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Mike Bennett writesFriday iPod/MP3 Shuffle—Happy Birthday Miki Berenyi

Lush stood out amongst the band’s of the shoegazer movement. They took cues from the Cocteau Twins, but added a lot of dense guitar sounds, aided, appropriately enough, by Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins. They went on to make a series of fine records. If there was a shoegazer pinup girl, it had to be Lush’s Miki Berenyi. Berenyi’s voice, alone or in combination with Emma Anderson, helped the Lush sound, well, Lush. In honor of Ms. Berenyi’s birthday, please grab your iPod or MP3 player, hit shuffle and share the first 10 songs that come up.

  1. Superdrag — Aspartame (Industry Giants): When this Knoxville, Tennessee power pop band got back together, all bets were off, with front man John Davis having released a Christian rock album prior to the reunion. Well, whatever his beliefs, he hadn’t lost his taste for rocking out. The Industry Giants was spotty, but this blistering track was a highlight, with Davis bitter and the band smoking, with just enough melody and nifty reggae tinged middle eight.
  2. Nat King Cole — Stardust (Selections from the Nat King Cole box set): One of the all-time great crooners, swelling strings and a classic song. How can you go around? Cole could be bluesy or urbane or both at the same time. This is so romantic.
  3. Run-D.M.C. — Proud To Be Black (Raising Hell): A deep cut from one of the first major commercial rap albums. Of course, the first two Run-D.M.C. albums were pretty great too, but this album augmented the hardcore beats and rhymes sound with a few extra elements, but not to the point of diluting it. This is closer to the spare sound of the debut album.
  4. Beastie Boys — 5 Piece Chicken Dinner (Paul’s Boutique): Some sampled hillybilly banjo picking, a short interlude on this stone cold classic (yes, an old expression, but the album’s old, so it’s okay).
  5. Doleful Lions — Driller Killer (The Rats Are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here!): A winsome melody, some pleasant jangle rocking and Jonathan Scott’s angelic voice. The first two elements are familiar and well executed, but it’s Scott’s voice and words that make this stand out. One thing that has made Doleful Lions consistently rewarding is how Scott continues to hone his songwriting while finding new musical contexts as he evolves.
  6. Kid Creole & The Coconuts — The Seven Year Itch (Doppelganger): August Darnell showed how adaptable funk was, as his songs mixed calypso and other tropical songs, with elements of Tin Pan Alley and showtunes, and the funk guitar parts in the background never sounded out of place. This song is so full of cool elements. The chorus isn’t as hooky as some of the horn lines and chord changes.
  7. Bettie Serveert — Have A Heart (Log 22): This Dutch band is steeped in ’80s college rock by way of the jangly side of The Velvet Underground, and with Carol Van Dyk, they skillfully mix melody and drone, topped off by an appealing personality up front. This is a languid mid-tempo tune augmented with some nice horns.
  8. Green Pajamas — Laura Silver Bell (In A Glass Darkly): This band is best known for “Kim the Waitress”, which Material Issue covered. Jeff Kelly, the leader, writes wonderful psychedelic songs. It’s not all about fuzzy guitars and backwards tapes, but it’s more in the vein of early Pink Floyd and Kaleidoscope, with mystical lyrics. If the band was heavier, they might lurch towards prog. Laura Weller takes the lead on this pretty song.
  9. Electric Light Orchestra — Bluebird Is Dead (On The Third Day): An early E.L.O. song, with a basic blues progression and a bit of a John Lennon vibe in the verses, but more McCartney-ish as it heads toward the chorus. The string arrangements are pretty dazzling and Jeff Lynne’s singing is particularly strong.
  10. Blur — Entertain Me (The Great Escape): This is from my favorite Blur album, where I think they just hit all of their strengths on one album. This is a cool tune that has a bit of a Bowie feel. It works a very simple rhythm, with some busy bass work and mechanical disco drumming. Not one of the top tracks, but an interesting number.

Share March 18, 2011 Share on Facebook Tweet This!

Categorized: Friday MP3 Shuffle

Topics: ipod, mp3

CHIRP DJ writesYour Handy Guide to CHIRP Radio at SXSW 2011

The annual South by Southwest Music Festival will be in full swing next week in Austin, TX, and CHIRP Radio will be there! Here’s a rundown of shows we’re participating in…

Wednesday, March 16th: CHIRP Radio presents The Burger Boogie Tour @ Trailer Space Records [1401-A Rosewood] for an all ages show from 1:00 PM to 12:00AM. The scheduled lineup:

