I knew the risk last night. My beat up Pontiac had about a fifty-fifty shot of making it to the Bottom Lounge; less than that to make it home. But I had been thinking about nothing else all week, and I was prepared for whatever might have happened on I-94. Luckily, not without noises of disapproval from my car, I made it to the Bottom Lounge in one piece.
I’ve been waiting for the first Bad Sons show for a few months now, ever since I first heard the 5-song Neat Repeater. Passing the EP along to all of my friends, I said over and over again, and they all agreed, this is going to be the best live band in Chicago. I stand by that statement after last night’s show. Lux is a showman in every sense of the word, and last night was not as much a performance as it was a show. With 3 guitarists, Lux freed himself to play where he was needed , roam around the stage when he wanted, and to clutch the microphone stand for added emphasis.
No song off Neat Repeater was neglected. Appropriately opening with “So Loud,” the show got off to an explosive start and didn’t slow down a bit. The Band played two covers (likely to fill time), “Crimson and Clover” and finished with David Bowie’s “Moonage Dream,” which, in my opinion, needs to be recorded. In a Liam Gallagher moment, Lux walked off stage as the Bad Sons continued to play. It was a short set, but it will stick with me until the next Bad Sons show.
The Half Rats finished the night. Though I would hate to follow the Bad Sons, they too met my high hopes. There were no frills about the Half Rats. A simple drum kit held the back beat all night as the rest of the group played their minimalist garage pop, reminicent of The Castaways (“Liar Liar”) and Please Please Me Beatles. The technical difficulties that wove in and out of the Half Rats set was not enough to slow the band or the crowd down. Just as The Bad Sons, Half Rats continued the theme of 60s covers. I was glad to hear the organ intro to “For Your Love,” perhaps my favorite 60s tune. They did the song justice, and somehow unexpectedly sounded just like The Yardbirds.
Take out a post-it note and write this down.
Michael Lux and the Bad Sons; Half Rats; Bottom Lounge; Friday, January 28th; 9 P.M FREE!
Now go stick it on your refrigerator.
With a sudden garage revival within the last year or so in Chicago, I think it’s appropriate to dust off some of the underground classics from Chicago-based label, Dunwich records. Last time on CGT was The Del-Vetts’ “Last Time Around.” This Thursday, have a listen to the dark girl group pop of Luv’d Ones and their song’ “I’m Leaving You.” You get the feeling listening to this track that if this record label had made it out of the 60’s, someone like Hollows would have been right at home.
Ever wonder about the inner workings of a cassette tape label in the 21st century? Dustin Drase and Morgan Phillips talk about everything you need to know about Plustapes from their humble beginnings of asking to release bands’ demos to how the artwork is done. Plus tapes has put out releases from some of Chicago’s best acts like Hollows, Radar Eyes, Disappears, and Outer Minds, and Black Math.
The Orwells are quite possibly the most genuinely punk band I’ve heard in a long time, and I think the band would revel in that statement. Perhaps they got lucky, but Oh! Well is almost perfectly imperfect in its seeming disregard for the mastering process of recording. And the Orwells aren’t exactly inconspicuous as far as their influences go. The opening track, “Back from the Grave” sounds like it belongs on the compilation by the same name, as does the rest of the album. Singer Mario Cuomo repeatedly screaming, “No fun!” calls attention to the band’s obvious affair with the Stooges.
From the search for identity in Cuomo’s fake British Accent at times (“Feels Better to Fall” and “Flee the Scene”) to the incomprehensible screaming in the beginning of “Oh! Well,” the Orwells are clearly a group of teenagers. You don’t need to look at pictures of the band to know that.
Sure Oh! Well is imperfect and all over the place and has a lot more great “ideas” than great songs, but, in a lot of ways, that’s what it means to be a teenager. There’s pimples, girls, parties, school, confusion, angst, and everything in between, but you figure it out as you go. There is one song though, “The Righteous One,” that shows how great this band is going to be. The Orwells know a hit when they hear one (or write one), and they treated it as such. Much cleaner, though still in the red, than any other song on the album, the band nurtured this song, rather than leaving it to fend for itself like the rest of Oh! Well.
Expect to be hearing a lot from The Orwells in the next few years. That, or expect this band to murder Justin Bieber.
Oh! Well can be downloaded via the Orwells Facebook page.
Side project of Ponys guitarist Brian Case, Disappears, will be releasing it’s second LP, Guider, on January 18th. Have a listen to the minute 52 second, reverb-filled first track off the album, “Superstition.” The Guider release party is set for 2/4 at the Empty Bottle.
Smith Westerns’ second LP, Dye It Blond, technically doesn’t come out until January 18th, but you can stream it for free today thanks to the beautiful people at NPR. The glam/garage group will be home to play a show at the Empty Bottle on 2/26.
Click the picture to stream. The whole album sounds great. Highlights include “All Die Young,” “Only One,” and “Smile.”