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Clarence Ewing: The Million Year Trip writesFriendly Reminder: King Pignacious at the Viaduct Theatre TONIGHT

Join us for a CHIRP Benefit featuring KING PIGNACIOUS and His Merry Swine, performing the original modern day rock opera A Swine’s Rise to Power. Red Hot Annie’s Burlesque Show opens. One third of all proceeds benefit CHIRP Radio!

The Viaduct Theatre – 3111 N. Western Ave.
Tickets are $10 and the show starts at 10pm. This show is 21+

RSVP online at the King Pignacious Facebook page.

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Categorized: Event Previews

Mike Bennett writesFriday iPod/MP3 Shuffle—Happy Birthday Pee Wee Herman Edition

You say Pee Wee Herman isn’t rock and roll? How can you, after the way he danced to The Champs’ “Tequila” in his movie debut? And who can forget Joeski Love’s hip-hop novelty classic, “Pee Wee’s Dance”? Today is Paul Reubens’ birthday, the man who created Pee Wee. The Pee Wee Herman Saturday morning show is one of the great children’s shows ever, and surely has inspired some of the artists we play on CHIRP. Even if that’s not true, Pee Wee is a lot of fun, which is reason enough to pay tribute to Mr. Reubens. So grab your iPod or MP3 player, hit shuffle and share the first ten tunes that come up!

  1. Ray, Goodman & Brown — Special Lady (Ray, Goodman & Brown): These guys were originally called The Moments, and had a big hit with “Love on a Two Way Street”. But when they wanted to leave their record label, they found that the label owned the name. So they decided to just use their own monikers. They were a classic R & B vocal band, with sterling harmonies. This was their signature hit, a lush ballad that started with a nod to their street corner singing roots. As they harmonize the first chorus, they also “ad lib” advice to each other, to make sure they are in sync. The song is really good, too.
  2. Elton John — This Song Has No Title (Goodbye Yellow Brick Road): Oh how clever Elton John and Bernie Taupin were. It’s the rock equivalent of Rene Magritte’s This Is Not A Pipe painting. But enough about the title. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is arguably Sir Elton’s best album, and the deep cuts, such as this one, are pretty darn good. This is a melodic mid-tempo song that sounds great, though its hook isn’t as strong as a typical Elton single.
  3. Chitlin’ Fooks — Did It Again (Did It Again): The title cut from the second collaboration between Carolyn Van Dyk of Bettie Serveert and Pascal Deweze of Sukilove. There is a country rock gloss on all of these songs, with bits of steel guitar and other twang showing up. But the songs don’t stray too far from the artful pop of Deweze’s regular gig. This starts off twangin’, and then adds some beefy guitars and horns to make this a very nice hodgepodge.
  4. The Sorrows — Bad Times Good Times (Teenage Heartbreak): This is another skinny tie power pop band that snagged a major label deal in 1980, when everyone was trying to find the next Knack. The Sorrows had more of a traditional rock and roll base than some of the other bands of this stripe, so their songs were more ’60s oriented. Some, like this one, are as much garage rock as power pop. This has an authentic sound, except for the drum sound, which is very late ’70s.
  5. Missy Elliott — Teary Eyed (Respect M.E.): A relatively melodic mid-tempo number from Missy, which showcases her vocal skills more than her rapping. As a result, it doesn’t have the usual attitude one would expect from Ms. Elliott. This could be one of a number of R & B divas. Nevertheless, this is a pretty good song, with typically inventive production.
  6. The Sweet — Daydream (Funny How Sweet Co-Co Can Be): Sweet started out as a bubblegum band. Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn wrote the Archies-esque A-sides (like “Funny Funny” and “Co-Co”), the band got to release rocking B-sides (which they played on, while the A-sides were performed by session dudes — only the vocals were Sweet). When it came time to make an album, it was padded with more session music, including this sugary cover of The Lovin’ Spoonful’s hit. This is nothing special, but it shows how versatile singer Brian Connolly was. He could sing with great power, or sound like a more manly Davy Jones, as he does on this track.
  7. Sukilove — Woe (You Kill Me): On Sukilove’s second album, the aforementioned Pascal Deweze broke away from the sunnier, Aztec Camera-like surfaces of his band’s earlier work. Some of the strong melodies remained, but there was more aggressive blues-based guitar, often distorted, as the songs became moodier. Actually, maybe bitter would be a good word. On this song, the guitar and a distant drum are eventually met by distant choral vocals that are hard to pick up. In some respects, this conjures up a similar mood to the more paranoid side of Radiohead (is that the only side of Radiohead?), but with a somewhat more organic sound. Sparklehorse might also be a good comparison point.
  8. Rank and File — Coyote (Sundown): After the punk band The Dils dissolved, Chip and Tony Kinman went in a totally different direction, playing a very Everly Brothers-inspired take on cow punk. Their version of twang rock is so unique, both in the spacious way they played it, and how the sweet harmonies were usually contrasted by the distinctive baritone voice of Tony Kinman. How authentic their songs were is open to question, but they certainly had the right feel. This is such a simple composition, with all of the right elements in place.
  9. The Kinks — Johnny Thunder (Village Green Preservation Society): Whether this is the best Kinks album is debatable, but the five album run from Face To Face through Lola, with Village Green falling smack dab in the middle, is about as good as any artist as ever had. This album is the height of the band’s pastoral period, with songs suffused in nostalgia and traditional values. Ray Davies was spinning out classic song structures one after the other. Just from this song, you can hear how it influenced everyone from Bowie to The Smiths to Blur and more.
  10. Chris Isaak — Talk To Me (Silvertone): The first Chris Isaak album was a revelation. The album cover tried to make him look as much like a young Elvis as possible, and the music was steeped in melodramatic ’50s and ’60s balladeering. It sounded like nothing else at the time. This is a very typical track, which starts at a slow burn, with Isaak finding a moment to show off his vocal range and unleashing the anguish that builds up in each verse. He’s spent the rest of his career refining this style, with generally good results. But he will never top this timeless debut.

