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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Album Review: Sunjacket – Mantra

Sunjacket takes a solid first step on their way to stardom this week with the release of their debut album Mantra. This exquisitely produced mix of haunting vocals, bold brass, alluring guitars and enchanting synth has set a promising future for the four-piece synth rock band. The album is filled with beautifully crafted pieces making it hard to pull the out favorites with each tune progressing into something equally as appealing as the last.

Over the last few months, Sunjacket has released three singles featured on Mantra. The first single “Not Enough” is an eerie synth tune with airy vocals gracefully accompanying a strong rhythm section. Their next release, “Creepy”, which contrary to the title is not at all ominous but bright like an 80s roller disco jam. The latest single, “No One’s Around You”, which was released late last month, is probably the best of the three; an easy listen with catchy melodic lines and lyrics.

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Album Review: The Peekaboos- Help Stop Decay

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Three summers after their debut release, The Peekaboos have graced audiences with their sophomore album Help Stop Decay. Like any great rock compilation, listeners’ ears are filled with a mix of anti-authoritative lyrics, colorful guitar riffs, punching drums and driving bass lines. Although the album will not officially be released until Saturday, September 17th via DZ Records and Dark Circles Records, it can be heard in its entirety via the bands’ Bandcamp page. Luckily for our readers, Listen Live and Local already took the liberty of listening to The Peekaboos’ latest endeavor and are happy to report the following:

Sit back and get ready to embrace life through a fool’s eyes. Our journey in Help Stop Decay begins with a minute-long piece of dissonance and gongs before bleeding into “Microcosm”, a melodically uplifting tune about, well, microcosms (sharing characteristics or being a part of something larger).  It’s annoyingly catchy with lyrics reminding listeners how they’ll “never find the answer, and death will find [them] anyway” so you might as well go out and do shit.

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Album Review: D-Win – Kubrick EP

Chicago based artist D-Win has broken his near year long silence with his latest concept EP Kubrick; exploring racism, police brutality and manipulative media. A collaborative effort with Chicago producer Tek XKubrick was created, according to a press release, to “enlighten and inspire those who are seeking a shift in the right direction”.

The EP opens with the title track, an introduction into mastermind Stanley Kubrick; a filmmaker most know for his controversial works such as A Clockwork Orange and Lolita. From this first track, the tone is set with a heavy bass backing the opening lyrics “I was being misguided so I decided I wasn’t going to be silent”.

The opening piece bleeds into “Walking on Water” with a continuous energy as D-Win unapologetically hits hard with his standpoint of media corruption and unjust toward minorities. Underlying the punch of his words is a theatrical choir of strings building into the chorus:  “We smell smoke/ running through the fire/ really we should fall/ with every step/ flames all around me and I can’t see through/ but at the end of it all/ it’s like I’m walking on water.”

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Album Review: Marrow – The Gold Standard

A few well-established members of Chicago’s budding music scene have released a new album that is, at times, light-hearted and upbeat, yet dark and menacing. Marrow’s debut album The Gold Standard frequently adjusts your headspace, solidifying it as an extremely well-rounded rock album.

Marrow was created from the backbone of Kids These Days, a purebred Chicago rock/rap group that split in 2013. In Kids These Days, guitarist Liam Kazar, keyboardist Macie Stewart and bassist Lane Beckstrom primarily provided the framework for now Roc-A-Fella Records recording artist Vic Mensa to rap over. But in Marrow, Kazar, Stewart and Beckstrom now have the opportunity to shine under “The Gold Standard.” Add drummer Matt Carroll to the mix, and Marrow is a group of old and new faces showing off diverse songwriting that perhaps has been bottled up for quite some time.

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