OVER the last few weeks I've seen a bunch of bands and gotten some good new albums by groups on tour; three of the four are from the Golden State. I'll have to be brief here, but I want to sign the praises of a few of them.
The bands are:
The Bixby Knolls:
I've been hearing about these guys for a while now, so was happy to stumble into them at a show at the Silverlake Lounge about a week ago. There's a real punk-style force to these guys, but it's matched with fine, melodic songwriting and a style as retro-Brit as their name... Remind me of the Buzzcocks and The Jam. Nothing I find on youtube matches what I saw the other night, but here's something:
I've known Patrick as my bartender at The York, one of my favorite gastropubs in town, for a while now -- it often takes me a long time to order food and drink because we get sidetracked into conversations into Neil Young, Ryan Adams or Blonde on Blonde. So I was pleased to finally check out his band, which reflects his fandom but also takes his influences somewhere. Very sweet old California backup band complete with chick on tambourine.
Patrick, who some might know from the Capshuns, also plays a mean harmonica. The late hour required me to split mid-set, but here's a talent to watch. Here's the last song from a recent set.
Missed these guys at the Echo last week because of exhaustion, but as I keep playing their debut LP over and over again and kicking myself for it. They're a young bunch of Anglophiles from Brooklyn with a knack for catchy, hard pop and an association with the Strokes. A reviewer on the All Music Guide called them too squeaky clean, but frankly I find that louche, prep-school swagger of the Strokes a bit lame at this point. I'll take the more polished style of these guys anyday. And next time they're in town I'll be there for sure.
This Northern California singer-songwriter impressed me with her last record, the intimate folky LP To Be Still. Her voice and songwriting have deepened since then and her music has taken an alt-country direction. (Some have said she sounds like Cat Power fronting one of Gram Parsons' old bands.) Whatever it is, she's a serious talent and I'm not gonna let her get in and out of town next time without catching her set. Here's a sweet little live bit from a benefit in NY; it's the first song from her new LP, on Rough Trade.
I guess the moral of this story is that I need to sleep a lot less.
Notable Chicago: 7/21–7/27
1 hour ago