Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Today I was listening to my iPod on shuffle and "Hey Jealousy" by the Gin Blossoms came up (yes, I still have that song on my iPod), and I was instantly transported back to middle school. Funny how songs can do that to you. If I ever hear Del Amitri's "Roll to Me" (anyone remember that song? definitely not on my iPod), the high school memories may become overwhelming!

Monday, May 29, 2006

I'm always slow to pick up on the great songs that people are buzzing about (see: Futureheads "Hounds of Love," Gnarls Barkley "Crazy"), and another one I've been hearing about for awhile but haven't taken the time to listen to until now is the Knife's "Heartbeats," as well as the Jose Gonzalez cover of the same song. The Knife's (a Scandinavian electro-dance band with tinges of goth) version is serious electro-pop bliss, and Jose Gonzalez's (a Swedish (?) singer/songwriter with Nick Drake comparisons) cover is a gorgeous folk song. I recommend everyone go out and download (legally, right?) both versions of the song. If I was still doing the show this summer, I'd play them both back to back for effect.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Indie music in commercials watch: Just heard the Magnetic Fields' "I Think I Need a New Heart" (instrumental) in a commercial for some upscale dog food (Cesars?). Random.

Friday, May 26, 2006

So when I started my new job last year, I got 500 business cards that have no use to me other than dropping in the fishbowls at restaurants downtown during lunch. I've probably used up like, 30 that way. Today I got a call because I actually won a free lunch for 10 people at Potbelly's thanks to my business card. Huzzah!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

My new Entertainment Weekly subscription has a section on the 25 best music websites. I feel like the music section of a mainstream entertainment magazine like this one shouldn't have any credibility, but they always seem to review indie albums, and I've noticed reviews by Pitchfork writers on there. More evidence that indie the new mainstream.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

From Gapers Block: This site is having a funny contest:combine a band name with a book name, and the wittiest ones get posted with potential for prizes.

The Black Heart of Darkness Procession
Harry Potter and the Half-Bloody Valentine Prince
Beowulf Parade
Chromeo and Juliet

Hilarious! And fun to think about during a particularly slow period at work, which I'm currently experiencing. Let's see what I can come up with.

How about . . .
A Clockwork Oranges Band?
Wuthering Hawthorne Heights?
Animal Collective Farm?
To Kill a Mocking- Andrew Bird?

And more:
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxie 500
I Am Good Charlotte Simmons

Monday, May 22, 2006

This controversial interview with Godsmack from Arthur Mag has been the talk of the music message board for the past couple of weeks, so I thought I'd post it here for futher discussion. Basically, the writer sets up Sully Erna of Godsmack into thinking he was about to be interviewed about their recent album, then uses the opportunity to attack him and the band based on the fact that their music is being used in military recruitment commercials. The concept is an interesting one, taking a popular band to task for their decisions and whether or not they are capable of backing up those decisions, but I'm not sure if it was executed very well- sometimes the author just seems to be needlessly ambushing the guy for his own political and journalistic agenda, and his arrogance really comes out in his questions. What's the point?

Frog Eyes/Sunset Rubdown pictures

Sunset Rubdown
Originally uploaded by Nicolemc99.
I've uploaded pics from the show last Thursday. There are 21 in total. Enjoy!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Last night's Frog Eyes/Sunset Rubdown show at Schubas was incredible. The venue was full, but not sold out, for Sunset Rubdown's set; the show kicked off when Spencer got behind his keyboard and said, "This song is a Wolf Parade song, but before that it was a Sunset Rubdown song" and proceeded to play a stripped down version of "I'll Believe in Anything," just him and the keyboards, while I proceeded to drop my jaw in disbelief and amazement and possibly wet myself; I was totally unprepared for something that f***ing AWESOME. I still can't believe he started out the show with the original version of Wolf Parade's best and biggest song. The song quickly bled into "Snakes Got a Leg" as the rest of the band joined in (made up of a drummer and a guitarist who switched on and off between songs and a cool-looking female who added additional sound effects, bells and backing vocals) and the next 45 minutes of music were pretty unreal. Spencer put on much of the same humble, passionate, super-intense performance behind his keyboards that I loved when I saw Wolf Parade, eventually picking up this ratty looking mini-accordian held together by duct tape for the epic "The Men Are Called Horsemen There," which made for a great visual spectacle. They also played a brand new song that was possibly, dare I say it, better than anything I've heard of theirs yet! I noticed that they are now playing some Pitchfork festival pre-party at the Metro July 28, and I feel sorry for anyone who did not catch on to this band before last night, because the Metro just can not provide the intimacy of Schubas that I feel like watching this band requires.

