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The CHIRP Blog

Shawn Campbell writesGet Ready for the CHIRP Singles Mixer/Mix CD Exchange!

We know how inane Valentine’s Day can be. And just because society makes us feel like we need to search for a better half one day a year, we at CHIRP would like to celebrate our appreciation of The Single. Both the carefree, unbound guy or gal who gets your heart a-racin’ — and the standout song that does the same.

And so, for singles and B-sides alike, we’ve put together a post-Valentine’s Day “Singles Mixer” and Mix CD swap on Tuesday, February 15 at Cole’s Bar . (Get it? A mix CD of singles! A “singles mixer!”)

If you’ve got the notion, bring a mix CD (of love songs, or anti-love songs, or love-devoid songs) to exchange with other folks — single or otherwise — and even if you don’t meet Prince or Princess Charming, at least you’ll take home a new mix CD!

Cole’s Bar is located at 2338 N. Milwaukee Ave and entry is free! It all starts at 8pm and the venue is 21 and over.

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Categorized: Event Previews

Mike Bennett writesFriday iPod/MP3 Shuffle—Happy Birthday H.R. Edition

He is the frontman for what many consider the greatest hardcore punk band of all-time. Bad Brains combined lightening speed with incisive songs and a charismatic lead singer. Of course, the band also knew it’s way around a reggae tune. While Bad Brains was never prolific, they inspired legions of bands and fans over the years and continued to shine in concert long after their best recordings had been released. They even provided the title for the great indie rock magazine, The Big Takeover. In honor of H.R., get out your iPod or MP3 player, hit shuffle, and share the first 10 songs that come up.

  1. Dallas Orbiter — Arise (Magnesium Fireflies): I know next to nothing about this band. I was sent this album to review for This song immediately stuck in my head, It is basically the title cut for this solid album of indie pop. The tune starts with the chorus, which is a simple choral singalong with all sorts of guitar and keyboard noise going on underneath. The verses are Neil Young filtered through Britpop with bits of distortion, and do the job of getting back to that awesome chorus.
  2. The Bees — Stand (Octopus): This comes off the third album from this underrated British band. This song navagates a languid ska groove, mixed with the usual psychedelic-pop vibes. So this sounds like The Specials meets the ’60s, on a track dripping with atmosphere. And, damn, the chorus is mega-catchy.
  3. Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band — Best Batch Yet (Doc At Radar Station): After a brief hiatus, Captain Beefhearts final few records moved him away from the mainstream, and into a place where he tried to take the blues meets free jazz approach of Trout Mask Replica and make it a bit more palatable. He did a great job, creating blues based songs with dissonant touches that rocked and challenged a listener equally, as reflected on this song.
  4. Jesus Jones — Song 13 (Liquidizer): I still love this band’s debut album, which was primarily guitar heavy rock with dance beats. Really fast dance beats, along with major hooks on every song. This is a more straightforward rock tune, with heavy guitar and shouted verses, but a sublimely melodic chorus.
  5. The Instant Automations — Scared To Be Alone (Messthetics Greatest Hits): A fuzzy slice of oddball post-punk pop from the excellent Messthetics series. This is a compilation of a compilation, skimming the cream of obscure British singles from the late-‘70s and early-‘80s. This song relies on a very prominent bass and effects laden guitar, with a simple drum machine beneath, while the singer emotes over the collective drone. A saxophone bleats in the background.
  6. The Pipettes — Judy (We Are The Pipettes): This group’s first album is so full of brilliant tracks, taking a modern approach to the classic girl group sound. This really came through in the lyrics, which often were more aggressive than the moony girl group songs of old. This tune is a character study of a girl with a rough exterior, from the position of an empathetic acquaintance. A very mature perspective, well sung and arranged, making for a resonant pop tune.
  7. The Hotrats – E.M.I. (Turn Ons): Here, Gaz and Danny of Supergrass do an acoustic rearrangement of this Sex Pistols’ tune. They make it sound like a peppy Ziggy-era David Bowie track, with no electric guitars — instead acoustic guitars and keyboards dominant. The only element that is true to the original is the chorus. So it’s like taking the song back to about 1974. Clever.
  8. Funkadelic — Comin’ Round The Mountain (Hardcore Jollies): As Funkadelic followed Parliament into major labeldom, their music became less hard edged and rock oriented, but enough of that aspect was left intact to differentiate the two acts. This song melds chanted vocals, some funk guitar and a disco shuffle beat with a bit of a rockier chorus and some meaner guitar. The tune feels like it’s on the verge of exploding throughout, but it basically stays in the pocket, until a wicked solo near the end.
  9. Jerry Lee Lewis — Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On (Live At The Star Club): For one night only, The Killer played the Star Club in Hamburg, backed by Britain’s The Nashville Teens, who had recently backed Jerry Lee for two weeks in the UK. Thank goodness this night was captured on tape, because Lewis was on fire. He drives everything with his forceful piano playing and intense vocals, keeping the energy level high at almost all times, while the Teens try to keep up. Many of the songs are better known by other artists, but The Killer makes them his own. Here, Jerry Lee takes on one of his biggest hits, getting very playful during the breakdown in the middle, and then speeding the song up to punk tempo thereafter. This is likely the greatest live rock ‘n’ roll ever made and a testament to the greatness of Mr. Lewis.
  10. Eagles Of Death Metal — Cheap Thrills (Heart On): I enjoy all three Eagles of Death Metal records, as they keep the notion of big dumb blues rock guitar riffs viable in contemporary music. This song has a bit more of a Queens of the Stone Age vibe than the typical Eagles song, as Josh Homme takes a more prominent vocal role and adds some psychedelic moves that I’d associate more with his main band. This juxtaposes with the trash rock chorus quite well.

