Tag Archives: Chicago Garage Rock

An Evening with The Growlers and The Hussy

27 May

“Don’t you guys have any freaks or weirdos in Chicago,” Growlers’ lead singer Brooks Nielsen sarcastically asked last night’s Empty Bottle Crowd after a fan flamboyantly danced on stage halfway through their set.  Nielsen later requested his “gay back-up dancer” before fittingly going into their song “Gay Thoughts.” Dancing was a regular occurrence throughout the Growlers’ set, culminating in 10-15 fans, including 3 Secret Colours, walking on stage to dance out the second to last song.

The Growlers were confidently awkward in front of a large Empty Bottle Crowd, a step up from last year’s Chicago visit to Ronny’s. Though nearly every song of their dirt psych surf set sounded similar to the last, as I said to a friend beside me, “It’s a great song.”  Once they had finished their set, the Growlers mingled with members of the crowd and then, I’m assuming, got back into their rickety bus with the basketball hoop nailed to the back (I have to assume that was their bus).

The highlight of the night for me, however was the Hussy’s set.  Their recent LP Cement Tomb Mind Control has been in regular rotation for me, and I told several friends to arrive early to see their set.

The Hussy are a two-piece noisy garage act whose songs live pack more energy  and if it’s possible seem even shorter than they do on recording.  Similarly to Ty Segall, the Hussy are loud live, but unlike Ty, singer and guitarist Bobby Hussy knows how to balance his love of noise and his respect for the audience’s collective eardrum (my ears continued to ring 3 days after seeing Ty at the Empty Bottle).


Distractions-Dark Green Sea

25 May

I first heard Distractions’ “We Were Better Off in the Rain” when they released it as a single earlier this year.  On it’s own, it’s instantly catchy and a giant wall of sound, but little did I know it was just a small sample of one of the most intricate pop albums to come around in a long while.

Dark Green Sea is as ambitious as it is strange.  Singer and songwriter, Tom Owens comes off as a baritoned Brian Wilson and Dark Green Sea is slightly more operatic than the Beach Boys on their superficially comparable Pet Sounds.  This album has so many movements, it’s difficult to tell where one song ends and the other begins.

There’s two sides to Dark Green Sea.  There’s the undeniable pop elements of a song like “You Were There Always Up All Night,” that begins as simple, fast-paced sunny pop, before splitting at the seams and turning to the bizarre Chicago by-way-of Dr. Dog-style horn section. None of these pop songs on Dark Green Sea are left untainted by the strange hands of Distractions, and I mean that to be a compliment.

Though not a concept album, Dark Green Sea does steadily maintain a mood of unease and absurdity throughout.  I couldn’t help imagining, as I listened, a darkly comical, yet oddly scary, underwater sea cruise with Distractions as the nightly lounge act.

Distractions on Giant System: