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Jonah Parzen-Johnson-“Cabin Pressure”

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A couple weeks ago I was surprised to see a couple members of Zongo Junction playing in the current lineup of Hurray For The Riff Raff at Thalia Hall. I talked to Jordan Hyde afterward and mentioned that I had seen his old bandmate Jonah Parzen-Johnson play about a year ago at a bicycle shop here in Chicago. I hadn’t heard anything from Jonah for a while, and now on the heels of that conversation comes word that a new album is on the way.

Some new material got played at that little DIY show at Ancien Cycles, but I can’t remember if “Cabin Pressure,” the first single, was one of them. During his set he talked a lot about the pressures of building on other people’s music. The debt you owe them and the respect that you need to show, while trying to make something that expresses who you are can be overwhelming. The new record, I Try To Remember Where I Come From, deals with that directly.

I wouldn’t say experimental jazz is in my wheelhouse, but I do enjoy listening to Jonah marry the baritone sax with synthesizers to create something new. It sounds closer to something you’d hear from a band like Air, or producers like Nightmares On Wax, than typical sax soloists. If you don’t typically get into that kind of thing, this might be a good entry point.

You can find some tour dates, and an opportunity to pre-order the new record here.

Sorority Noise at Bottom Lounge 5/11/2017

Back in March Sorority Noise released You’re Not As _________ As You Think,” and it’s compelling combination of emo-punk riffs and message of self-worth and love have kept it in my top 20 records of 2017. I finally got to see them play live in Chicago tonight at Bottom Lounge.

There were crowdsurfers and singalongs, and not a whole lot of banter, but the music really spoke for itself. When they finally got to the end, lead singer Cameron Boucher talked about his battles with manic depression and the need for everyone to be understanding and support one another. It was a nice moment to reflect on the community bands help to create and how now, more than ever, we need to step up and not be jerks.

 

Sons Of An Illustrious Father-“U.S. Gay”

My feelings on Sons Of An Illustrious Father are fairly well known if you’ve spent any time reading this site. I think they’re one of the best bands going right now, and I’m very pleased that they also happen to be very nice people. They’re also very willing to speak out for the LGBTQ community, which they have done to great effect with their new song and video “U.S. Gay.”

The video premiered on I-D (part of Vice.com) and was quickly picked up by Out.com, so I hope a lot of people are checking it out. You can see it below.

 

When the band was in town in March, bass/keyboard/singer Josh Aubin told me they finished their new album and it will hopefully be out by the end of the year.

Valley Queen at Metro 5/7/2017

I got an email roughly 0.000003 seconds after listening to Valley Queen’s “Pulled By The Weather” asking if I’d be interested in checking out their show here in Chicago. I thought the song was really excellent, so I said yes. I checked out their EP, Destroyer, and found it an enjoyable listen. It’s a bit of soulful folk music, but when they hit the stage to play live, the guitars come to play and it turns into a full-on rock and roll show.

My initial reaction to the music was that it reminded me of Janis Joplin playing with Big Brother and the Holding Company. A couple songs later Courtney Barnett’s voice pops in a bit as well. It’s a good dynamic, marrying the older, classic sounds with something a little more contemporary. Natalie Carol’s voice can get up there with a range that is impressive to say the least. She can also shred, and does so at every opportunity.

The band seemed to be having a great time in front of the already pretty big crowd. Opening for Laura Marling, I wasn’t sure how the crowd would respond once Valley Queen started to get loud. Turns out they dug it. Lots of cheering after every song, and not the polite kind like I do when someone is trying really hard and it’s just not working. No, I imagine they converted a lot of new fans last night.

You can check out their stuff on Spotify, or you can head over to their Bandcamp page and buy their EP right now.

Molehill at SubT 5/2/2017

Tonight I went to see my friends in Molehill play an opening set at Subterranean. Mona was the headliner, but I got out of there early so I could grab dinner and be home in time to watch the end of the Celtics/Wizards game (and after that fourth quarter by Isaiah Thomas I think I made the right call).

Molehill were their usual awesome selves, playing some new songs from their singles/EP collection that’s in the process of being released. Rather than lug around a bulky DSLR like I usually do, I just brought a point and shoot camera with a wi-fi card. I edited all these photos on my phone. I also shot this video, which came out pretty good and really highlights the energy they bring even if it’s an opening slot.



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The War On Peace-Fear Of Loss (video)

April 27, 2017 Leave a comment

Photo by Chris Hershman


Chicago band The War On Peace are about to release their new EP on May 12th. After two full-length albums, Automated People finds the group looking to expand their sound and their fan base. With comparisons to The Fray circling around them, I’m sure they won’t have any trouble tapping into the mainstream crowd.

“Fear Of Loss” is the first single from Automated People, and the video is very well done. If I had one issue, it would be that I wanted to see more of the actors and less of the band. The story the song tells is interesting, and I would have liked to see a whole video of just that narrative playing out. Still, it’s very well-made and fits the song.

In addition to releasing the EP on May 12th, The War On Peace will be playing at SubT with Minor Characters. Tickets can be found here.

Split Single at Schuba’s 4/22/2017

April 23, 2017 Leave a comment

Jason Narducy has been a well-respected name among musicians for the past 20 years. He remained pretty much under the radar until an appearance on Dave Grohl’s HBO series Sonic Highways in 2014. The latest version of his punk/rock/pop musical stylings is the solo project Split Single. The debut album featured Jon Wurster and Britt Daniel. We got some new tracks mixed in with songs from Fragmented World and Metal Frames, and a little comedy from the band’s domestic life.

Narducy let us know that the show almost didn’t happen after a small spat over correct dish loading procedure between he and his wife. We were also let in on the tale of his drummer having his scrotum punctured by the claws of his cat in a freak accident. A fun show to be sure.

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