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Categorized: Friday MP3 Shuffle

Topics: h.r., ipod, mp3

Jenna Murfin writesParticipate in the Creative Chicago Survey!

Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs is conducting its 2011 Creative Chicago Survey, which invites creative practitioners who live and work in Chicago to describe who they are and what they need to thrive, including specific space and business assistance information.

This information will help the City determine policies and programs to support its Creative Sector, and be shared with interested organizations, research and advocacy efforts. The Creative Chicago Survey is unique because it invites the creative community to opt-in and define itself, rather than working from a pre-determined list.

To have the greatest impact, their goal is to hear from all creative people who live and/or work in Chicago. Who is a creative? An artist or an architect, a chef or DJ, a member of a church choir or a fashion designer, a teaching artist or playwright, an arts administrator or a filmmaker, a knitter or an industrial designer. Not just professional artists, but every person who engages in a creative practice as their job or their hobby is considered “a creative.”

Click here to take the survey, in Spanish or English, from Friday, February 4th to Friday, February 25th.

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Categorized: CHIRP Radio News and Info.

Topics: community

Erik Roldan writesCHIRP + Coach House Sounds Session with Roommate

Roommate is a Chicago-based five piece band, self-described as “Stoner Crooner.” They recently recorded a Coach House Sounds session and had some interesting reflections on coaches, Chicago and basements.

Their CHS session released on February 3rd. Hear the entire session over at!

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

In 1999 I started playing keyboards in an Iowa City band called Swim Team. At my birthday party that summer we played a basement show in the house where I was living and ended our set with a cover of Europe’s “The Final Countdown.”

Our singers/guitar players Cody & Jason Hennesy didn’t want to even try to do the ridiculous guitar solo, so they cued up a tape of the original song to the solo and when we got to that moment in the song we all stopped and they put a little portable cassette player up to the mic. That maneuver was pretty clever, but the song is really dumb.

Tell me about a coach you had as a child. What did you learn from them?

Rick French was the coach of my high school’s swim team. I was on the team in 9th and 10th grades. We were a terrible team with barely enough members to fill all of the events in a swim meet. Coach French always assigned me to swim the 200 Meter Intermediate Medley and I always puked my guts up shortly after swimming it. So I learned from Rick French that if I swim the 200 Meter Intermediate Medley I puke.