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Categorized: Friday MP3 Shuffle

Topics: ipod, mp3

Nicole Oppenheim: Ear Candy writesMidwestern Housewife: Dancing with Myself…and Andy Williams

There used to be this commercial on TV from Staples, the office supply store. You know the one: a white, overweight, balding stereotypical “dad” guy dances while pushing a cart full of school supplies. Two tweens, presumably his children, sulk behind him, dragging their feet and looking forlornly from one another to their uber-embarrassing father doing arabesques through the aisles to the tune of Andy Williams’ “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” Then they look at the floor and follow their dad slowly off screen as the week’s sale items are displayed for our viewing pleasure.

As a kid, I hated this commercial. I thought it was lame and overblown. Parents don’t really feel that way. They’re so trapped by their crap jobs and stultifying worldviews, having the kids home would have to be great, right? Everyone knows parents have no desires of their own, because as we all learned from John Hughes movies and Peter Pan, when you grow up, your heart dies. The fun part of your parents’ lives is over! Stupid Staples. Parents don’t dream of their kids going back to school, much less dance through the aisles of a store (in public!) at the mere thought of it. Yes, I actually thought this. Now that I have children, I realize how foolish I was.

My kids were enrolled in camp 5 mornings a week for 7 weeks this summer. Since the kids were born 3.5 years ago, these 7 weeks have been the best part of my life. I had my mornings free! Tuesdays and Thursdays I was free until 1 o’clock! Oh, joy of joys! Free time! I could do whatever I wanted to do! I could even practice ballet moves behind a cart at an office supply store! I didn’t, but I could’ve.

Every morning after I dropped the kids off at camp, I felt like painting half of my face blue and running down State Street in a kilt yelling “FREEDOM!” at the top of my lungs. It was better than the feeling of 3 o’clock on the last day of school before summer break. I could take off the Mommy hat for a few hours and put the Nicole hat back on. The kids were safe. They were happy. And I had time to become myself once again.

And it wasn’t just me who experienced this transformation. All the other moms and even some nannies were so much more themselves once the kids were in the able hands of the preschool teachers. The parental film was blinked away from our eyes. We saw the world anew. We drank coffee together. We talked about things other than children’s shows and potty training and others we knew who were pregnant (suckers!). We swore and told stories about drunken debauchery in college and more recent years. We showed off tattoos and talked about crushes we had on various actors, singers, guitar players. Yes, we devolved. And it was delicious.