After Sunset Rubdown's set, the ongoing trend of recent Pitchfork Best New Music picks overshadowing the headliners they tour with continued as the crowd shrank substantially. Which is really too bad for those people who left, because if they knew better, they'd realize that Frog Eyes and Sunset Rubdown are very similar bands who actually share members, and Frog Eyes put on a hilarious and equally intense performance, somewhat fueled by singer Casey Mercer's self-deprecating angst that spilled forth between each song. First of all, nothing about Casey screams "rock star." He looks like Philip Seymour Hoffman- more specifically, the creepy, Lara Flynn Boyle-stalking Hoffman of Todd Solondz's Happiness, because Casey is creepy, let me tell you. When he's yelping and howling during his bizarre and exciting songs, his bright red face scrunches up and his whole body seems to tremble as he's pounding away at his guitar. When the song was over, he'd either regale us of some ridiculous tale that made no sense or poke some serious fun of himself ("You're old and no one wants to see you play!") or Spencer ("Why don't you go back to Wolf Parade!"), but he'd do it in this really high-pitched, evil whisper. Meanwhile, his band seemed to sort of look around nervously in the background, as if they weren't used to seeing this behavior on a daily basis.

But when it came down to it, beyond all the theatrics, Frog Eyes' sounded really great, and the brand new song they ended with was weird and ambitious and fantastic, giving me high expectations for their next album. They eschewed the encore (!!!) and instead just took a dramatic bow before leaving the stage.

Best show I've seen so far this year.

I'll upload my pictures from the show this weekend, which should turn out pretty well considering I was right up at the stage.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

So I finally got around to checking out that "Crazy" song by Gnarls Barkley. With all the hype, I guess I just assumed it would be another one of those hot dance/rap tracks that everyone goes crazy for in the clubs or whatever, but it's actually a pretty chill soulful song. I like it almost as much as their killer press photos. There are even more on their myspace page, though you can only see them if you're a member (but really, who isn't a member these days?)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Here's a great article in today's New York Times that talks about how great Chicago is. Ok, it's technically about Chicago environmental initiatives in a special "Green" section they have today, but it still fawns over Chicago the entire time (and rightly so!). (note: you might need to register to see the article, but registration is free, so there's no reason not to be able to read the NYT for free online).
While it's cool that Chicago is going to be the site of so many great festivals this summer, it's becoming obvious that every band is making a festival their Chicago stop on their summer tour. As webzines like Pitchfork and tinymixtapes report summer tours in droves, it seems every Chicago date has "Lollapalooza" next to it. It looks like this summer will be relatively dry as far as good shows go!
Here's the blog of a band named "The Best Thing Ever," who just went on a tour of public bathrooms. Hilarious pictures ensue.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

There's an incredible amount of great new music on the show this morning, thanks to a sampler I got in the mail featuring tracks from the forthcoming Walkmen and Black Heart Procession albums, among others. Hopefully my last show of the spring will have recorded well so it can be available for download tonight. This week we're sponsoring a "mini" pledge drive focused on people who have never pledged before, so feel free to head over to the WLUW website and donate. While you're doing so, feel free to say I'm the reason you listen to WLUW! ;)

Monday, May 15, 2006

The new Sunset Rubdown (Shut Up I Am Dreaming) and Streets (The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living) albums have finally arrived in my mailbox! So far, the new Sunset Rubdown is exactly as I expected it to be, which means it's pretty great. "The Men Are Called Horsemen There" is unreal, and I can't wait to see how it comes across live when I see them this Thursday with Frog Eyes at Schubas. Spencer Krug is an incredibly passionate and captivating performer, and I assume he'll also be making an appearance as part of Frog Eyes as well. The new Streets has it's highs and lows; a few of the songs are quite cheesy and/or sound too much like past Streets songs, but when it's good, it's great. See: "Prangin' Out," "When You Wasn't Famous."

Next purchases: Danielson's Ships and Beirut's Gulag Orkestrar. Both of which I swear I was planning on buying before the Pitchfork reviews came out. Really.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Sigur Ros

Sigur Ros
Originally uploaded by Nicolemc99.
I've posted photos from the Sigur Ros show on the photoblog. A full review will appear on Radio Free Chicago Monday.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Conan was good times yesterday, even though we waited 3 hours in the rain/cold to get in. We were seated in the back of the main floor and listened to the sounds of Interpol, the Gorillaz, Wolf Parade, the Clientele, Maximo Park, the Von Bondies, and other indie favorites that some Conan assistant producer must be into. Conan was a little hard to hear over the crowd's endless cheering, but funny nonetheless. A highlight was new character "The Sears Tower in Sears clothing," which later bodysurfed over the crowd. John Mayer wasn't too bad actually- he played a couple jazzy numbers instead of his crap pop fare, which leads me to believe that jazz/blues is his true calling and stuff like "Your Body Is a Wonderland" just got him the big bucks.

Also, while we were waiting in the rain, the Masturbating Bear came over to say hi!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

DJ Lazer is leaving the Internet forever just because.