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

[Our drummer Seth Vanek fielded this one.] I think we could do a good job with something called Sarcasm Therapy for people who have trouble getting that ’90s ironic sensibility out of their system. We would 1) help them start saying what they really mean and in the process have them figure out what they really think 2) Help them realize that you don’t have to be intelligent to be sarcastic and not to confuse sarcasm with wit.

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

I’m no music historian, but I think Chicago’s music culture represents a particularly vital intersection of the avant-garde with traditional music. When I think about how Sonny Blount became Sun Ra and recorded seminal albums like Angels and Demons at Play and Nubians of Plutonia in Chicago, or when I put on a track like The Art Ensemble of Chicago’s “Theme De Yoyo” (the most electrifying marriage of pop and free jazz I can think of) or an album like Bonnie Prince Billy’s Beware (essentially a country album played by Chicago jazzbo heavies like Josh Abrams and Michael Zerang), I feel deeply humbled and inspired and grateful to be here.

Also, I’d argue that the breathtaking corruption of Chicago and Illinois government has inspired an especially vibrant culture of activism here. Publications like AREA, grassroots groups like Tamms Year Ten, our burgeoning community gardening movement, those things make me really proud and excited to call myself a Chicagoan.

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?

Our CHS session was a blast. The Coach House is a really cozy space, and Matthew and his crew are courteous, charming, professional dudes. We hadn’t played in almost two months, so we had a short practice just before the session and decided to stick mainly to songs we’ve been playing live for a while.

We almost nixed “After The Boom” because we thought maybe it needed some more tightening and polishing, but Gillian ended up insisting that we do it and I’m glad she did, it’s my favorite song of the session… so that was a nice surprise.

Like in any live show, each of us tried to maintain a little bit of spontaneity in our performance—sometimes that resulted in little flubs (or “clams” as they call ‘em in the biz) but it also yielded some beautiful surprises, where the music gelled and swelled in unexpected ways.

It was interesting for me to listen to multiple takes of the same song and to hear how our playing evolved in the course of the session as we got more comfortable with the space and situation. We’re always honing our arrangements and group dynamics so that the songs evolve and stay fresh and get more powerful and interesting with every show, so it’s nice to have the CHS session as a document of where we were on that particular day.

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

Yesterday we had quite possibly our best rehearsal EVER – we’ve invited our friend and guitar hero Reid Coker to join us at our next couple of Chicago shows and on tour, so we’re a five-piece again and we are sounding pretty sweet, if I do say so myself.

We’re really excited to return to the Hideout on Saturday and to get to play with SHAPERS. Later this week a remix I made for a track by the soul singer Bilal (whose album Airtight’s Revenge was released last year on our former label Plug Research) should appear on our Soundcloud page

What else? A video I made for our song “Snow Globe” was premiered at Magnet Magazine a couple weeks ago, and sometime around the release date (March 22) for our new album Guilty Rainbow we’re planning to release a remix and super-surreal video that our friends mr.666 made for the album’s first track “My Bad.”

Our record release show is set for March 18 at the Empty Bottle with Dozens and Algernon, and a week later we’ll head out on a two-week tour through the midwest, southeast and northeast. In the last couple years we recorded a lot of material that didn’t make it onto the album, so it’s fairly likely that we’ll release some of those songs later in the year. Lots is happening!!

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Categorized: Interviews

Topics: interview

Mike Bennett writesFriday iPod/MP3 Shuffle—Happy Birthday Alice Cooper Edition

Vincent Furnier, the son of a minister and the original theatrical rocker turns 64 today. In the late ’60s, he fronted Alice Cooper, eventually taking on his band’s name. Alice Cooper signed originally to Frank Zappa’s Bizarre label and made two albums of psychedelic tinged hard rock. Graduating to Warner Brothers, the band’s songwriting got a bit tighter and suddenly they were reeling off one classic rock song after the other. And the stage show became a legend, paving the way for Kiss and a host of other artists. Meanwhile, Mr. Cooper showed an appealing wit, leavening any heavyness with a wink and a nod. Ever since his heyday, Alice has had his ups and downs, but he is still capable of making good records and is still a great live performer. So let’s pay tribute to Alice Cooper by grabbing the ol’ iPod or MP3 player, pressing shuffle and sharing the first 10 tunes that come up.

