TIGUE Come To Constellation 9/6/2015

August 27, 2015 Leave a comment

It really breaks me up that I’m not going to be in Chicago when percussion trio TIGUE hits town in a couple weeks. I’ll be in Minneapolis because we bought tickets to see D’Angelo at First Ave before TIGUE’s show at Constellation was announced. The last time I saw member Carson Moody was at a show I put together at Empty Bottle headlined by his now defunct group Ghost Pal.

The good news is that you can go, and to give you a little taste of what you’re in for, the band have posted a teaser for their new album, plus a snippet of a song that you can hear on their Bandcamp page! Peaks doesn’t come out until November, but this first impression makes it seem like it’ll be worth the wait.

Get tickets to see TIGUE at Constellation here

One-Sentence Reviews 8/25/2015

August 25, 2015 Leave a comment


Dr. Dre-Compton: People seem to love it because it’s Dre, but it’s actually not good at all because it’s Dre.

Beach House-Depression Cherry: Not a big Beach House fan, but they seem to have a knack for making really beautiful music boring.

Carly Rae Jepsen-Emotion: Mix early-era Madonna with Passion Pit and you’ve got something close to this pop album that seems to be getting lauded from every direction.

Rob Thomas-The Great Unknown: I mean, it doesn’t have “Smooth” on it, so that’s good right?

Panda Bear-Crosswords EP: This is less annoying than I find most of Panda Bear’s music, so maybe no more records over twenty minutes long and we’ll be good.

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats-Self Titled: If Alabama Shakes rock a little too hard for you, maybe you’ll enjoy Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats new white boy soul album.

Bon Jovi-Burning Bridges-Hey, there’s a new Bon Jovi album out so tell your grandma or weirdo cousin that still digs Bon Jovi.

Grace Potter-Midnight: I thought I wouldn’t miss The Nocturnals, but it turns out they were the ones I liked.

FKA Twigs-M3LL155X: I like this better than her previous releases, but I still don’t find it all that interesting.

Categories: Hot Takes Tags: , , , , , , ,

Live Review: Marrow at SubT 8/19/2015

August 20, 2015 Leave a comment

Marrow played a really great set last night at Subterranean in Chicago. How great was it? Well, great enough that I stuck it out despite wanting to murder about 75% of the audience who were too busy talking to one another to pay any attention to the band on stage. Between the guy about 5 feet behind me talking to his friend (I’d say girlfriend but I can’t imagine a world where this guy has a significant other) about a voicemail he received from her father and the bros halfway across the room that I could hear LOUDLY bro-ing it up, I was pretty much ready to go after the second song. Then Treesus showed up and after wandering the desert he decided to plant his 7 foot tall frame directly in front of me (along with his 12 pals). I tried moving three times before finally landing in a spot that I could see-you guessed it, right next to the chattiest Cathy you could ever hope to not meet.

Despite the obnoxious mouth breathers and ogres, I thought Marrow sounded fantastic. Better even than when I saw them at Riviera in December, which I did not expect from SubT’s sound system. There was almost no vocal loss due to the drums and bass, guitar was clean, and Macie Stewart’s keyboards stood above all.

They kicked off the set with “Oceans Of Glory,” introducing those that could be bothered to listen to their new album The Gold Standard (out Sept 4!). It’s a nice, mellow tune for the most part. At 8 1/2 minutes there’s a lot going on. About halfway through it turns from laid back to an aggressive rocker-Liam’s cool, Dude-like delivery gives way to Macie’s more foreboding declarations. Works great on the album and just as well if not better live.

Marrow only played about half an hour. That’s not nearly long enough in my mind, so I’m hoping to see them headline somewhere in the city soon. They hit most of the major successes on The Gold Standard, including the title track (probably my favorite), “Paulson,” and “Mother Of Maladies.” They got a chance to show off their many talents, and did so without trying to be too cool, just played the songs and let them speak for themselves.

Howard Shore To Receive 2015 Gold Hugo Award

August 19, 2015 Leave a comment

Best known for the iconic soundtracks to the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, Howard Shore has had a long career of great film scores. He’s certainly deserving of a career achievement award, such as the one being bestowed upon him by the Chicago International Film Festival this fall. The announcement came today, and I’m thrilled for the composer most people know as “the Hobbit guy.”

He started off doing much smaller films with interesting young directors like David Cronenberg, Tim Burton, and Martin Scorsese. He did independent films before his work brought him into the big Hollywood epics that have launched him into the same tier as Hans Zimmer, Danny Elfman, James Horner and the rest of the not-quite-John Williams crew.

