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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Soundcheck: Ricky B brings New Orleans bounce to Logan Hardware

Posted By on 01.29.14 at 02:00 PM

Ricky B
  • Ricky B
The addictive, hyped-up party rap sound from New Orleans known as bounce has been around long before Big Freedia scored her own Fuse show and toured with the reunited Postal Service. One of the players in the bounce scene back in the 90s was Ricky Bickham, aka Ricky B, who was rumored to have died in the aughts after he stopped recording and performing in 2001. Bickham returned to the stage in 2010, and last month he made his first trip to Chicago to play songs off Urban Unrest and Sinking City's 2013 Ricky B compilation B Is for Bounce: New Orleans Rap Classics 1994-95.

Before he performed at Logan Hardware on a snowy afternoon last month, Bickham sat down and spoke with me for the Reader's Soundcheck series, telling me about his career, about representing New Orleans's Seventh Ward, the history of bounce, and what brought him back to the scene. We also captured Bickham's delightful set, including two of his best cuts—a cleaned-up version of the raw "Shake It fo Ya Hood" and the jubilant "Ya'll Holla," which Bickham performed with local brass-band players. Check out the video after the jump.

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Soundcheck: The Body and Oozing Wound get heavy at the Empty Bottle

Posted By on 01.08.14 at 10:00 AM

The Body
  • Richard Rankin
  • The Body
What lesson do you learn from sitting down with two of Thrill Jockey's hardest and heaviest signees? It's that a good friend will never let you down.

It was the last thing I expected to walk away with after hanging out with some of the gnarliest noisemakers in the country, but the good-vibes friendship love is all over our latest installment of Soundcheck, which was filmed at the Oozing Wound release show for Retrash at the Empty Bottle back in October.

First off, Chip King and Lee Buford of the evil, punishing, no-wavey sludge-doom metal duo the Body, who were playing in support of their Christs, Redeemers LP, clue us in to how they achieve their head-rattling live volume—and how important it is to have a good pal along for the heavier-than-all-hell ride. And Zack Weil, front man for local thrash maniacs Oozing Wound, talks about how when your drum machine breaks, you call on good buds to step in and help you out—but don't get any ideas, not all broken drum machines will result in a band as tight and powerful as the Ooze. All these dudes interviewed are totally hilarious, and more importantly, as these live clips show, really good at creating a mind-blowing racket. The video is after the jump.

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Friday, December 20, 2013

Soundcheck: Into It. Over It. get close at Schubas

Posted By on 12.20.13 at 10:15 AM

  • Courtesy of Triple Crown Records
Local emo singer-songwriter Evan Thomas Weiss has been recording and releasing music as Into It. Over It. for a little more than six years; for much of that time he's been touring the country and select international locations with just a guitar and a growing catalog of earnest, enlivened tunes. About a year ago he started touring with a full band, allowing him to re-create the scuffed-up rawness of the loudest Into It. Over It. recordings in a way he couldn't do as a solo performer. With a full band behind him, Weiss spent the fall supporting his second proper Into It. Over It. album, the beautiful and moving Intersections, which is one of my favorite albums of the year.

Weiss and his bandmates wrapped up the first tour behind Intersections at Schubas back in October, and the hometown record-release show provided a great opportunity to capture Into It. Over It. for our Soundcheck series. Before the show I sat down with Weiss to talk about the process of writing and recording the new album, the connection between the songs on Intersections and older Into It. Over It. songs, and the pressure of performing in Chicago. Check out the interview below and a clip of the group performing "Spinning Thread," which is after the jump.

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Friday, December 6, 2013

Soundcheck: Wavves get loud and rowdy at Park West

Posted By on 12.06.13 at 10:00 AM

  • Paley Fairman
  • Wavves
Wavves started out in 2008 as the bedroom recording project of San Diego's Nathan Williams, an outlet for him to craft supercatchy—but totally fractured—lo-fi pop songs. Over the years, the project has grown piece by piece, starting with Williams solo and winding up where they are now, as a four-man, loud-as-all-hell rock band. On Afraid of Heights, which came out in March, Williams and company ditch introspective tape recordings for full-throttle grunge pop. Massive drum sounds and dramatic dynamic shifts taking place within simple four-chord structures brings to mind Nirvana more than anyone else, a far cry from the hissy, blown-out stoner pop of William's first work.

In this edition of our Soundcheck series, I sat down with Williams and bassist Stephen Pope before their show at Park West this fall and talked about their personal and musical evolution, what keeps them coming back to the stage, and what they expect in the future. And despite what you may have seen on some other blogs, these dudes were totally cool. The interview, along with a raucous live cut of "Idiot" off Wavves' 2010 LP King of the Beach, is after the jump.

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Friday, November 15, 2013

Soundcheck: Screaming Females let loose at Lincoln Hall

Posted By on 11.15.13 at 01:28 PM

Screaming Females
  • Christopher Patrick Ernst
  • Screaming Females
More and more often I come across think pieces that claim rock is dead, and I honestly have to wonder if the writers of those articles have ever listened to Screaming Females. The New Jersey punks have been ripping through sets at DIY spaces, hip venues, and large theaters from coast to coast for close to a decade, and front woman Marissa Paternoster's wild guitar shredding proves there's still a life force in rock. She's dialed down the manic riffs on this year's Chalk Tape, a warm, slightly muddy home-recorded EP that takes its name from the method the group adopted in writing the songs for it: Paternoster, drummer Jarrett Dougherty, and bassist "King" Michael Abbate decided to write all their ideas on a chalkboard, then employed each concept in the process of making the seven tracks.