  1. Jawbox — Airwaves Dream (My Scrapbook of Fatal Accidents): Fantastic cover of a Buzzcocks tune, from the tail end of the first part of the Buzzcocks’ career. The angular guitar lines of this number meld well with the Jawbox sound, while the band’s rhythm section really propels things. It’s especially cool to hear J. Robbins do the vocal — a bit more muscular than Pete Shelley.
  2. Madness — Africa (The Liberty Of Norton Folgate): While this most recent Madness album focuses primarily on London, this languid track, which is laid back reggae mixed with a dusting of Afro-beat is a great ode to the need to get away from it all. Despite the desire to go to an exotic location, the lyrics really do a good job of painting how dreary life can be and why we need dreams and fantasies to keep up going sometimes.
  3. The Hues Corporation — Rock The Boat (Have A Nice Decade): A true one hit wonder, but what a great one shot! This is a great piece of poppy R & B, with four outstanding sections — the pre-chorus, the chorus, the verse and the ultra-sublime bridge. It would have been a crime had it not been a hit.
  4. Melony — I Hang On (Quicksilver): A criminally underrated Swedish power pop trio who actually managed to get their debut album released on Geffen, and this, their second album, only released in Japan. Oh well. Melony specialized in the sunny melodies that fellow Swedes such as The Wannadies and Eggstone also penned, but they had an extra rock punch and a skewed lyrical sensibility that made them stand out. The second album was not as amazing as the first, but it still is full of peppy, fun ditties like this one.
  5. Parts & Labor — Chaning Of The Guard (Stay Afraid): The longer rock music lurches on, the harder it is to carve out a distinctive sound. Parts & Labor manages to do that, in part due to their lineup, which emphasizes an overmodulated keyboards, backed by a powerful rhythm section. Their melodies are deceptively strong, with songs that sound like a mid point between Bob Mould and The Dismemberment Plan (at least that’s how it sounds to me). On this song, there’s not much bottom — it’s mainly high end keyboard and drums that rely on lots of cymbal splashing. An odd arrangement that works well.
  6. The Jim Jones Revue — Burning Your House Down (Burning Your House Down): Jones used to be in the Stooges inspired Thee Hypnotics. Now he is fronting a great garage rock band that connects the dots between Jerry Lee Lewis, The Sonics and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Jones roars his vocals and the band is spot on, managing to swing but with a certain heavyness. This is from the band’s second album, a 2010 release, and the chances that they are anything less than a stellar live act are about .00001%.
  7. Terry Reid — Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) (Super Lungs: The Complete Studio Recordings): Terry Reid is a cult figure, a British singer who fits in the great inspired tradition of folks like Steve Marriott. He also is an ace guitarist. But he never managed to break a big hit. This is a cover of Cher’s classic single (yes, Cher), written by Sonny Bono. Reid keeps the drama and turns this into a rock rave up, and his vocal is awesome.
  8. APB — Shoot You Down (Something to Believe In): Hmm…another shooting tune. APB (or, actually, apb) were a Scottish post-punk band that mixed the white anti-funk of Gang Of Four with actual funk bass lines to create funky anti-funk. They wrote songs that were well suited for angry fist waving or maximum booty shaking. This track does have a solid groove.
  9. Louis Armstrong — Memories Of You (The Essential Louis Armstrong): A beautiful melody and the great voice and trumpet of Satchmo — how can you go wrong?
  10. The Chameleons — Tears (Strange Times): In some circles, The Chameleons are at the top of the heap of the post-punk heap, ahead of even such luminaries as Echo and the Bunnymen and The Sound. I’m not sure of that, but I think it’s a legitimate belief. The band was masterful with texture, with a prominent bottom and an array of inviting guitar sounds. On this mid-tempo song, the guitar sounds are shimmering notes ornamenting the liquid rhythms. Over all of this, Mark Burgess rules all with his passionate and dramatic voice.

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Categorized: Friday MP3 Shuffle

Topics: alice cooper, ipod, mp3

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