Live Review: Broken Cycles, Dig Engine, Tougher Than You Thought (6/15) @ Elbo Room

A collection of primarily Chicago-based bands gathered on Thursday, June 15 at Elbo Room for a night covering a wide spectrum of rock from alternative to pop punk and metal. The concert featured performances by Broken Cycles, Dig Engine, Tougher Than You Thought and the Moline-based metal band Within the Grey.

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Live Review: Secret Bad Boy (5/26) @ The Empty Bottle

On May 26, Secret Bad Boy played their first hometown show at The Empty Bottle, opening for Chicago’s Parent and London’s Happyness. The Chicago stop took place toward the end of their week-long tour in support of their new recordings.

The members of Secret Bad Boy are undeniably talented, featuring a variety of recording members from successful musical groups such as Vulfpeck, Mild High Club and I Fight Dragons. Fronting the electronic punk band on vocals, guitar and keyboard is Chicago’s Ben Joseph of Ezra Furman and His Boyfriends. While the recordings of Secret Band Boy feature a number of musicians, including Ezra Furman, the live trio features drummer Mat Roberts and bassist Paul Cherry, a group of young men whose professionalism and musicianship on stage are equally matched between each member.

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Album Review: Layla Frankel- Tame the Fox

Chicago-raised singer-songwriter Layla Frankel set off with her Little Martian guitar in the fall of 2015 to travel Europe. The following spring, Frankel spent two months hiking 600 miles on the Israel National Trail. On her hike, she carried a children’s book, The Little Prince. It was the combination of this book and these travels that the inspired the singer’s debut album Tame the Fox, released April 25, 2017.

The 6-song release, produced and arranged by Frankel and recorded by Josh Richter, is a beautiful collection of bluesy folk tunes filled with rich tones and rhythms. It features a number of talented musicians such as guitarist and bassist Dave Hildebrand, drummer Robert Rashid and Eddie Ganet on keys.Continue Reading

Album Review: Leo Kidd- Marion

Musical medicine is the best cure for an emotional breakup. As a woman, sometimes nothing assists with coping more than good music from a badass woman. This is exactly what Leo Kidd delivers on her debut EP Marion with a blend of powerhouse vocals and charging piano chordsEach song feels full of heartbreak, but also strength and the boldness to move on.

The EP opens with a simple piano melody quickly followed by a steady beat and the theatrical vocals of Leo Kidd in “Fool Me Once”. The song tells the relatable story of learning the true colors of a former mate as the start of the chorus poses the questions, “Who do you think you are?/ What happened to the man I knew?” What makes this song great, from a storytelling standpoint, is the strength of the female character. She is not pleading, but instead asserting confidence with lines such as “Why can’t you see I’m the baddest bitch you’ll ever know.”

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Album Review: Bonelang- Venn Diagrams (Pt.I)

Nothing fits quite as nicely as hip-hop and jazz. The two genres may not be a typical mashup, but the Chicago duo Bonelang definitely makes it work it on their newest EP Venn Diagrams (Pt. 1). With careful layering of emotional vocals over smooth instrumentals, Bonelang has put together a truly unique piece of art. The music stands out on its own, but it’s not what makes Matt Bones and Sammy Language artists. They’ve collaborated on a complete body of work which includes 12 tracks split between two releases, a four-volume short film series entitled Venn Diaries, two music videos, multiple 3-dimensional installations, an art book and a photo series. Each piece is being released in its own time, creating a true experience for fans as they explore the minds of Bonelang.

The EP opens with Bonelang’s first single “Mushroom Moon”; a creatively arranged piece pairing jazzy instrumentals with heavy beats and poetic lyrics. From the first downbeat, the vocals are strong building with emotion until the lines “I like my city dirty and I like my thoughts deep/I like the sky scrapped and I like the concrete,” are belted out. These lyrics repeat throughout the song, always the same and always different. They become a bit of a mantra as a round breaks out with “I know you wish that someone could be on your side but I’m hopelessly addicted to my own brain child oh/What am I to do if I can’t have you?” There’s a great deal of buildup as the music fills with static and distortion before abruptly coming to an end; like the white noise on like a television before suddenly being turned off to a silent room.

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Live Review: Laik/Red Jr/American Cosmonaut/The Dead On/Lost But Happy (2/3) @ Double Door

Like any great Americanized genre, there is no right way to rock. Thanks to its variety of styles, rock music has grown to include elements of punk, folk, metal, pop and so much more. On Friday, February 3, five local bands came together at Double Door and treated audiences to a few of the many different facets of the legendary sound.

The night started with a bit of twangy grunge brought to listeners by the obsolete sounds of Lost But Happy. While they definitely get an A for energy and a strong instrumental presence, the vocal harmonies were a bit shaky. Their set did end on a high note with the tune “Lost But Happy”; a theme song complete with catchy kazoo lines and a bit of banjo (because you really can’t go wrong with a kazoo and banjo).

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Live Review: Fever Queen/ Bestman/ Bardo/ Anti Beyond (12/15) @ Subterranean

Four local bands came together on Thursday, December 15th at Subterranean for the release of Anti/Beyond’s first full-length self-titled album. The brutally cold night was filled with a diverse group of artists exploring various genres ranging from synth pop to hip-hop.

The night opened with the debut performance of the duo Fever Queen made up of Eleanor Rose and Adam Wayne. Their psychedelic rock sound was composed by a blend of bass, keys, guitar and vocals. While Rose’s harsh vocals were definitely on point with feminine grunge, there was something about the live keys that added a bit of 80s pop to the tunes (along with their all white getup). For a first time performance, the band was musically well put together. A bit more work on stage presence and utilizing space and they’ll be sure to draw a loyal following in no time.

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