Expect a poetic return...
Technical difficulties with the webcast meant Tuesday's show didn't record. We've been told that the webcast will be improved this summer, so hopefully that will end the issues I've had recording over the past year.

This afternoon: Conan O'Brien!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Here's an interview with Neko Case in the Onion, where she says that "Star Witness" is about the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago.
I saw Sigur Ros last night! More details and pictures to come. Since I was out late, I didn't get around to putting up yesterday morning's show, so that'll hopefully be happening tonight.

Meanwhile, the Franz Ferdinand singer is writing a book about food.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

5/9 PFFR show notes:
-I played a track from a great new band called Beirut, which is actually the work of a 19-year-old boy. Kids these days.

-I love it when you know a certain track is going to get people calling in before the song is even over. Today’s was Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek.” You may know her as the singer of Frou Frou, that band with that one song that was on the Garden State soundtrack. This song is far better. Download it for yourself for free here (you may have to watch a 15-second ad first if you’re not a member)

-Today’s show is chock full of reminders that the WLUW indie rock prom is this Saturday. I had a high school teacher call in asking for more details, as many of his students weren’t going to their own high school prom and may be interested in this one. I’m going to guess that might be a general theme of the night.

-I lied last week when I said this was going to be my last show until fall; I was roped into doing one more show next week to help out with the pledge drive (a small-scale drive targeting new members only). You have one more opportunity to listen before my summer hiatus!
Oh, my lucky brother! He's currently studying abroad in Europe, and while traveling through Amsterdam, he sent me this picture:

Andrew Bird sighting in Amsterdam!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Goshdarnit, the musical guest on Conan this Thursday is John Mayer!!! Wilco is Friday and Common is Wednesday, but I'm stuck with John Mayer. As long as he doesn't sing "Your Body Is a Wonderland," I guess I'll survive.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Radiohead tickets . . . PROCURED! And very luckily, it seems, as most people I've talked to were denied by ticketmaster. The shows must have sold out in 10 minutes.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Now THIS is hilarious. (Friday hilarity day!)

Watch this trailer for Mel Gibson's new movie:

About 3/4 of the way through, you'll see a fast-cut montage with a monkey screeching in it. Pause the trailer right after the monkey screeches, then use the frame back button in the player to move back a few frames. You'll know what's so funny when you see it.
My tinymixtapes email is constantly flooded with press releases. This one struck me as particularly funny:

We are very excited to be working with the legendary band Soul Asylum, who are releasing their latest record “The Silver Lining” on July 11th. Soul Asylum will celebrate their third decade as a band with this release - dedicated to the late Karl Mueller (bassist) who passed shortly after recording “The Silver Lining.” Replacing Mueller is Tommy Stinston of Replacements fame. After an 8 year hiatus, the band still sounds fantastic and their songwriting is as strong as ever. New photos and a great bio here:

Seriously, Soul Asylum is back? Hilarious!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

I'm really digging the new Calexico album, Garden Ruin. As every reviewer has pointed out, they've phased out the mariachi part of their sound to focus on the folk/country rock aspects, and it works well. I like the mariachi thing they had going, but I can see how it would get old. They still have some worldier sounds making their way onto the album, and some of the songs are just stunning. Big thumbs up, I'll probably add it to the recommended section of the website this week.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Here's some neat things John Vanderslice had to say about internet zines and blogs in a recent interview (see the entire interview here):

Q. Because that's how I found out about you and your music, from other bloggers. Many of them spoke highly about your shows, so it made me curious. How do you feel about blogs compared with the mainstream music media?

A. Oh man. This is my experience. On Pixel Revolt, I got a review in Spin. It was the first time I'd ever gotten a review in Spin, and we got a letter grade of "C." And I also got shit-tons of reviews on internet only sites, from Pitchfork on down. We got a really good review on Pitchfork. And usually when you get a really bad review, your hardcore fans write you and say, "Man, fuck this guy," and when you get a really good review, your hardcore fans write you and say "Oh wow, this was insightful or interesting, this is great, you should be excited."

When I got the "C" letter grade review in Spin, I heard nothing. Not from anybody. No one ever said anything to me. But whenever I got a good review from somewhere like Tiny Mix Tapes I would get emails about it. It was very clear to me then that all that print media shit doesn't matter anymore. It totally does not matter. I mean, no offense to Spin or anyone like that, but people right now, hard core music people that pay attention, they're online. The big national glossies just don't have that kind of impact anymore. I guess. I mean this is all anecdotal, I can't back any of it up, but the way people find out about us and find out things about us, it's all bloggers. It's all online 'zines. Whether it's Drowned in Sound or Tiny Mix Tapes or Largehearted Boy, Stereogum, Brooklyn Vegan, the list goes on and on.