Below find my top 10 scores Shore has composed over the years. I think all his work is worth listening to, but these are the ones that stand out above the rest in my opinion:

10. The Fly

9. The Aviator

8. Doubt 

7. M. Butterfly

6. Ed Wood 

5. A Dangerous Method

4. The Game

3. The Lord Of The Rings trilogy

2. Eastern Promises 

1. Naked Lunch


August 18, 2015 Leave a comment

sneakout_premiere_thumb350A little over a year ago I featured a mixtape put out by LA-based Sneakout. Last month Robert Fleming released his project’s first new music since then. There’s an EP coming eventually, but for now it’s just the single, “Savior.” It’s got a much more industrial feel to it than the previous music, and some great guitar sounds as well.

Fleming also co-directed a video for the song with Sara DeCou. I’m not quite sure I understand the plot of the video, but they’re certainly not the first to put an attractive woman in a pointless video. The music is still good.

Ezra Furman Live At Lincoln Hall 8/11/2015

August 12, 2015 Leave a comment


Even Jim Halpert couldn’t fathom the eye roll that I imagine follows this sentence: “Oh cool, Music.Defined. is writing about Ezra Furman…again.” That’s fine. Trust me, I’m as baffled as you are. Since I first started listening to Ezra back in 2010 I’ve probably written about him 20 times. Easily more than any other artist I’ve covered (maybe Sons Of An Illustrious Father is close). I don’t go out of my way to write about him, either. He just happens to amaze me every single time I hear a new song or go see him and The Boy-friends perform.

Last night at Lincoln Hall was the best set I’ve seen them play so far. I know you’re probably thinking “didn’t you say that about their show at SubT like 3 months ago?” Yeah I very well may have, but that doesn’t make my statement false. Ezra himself, talking about how hometown shows used to make him really nervous last night, said that he doesn’t need to worry anymore because they’ve become a better band. Now it’s just a playground for them to have fun and we in the audience get to enjoy it as well.


When I met Ezra for the first time in 2011 he was a nervous guy, unsure of himself in a lot of ways. Fast forward a few years and he appears to have accepted himself and become much more confident. Acceptance is a big part of Furman’s appeal-his live show is all about loving yourself and everyone else and forget all the people who wanna spew venomous hatred your direction. I go to a lot of concerts in Chicago, and I can say after years of research that an Ezra Furman audience is the best in which you can hope to be.

The set was made up mostly of songs from the newest record Perpetual Motion People. Nearly the whole album got played, intermingled with tunes like his Harpoons track “Mysterious Power” and “I Wanna Destroy Myself” from Day Of The Dog. The opening verse of “Cherry Lane” was just Ezra on guitar and vocals before the band jumped in to the track. He delivered that first verse slow and steady, to the point it almost felt like a different song.


I’d like to see the band play in a different city to gauge the difference between Chicago and every other place they hit around the world. This is their hometown so almost everyone in the crowd knows someone in the band (if not all of them) and they sing along and dance, knowing every word down to the pauses for breath.

Highlights for me included: a great version of “Wobbly” featuring some fantastic sax from Tim Sandusky, hearing everyone sing the lyrics to “My Body Was Made,” and of course the version of Jackie Wilson’s “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher & Higher,” which Ezra proclaimed as the finest song ever written.

The problem with going to see Ezra Furman is that it just makes me want to listen to his records more, which pretty much means I’m not listening to anything else. And then I listen to the records over and over so I want to go see him live again. It’s a vicious circle, but one inside which I’m more than happy to live.

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Marrow Will Bring The Gold Standard To Subterranean 8/19/2015

August 10, 2015 Leave a comment


I had the good fortune to catch Marrow open for Wilco back in December when Chicago’s favorite sons did a six-night residency at The Vic with a different local opener every night. Liam Cunningham, singer/guitarist for Marrow, is also a part of Tweedy’s touring band for his project with his drumming son Spencer. I can honestly say that there was no nepotism involved in Marrow getting that opening slot though, because they are a really good band deserving of a larger audience. They’re putting out a new album called The Gold Standard in a little under a month and I’m telling you now, set some money aside because you’re gonna want to hear it over and over without using all your phone data.

Next week the band will bring their talents to SubT (click that link for tix) for a show with another great Chicago band, Oshwa, and headliners hailing from Louisiana Moon Honey. It should be a fun night, so make sure you’re there. Marrow isn’t afraid to get a little weird, so things could get a little crazy. And all the members played on the Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment record, so who knows? Maybe Chance The Rapper will come out for a surprise cameo (don’t bet on it though).

Here’s the title track from The Gold Standard. I don’t think it’s the BEST song on the album, but it does provide a really great introduction into what the band does with their sound. Check it out and if you like it grab your tickets to see them!


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