Red Krayola | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Red Krayola 

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Red Krayola

For 30 years Mayo Thompson has lead the Red Krayola through myriad incarnations and stylistic shifts: psychedelia, improvisation, acoustic songcraft, textural experimentation, and bent art rock have all been grist for his mill at some time or another. Thompson is an especially artful lyricist who has animated songs as diverse as the erotic fantasy "The Lesson" (from his 1970 solo album Corky's Debt to His Father) and the manifesto "A Portrait of V.I. Lenin in the Style of Jackson Pollock" (from 1981's Kangaroo?) with trenchant wit. He's punctuated years of inactivity with bursts of productivity; the last three years have been the most prolific in Red Krayola history. On Hazel, the group's newest album, Thompson and more than a dozen confederates have synthesized the diverse strategies of past lineups into unpredictable and jagged--but decidedly pop--music. For this tour Thompson has reconvened the same band that played here a couple years ago: two Chicagoans, David Grubbs and Jim O'Rourke of Gastr del Sol, and two Californians, guitarist Tom Watson (Slovenly, Overpass) and drummer George Hurley (the Minutemen, Firehose). They make a muscular, flexible unit that's as adept at negotiating Thompson's oblique convolutions as it is at articulating his catchiest melodies. Gastr del Sol opens. Tuesday, 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. BILL MEYER

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Uncredited photo of RED KRAYOLA.

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