Earlier this month, Daytrotter posted Gold Motel’s session. Greta Morgan, also of the Hush Sound, has perfected the sunnier side of the 60s spectrum with her new group, Gold Motel. I’ve bookmarked this session and plan to repeatedly return to it sometime around June. Something about scraping ice off my car windows and blasting the heat doesn’t lend itself well to Gold Motel.
Unless you were in attendance at the Double Door for the Windy City Winter Ball earlier this month, it’s very likely that you do not know Rambos. That’s unfortunate. For those of us who were lucky enough to have arrived early for their set, we were treated to a band that has the potential to quickly become a household name among Chicago music fans. At a time where cookie-cutter pop stars are ruling the music charts and making radio almost an obsolete notion for any person with a respectable taste in music, Rambos are a strange, yet revitalizing breath of fresh air. When I say strange, I do mean strange.
As I entered the green room of Double Door around 9, I waited patiently for Brandon Stein, host of the night’s event, to wrap up his story about the Rambo movies, fittingly. As the story came to an end, I was introduced to the band and we began to chat. I had been listening to the tracks on the band’s myspace page all week long, but they gave me little to go on as to what they were all about, so I began as any interview usually does: I asked about the name. Rambos did not come from a love of the movies of the same name as I had expected. The music, according to lead singer and bassist Jeremy David Miller, was “tough as hell” and needed a tough name. A movie poster for Rambo hung behind the drummer’s head during rehearsal and fit the bill. The band said there was a discrepancy about the name at first. “2 of the members wanted to name it Rainbows,” said Miller, “so we kicked those two out.”
“Rambos is like a musical swirly”… “everybody comes out with shit on their lips.”- Ryan Anderson, Jeremy David Miller
I then asked Miller to describe Rambos’ sound. “It’s a vocal band,” he began, “everybody has a voice who wants one. Everybody has a microphone.” He paused, as if struggling to find the right words, dissatisfied with the answer so far, finally deciding on, “It’s Rambos.” The band agreed.
“I got asked to be in the band because I own a huge knife…I don’t even know how to play guitar.”-Ryan Anderson
“It’s Rambos” doesn’t mean anything unless you hear the music, see the live show. Live, Rambos is unlike any band I’ve seen. It’s interesting that, as the band had revealed in the interview, Rambos so easily discarded 2 members over something so seemingly insignificant as a lousy tweek of the band name because, on stage, Rambos seems to be one working organism. To pull any of the limbs off of the single body that is Rambos, would be to kill Rambos. Perhaps the Rainbows proponents were just casualties of the inevitable evolution of Rambos.
The sound is indescribable, so I will not try, sufficed to say there are sailor chants, punk covers with Rambos’ lyrics (such as “Do you Wanna Die?” and a lovely rendition of the Black Lips, “Bad Kids, entitled “Faggots”), and many songs about death, blood, ugliness, and monsters. Jeremy David Miller has a stage presence worthy of the band name and the “tough as hell” mission statement that came with it at the cost of 2 band members. Rambos is full of pleasing gimmicks from the overall coherence of the matching black and red outfits to the theme song lyrics, “We are Rambos.” All that you would expect from a band called Rambos.
Here’s a video, courtesy of Grape Juice Records, of “Human Monster,” a highlight of the night for me.
Back in November, Secret Colours went in for a session with Coach House Sounds, the closest thing we from Chicago will come to our own Daytrotter. This 30 minute set should get you through to their Thursday show at Empty Bottle.
Very few times have I been completely sold on a band within the first minute of listening, but King Sparrow’s “Resonator” did just that. The song starts with about 10 seconds of someone quietly playing around on a guitar as if to give you a chance to catch your breath before emphatically knocking that breath right out of you and keeping it for the next 3 minutes. The opener off of King Sparrow’s self-titled LP is about as good as a pop song can be and it falls just under that beautifully crafted time structure that is the 3 minute pop song.
There are two King Sparrow’s at work on this LP. There’s the Strokes and Libertine/Dirty Pretty Things-loving King Sparrow of “Resonator.” Then there’s the riff-heavy King Sparrow that falls somewhat beyond my reviewing capabilities. There are no bad songs here, though I have a softer spot for the quick moving pop tunes. “The River” and “Leave It All Behind” both call to mind Pete Doherty by way of The Pogues. “Moonshine” moves at a similar pace to “Resonator” but takes half the time to get where it’s going. And is that Jon Fratelli on lead vocals? The album’s closer, “Lie” carries on with a circus waltz and shows King Sparrow at their most reserved, finishing in the exact opposite fashion as they began, but losing none of what makes this band great.
Catch King Sparrow at Martyrs’ Local Music Showcase on Friday, February 25th with Secret Colours, Hollus, and Warm Ones.
If you were planning on going to Martyrs’ Local Music Showcase on Friday, February 25th featuring Secret Colours, Hollus, Warm Ones, and King Sparrow, the Chicago Reader’s Real Deal might interest you. If you buy your tickets now, you’ll save 53%, making a $15 value just $7. Plus, you get a free pint of Half Acre Beer brewed right here in Chicago. So that’s $7 to see 4 bands that would make Chicago music’s All Star Team, if there was such a thing, and a pint of free beer.
The Delights, tagged as “Chicago’s answer to the Zombies,” put this record out on Quill Records in 1966. That’s not a hard statement to stand by, considering The Delights nearly mimic the Zombies’ version note for note. But I’m going to have to give this one to the Delights for outdoing Rod Argent on the keys and throwing in a flute solo.