Chicagomuzik

I've got a whole city to hold down

January 14, 2005

Multiple choice quiz

Your "indie" band is officially overexposed when:

A. You are the subject of a mass-market autobiography and major motion picture;
B. Your fans include Monica Lewinsky and Ethan Hawke in a trucker hat (scroll down about halfway).
C. A stupid blog ridicules you with pathetic frequency.
D. You get the "hedcut" treatment in the Wall Street Journal.

And the correct answer is:

Righteous babes

Last Friday everyone in town wrote about Kevin Tihista. Nothing against the guy, but this week things are more interesting - everybody's got a different ass-kicking lady in the interview chair.

Greg Kot dissects Jean Grae's appeal: "Grae's rapping style [is] slightly unhinged, raging. Though she was drawn to hip-hop as an outlet for her writing skills, her off-the-cuff unpredictability makes her a magnetic performer." (Wednesday 1/19 at the Abbey Pub with Diverse)

Kathryn Frazier hips Bob Mehr to the Biz3 dance parties at Sonotheque: "The idea was to bring people who don't normally play together, or to pair real DJs with people who've never spun in their lives," says Frazier. "For us, it was just about having our favorite people come and play their favorite records."

Last but definitely not least, Jim DeRogatis updates Neko Case's progress toward a new album - as well as her roots in women's professional wrestling. "I watched Lipstick & Dynamite, Piss & Vinegar, the film that Ruth Leitman made about female wrestlers in the '50s, and the crazy thing was that the first wrestler they interview turned out to be my great aunt," Case tells him. "She says, 'My real name was Elsie Shefschenko,' and I was like, 'Huh? That's my real name!' I called my grandma and it turned out, 'Oh, yeah, she's a famous wrestler.' I knew there must be some lady like me somewhere in the family!" (tonight, 1/14, at Metro with the Sadies and Low Skies)

January 13, 2005

Concertwatch

Sneaking a peek at a few big gigs just announced:

Marianne Faithfull at Park West, 3/18 (one of just five US shows in support of her album, a collabo with PJ Harvey and Nick Cave called Before the Poison, due Jan. 25 from Anti)

Prefuse 73 at the Empty Bottle, 5/12 and 13

Another Biz3 bash

Tomorrow night (Friday, 1/14) the local music publicity firm Biz3 throws down with another in its monthly series of parties at Sonotheque.

Guest DJs this time out are Tunde Adebimpe of TV on the Radio and Beans. Word to the wise: Arrive early or risk missing out, 'cause these things fill up fast.

Stick a 'Fork in this redesign...

'cause it's done (finally). Have at it in the comments, if you care.

January 12, 2005

Volume 2 slated for release in 96 years

"Eric Haugen and Ryan Bassler, the Evanston, Ill., duo who call themselves LMP (for La Musique Populaire) had a huge, clever idea in 1999," Douglas Wolk writes in the Seattle Weekly. "[I]t took them five years to pull it off, but they've finally done it. A Century of Song (on their own Polyholiday Records) presents their covers of songs written every year between 1900 and 2001, in a homemade six-CD box set."

It's "an amateur project all the way, in the best sense," Wolk says. "LMP recorded most of it in a basement studio, on the cheap, with some instruments they could play and others they could . . . sort of play. What they don't have in slickness and grace, they make up for with inventive, complicated arrangements that make the most of whatever they've got on hand—especially their voices. (Their backing vocals suggest classic pop-radio splendor whether or not they hit the notes.) And one of the joys of Century is that so much of it involves guest singers and musicians, most of whom are as intently casual about their performances as Bassler and Haugen. It sounds like everyone's having a great time. How many box sets can you say that about?"

David Boykin don't stop

Chicago saxophonist David Boykin is the brains behind a freshly unveiled evening at the nexus of jazz and hip hop, dubbed "And You Don't Stop" and set for Friday night, 1/21, at the Chicago Cultural Center. Performers from the world of hip hop will include Capital D, Thaione Davis, Cosmogalactus and 5th Element, while jazzbos will be repped by vocalists Dee Alexander and Maggie Brown, pianist Jim Baker, bassist Josh Abrams and drummer Mike Reed. Boykin will both perform and moderate a panel discussion whose participants will include artists and Reader critic Peter Margasak.

Explaining the convenience-fee scam

Anyone who buys concert tickets in this city - or anywhere else in the Western world, for that matter - should read Mark Caro's bang-up piece on the ever-spiraling scam of "convenience" fees, from the Sunday Trib.

"The live entertainment world -- and in particular the popular-music concert world -- is unique in its willingness to punish or neglect its fan base," Caro writes. "When a big name goes on tour, the thinking is that there's no competition: Clear Channel, or maybe Jam, will promote the show, Ticketmaster will sell the tickets, and enough fans will pay whatever's being asked. 'They're doing this because they can,' [Pollstar editor Gary] Bongiovanni said, 'not because they have to.'"