You know, it's weird, if someone posts something on Metafilter, I look on my website and all of a sudden, we're getting like 25,000 unique visitors in one day, you know. And we got a review on Pixel Revolt in Rolling Stone. And the day that that review came out, there was no bump whatsoever. And that was a good review. And we got no bump in traffic on the website. That's insane. I can look at where people are coming from and who's searching what, and what method they are using to get to my site. After that I was like, "Fuck paying a publicist to work your record, lets just email all the bloggers and send them a record or some MP3's."

A band will come up to me and tell me "Oh my god, we're getting a record review in Rolling Stone and what I want to tell them is, 'Listen, who cares, it doesn't mean anything.'" What means something is that a blogger with credibility has his or her own fan base, you know what I mean? People follow bloggers because they understand their aesthetic framework and what they like and their sensibilities.
I forgot my iPod at work today, so I finally got around to listening to Ryan Schreiber's radio show on WLUW from 2-4PM. He obviously has first access to a lot of new music, so I heard tracks from upcoming Sufjan Stevens and Matt Friedberger (of the Fiery Furnaces) albums, but most exciting was a song off the Sunset Rubdown album that came out this week (Wolf Parade singer Spencer Krug's other project, who I'm constantly fawning over if you're not a regular reader of this blog), which was fantastic. I cannot wait to a) get the CD in the mail, and b) see them open for Frog Eyes on the 18th.
Here's a really interesting story from the Washington Post about Pitchfork. It includes a interview (and picture) of it's founder, where the name came from, Schreiber's current feelings on Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and an quick interview with Travis Morrison, the singer of the Dismemberment Plan whose solo album got a 0.0 (so you can blame Pitchfork for the fact that he's working as a computer programmer and not a rock star).

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I'll hold back on my opinion of Proms in general to give the details of the WLUW Indie Rock Prom that's coming up. From the marketing director:

The Empty Bottle Presents: The WLUW Indie Rock Prom
Saturday May 13, 2006 at the Logan Square Auditorium 2539 N. Kedzie
Featuring: The National Trust, Scotland Yard Gospel Choir, Life During Wartime
DJs, and WLUW's own Erik and Ali of Think Pink.

Hosted by DJ Wondertwins. There will be costume contests for every era of dress
we see, and even some for categories we might not be expecting! Rumor has it
that we will also be raffling off tickets to several upcoming shows, or even
summer festivals. We will also make sure to have a big bowl of punch to quench
any prom-goer’s thirst for the true prom experience, a table of flowers for
those forgetful types who didn’t come prepared with a corsage, and last but
definitely not least, is a Polaroid station, complete with patterned backdrop,
so that everyone can take home a memory from the unforgettable night. The
event, a benefit for Chicago’s favorite community radio station, 88.7 WLUW,
begins at 8:30 PM Saturday, May 13th, ending when we’re all too tired to go on!

Admission is $15 for singles, $25 for couples, and can be purchased through Check out the website at

Monday, May 01, 2006

Only two more radio shows left before I take a hiatus for the summer (but will hopefully appear sporadically as a sub). I'll be back on at the same time in the fall, however, 6-8 AM Tuesday mornings!
Radiohead tickets for the June 19 and 20 shows at the Auditorium Theatre go on sale at 10 AM this Saturday*, May 6. Expect them to be sold out in approx. 10 seconds.

*Silly me!
When did Thax Douglas become the Camera Flash Police at shows? Saturday night at the Wrens/Tapes 'n Tapes show at Schubas, he appeared to be watching the crowd the entire time for the occasional flash, ready to pounce and ask the offender to please turn it off because it's "annoying." Not as annoying as Thax constantly pushing his way back and forth through a sold out audience. If Schubas didn't want people using flash, they'd make a policy and have the bouncers tell people to stop. The venue is brightly lit enough anyway that you hardly notice the flash, and it's small enough that flash can actually make for a good picture. Too bad I forgot my camera!

Other than that, the show was great- Tapes 'n Tapes put on a nice little performance, although I think "10 Gallon Ascots" didn't quite kill the way I'd hoped it would- the chorus is so anthemic, it needed to be louder and more passionate. "Insistor" and "Cowbell" were great, though. All fears that the show might be overrun with people there just to see the latest buzz band were quashed as the crowd was definitely a Wrens' crowd. I'd seen the Wrens put on a great show at Schubas two years ago, but somehow this time around they were even better, with more energy and new versions of songs. They opened with an awesome version of "This Boy Is Exhausted," with just two guitars and vocals quietly introducing the song before the rest of the band took the stage to finish it up big. The songs drew mostly from The Meadowlands, making me wonder if they have new material on the way or if they just wanted to please the audience with the favorites. The between song jokes were hilarious and they poked fun at their age ("yeah, back when I was like, 30"), their skill, their popularity, etc. Great show- I'll probably write a longer review later this week, because I felt like there was a ton more going on then I've hinted at thus far.