2:30PM – Summer Twins / 3:00PM – Feeding People / 3:30PM – White Mystery / 4:00PM – Jaill / 4:30PM – Mean Jeans / 5:00PM – The Pizazz / 5:30PM – Dreamend / 6:00PM – Devon Williams / 6:30PM – Gentleman Jesse / 7:00PM – Cosmonauts / 7:30PM – Audacity / 8:00PM – Peach Kelli Pop / 8:30PM – Apache / 9:00PM – Wrong Words / 9:30PM – Shannon and the Clams / 10:00PM – Hunx And His Punx / 10:30PM – Bad Sports / 11:00PM – Conspiracy of Owls / 11:30PM – King Tuff

Thursday, March 17th: Threadless, in association with Bud Light, Mike’s Hard Punch & CHIRP Radio, presents the 15th Annual Schubas & Lincoln Hall SXSW Round-Up @Yard Dog Gallery [1510 S. Congress] starting at 12:00 PM (18+ & free, RSVP on Facebook), featuring…

Alejandro Escovedo / Alex Winston / California Wives / John Vanderslice / Kopecky / Family Band / My Gold Mask / Reptar / Screaming Females / Walk the Moon

…Plus DJ sets throughout the day by Flosstradamus & Midnight Conspiracy.

Also on Thursday, Hardly Art and Art Fag, in association with Sailor Jerry’s and CHIRP Radio, present the Hardly ArtFag Party @ Sailor Jerry’s Shangri La [1016 E 6th Street] from 12:00 PM to 6:00 PM. Featured performers include…

La Sera / Dirty Beaches / Unnatural Helpers / Las Robertas / Dizzy Eyes / Young Prisms / Colleen Green / Heavy Hawaii

Friday, March 18th: CHIRP Radio presents TWO free showcases from HoZac records:

@Beerland [711 Red River St.] from 1:00PM to 6:00PM…

Mickey / Heavy Times / Outer Minds / People’s Temple / Fungi Girls / Xray Eyeballs / The Shrapnelles

@Cheer Up Charlie’s [1104 East 6th St.] from 6:30pm to 9:30pm…

Rayon Beach / Women in Prison / Radar Eyes / Teepee / Sleepovers / Reading Rainbow

Share March 11, 2011 Share on Facebook Tweet This!

Categorized: Event Previews

Topics: appearances

Mike Bennett writesFriday iPod/MP3 Shuffle—Happy Birthday Nina Hagen Edition

Let’s pay tribute to one of the ’80s more unique figures, Nina Hagen. This German singer tapped into a special vein of weirdness, with vocals that ranged all over the place and songs that were designed to allow for that. Hagen was just as creative in her look, instantly standing out, even during the days of new wave and post-punk. Love her or hate her, Nina is a true original. In honor of Nina Hagen, please grab your iPod or MP3 player, hit shuffle, and share the first 10 songs that come up.

