Radiohead: Working on New Album

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Well, god damn. It seems like just yesterday Radiohead released the beautiful and brilliant “In Rainbows,” but it looks like the boys are at it again. Radiohead reminds me in so many ways how bad other bands suck. Groundbreaking, with most steps — musically and business wise — Radiohead pushing out another obviously awesome record is like the goose laying a golden egg.

According to a new BBC interview with bassist Colin Greenwood,  they are working with longtime producer Nigel Godrich, man behind previous Radiohead smashes. “It’s at the stage where we’ve got the big Lego box out and we’ve tipped it out on the floor and we’re just looking at all the bits and thinking what’s next?…It was very noisy and chaotic and really fun,” says Greenwood.

The band have just finished touring with electro pioneers Kraftwerk in South America which Greenwood described as a “brilliant experience”.

“They are one of our musical heroes and it was a real privilege to share a stage with them,” he enthused.

I wonder if we can expect some influence there? Kraftwerk inspired Radiohead songs?

That was all Greenwood really mentioned, no word on release dates, etc., but expct a big to-do.

Sure Thing: Phoenix at Park West 6/13

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Filed under Events, Music

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If you have not heard of French quartet Phoenix, currently on tour promoting new album “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix”, you will be familiar with their catchy alt-pop soon. “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix” is the fourth studio record from the alt-rockers, whose music can be likened to French friends like Justice, Air and Daft Punk.

Phoenix is Thomas Mars (who is also married to fellow hipster director Sofia Coppola), Deck, Branco, and Christian Mazzalai.

The band is touring North America as well as Europe through out summer and fall, and recently did a spot on SNL; the new album is set to drop on May 25.

The new music is a mix of their signature late 70’s – early 80’s light rock sound, mixed in with jumpy drums and hooky guitars. Nothing cheesy though, I promise. Listen to: “Fences”.

Currently sold out, expect more tickets to  be released close to the date of the show.

Park West, 6/13/2009

Pitchfork vs. Lollapalooza

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Filed under Events, Music

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The two major musical festivals Chicago offers, Pitchfork and Lollapalooza have released their lineups, and it’s got me wondering which festival is actually “better?”

It is sort of unfair to completely compare the two, since they are not trying to do the same thing…exactly.

First of all, Lollapalooza (Lolla) is massive in every imaginable way. Hundreds of bands and sprawled out across Grant Park. When moving with the herd from one end to the next, the crowd can be atrocious. And it really is something of a trek to go back and forth a few times, particularly in Chicago heat — and don’t let the lakefront fool you, that mother is HOT. Layout and comfort-wise, Lolla loses big time. And don’t even get me going on the porta-potties. However, with the huge selection of bands, there is bound to be something you want to see, most likely a couple things you want to see. Lolla just has so many acts that it’s impossible to see more shows at any other event; Lolla wins the numbers game.

Pitchfork is much smaller and a helluva lot easier to cruise around in. The crowds are very different from one to the next. Pitchfork seemed (last year, imho) to be a little younger, a little more hip. Pitchfork costs $80 for the whole shebang, and Lolla rolls in around 3 x’s that much. As a value, Pitchfork kicks Lolla’s ass. The headliners for each event are different as night and day. Lolla’s are dated and uninteresting (appealing to an older crowd) and Pitchforks are more current and less ‘overexposed.’ I think I actually yawned when I heard Depeche Mode would be headlining Lolla. They are great, but this is 2009. Sorry Lolla, but Jesus Lizard, Yo La Tengo and Flaming Lips are simply more attractive to music fans.

It also seems that if you miss a band at Pitchfork, you can probably catch them next year at Lolla. Or be irritated you wasted an hour listening to a “buzz band” whose fifteen minutes should have been up already. I guess it all depends how you like it. I think that Pitchfork is the better festival this summer. But last year, I would have not missed Radiohead for the world. Bottom line: they are both great and Chicago is lucky to have both. It just depends on the year.

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Wilco Streaming Entire New “Wilco (The Album)” On Website

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Filed under Music

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Last night Wilco’s new record “Wilco (The Album)” leaked online and hungry fans started downloading it en masse. To give fans a legal option, Wilco has put the entire album up on their website, where people can stream it in it’s entirety. This is the Chicago bands seventh album.

Wilco the band will take Wilco (The Album) out on tour this summer, highlighted with shows at both Bonnaroo and the 10,000 Lakes Festival. The band is also set to  perform at some minor league ballparks like Brooklyn’s Keyspan Park. The band plans to play older songs as well as the new album and change up set lists for each concert.