Caro also quotes the likes of Jam's Jerry Mickelson, the Abbey's Sean Duffy and Metro's Joe Shanahan.

January 11, 2005

Concertwatch

New from Jam: Jimmy Webb (at the Black Orchid, 3/12), Jill Scott w/ Common (at the Chicago Theatre, 3/19), Jonny Lang (at Park West, 3/29), Widespread Panic (at the Chicago Theatre, 4/7-9).

New at Double Door: Graham Coxon (ex-Blur, 3/25), the Wedding Present (4/23).

New at Metro: An all-points-bulletin for Chicago hip hop with Molemen, All Natural, Pacifics, Typical Cats, Psalm One, Thaione Davis, Earatik Statik, Qualo and more (2/25), the Frames (3/3), and another Slint show (3/24).

New at Schubas: Tsunami relief benefit with Scott Lucas of Local H, Kelly Hogan, the Waco Brothers and more (2/1), Tim O'Brien (2/5), Mary Lou Lord (2/11), Jump Little Children (2/16 and 17), King Kong (2/22), Jesse Malin (2/23), Stacey Earle and Mark Stuart (3/4), Kaki King (3/5-early), Jens Lekman (3/5-late).

Rock Talk Alert

Tonight on Sound Opinions, Greg'n'Jim will discuss and spin tunes from their favorite albums of 2004. As always that's 10 to midnight on XRT; in the meantime, you can peep year-end lists from the Sound Ops entourage here.

Take all the time you need

First the local boys over at Pitchfork asked to buy another week of Christmas vacation 'cause their redesign wasn't ready yet. Now it's 10:30 am in Chicago on the morning the new site was promised to launch ... but do you know where your Pitchfork is? We don't, 'cause the old site's still sitting there, trapped in digital amber.

Meanwhile, in dorm rooms nationwide, suspense hangs in the air like the smell of old bananas ...

Update: The site now reads "We'll see you Tuesday, January 11!" Ho-kay.

Update II: Here we are on Tuesday, January 11. And the Pitchfork site reads ... "the redesign remains only about 85% complete." They "hope" it will be ready to roll out "soon," but have decided to "delay the relaunch until further notice."

Like we said, take all the time you need.

Update III: Pitchfork blames the delay on a "freelance programmer who worked until the 11th hour with no indication that he was going to up and fuck off and drop off the face of the earth" - this according to managing editor Scott Plangenhoef on the I Love Music board.

"The thing I'd like to stress to [honcho] Ryan [Schreiber] about all of this is not announcing crap on the site in advance of it actually happening," Plangenhoef continues. "The advertisors [sic] would still have been pissed off but the readers would have never known. Unfortunately, Ryan's enthusiasm overwhelms him and when he's excited about the fruits of 10 years of work taking another tiny step, he jumped the gun in telling his readers. I don't mean to absolve myself from responsibility either - it's not like a few weeks ago I said, 'Hey, Ryan, why not hold out on making an announcement until we're ready,' because I trusted that all the parties involved would hit their deadlines; they didn't, and that's ultimately our problem and responsibility."

January 10, 2005

Here we go again

It happened to the alt-rock Guyville scene 10 years ago - one local band got over on a gargantuan scale, and within months seemingly half the population of certain hoods were either cats with fat new label deals or sharks trying to give said deals away.

That none of the hype and hoopla amounted to much - well, much good, anyway, for art or commerce - mattered little. It's the nature of the beast - and when Twista and Kanye West finally broke out with hits last year, that foul odor you noticed was the animal's filthy breath, the sound you heard the clacking of its nasty little teeth.

So who could be surprised at this, from Crain's Chicago Business: "[L]ocal record producer Terrell Harris — a.k.a. Shorty Capone — and entrepreneur Lewis Pitzele recently received $1 million from Chicago's AA Capital Partners Inc., a former affiliate of ABN AMRO N.V., LaSalle Bank Corp.'s Dutch parent [to] fund production, distribution and promotion of debut albums by two local rappers, Reggie Ruckus and Sosa Q'uran."

Who are these guys? Crain's says AA Capital invests in hotels and casinos, Pitzele "once owned the House of Lewis clothing chain," and Harris, 33, is a former gangbanger and ex-con from the West Side most notable for signing Crucial Conflict to their 1993 label deal. He's also the scout credited with inking big contracts for such never-weres as Fuskee, Danny Boy and Freckles.

"I made about $4 million, but sort of blew it," Harris told Crain's. "The dumbest purchase was probably the bulletproof Mercedes. I bought three."

Yyyyyyyyeah, that's the guy I want to give a cool mil of my venture cap bank.

Aspiring sharks can peruse Sun-Times freelancer David Jakubiak's list of local hip hop acts "who could reach mainstream success in 2005," while the subjects of that list should memorize Steve Albini's essay "The Problem with Music," aka "Some of your friends are probably already this fucked."