We’d all been wearing the mantle of parental responsibility for so long that it felt great to put it down (folded properly, of course) for a while and let our inner giggly girls run free. Except now our giggly girls are much wiser women. We still love to giggle, but it’s giggling with a purpose. Just as giggling at age 12 and 13 helps distance you from your parents, giggling with peers as a thirtysomething helps distance you from your children. It reminds you that not only are you still who you are and who you’ve always been, but also that you’re not in this thing alone. You have your sisters to help you through it. Your girlfriends helped you grow and survive the crazy transition from childhood to adulthood. (Oh, adolescence. So painful, but so necessary.) Your girlfriends will also be there for you in the even crazier transition from non-parenthood to parenthood. I can’t speak for the dads out there, but I’m sure a similar safety net of friends exists for men, too. If not, man, are you guys screwed.

So there I was, happy in my small amount of freedom each day, when the unthinkable happened. Camp ended. It was over July 29th. School doesn’t start up again for the kids until September 15th. That’s 6 whole weeks for those keeping track at home. My initial response was to go out and buy a couple cases of whiskey and Scotch, aka magical mommy juice, that would ensure maximum relaxation for me once the kids went to bed. I didn’t do this. I seriously thought about it, though. But at the last minute I was once again saved by a girlfriend. In this case, it was my own mom who saved the day.

She offered to take the kids back to Ohio for two weeks to give me a break from parenting and to let me work on some non-kid-related projects I’ve started. She even drove out here to pick them up! Who is this woman? How is she possibly the same person who used to yell at me when I’d play my music too loud or nag me incessantly about getting homework done or caution me about the boy I was madly in love with who would only go on to break my heart? She was so clueless and such a bore. How did she become so awesome?

The answer is that she always was. She was simply cloaked in that parental mantle I was talking about, hiding her true self from me. But now that I’m an adult, she can be herself around me. I can join her circle of girlfriends and giggle knowingly about the world. We can all dance together down the aisles of any store, office supply or otherwise, and embarrass the hell out of our children and grandchildren because we know the secret. We know that people never really change. They simply have responsibilities. And when raising a child is their main responsibility, they take it very, very seriously.

This is why you rarely see any holes in the mantle when you’re a kid. It’s because your parents care about you and want you to be safe, happy, and healthy. It’s only when you get older and can take care of yourself that you see who your parents truly are. They are the kind of people who tell dirty jokes, drink too much on occasion, make stupid decisions, and sing along with their favorite songs on the radio. They are people like you. I don’t say this to frighten you. I say this because it’s true. We’re all pretty much the same when you get down to it, we just express ourselves differently. For some, it’s dancing at a store, for others it’s dressing up like an extra from “Braveheart” and running down one of the busiest streets in the world proclaiming your freedom for the world to hear. (I didn’t actually do this, but wouldn’t it be great?) However you choose to express it, express it you must. But I would seriously recommend against dancing to anything sung by Andy Williams. That stuff’s not cool no matter how old you are.

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Categorized: Midwestern Housewife

Topics: midwestern housewife

Bobby Evers writesRediscovering Our Record Collections: Harvey Danger’s “Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone?”

My sister went to California and informed me of a new song I absolutely had to hear. But because we had DirecTV with MTV2 back at Mom and Dad’s, I’d already heard it. I didn’t get the record right away; I borrowed it from a friend and listened to it over and over again before buying it myself. Thankfully I was able to exchange an Everclear CD at K-Mart and traded it for this disc.

Keep Reading…

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Categorized: Rediscovering Our Record Collections

Mike Bennett writesFriday iPod/MP3 Shuffle—Happy Birthday Phil Lynott Edition

He was the charismatic black Irishman who melded Irish folk music with hard rock, sometimes sprinkling in some Van Morrison, yielding the indelible classic, “The Boys Are Back In Town”. If you ever see a video of Thin Lizzy, one thing is obvious — Phil Lynott was a rock star. While U.S. success was fleeting, Lynott fronted the band known for its dual lead guitars, cranking out dozens upon dozens of great songs and top notch albums like Jailbreak, Live And Dangerous and Black Rose (A Rock Legend). When punk and new wave came blasting out, Lynott didn’t run and hide. He rubbed shoulders with them, paying tribute on the tune “Back in ’79” (from his first solo album) and working with Midge Ure of Ultravox. Today, you can hear other bands influenced by Thin Lizzy, such as Ted Leo + Pharmacists (check out “Timourous Me”, which is pure Lizzy homage, though Ted claims otherwise). Let’s pay tribute to the great Phil Lynott on his birthday by grabbing the ol’ iPod/MP3 player, hitting shuffle, and sharing the first 10 tunes that come up.

