “Woman”
  3. Colin Stetson – New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges (Constellation)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    If I told you a bass saxophonist recorded an album with only one instrument, recording live in one take, you might say that sounds pretty weird. If that sounds weird, you need to hear this album. “I’ve never heard anything like it” is just the beginning of this dark, dynamic, blast of sound that is an experience to behold from being to end. Even with vocal guests, the sounds coming from Stetson’s sax draws the focus. A truly original work of art-amazing what can be expressed by one instrument.

    Island Song: “Judges”
  4. Charles Bradley – No Time for Dreaming (Daptone)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Charles Bradley isn’t “new soul trying to sound like old soul,” this screaming eagle is the very definition of old soul. From 40 years of hard knocks, Charles Bradley emerged singing songs of heartache and love of a man glad to be alive. Backed up by the equally brilliant Menahan Street Band, this album is as close as we can get to that timeless soul music of the ‘60s.

    Island Song: “Lovin’ You, Baby”
  5. Maker & Joe Beats – Falcon By Design (Fieldwerk)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Maker & Joe Beats have their own rich histories as Hip Hop producers, so playing back to back on this split release, they have a beat building foundation that doesn’t need an MC to stand tall. The album is a sightseeing tour from beginning to end, of urban strength and hustling feet, tightly flowing from riding the train to working out–a perfect soundtrack for Chicago.

    Island Song: “Blunted Lapdance”
  6. Ty Segall – Goodbye Bread (Drag City)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Goodbye Bread sounds like something John Lennon could have recorded if he had lead The Kingsmen instead of the Beatles. Segall plays all the instruments on this garage romp, that packs as much toe-tapping, pop sensibility as it does fuzzy guitars, that when mixed together will fill your winter with warm, psychedelic sunshine.

    Island Song: “You Make The Sun Fry”
  7. Ikebe Shakedown – Ikebe Shakedown (Ubiquity)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    Both hailing from Brooklyn, it’s hard not to compare Ikebe Shakedown to the venerable Budos Band. Yet both house different ingredients into their Afrobeat-Soul kitchens. Ikebe Shakedown adds ‘70‘s cinematic soul and disco elements to a lively collection rhythm and horns that will have your body shaking long before the credits role.

    Island Song: “Tujunga”
  8. tUnE-yArDs – W H O K I L L (4AD)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    As inventive as any album this year, Merrill Gerbus’ sound is a junkyard of Afro-Caribbean, R&B, Funk, and Modern Rock influences, though her voice maybe her music’s most unique quality. After her first album, BiRd-BrAiNs, found an audience despite being recorded on a digital voice recorder, Gerbus’ took advantage of her first studio-recorded release that turns tunes to treasure.

    Island Song: “Bizness”
  9. Various Artists – Eccentric Soul: Nickel and Penny Labels (Numero Group)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    In the ‘60‘s and ‘70s, Chicago’s #1 Dusties DJ Richard Pegue helmed the Nickel and Penny labels writing, arranging and producing some of Chicago’s most beautiful soul records. Numero Group spent five years digging up and restoring these gems to soul museum quality, despite the death of Pergue during the process. From Bar-Kay gospel-funk instrumentals, to Motown Do-Wop clap-a-longs, to Funkadelic-Sly-Stone-love-fests, this is Numero at their best.

    Island Song: “Shadows”
  10. The Beach Boys – The SMiLE Sessions (Capitol)
    BUY: Insound / iTunes
    The history of 1967‘s SMiLE is as big as the music itself: the legendary, heartbreaking backstory and the label of “most famous unreleased album of all time.” Add in bootlegs and individual song releases over the years and the 2004 resurrection and complete re-recording by Brian Wilson, and it would seem impossible for the actual album to offer anything new. Yet SMiLE’s ability to continue to surprise me every time I hear it, a timeless testament to the Brian Wilson’s unbelievable range and artistic depth, cut short. SMiLE was so far ahead of it’s time, it’s a fitting discovery in any century.

    Island Song: “Vega-Tables”

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Categorized: Best Albums of the Year

Topics: best of 2011

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