This weekend, we're having ribs. CHIRP Radio is proud to partner with RibFest Chicago, voted Chicago's Best Food Fest, for another weekend of BBQ, music, and fun! Bring your appetite to Lincoln Avenue from Irving Park to Berteau (4000 N to 4165 N) - Festival hours are Friday, 5-10 PM; Saturday, Noon-10 PM; and Sunday, Noon-10 PM. A full lineup of live music including The Coathangers, San Cisco, and Post Animal will keep you entertained while you sample the fare of 27 food vendors cooking up the best BBQ in the midwest. VIP passes are also available. Click here for more information, and make sure to stop by the CHIRP Radio table to say hello!
If only we could all be as cool as Kim Deal. Black Francis be damned, when I saw The Pixies in Davenport, Iowa in January 1992, the highlight of the show was Deal’s lead vocal on “Gigantic.” I had a “big big love” for Deal right then for sure. I didn’t know it at the time, but Deal had formed The Breeders in 1989 with Slint’s drummer, bassist Josephine Wiggs (Perfect Disaster) and Tanya Donnelly (a former Throwing Muse and future Belly frontperson) and released thier debut album Pod in 1990.
While Donnelly’s tenure was short-lived, the blueprint was in place-- girl group harmonies, muscular sixties power chords (their rendition of The Who’s “So Sad About Us” is still a classic) and thumping bass lines. Throughout The Breeders recordings, a wicked sense of humor and giddiness pervaded through the darkness of their debut Pod (you can hear Deal’s own version of “loud-quiet-loud” that The Pixies preached and Nirvana perfected on “Iris” and I’d forgotten about their amazing cover of The Beatles’ “Happiness Is A Warm Gun”) to their classic sophomore full-length.
Last Splash is stellar end to end with Kim Deal’s unaffected plainspoken Dayton Ohio alto dominating, but the breakthrough cut and MTV buzz bin vibration was “Cannonball” with its musical bass line the through line, vocals that alternated between distorted screaming and sweetly singing, a stagger-stop rhythm part and chainsaw guitar parts suitable for sawing apart kittens.
Short of being as cool as Kim Deal, or at least cloning her, Kim realized that the next best thing would be drafting her twin sister Kelly to join The Breeders, and despite Kelly never having played guitar or sung in a band, she proceeded to do both, at first with an anticipated level of amateurishness and then after a few records and tours, with aplomb, if never with a Hendrix-level of expertise. I’ve never bought a ring tone for my phone yet, but might have to just to purchase “Wait In The Car” so I can hear Kelly’s husky Peppermint Patti “Good Morning” yell for my alarm clock ring tone.
But legendary guitar fretboard gymnastics is not what you want from The Breeders. You want lovely girl-group harmonies, a bleak world view and a sly winking sense of humor. While they have yet to equal the effervescence of Last Splash, the latest record “All Nerve” has some truly rocking moments, leaving behind the hesitancy that seemed to hold back their return “Title TK” and the transitional “Mountain Battles,” the latter being more of an acoustic and meditative affair.
Kim and Kelly just celebrated their 52nd birthday on June 10, believe it or not (Kelly is technically a few minutes older than Kim), but The Breeders won’t be seen driving in the slow lane in a red convertible with their toupees blowing in the wind, channeling a typical mid-life crisis. Instead I’m willing to bet they’ll be rolling like a cannonball down the fast lane and won’t stop for anyone.
The Breeders play at House of Vans Chicago (113 N Elizabeth St. 60607) on Saturday, June 15. Also on the bill are Divino Niño and Palehound, whose new record was just added to CHIRP Radio’s rotation this week. Toast and Jam and CHIRP DJ Mary Nisi will spin records to kick off the night and between bands.
The show is free with RSVP here. If you RSVP, you can line up to get in but are not guaranteed entry. You can enter to win “guaranteed entry” passes via Do312 here or listen this week to CHIRP for giveaways! #houseofvans.
Chicago post-metallers Pelican return with their sixth album, following up 2013’s Forever Becoming. The band continues to do with they do best - pump out high-quality atmospheric post-metal that experiments with a wide variety of sounds and textures. The closest sonic comparison I can make is to fellow Chicagoans Russian Circles. However, Pelican’s music is generally heavier and takes less influence from shoegaze and lighter post-rock acts such as Explosions in the Sky than the latter.
Nighttime Stories opens with the folk-tinged “WST” that laments the death of friend and Tusk bandmate Jody Minnoch. The album starts getting heavier on “Midnight and Mescaline,” which is primarily dominated by prog influences sounding similar to Animals as Leaders but with some darker undertones. “Cold Hope” is a thick, heavy, atmospheric track that incorporates doom influences. Finally, the closer “Full Moon Black Water” incorporates many influences from the previous tracks and melds them all into one.
Chicago’s own Damon Locks is often described as a polymath; from his visual arts career to his work as an educator; and his nearly 3 decades in music as a member of bands like Trenchmouth and The Eternals - there is little he can’t do. Black Monument Ensemble is his latest project and it feels like a culmination of Locks’ many talents, from the gold leafed woodcut album art to the choreographed dance pieces that accompany BME’s live shows.
Where Future Unfolds was recorded in the summer of 2018 at the Garfield Park Conservatory and is an update of the ideas that came out of Chicago’s Afrocentric arts and music scene of the '60s and '70s. Locks acts almost as a conductor of sorts on sampling and percussion as he leads a 4-piece instrumental group featuring clarinetist Angel Bat Dawid along with a choir and a dance crew. Tracks like “Rebuild a Nation” and the Nina Simone sampling “The Colors That You Bring” are great gateways into this record with its blend of gospel, jazz, and hip-hop. Meanwhile, “Power” channels the punk intensity of Trenchmouth with its scathing take down of systemic racism. Likely to be one of the most important Chicago records of the year, BME are already attracting a lot of attention in the UK.