  1. Jawbox — Send Down (Novelty): A number from the second Jawbox album, which found the band starting to really define its angular post-punk sound. This tune isn’t as intricately constructed as later song and has more of an early emo anthem vibe. In that respect, it plays a little bit closer to a Naked Raygun song. J. Robbins has a powerful enough voice to pull it off.
  2. Neil Finn — Souvenir (Try Whistling This): Finn’s first solo album did a great job of building on what he had been doing with Crowded House. This means Finn continued to pen superb sophisticated pop songs with layered instrumentation, articulate lyrics and melodies on par with John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Andy Partridge and Robyn Hitchcock. This song has a neat structure, using synthesized strings in the verses to play static parts to build tension, released by a jangly guitar that kicks the chorus in. The song has many parts to it, and they flow together seamlessly.
  3. The Sights — Talk To You (Are You Green?): These Detroit area garage rockers came in early during the wave of revivalists — i.e., right around the time of the The White Stripes. The band see-sawed between riffy proto-punk and cheerful Kinks-y pop tunes. On this song, both sides are on display. Which is very cool.
  4. Mott The Hoople — Momma’s Little Jewel (All The Young Dudes): A mid-tempo track with a little barroom piano added to the mix. This song sounds like a more playful version of Free.
  5. Big Dipper — Wet Weekend (Supercluster: The Big Dipper Anthology): A spin off of the likeminded Kansas post-punk pop band The Embarrassment, Big Dipper specialized in catchy rock tunes that were just a little bit askew. The lyrics often were a bit off-beat and the rhythms and melodies had little wrinkles that indicated they came from a post-Velvet Underground/Big Star world, rather than a more mainstream perspective. This is a very typical song, with a bouncy rhythm and a strong lead guitar line throughout the entire track, building up to a big chorus. This is the essence of ’80s college radio.
  6. Kitchens of Distinction — In a Cave (Love Is Hell): The Kitchens, on their first album, hadn’t fully fleshed out their big dramatic rock sound, but it was already pretty big. This is a slow burner of a song with ample helpings of the reverbing My Bloody Valentine-ish guitar work that was their trademark. Unlike MBV, the Kitchens had a much more spacious song, which was needed so vocalist Patrick Fitzgerald could have room to emote. These guys were lumped in with the shoegazer movement, for good reason, but they had the most vocal personality by far.
  7. The Guess Who — Baby’s Birthday (Shakin’ All Over): Before this Winnepeg, Canada band became stars for hits like “American Women”, they were a pretty typical ’60s rock band. They had a garage rock phase, but even during that period, they tried on all sorts of styles. This is a jangly rock tune that sounds somewhat like a Mike Nesmith Monkees’ tune. Randy Bachman’s twangy guitar sounds great.
  8. The Jam — Strange Town (Direction, Reaction, Creation): A fantastic tune that combines a Motown rhythm with a classic Brit pop tune. This is one of those songs that clearly inspired bands like Blur, The Smiths, The Stone Roses and others. Paul Weller at his best.
  9. All — Sugar and Spice (Allroy Sez): After Milo left The Descendents, Bill Stevenson formed the similar All. The first All album is an outstanding pop-punk record, chock full of great songs. Moreover, the playing, especially in the rhythm section, is really creative, giving the songs a unique stamp. This song is a warning about a girl who is going to break a friend’s heart. It has a dramatic, ominous feel to it, and has a super cool middle eight where the song breaks down to a whisper before slamming into the urgent chorus.
  10. Watermelon Men — Seven Years (Children of Nuggets): If someone hasn’t put together a compilation of this ’80s Swedish garage band, they should. The Watermelon Men really captured the feel of the original era of garage bands, with better fidelity. This song is one of those doomy folk-psych garage tunes.

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Categorized: Friday MP3 Shuffle

Topics: ipod, mp3

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