When as part of our ongoing Soundcheck video series we spoke to Screaming Females before their recent show at Lincoln Hall, they told us a bit more about their songwriting process. They also talked about one of their "uncharismatic" performances during their early years and their progression as a band—and Paternoster gives some important band-relationship tips. Check out the interview in the video below, which also includes footage of Screaming Females tearing through the Baby Teeth track "Foul Mouth."

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Soundcheck: Disappears emerge at the Empty Bottle

Posted By on 10.30.13 at 10:42 AM

  • John Sturdy
Local minimalist rockers Disappears have been transforming Krautrock and garage into cool and cavernous minimalist tunes since 2008. In August they released Era, their first full-length with Noah Leger (Anatomy of Habit, Electric Hawk) behind the kit, and his sturdy, powerful drumming fits the album's strange, dark, and occasionally creepy sound. Disappears played the Empty Bottle last month to celebrate the release of Era, and we met up with the band before the show to interview them for our ongoing Soundcheck series; we talked about the group's history, minimalism, and the song that established Disappears' sound. We also captured the group performing Era's opening tune, "Girl," which Kevin Warwick says is "a noisy vintage Disappears track that's a bring-down from the first note." Check it out below:

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Soundcheck: Willis Earl Beal gets down at Schubas

Posted By on 10.16.13 at 03:04 PM

Willis Earl Beal
  • Willis Earl Beal
Antipop musician Willis Earl Beal is wildly talented—he caught our ears nearly three years ago with a few beautiful and unusual antifolk songs he recorded on a cassette-based karaoke machine while living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Beal's life has changed quite a bit since he landed on the Reader B Side cover two years ago; he signed a deal with XL imprint Hot Charity, toured around the U.S. and Europe, moved from Chicago to NYC, took on a starring role in an art-house movie (the forthcoming Memphis), and released a couple albums. His latest full-length is a genre-hopping double LP called Nobody Knows, and it's tremendous.

Beal returned to town last month to celebrate the release of Nobody Knows with a headlining show at Schubas. We met up with Beal before his set to interview him for our ongoing Soundcheck series, and we talked to him about uncertainty, his new album, and, um, toilets. We also have a snippet of Beal in action onstage so you can get a taste of his powerful, commanding performances. Check it out below:

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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Soundcheck: Geronimo! does Saki too

Posted By on 10.03.13 at 02:39 PM

  • Matt Schwerin
  • Geronimo!
Local trio Geronimo! has a decidedly vintage sound, as long as you consider the late 90s and early aughts distant enough in time to warrant the occasional knocking off of dust. Last year's album Exanimate has Sub Pop grunge all over it—in particular the distorted, muddy guitar tone and earnest, gutsy vocals by front man Kelly Johnson. The recent cassette release Buzz Yr Girlfriend Vol. 3: The Metal David Byrne—the name is a riff on a classic Home Alone moment—also has shades of Trail of Dead posthardcore, especially on the excellent "Genius Is Dead." These three dudes are five years in, and they tell me they have no plans to stop doing what they're doing, which is a pretty beautiful thing considering that the band is getting even louder and more abrasive as it hits its stride.

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Soundcheck: Majical Cloudz open up at Schubas

Posted By on 09.18.13 at 01:03 PM

Majical Cloudz
  • Sarah O'Driscoll
  • Majical Cloudz

Canadian electronic duo Majical Cloudz make moody, minimalist pop music that's equal parts penetrating and intimate; on the group's recent Impersonator, front man Devon Welsh takes his introverted lyrics about love and death and sings them with such bravado it can be a little overwhelming. Majical Cloudz are stunning in concert too, as the group's stark and jarring tunes come through as loud and clear as Welsh's voice.

The band puts on such an impressive live show that we decided to feature them in our ongoing Soundcheck video series. Majical Cloudz played Schubas last month, which provided a perfect opportunity to sit down with Welsh and his collaborator, Matthew Otto, and chat with them about their work, the project's beginnings, and the benefits of having a simple stage setup. We also have snippets of the performance, including Welsh's beautiful a cappella rendition of "Childhood's End," which he pulled off with grace and confidence after the instrumental unexpectedly cut out. Check it out below:

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Monday, September 9, 2013

Soundcheck: Meat Wave does Saki

Posted By on 09.09.13 at 09:54 AM

  • Katie Hovland
The first thing you'll notice is the name. A riff on a decade-old Onion headline, "Meat Wave" doesn't really roll off the tongue as much as it elicits a look of confusion and disgust. Without the rest of the headline's context, the name kind of just sits there, like a gelatinous glob of ground beef. And guess what? The local dudes continue to find it entertaining (and kind of love that you don't).

Meat Wave the band is no joke, though. Only having been around barely two years, the trio's dark but bouncy brand of postpunk—think early-aughts Detachment Kit with more of a serrated edge—is too tight and hooky to stay under the Chicago ground too long. Their first lot of songs are available via Bandcamp for your listening pleasure, and if that's not enough, we decided to put the band on camera. As part of our ongoing Soundcheck series, we followed Meat Wave to a recent in-store at Saki where they opened up for their buddies in Geronimo! We hung out with them before the show to shoot the breeze and figured, what the hell, let's videotape their set, too. Check out a piece of it below:

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