Tuesday, June 21, 2016

ua: (8)

Do not _be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life. Aim a_bove morality. _be not simply good; _be good for something.
Valencia Maloney

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Rabid Rabbit sound the alarm at Beauty Bar!

Dan and Andrea
   I believe it was around 2004, that I first encountered Andrea Jablonski fronting the trio Camaro Rouge. It was in-your-face and over-the-top punk rock. The drummer was Arman Mabry; his  beat made you drop everything and pogo dance. I always kept coming back to see Camaro Rouge play the Empty Bottle, and other places around Chicagoland. Often, they would be the opening band and steal the thunder of the headliner.

Andrea and Arman
  Andrea and Arman have since joined together as a double-bass assault team for Rabid Rabbit. Joined by Mike Tsoulos on drums and Dan Sullivan on guitar, Rabid Rabbit has become one of Chicago's most interesting of quartets. Bass drones that entice ones desire to head bang. In a slightly psychedelic and atmospheric mode, they take you to the zone of avant-garde sludge-core. 

  That monster called rock 'n' roll had many different faces; one of them was heavy metal.  This abnormal animal had its earliest rumblings traced back to the Sonics, Kinks, MC5, Beatles (Helter Skelter), Jimi Hendrix Experience, and Blue Cheer. In 1970, the grim reality of the world was documented by Black Sabbath.  Heavy they were, to the point of metal mayhem. In 2011, metal has somewhat run itself into a wall with repetitive growling. It's so refreshing to see a current band like Rabid Rabbit go back to old-school vibes, and complete the full circle by making them new again. The twelve minute "Gloomy Sunday" is my favorite and totally relevant in the present tense.

  Tonight's cutting-edge offering brings me to Chicago's near west side. Beauty Bar hosted the doom-metal vibes of Rabid Rabbit.  Andrea's vocals were mesmerizing.  Her bass was in unison with Arman and together they created a heavy ambiance that reverberated out onto Chicago avenue. This was the place to be on a Wednesday night with Zach (singer-guitarist for The Outer Minds) bar tending.  Gina (singer for The Outer Minds) was seated at the entrance doing nail polish for the guest. Rabid Rabbit commanded the complete attention of Beauty Bar once they started their set. Impromptu-doom or experi-metal would be a considerable way to describe their music. However, those descriptions alone would not do this band justice.

Arman and Andrea

  Rabid Rabbit is unique! From the opening notes, there was a haunting chemistry brewing. Heavy and dramatic, they marched to the land of dark ecstasy.  The guitar drifts off into a moody and colorful dynamic structure; followed by a climatic explosion of sound.  The dual bass arsenal builds a wall of a metallic orchestral alarm sounding off.  Dark, but intelligent for the sake of the moment. Mike did an improvisational technique with his sticks and cymbals that created an almost space rock type of sound. Then he leads the charge to storm the (current day) Bastille!

  Yes, there is an intellectual and somewhat political message to these compositions.  The drums force you to bang your head! In Chi-town, there is room for everything that is related to that monster called rock 'n' roll. The metallic face of that monster has resurfaced in the form of Rabid Rabbit!


Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Great Society Mind Destroyers takes Crown Tap to the cosmos.

    In 1966, Roky Erickson single-handedly invented psychedelia. The 13th Floor Elevators introduce the world to a new adventurous  and innovative sound.  Rocky was held by the United States government for experimental evaluation. After being nailed for possession of a marijuana cigarette, authorities believed he was a threat to decency! The turbulent '60s brought social tension to a new threshold of insanity.  The CIA was doing experiments with LSD on soldiers and ordinary citizens.  So was it the government that gave us the drug culture?  Or was it Timothy Leary telling us to "drop out?"  Regardless, the use of drugs definitely made an impact on the political climate of the 1960s.


    Today, one would question who was more psychotic: musicians or the government? Law enforcement attacked long-haired crowds at the  Chicago 1968 Democratic convention, for merely sharing the solidarity of love and music.  It's amusing to imagine what law enforcement might have thought 10 years later, with the arrival of angry moshing punk rockers.

    Like all styles of music, nothing really ever goes away.  Psychedelia, often called acid rock or stoner rock, emulated the affect of mind-altering drugs in the beginning of its reign.  Middle Eastern music and improvisational jazz played a role in the development of this adventurous and colorful sound. Friday, I went down to Crown Tap on Chicago's north side, to catch some neo-psychedelia with The Great Society Mind Destroyers.

     It was truly psych-rock with a relentless rumbling thunder, that makes you envision yourself entering the mythological baffling matter of an ancient temple. At one point, the journey through the temple leads you to the cosmos.  Space rock latches on to rhythmic, but not overindulgent elements of their bizarre and mind-twisting introduction, that drifted off into exhilarating hyperactive instrumental "rave-ups."

     Featuring Andrew Kettering (Anjru Kieterang) from the retro '60s garage-jam group Strychnine on vocals and guitar, Jim Lechocki on drums, Will Sauceda on bass, and Brett Borden on second guitar, the chemistry of The Great Society Mind Destroyers resonates anachronistic echoes of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Blue Cheer,  Sun Ra, Acid Mothers Temple, Sonic Youth, early Pink Floyd, and Hawkwind. Yes, I was reminded of the fact that Hawkwind featured Lemmy Kilmister, who was a roadie for Hendrix, and later started Motorhead, which had elements of both punk and metal. So it's all good in the scope of the wide musical spectrum.

     May the soul of psychedelia lead me to grander pastures! Nowadays, you can get off on great psychedelic music without drugs. Today is GSMD day...with black coffee. The Great Society Mind Destroyers pretty much register these timeless vibes from the past, and add their current twist, thus making them new again. Roky Erickson and Syd Barrett would have been proud of the roots they planted. In the mist of an insane world, it is always great to escape to the cosmos.


    You can find their music on Commune Records, Galactic Zoo, and Slow Tapes.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Summer Girlfriends rock to that endless summer of fun!

 "Summer of Fun" is a song I remember from one great Chicago band called Johnny and the Limelights. They were a totally fun group, featuring Brian Costello of the current Outer Minds and Sara Bassick, formerly the bassist for The Pumps.  Sara is now a member of Summer Girlfriends with four other ladies. It's Monday night and I seize the opportunity to catch this group at the Empty Bottle, in Chicago's Ukrainian Village neighborhood. What a delight they were, continuing that ageless punk mindset that rock 'n' roll must be done for the fun of it. To borrow from a Beach Boys song, that summer of fun is endless. Yes, it is an "Endless Summer."

Nikita and Sara


Sara and Caitlin

 Summer Girlfriends joins Sara with guitarist Nikita, guitarist Elise, drummer Nicole, and singer Caitlin.  The spirit of the Runaways is ever present in their sound. The Shangri-Las, The Luv'd Ones, Goldie and the Gingerbreads, and L7 come to mind, upon hearing this band. '60s garage-pop, '70s post-punk, '80s power-pop, and girl-group mania all come together for some fine tuning that gives new life to these vibes. Yes, that monster called rock 'n' roll had a feminine side, which was longing to make it clear...girls rock! 




 In 1920, Mamie Smith recorded "Crazy Blues" and passed the mysterious female language to Big Mama Thornton and Big Maybelle. They were two of the first women to rock in the late '40s and early '50s.  Maybelle and Sarah Carter were an influence on Rose Maddox, who performed early proto-rockabilly in 1952 with the song "Hangover Blues." Influenced by all five, it was Wanda Jackson who opened the door for women in rock 'n' roll.  Women were determined to speak their mind in a louder and angrier style.  Patti Smith and Courtney Love continued the chain of chick-rock, which lives on in 2011, in the form of new bands like Summer Girlfriends. Rock 'n' roll is an endless summer of fun!



Sunday, August 21, 2011

Call Me Lightning and Magic Milk at Treasure Town

Chi-town nights brings me to Treasure Town on the near south side.  Wall to wall artwork everywhere, many cutting-edge bands, and great folks promoting activism. I arrived just in time for Call Me Lightning, who are an indie group from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Definitely influenced by the Minutemen, and named after the 1968 song "Call Me Lightning" by The Who.  Led by Nathan Lilley on guitar and vocals, they were just what the doctor ordered.  The rhythm section was pulverizing, featuring Tyler Chicorel on bass, and Shane Hochstetler on drums.  At one point, I could not focus away from Shane's drumming.

The first record, "The Trouble Were In" was released in 2004 on Revelation Records.  The follow-up release "Soft Skeletons" was pressed by French Kiss Records in 2007.  The album was recorded at Steve Albini's Chicago studio.  Their 2010 release "When I Am Gone My Blood Will Be Free" is available through Dusty Medical Records.

There were echos of The Who's "Live at Leeds" resurrecting at this artsy loft space. The ghost of Keith Moon seems to follow me around, as I encounter newer bands. Shane's drumming had an evil gravity that almost pulls the rest of the band to the point of a pertinent zenith! It felt like Shane was racing with Nathan and Tyler. They were on a mission to rock the f--k out of you! Stealing thunder and marching to the land of the rocked!

Kenny Alden of  Magic Milk

Next up, I witness the wild Kenny Alden fronting Magic Milk.  What a spectacle it was to see Kenny doing this interesting type of dance with several members of the audience.  It somewhat looked like ska dancing. From the opening song, there was a retro 1960s garage rock vibe that sounded like the ghost of the Sonics paid a visit to Treasure Town. '60s rhythm & blues was also present, with grooves and hooks that complemented their minimalist punk-pop. Vibes from the past get some fine tuning, and out of the garage comes that monster called rock 'n' roll, in the form of Magic Milk, launching confetti, and in your face once again!

Guitarist Nico was performing a unique style that had me looking for a keyboard. I remember thinking "where is that organ sound coming from?" Yeah, his guitar  sounded like a farfisa organ. There was that ambient echo sound in the vocals, which were accompanied by harmonica. Distortion-heavy, and slightly psychedelic-bubble gum in the opening notes of the songs "So Cool" and "Lights Out Party" will make you wanna get up and dance. They  are featured on "Luke Tokyo Drifter," their first release.  It is so in enlightening to see a new band like Magic Milk with this type of energy.

$1,100 was raised last night for housing, employment, and prevention services for 1,000 Chicagoans living with HIV/AIDS.