Chester – Tranquilicious, Wake Up

March 2, 2009

A mix of heavily distorted and wah wah flavored guitars along with a rock-picked bassline and vocals and lyrics simliar Edward Kowalczyk (of Live) create a sound not unlike Velvet Revolver. This is Chester.  They play rock music, not screamo, not hardcore, just straight up, whiskey with ice and a splash of water, mid 90’s alternative rock.  The slow stomping, electrified rhythms surely propel their audiences into a jumping and fist pumping frenzy at their live show – and having played more than their fair share of shows at the dingy Elbo Room, I don’t deny it. The vocals and the lead guitar usually follow one another, snaking around the song, really belting when appropriate and shutting down where appropriate as well.  The recordings are really good quality and the band is tight together, which is more than can be said for ALOT of the rock bands out there these days.  Although there are some political overtones (Wake Up) , the message does not disrupt the music and you are never overpowered by the heaviness of the lyrics.

If you are ready to pump the volume up and start elevating that blood pressure a little, stop by one of Chester’s shows and bounce off a few bodies.



Big Wig Mechanic – Tropiko and World in a Box

March 2, 2009

White-boy reggae group Big Wig Mechanic is a slave to tropical rhythm and big, fat, sloppy, upstrummed, reverb-laden guitars.  Tropiko had me bobbing my head throughout. A constant, James Jamerson-ish walking bassline holds the song down until the chorus comes rolling in and receding out without screaming out “Hey! I’m the CHORUS! I’m CATCHY!” – it really sneaks up on you and leaves a lasting impression.   It was nice to hear a little falsetto ringing out from lead singer Brian Lamarca, who peppered the tune with enough “yeah!’s” and “ugh’s” – that I can hear a little bit of the King of Falsetto (and awkward white-man dance), Chris Martin sneaking up in there.  Fortunately for us, the music grooves much too hard to be a soft rocker.

At the beginning of “World in a Box” I was a put off a bit by the unbalanced bass riff, but quickly got into the groove as the song moved along.  This sounds to me like a bit of a throwback to some “vintage” DMB, back in the real jam band days.  For those in the area – it’s a dead ringer for sitting in the sticky August heat at Alpine Valley, hippies twirling all around, while the frat boys spy the girls up and down.  Now I’m not sure if the heat is indicitive of the music or the other way around, but either way, this song fits the bill for sure.  As for the recording, I could use a little less buzz from the guitars/bass, but a polished engineer could surely rid you of those bugs.  The thing that stands out the most to me about this song is the dynamics.  These guys know how to quiet down and let the music take care of itself.  Its a testament to true musicianship, so great job fellas – and keep up the good work.

Although there are plenty of reggae bands out there and the lyrical content leaves something to be desired, overall these guys present quality music for half the price.  Fans of OAR, Dispatch and DMB will be sure to enjoy their jam-band friendly sound.

Top 5 Songs Reviewed for February

February 26, 2009

Hello loyal readers! Hope February went well for you. I can say that for CIMR, it was an excellent month, recording well over 1000 unique hits to our and your reviews. Without further ado, here are our Top 5 Songs for February:

From the Broken – The Search EP

Band Called Catch – Done it Again

Sugar Pusher – Get Out of Here

Iron Vein – Revenge

The Hudson Branch – Do They Really Care

Please refer to the links to hear these great songs/collections of songs and see them at their next show.

And above all, thanks for stopping by Chicago’s Independent Music Review!

On Our Radar: Baby Teeth Thieves

February 24, 2009

The second group of thieves to be appreciated by Chicago’s Independent Review are kindred spirits to Andrew Bird – their vocal melodies do not immediately pop out at you, but upon multiple listens you will find some hidden hook-nuggets, but, like Bird does so successfully, they are not fully formed phrases – but worms diving in and out of the dirt, staying away from a hawk, or, ha! a thief.

I won’t be content to push them into a pop corner – their use of staccato violins and strings make Baby Teeth Thieves that 7 foot guy standing in front of you at every show…they’re bobbing their head and you can’t get it out of your sight.

BTH tease you with counter melody from all angles, violins and cellos do more than fill the space in these tunes, they make the songs what they are. The esoteric recordings can be appreciated by those with a true ear and the organic quality of this band is sure to last with you long after you’ve closed your laptop, car doors, or taken your headphones out. Give them an introspective listen and your heart will never forget it.

