When Greta Morgan returned to her hometown of Chicago from LA, she brought with her the sun-drenched pop feel that would become Gold Motel. Quickly gathering musicians to fill out the band, and they put out their debut EP just a few months later. Since then they’ve had an impressive touring record, playing festivals all over the US, as well as some shows in the UK with Hellogoodbye. Somehow I’ve managed to ignore their ever-growing popularity over the last two years, but I’m here to tell you that I’ve been missing out-and maybe you have been too.
Having read a little bit about the band before I heard this record, I had some ideas about what to expect and they were pretty close. I’d describe the band like a sunny Camera Obscura (a band that I love). Gold Motel’s self-titled album is like the antithesis to My Maudlin Career. Where the scottish group can find themselves mired in pessimism, Morgan and co always sound optimstic, even in the most trying of times. The jovial guitar licks and Morgan’s voice, which reminds me of a less acidic Jenny Lewis, keep the mood up, even when things do get down, like the track “Counter Clockwise.”
It was a bit odd for me on Saturday night to be standing barely five feet away from the stage where, ten years earlier, Canasta played their very first show. Odd because for the first nine and a half years of their existence I paid very little attention to them. Just a couple years ago I was hearing a lot of their praise for their most recent album, The Fakeout, The Tease, and The Breather-and still I gave them no mind. It wasn’t until I saw them play a show at Lincoln Hall in January that I discovered their majesty. Last week I reviewed their now two year old album on the site, and it is a brilliant piece of work. I plan on remaining much more aware of their moves over the following ten years.
The show kicked off with a slideshow detailing the band’s history, put together by co-founder Elizabeth Lindau. Pictures of the original lineup were set to the theme song from “Perfect Strangers,” while later photos were backed with Sara McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You.” In addition to the ever-evolving facial hair of Matt Priest, it was interesting to see just how many people have been involved with Canasta over the years. Near the end of the slideshow there was a list of every show they’ve ever played, and it read like the opening of a Star Wars movie. Over the last decade the band has played something like one hundred million shows.
On this particular evening, the show was as much a history lesson for new fans as it was a rollicking good time for long-loyal diehards (Canastanites?). Their very first show at Schubas was a Belle & Sebastian cover show, at which they played one song-”Seeing Other People.” Of the four covers Canasta tore through for their anniversary, two of them were by the Glaswegians. “I Didn’t See It Coming” was played near perfectly by the band, while “I’m A Cuckoo” fell a little flat for me. Probably because I’m a much bigger fan of the former. Back in September Canasta played a full set as Belle & Sebastian, which I missed. Hopefully they’ll be doing that again someday. Read more…
I’m not sure what I was expecting when I walked into Schubas Sunday night to see Hoots & Hellmouth. I knew from their newest album, Salt, that they’d play some well-written folk songs that would quench my desire for a laid back evening. Turns out I was wrong on that count, as I left the venue sweating after a raucous set led by the energetic and soulful frontman Sean Hoots.
I had a chance to speak with Sean right after Cloudbirds set was finished. It wasn’t a long chat, but he mentioned how much he loved playing at Schubas and how great the sound system is. Couldn’t agree more with that. He also said that the band now travels with their own sound guy. I have to say, as good as Schubas usually sounds, this show was even better. Kudos to the gentleman behind the boards.
Emily Wells is the best individual performer I have ever seen. I’ve been to better shows, been in better crowds, but I’ve never seen anything as impressive as Wells behind her musical devices. She’s an artisan who handcrafts perfect melodies and weaves intricate background tapestries for us to enjoy.
The crowd on hand for this particular evening was large, but not too psyched. Multiple times the gentleman speaking for the Portland Cello Project mentioned how mellow everyone was. His band-consisting of five cellos, a flute, a French horn, and drums-played three songs by Watch The Throne and one by Lil Wayne. It was fun at first, but the novelty wore thin for me after they played “Niggas In Paris.” By the time they got to “H.A.M.” I was ready for them to leave. Not to say they aren’t talented. They are all very able on their instruments, but I’ve heard hip-hop on classical instruments before. Read more…
Ezra Furman is returning home to Chicago this weekend to finish up his tour with two shows at Schubas Tavern on Belmont. I implore anyone within driving distance to buy a ticket and get to whichever show you can. The early show is all ages and will be opened up by The Canoes (another great Chicago band) and the second show is 21 and up with Chamberlin filling in as support. Read more…