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BONEY JAMES 8/20, SKYLINE STAGE Saxist James's latest, Body Language (Warner Brothers), has the dubious distinction of being the only contemporary-jazz record I've heard that does violence to a Janet Jackson tune. I'm sure music like this--so smooth it leaves a trail like a slug--is getting somebody laid as I write, but it's not anybody I know. NO KNIFE 8/20, FIRESIDE BOWL The kind of music this San Diego band plays on its third album since 1994, Fire in the City of Automatons (Time Bomb), has survived a lot of name changes over the past decade and a half, but in its boyish ambivalence and harmonious charm, it sounds like college rock to me. Tempo changes and hyperactive bass-and-guitar interactions now command the same studious reverence that heartfelt lyrics and winning harmonies did a few years back--though these guys have those too. ROADSAW 8/20, SUBTERRANEAN None of the tracks on this Boston band's Nationwide (MIA) quite match up to the opening cut, "Keep On Sailing," which inhabits that fecund middle swamp between Motorhead and Molly Hatchet. But if you're the ideal listener, you'll be too fucked-up to think critically by track three anyway. VINCE CONVERSE 8/21, Buddy guy's legendS I have this recurring nightmare in which I'm a teenage runaway getting off a Greyhound bus in some medium-size city and am immediately swept off by some fat guy wearing too many rings who tells me he's a talent scout. He takes me to "his" club, which is full of mullets in tight stonewash. I'm expected to wear a white leather jacket with fringe. I am introduced to a black man (the only one) in the corner who conveys the place's blues authenticity by his presence, though he's too senile to remember his own name or if he ever played an instrument. And, I've just realized, Vince Converse is the guitarist playing onstage while all this goes down. JOANIE PALLATTO 8/24, CHICAGO CULTURAL CENTER Singer Joanie Pallatto, a partner in the local Southport label, is a consummate student of jazz: the liner notes to her new Words & Music spell out her love of Joao Gilberto, Miles Davis and Cannonball Adderly, and Bob Dorough so thoroughly that listening to the record almost seems gratuitous. But it isn't, because she sings (and matches wits with pianist and business partner Bradley Parker-Sparrow) with an infectious, downright girlish enthusiasm that's especially admirable in someone who was raised in "the biz" (her mother was a cabaret singer and dancer, her father a fiddler) and has been immersed in it in her own right since the late 70s. Her voice is light without being ethereal, her phrasing inventive but not radical--she's a versatile, intelligent, girl-next-door sort of jazz singer. This is an afternoon show. VIZA-NOIR 8/24, LOUNGE AX The humility of these local boys is a breath of fresh air in the midst of the great music glut--they like the seven-inch format because "it allows us to explore different aspects of our music without having to worry about representing our 'sound' consistently." Of course another local trio, Descendro Allegro, did this by simultaneously releasing three very different debut CDs, but there's also something to be said for conciseness, the great forgotten advantage of leaving the audience wanting more: just because you can fit 74 minutes of music on a CD doesn't mean you must. Viza-Noir's two singles, "American Family Flakes" b/w "Proposal" and "Missed Connection" b/w "Sweet Demise" (this show is a release party for the latter), are solid slabs of complex crunch with a fierce, vaguely Wire-like edge that hark back to the days when vinyl was heavy. These guys share a label and print-shop privileges with Descendro--do I smell a scene emerging? GREAT PLAINS GYPSIES 8/26, LOUNGE AX Regular readers of this column know how I feel about heartfelt Americana, so when I say I listened to this Chicago band's second album, One Dark Day, without ever feeling the urge to hurl it out the window, you know that's the highest praise I can muster. It's not momentous, but it's genuinely propulsive, communicative, and likable--these guys may be a Green on Red for the '00s. --Monica Kendrick

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Performing Arts
February 22
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