  1. Cheap Trick — Down On The Bay (Samurai Rock Band): Cheap Trick is an amazing live band, and hearing this 1977 live concert, recorded in their native Rockford, Illinois corroborates this. This is a cover of one of Jeff Lynne’s songs when he was in The Move, and Rick Nielsen’s guitar playing is amazing. His tone on the rhythm parts is so rocking — it’s this sound that captured the hearts of soon-to-be punk rockers in the Midwest, while his leads are playful and hold the parts of the song together. Meanwhile, the rhythm section is as steady as can be, and Robin Zander is his usual awesome self.
  2. The Guess Who — All Right (Shakin’ All Over): Before The Guess Who became a perennial on the charts in the late ’60s and early ’70s, they went through the typical phases of any ’60s North American rock band. First, playing the typical covers that bands like The Beatles and The Hollies and The Rolling Stones were doing, as is the instance with this R & B flavored song first waxed by The Searchers. Second, move in a more garage rock/psychedelic direction. This sounds like an early vocal by Burton Cummings, who supplanted original group leader Chad Allen. Without this move, we would have never know who The Guess Who were.
  3. Surfer Blood — Fast Jabroni (Astro Coast): Despite the band’s name, this band does not have a surf sound. At times, they seem to come close to bands like The Shins and Rogue Wave, but with more of an old rock ‘n’ roll orientation. Here, you have vocals with a bit of echo, and a big melodic guitar part, on what is a really sweet traditional pop rock song. This is a band I discovered by volunteering at CHIRP, and just listening to this, I hope they have a new album out this year.
  4. Chestnut Station — Elephant Candy (In Your Living Room): This is a collection of hip Chicago musicians from bands such as Eleventh Dream Day and The Coctails playing old rock songs. This album was actually recorded live. This is a somewhat garage rock take on the ’60s bubblegum gem from The Fun and Games. These guys are having fun, and it comes through in this performance.
  5. Wavves — Linus Spacehead (King Of The Beach): I really enjoyed the second Wavves album, which came out last year. Stupid fun pop songs played with a lot of gusto. The first time I heard of it, I thought the music was somewhat in the spirit of the last couple of Jay Reatard albums, and then I learned that the members of the late Reatard’s band played on the album. This is a sing-songy tune with loud guitars that could have been done in the ’90s by a band like The Muffs or Flop. And I like that.
  6. Roky Erickson & The Aliens — Don’t Save Me Lucifer (I Have Always Been Here Before): The two CD compilation that this track comes from is essential. From his days with the 13th Floor Elevators until now, Erickson has created a terrific body of work that touches upon blues, psychedelia, garage and folk rock. Erickson is an outstanding songwriter, with a distinctive voice and lyrical perspective. This is a very trad rock song — somewhere between Chuck Berry and Creedence Clearwater Revival. The guitars are smoking, Erickson is passionate and the song simply rocks.
  7. Crowded House — Never Be The Same (Temple Of Low Men): Crowded House’s fourth album showed a band that had perfected its sound. Neil Finn’s songs ached with passion, even if his lyrics weren’t always clear, and Nick Seymour and Paul Hester were in lockstep with him. This song shows off Finn’s incredible facility with melody. The song is tuneful throughout, in a mesmerizing way, but the way he gets to the super memorable chorus is not obvious, making the pay off all the greater. And Finn is an understated guitarist, who shines here.
  8. Ohio Players — Feel The Beat (Everybody Disco)(Ohio Players Gold): As the ’70s wound on, funk bands had to adapt to the changing landscape. This meant going disco. For the Ohio Players, as evidenced by this track, the way to do this was to use their usual funk tricks, but do them at a faster pace, and add a couple melodic flourishes. It’s an uneasy compromise, as the dance beat could perhaps be a bit better, and the funk is a bit distilled. But I still like this song.
  9. The Blasters — Bus Station (Non-Fiction): A very typical Blasters’ song, with a ’50s rock and roll base and telling an evocative story. It’s about a struggling couple. The husband apparently can’t keep a job, so they move from town to town, living on the lies that things will be better at their next destination, when they both know it will just be more of the same. Phil Alvin’s vocal is fantastic, and in the context of a classic rock structure, the sadness of the situation comes through.
  10. Neil Finn — Faster Than Light (Try Whistling This): A double dose of Neil Finn this week. A swell song from his nuanced and textured first solo album. I bet you that Neil’s son Liam was influenced by this song. It uses a drum machine and some spare guitar on a classically melancholy Finn melody. As with the Crowded House song above, the hook sneaks up a bit on the ears, but once the chorus hits, the song lodges in one’s brain.

Share March 11, 2011 Share on Facebook Tweet This!

Categorized: Friday MP3 Shuffle

Topics: ipod, mp3

Erik Roldan writesA Conversation With The Arts of Life Band

Arts of Life Band is a creative collaborative project between disabled and non-disabled artists in the Chicago area, based out of the Arts of Life community of artists. Guided by Artistic Director Ryan Shuquem, the band makes call-and-response, energetic rock music that combines the eccentricity of Wesley Willis and the community aspect of School of Rock.

Housed in the Arts of Life space in West Town, Chicago, the band has been keeping busy with recording, performing and over-all good vibes. They found time to record a session at Coach House Sounds, capturing the spirit of their live show and energy of the band – here the session on and stream it over at">

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

Matt – I threw a chair at my brother. I was watching TV and he changed the channel in the middle of the show. I was only 12, so I didn’t know what I was doing. Ha.
Mike – I pushed my cousin and locked him in the tool closet.
Ryan – I was playing with a broken light bulb and shocking myself in a basement.
David – We used to have a basement, but I don’t live in there any more.

Arts of Life Band seems to have a humanitarian mission, can you talk about that aspect of the project and how you’ve accomplished those goals?

Matt – I think we show people with disabilities that they have lots of options in life
Ryan- I agree, and I think we introduce people to each other who might have never met otherwise, help bridge the gaps between disabled rockers and non-disabled rockers.

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

David – We’d say “You can have a band too. You can play music too. Don’t be afraid.”

What do you like about Chicago, and what makes it special to you?

Matt – I like the hot dogs, I like the meat, I like the White Sox
David – I like the police, they rescue lives
Ryan – I like the friendly people. Coach House Sounds, Mucca Pazza, CPE Sound where we rehearse. We get to meet lots of nice people that are interested in supporting our hard work.
Mike – I like my housing association and my staff.
Kelly – Hamburgers. I just do.

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?

Ryan – I think they made us feel comfortable and really showcased our fabulous energy!
David – I liked the spotlights and the peoples
Andrew – Yeah, Matt was great. He sat in while we were waiting for our drummer and helped us warm up. He played well!

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

Ryan- We’re excited about our release show on March 10th at the Hide Out of course and we’re doing a couple high schools this month. Should be fun to rock a high school.

