Consonant | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader


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As the bassist in Mission of Burma, Clint Conley wrote and sang "Academy Fight Song" and "That's When I Reach for My Revolver," two of the Boston quartet's best-loved tunes, but since the band called it quits in 1983 he's kept a low profile. Drummer Peter Prescott kept rocking hard with Volcano Suns and Kustomized, while guitarist Roger Miller nursed his ringing ears, playing piano as well as his old ax in a handful of quieter combos (including Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, which featured Burma soundman and tape looper Martin Swope on guitar). But after producing and contributing a few bass tracks to Yo la Tengo's 1986 debut LP, Ride the Tiger, Conley put away his instrument. He pursued a career in TV production and became, according to a recent interview in the Wire, "Mr. Suburban Dad; I do carpools, I clean the gerbil cage." In January, Mission of Burma re-formed (with Shellac's Bob Weston subbing for Swope, who now lives in Hawaii), though their open-ended "Inexplicable 2002" tour hasn't yet brought them to Chicago. But Conley's new band of Beantown ringers, Consonant, is coming to town this weekend. Guitarist Chris Brokaw, drummer Matt Kadane, and bassist Winston Braman have been part of myriad other projects, including Come, Bedhead, the New Year, and Fuzzy, and Brokaw just released a solo CD, Red Cities, on the local Atavistic label. The band pretty much picks up where Conley left off in 1983; his contributions to the Mission of Burma songbook tended to be earnest anthems loaded with catchy hooks, and here his high, slightly hoarse voice carries stirring melodies through dense masses of ringing guitars. Two things have changed, though: Conley plays guitar more often than bass in Consonant, and he's replaced the political broadsides of yore with lyrics about desire and its untidy aftermath, most written with poet Holly Anderson, a collaborator from as far back as Burma's "Mica." Silkworm headlines. Saturday, June 15, 10 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace; 773-478-4408.

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