Members of The Just Luckies have a hard time describing their sound. With various musical influences flooding their creativity, they’ve settled on the label twang-punk. Sonically, their instrumentals and vocals fall within the realm of Americana. A hint of a southern accent can be heard in the lead vocals, backed by touches of ukulele and uplifting beats. Their lyrics and individual personalities, however, are the epitome of punk. They embrace their uniqueness and use their music as a tool to comment on various types of relationships and today’s political culture.
Gathered in a glass conference room in the back of Portage Grounds on Chicago’s northwest side, vocalist KC Weldon, drummer Shea Briggs, guitarist Nat Greene and bassist Lucy Diavolo share the ins and outs of creating their latest album Lovesick Politics and discuss what it’s like growing within Chicago’s music scene.
To residents of the Berwyn, Illinois, a western suburb of Chicago, Euclid is nothing more than the name of a residential avenue. During the day, it’s filled with cars. At night, the lights of houses and street lamps illuminate it. From day to day, that’s all there is. It’s an ordinary street. But somewhere along that street, not far from Taco Yo and Wire, sits a home of inspiration to the bandmates of Cardinal Harbor. A home, so influential, it’s been honored by an entire album; the third for the progressive rock group made up of Spencer McCreary, Chris Hills, Joel Stapleton, Scott Carrick, Mark Andersen and Taylor Dalton.
At the corner of Euclid and Roosevelt, McCreary occupies a couch on the stage of Friendly Tap, a local coffee shop and bar. “We want to play here, but we’re maybe a little big for this stage,” laughs McCreary, settling in as he gets ready to explain his passion for this venue, this suburb and Cardinal Harbor’s infamous street.
With a few releases and business models behind them, The War on Peace collectively agrees that their newest EP Automated People encompasses the sound and creativity they’ve been striving for. With a stellar first single, “Fear of Loss”, and accompanying sci-fi inspired music video directed by Chicago-based filmmaker Chris Hershman, the band is setting the groundwork for what they hope will turn into a successful career.
In addition to covering the basics (solid music and supplemental materials), The War on Peace is working on new and creative ways to not only standout in a saturated music scene, but to monetize on their art. The first result has been a subscription service called The Collective, which the three members were kind enough to discuss with Listen Live and Local, along with some interworkings of the band and their creative process behind putting together an EP.
Some bands think it’s best to solidify a following in their home city before embarking on a cross-country tour. Other bands find cramming three bandmates, a sound engineer and a considerable amount of musical gear into a van the best way to weed out the weak. The latter explains the mindset of Tony Aguilar, Cody Varga and Steve-o Gonzalez, the trio behind The Wistful Larks, who have recently returned from a twelve city tour less than a year after recording and releasing their debut EP.
Now that they’ve proven they can tolerate each other at each other’s worst, the three are working toward a collection of new goals, including a 6-song EP and more regular shows in their home city of Chicago.
Varga and Aguilar share their story:
All great things make a comeback. Or at least, they should. In terms of great music, nothing strikes the heart of Chicagoans more than jazz, and nothing inspires artist Brad Cole more than old school, jazz-inspired, Bossa nova. Looking for an outlet to explore the sounds of Bossa nova, Cole started Bossa Blue, a smoky quartet covering a wide range of classic rock tunes and jazz standards every Wednesday in April at The Hideout.
The music industry is no new beast for Cole. As a seasoned musician with strong followings in Chicago, Nashville and New York, Cole has spent many years exploring various genres such as rock, reggae and Americana; and has done so successfully. But as Cole explains after his first residency performance with Bossa Blue, to be truly successful, one has to push boundaries and not shy away from the unexpected.
Ella Casazza is nothing short of energetic. The Chicago singer-songwriter bounces about her Bucktown home, preparing French press coffee in excitement for the completion of her first full-length album. With its catchy lines and pop melodies backed by her signature full band sound, Proof is everything fans love about Casazza. It’s sassy, organic and unapologetically authentic to the modern retro-ness of Elle.
Of course with a new album comes a variety of other projects for the young musician. In the upcoming months, Casazza has planned an extensive tour, new music videos and the formation of a songwriters’ circle. There seems like so much to do, but Casazza reminds herself to “just keep on keeping on”. At the end of the day, things may feel overwhelming and hectic, but that’s all part of this crazy life of music.
This week may mark the release of Kristina Cottone’s debut EP Bow, but as the lead singer of the soul-rock band Honey & the 45s, Cottone is no stranger to music. She has countless experience playing major stages and opening for national acts such as Andy Grammer in Chicago’s Grant Park, but that doesn’t stop Cottone from nervously jittering as she reminisces about her first solo show in New York this past weekend. She playfully laughs about squeezing the hands of her two best friends while riding the subway to her gig; a giddiness that hasn’t seemed to be put to ease quite yet.
“One of the reasons I did the show in New York is because playing completely alone scares me,” says Cottone.
For the first time in her musical career, Cottone is holding the pressures of the show on her own. She’ll be taking the stage on Friday, March 3rd for an official release show at Uncommon Ground. And while Cottone may be reasonably terrified, she’s clearly excited and proud of her new endeavor as she sits down with Listen Live and Local to share her adventure.Continue Reading