This band hails from Nashville and will be playing dates in the area soon, so stay tuned here for an announcement.

Review Recommends: The Biggest Backyard and I think your a bird brain

Baby Teeth Thieves

7 Leaf Clover – Clover Sky

February 23, 2009

Well, there’s good rap music (see Keith Masters) and then there’s this…if you took as many cliches as you could and shoved them into a song, then this is what you would come up with. A repetitive beat, highly uninspired lyrics (I spit sick shit, and I got a thick f**kin dick) coming from self referential white guys has already grabbed America by the collar, but it no longer has any power or influence this day in age. Its not about being white or black, but its about being talented and really taking your time and killing it lyrically and in your music. Next time, take a listen to the most talented artists in the game, take what they do and put your own spin on it. There is some inspiration in the sounds, although the beats could be sampled cleaner, and really pushed to the front of the mix. Keep at it fellas, you’ll get there eventually. Stop by and take a listen to “Slow Down” – its a string heavy take on urban America.

Sugar Pusher – Get Out of Here, Matt’s Song, Kisses Review

February 23, 2009

Sugar Pusher, not to be confused with the much darker and decidedly more underground Squarepusher, is a sugary sweet pop band, complete with multi layered vocals and a very high quality recording that is caught between wanting to sound “live” and wanting to sound polished. According to their soon to be completed website, they are bouyed by some of Chicago’s top talent, and the musicianship is apparent on the majority of the songs. Take the time to listen to the Randy Jackson-esque (yes, of American Idol fame – for those of you who don’t know, let me educate you – he is a ruler in the land of bass) bass line in Get Out of Here. Matt’s Song is a No Doubt song, circa 1998 that’s landed in my headphones – Gwen Stefani has a step up on Lauren Ritchie, but not a large one. As far as pop music goes, I have to say that I haven’t heard any that compares as of yet, but then again, a lot of pop music would not consider itself independent. Although slick, I think Sugar Pusher could use a shove more in the direction of danceable tunes – they are playing in limbo – between an almost pop record and an almost rock record, but they aren’t landing a punch in either place.

Company of Thieves – Double Door Review

February 23, 2009

I do my best to keep this site focused on taking relatively unknown music, distilling it through my words and experiences, and then presenting it to an audience that would have not otherwise listened to said tunes had it not been for a notable “review” from yours truly (wink-smile-‘tinkle sound’). On a whim this past Thursday I went to Double Door and saw Chicago’s new favorite sons – and daughter: Company of Thieves. Having recently been signed to Wind-up Records, they have risen above the likes of this humble blog, but I feel that they deserve some hometown love, and I also think that this band presents truly independent music – independent of genre, of comparison, of pigeon-holing, and on this particular night, of all the other bands on the bill. The Thieves have been on a success escalator (sucesscalator?) since first I saw their lead guitarist, Marc and their lead singer, Genevieve perform at the Uncommon Ground on Addison and Clark a few years prior. After that, I caught an acoustic set at Schuba’s – where wonderfully, I recalled Marc and Genevieve talking about how scared they were to perform together for the first time at the Uncommon Ground.

They aren’t nervous anymore. The swagger and absolute confidence radiating from the band was awe inspiring. It’s as if a rock band got confused and started playing caberet, but then as they played the first few notes of caberet, decided it wasn’t funky enough, and started playing bass heavy Billie Jean-like riffs – but then, in decidely unbandlike fashion, turned the guitar down, and allowed the feathery folk stylings shine through, all while jumping, dancing and powerfully uplifting their audience to highs previously unknown. The bottom line is that Company of Thieves aren’t a carbon copy of someone else – their music doesn’t sound like Coldplay, it isn’t similar to Radiohead, there aren’t any Disturbed references, no Jason Mraz present here – their particular form of thievery, much like John Lennon has said before, is taking something they enjoy and throwing the piece through their own compacter – the chords might be the same, but the way the Thieves play them are much different. For a band with only one guitar, a bass, a drummer and a singer – they play better and are more interesting than most 5 or 6 piece ensembles playing on any other night of the week.

I’ve considered myself lucky to be part of some great shows in the Chicago-land area, and I like to think that I know what I’m talking about when I say these guys are the real deal – prepare yourself to hear alot about them in the upcoming years.

Company of Thieves