As soon as Neat Repeater begins and Michael Lux nasally yells, “I get this feeling,” one thing comes to mind-Paul Weller. I haven’t checked any of the other press on the debut Ep from the side project of the guitarist and one of the vocalists of Chicago band Hollus, but I’ll put money on a similar take on Lux’s voice. The Jam is all over Neat Repeater. The thing is, the Jam were never this good. Lux may sound like a carbon copy of Weller at times, but Lux and the Bad Sons have turned out 5 consistently great garage punk/post punk tunes. It’s an Ep of 5 “In the City”s or “Modern World”s without the filler.
One indicator of a well done album or Ep is when each song is your favorite while it’s playing. When “So Loud” begins, you’re sure it can’t get any better. “Posies” comes next and you start to doubt yourself with it’s Jam-like refrain and oddly but fitting Americana-style verses. Just when you think you have this group pegged as a Jam wannabe, they surprise you with a ballad..sort of. It still has the same bite as the first two, but with a gentler, dreamlike quality.
The only song that nearly misses is the closer, “Saturday’s Boys.” Perhaps it’s just me being cynical, but you lose me with overly sentimental nostalgia. You could almost see the 80s montage music video. The song itself, however, is just as strong as the other 4 on Neat Repeater.
No shows scheduled yet but I suggest checking in once in a while to see what’s going on with this group. I expect to be hearing a lot from these guys in the near future.
Something about Secret Colours’ debut LP makes me want to watch Dig! Or should I more accurately say everything about this band’s debut makes me want to watch Dig!? I haven’t listened to the Dandy Warhols, the Brian Jonestown Massacre, or any of the other bands associated with that circle since high school, but thank god for Secret Colours for bringing me back to them. The first song, “Redemption,” immediately reminded me of the Warlocks, “Shake the Dope Out” in particular. Even the drug as seducer lyrical content of “Chemical Swirl” recalls the Warlocks. The whispering vocals of lead singer Tommy Evans can easily be compared to any of the lead singers of the above bands. And what about the token chick keyboard/tambourine player?
Though it’s hard to find anything on this great debut LP that is distinctly that of the Secret Colours, the group does demonstrate their ability to match, if not better, their influences in a few different ways. Perhaps the strongest song on the album is an instrumental called, “Western.” This is no knock on Evans; it’s simply a brilliant instrumental (this coming from someone who worships the 3-minute pop song and despises the instrumental). From the familiar western influenced surf chord progression to the oh so appropriate rattle, this song dares you not to listen to all 5 minutes and 22 seconds of it.
Then there’s the bonus track. Why “Popstar” is a bonus track and not the album opener is puzzling to me. This is the group’s most hit-worthy song, a fact Secret Colours realize and have thankfully made a video for the song. Secret Colours’ “Popstar” sure beats the shit out of The Black Angels’ bonus track about the Iraq War.
I love HoZac. They consistently give me great Chicago bands to listen to and this 7″ from Radar Eyes is no exception. Within the first 10 seconds of “Shakes,” I was sold, and the rest of the song didn’t disappoint; I might go as far as to say this is possibly the best song of the year. It’s so good, in fact, that I was convinced for days that it must have been aped from some lost 80s hit.
The b-side, “Not You Again,” follows the same “so good it must be stolen” formula. It’s refreshing to see a band relying so heavily on great songs rather than the old played out fuzz trick that makes it so hard to find a good Garage band these days. When I saw these guys at SubT earlier in December the power of this refrain was was the highlight of the show. It’s not quite as powerful on record, but few times it ever is. The band has said they have an Ep coming out early 2011 on Rococo Records. From what I’ve heard, I can’t wait.
The Laureates had a very productive year. Not only did they release a great 5 song Ep, No Kontrol, they also were generous enough to release one cover song a month, some better than others, for free download on their website.
If you’re looking for The Laureates to live up to their name, than you’ve set yourself up for disappointment. The songs themselves are not great. There’s no Poet Laureate in singer Chad Preston or his fuzzed out lyrics. However, what No Kontrol is is consistent. Sure there’s a 60’s sunny psychedelic thing going on. Sure, there’s probably more fuzz on these 5 tracks than there is on all of the Nuggets collection. But each song, at the heart, is a well written pop song.
No, The Half Rats are not technically from Chicago, but I’ll follow the same rule as any high school Battle of the Bands: one member will suffice.
This 7″, on Douchemaster Records, defines garage music in the most derivative sense of the word. After the Beatles appeared in front of America on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, every American kid picked up a cheap guitar, bass, or drum kit and started their own 4 piece band. It sounds like the Half Rats did the same exact thing, only they may have seen the performance a few years later. Both songs on this 7″ could easily be Meet the Beatles b-sides, although they display a sloppiness Brian Epstein would not have allowed.
The Half Rats come off as a Beatle-loving group on a Kingsmen budget. Though they don’t try anything that hasn’t been done on this 7″, it’s fun enough that you shouldn’t care.