Also, we’ve got a great art studio with lots of beautiful art work to look at and the best tour guide in the business (David). Come check us out in West Town at 2010 W. Carroll Ave. or in the virtual world at

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Categorized: Interviews

Topics: interview

Mike Bennett writesFriday iPod/MP3 Shuffle—Happy Birthday Evan Dando Edition

He was the alt-rock pin up boy, the slacker who proved he could write a mean hook, a man who made great music but never seemed to quite grab the brass ring. Evan Dando led The Lemonheads, who slowly but surely cleaned up a scruffy sound, and became a major presence on the airwaves with songs like “It’s A Shame About Ray” and “Into Your Arms”. Alas, Dando couldn’t sustain the momentum, but he is still out there touring, even guesting with the reformed MC5 a few years ago. Let’s wish a happy birthday to Evan by grabbing your iPod, hitting shuffle, and sharing the first 10 songs that come up.

  1. The Who — Amazing Journey (Tommy): As a rock opera, I’m not entirely sold on its story, since it is not only somewhat incoherent, but, at times, it’s pretty stupid. But that doesn’t mean that it didn’t yield lots of great music and represent, for both good and bad, a major influence on rock music. Of course, this album inspired tons of concept albums, and The Who really began to move into a new sound that helped define arena rock. On this tune, Townshend came up with a melody and soundscape that evokes unlimited space, which is perfect for the lyrics of this song.
  2. Julie Grant — Lonely Without You (You Can Be Wrong About The Boys): This is a slice of British ’60s girl pop, from a swell compilation. Some of this stuff, like this song, really has nothing to do with rock music in the slightest. This is just a dramatic, orchestrated pop song, that could have been done by any pop chanteuse of the ’50s. The difference is the neo-Spector production techniques.
  3. Neil Finn — Truth (Try Whistling This): A low-key song from Finn’s solo debut. I’ve always enjoyed this album because of Finn’s use of electronics. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a dance album. But he uses keyboards and electronic percussion in tandem with the usual instruments to create some smart, textured pop songs. This song has a particularly strong vocal performance.
  4. Roy Wood — Look Through The Eyes Of A Fool (Mustard): During the waning days of The Move, Roy Wood showed that he was reverting back to a ’50s trad rock ‘n’ roller. Nevertheless, he spent some time in Electric Light Orchestra, before leaving to pursue what was really floating his boat. His subsequent solo records evoked both ’50s rock and aspects of the early Beach Boys and girl groups. This is one of the best examples of this, a sublime slice of retro pop-rock.
  5. The Yardbirds — Happenings Ten Years Time Ago (Ultimate): A great slice of psychedelic rock, with the requisite great guitar work. There are Eastern accents on this song, mixed with a great descending guitar riff. I’m guessing that Jeff Beck is playing the main riff with support from Jimmy Page, but it’s just as likely that I’m wrong. The freak out guitar solo in the middle is pretty awesome.
  6. Johnny Cash — Dark as a Dungeon (The Legend): A folk song executed in classic Johnny Cash fashion. Well, the guitar and simple rhythm is pure Cash. The producers add some backing vocals and horn accompaniment. The horns have a disembodied quality that is unexpected, but adds a nice quality to the track.
  7. The Stooges — We Will Fall (The Stooges): The debut album from The Stooges shows a band that innovated through sheer power and the courage to not merely confine themselves to the dictates of what a primal rock song could be. But it wasn’t all hammer and tongs and power chords and dissonance. This song is simply a lengthy dirge, in the vein of The Doors’ “The End”, without the Oedipal drama.
  8. The Joel Plaskett Emergency — True Patriot Love (Down At The Kyber): Plaskett is a Canadian singer whose genial pop songs have a bit of a pub rock vibe to them. This is my favorite of his songs, which takes builds a hook around a key phrase from the Canadian national anthem. Musically, this song falls somewhere between Nick Lowe and early Tom Petty, with clever lyrics and some neat rhymes and turns of phrase.
  9. The Waterboys — Fisherman’s Blues (Fisherman’s Blues): On this album, The Waterboys starting adding traditional Irish and English albums into their music, while still retaining that big, cinematic sound. This song has an expansive melody that seems ideal for playing behind a film of verdant hills in Ireland. In fact, I think it was used for this purpose in a Janeane Garafalo film.
  10. Team Rockit — Teenage Queen (The Lowest Point In Rock ‘n’ Roll History): A crunchy riff-rocker from this Chicago band whose drummer has manned the skins for The Poster Children. This song sits somewhere along the spectrum between Urge Overkill and Queens Of The Stone Age, smart guys playing dumb rock ‘n’ roll because it sounds cool. And this song certainly sounds cool.

Share March 4, 2011 Share on Facebook Tweet This!

Categorized: Friday MP3 Shuffle

Topics: evan dando, ipod, mp3

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