Now for the verdict: recorded in their loft space here in Chicago, it is a return to earlier Wilco in some regards (mellow and thoughful songs) to a more experiemental band. Think different instruments and chord progressions you don’t normally associate with Wilco.  I really loved “I’ll Fight” as well as the collaboration with Feist “You and I.” Another highlight is the cheeky “Wilco (The Song), lauded as something of an ode to Wilco fans. Overall, there are a lot of great musical moments on the record. Some of the songs are a little country-tinged and they totally pull it off. Very nice choices on all the keys too.  It’s a beautiful album and front runner in my book for the best album of 2009, thus far.

Listen to “Wilco (The Album)” http://beta.wilcoworld.net/records/thealbum/index.php

How To: Grow a Garden in the City

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Filed under Life and News

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Thank you to the genius of Daniel H. Burnham, creator of the famous Chicago Plan of 1900, Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies von der Rohe, Helmut Jahn and several others, Chicago is a living museum of architecture. But the city that gave the world its first skyscraper didn’t leave much room for a garden.

One of the greatest things about spring and summer is the return of green plants. Just because you live in a yard-less box hardly means you should have to give up the joys of gardening though. So here are some ideas for your own Chicago garden.

1. Choose where your garden will be. If you are one of the lucky cats who has even a tiny plot to farm on, start there. The elements can give you a hand caring for your garden, especially if you want to exert minimal effort on your part. If you have not land around you, look into community gardens. The Chicago Park District website offers an extensive list of over 40 community gardens in the city. Community Gardeners “take initiative and responsibility for the community garden and in effect, the park as a whole,” according to the website. Lastly, you can always go the container route, and use window boxes or clay planters. These can be placed IN or OUT. Extra green bonus: use ‘found’ containers for your indoor garden, such as coffee cans, glass jars, or ceramic serving dishes. Container gardening websites can help with supplies and other tips.

2. Pick your plants. Herbs, flowers and vegetables can all thrive in a city setting. Herb gardens can be bought ready to plant in many different kits that are pre-packaged and come with simple directions and containers. A quick google search brought up kits of grow your own salsa mix and or indoor medicinal herbs. Planting annual flowers can be done with seeds or started plants from most garden shops. Best choices for the city: Zinnias (the more you cut–the more they grow), Snapdragons (tolerate neglect well and like both sun and shade), and Sunflowers because they can be grow small in a container or large outside. If you want veggies, try a hanging tomato planter. These can also pull double duty and grow eggplant, peppers, and more.

3. Take care. Check out how much light and water your new garden needs. Each plant or seed packet should come with instructions–follow them. A garden of brown rotting plants isn’t going to spread any cheer. Also check for pests on certain plants and read up on prevention and care. I really like the book “Urban Eden: Grow Delicious Fruit, Vegetables and Herbs in a Really Small Space” because it’s full of pictures that can help give you lots of ideas.

Get out there, green thumbs.

Fashion Treasures of Chicago

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Filed under Arts and Theater, Events

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Normally high-fashion design conjures up images of Parisian catwalks, the streets of New York City, and the station of the Harajuku district of Tokyo. But a current exhibit at the Chicago History Museum wants to expose yet another side of Chicago: fashion capital. Chic Chicago: Couture Treasures from the Chicago History Museum is currently running through July 26, 2009.

The exhibit is a highlight of fashion specific to Chicago from the 1860’s through 2004. Cool fact: The Chicago History Museum has one of the largest and oldest costume and garment collections in the world. Each article on display not only is intended to present as an example of truest fashion, but also to represent historical significance within each piece. Curator of Costumes Timothy Long stresses the Windy City’s presence in the collection. “It is the connection to Chicago–that is the number one importance to the costume collection [and] to the museum as a whole,” he says. Every article featured is also part of the museums permanent collection.

A collection of Chicago fashion since the 1860’s made me wonder if there would be butcher’s attire or mob boss suits included, given Chicago’s notorious reputation as Hog Butcher to the World, Gangland, and the Second City. These ideas about Chicago not being a ‘major’ fashion city still exist today. But the ladies of the last 150 years are not too different from the ladies of today in our love of glamour and garments as self expression and luxury. And the high-society women of Chicago have always had the money and taste for couture–sometimes choosing to let these pieces speak for the sophistication of Chicago when Midwestern reputation precedes it.

Best Chicago Pizza Joints

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Filed under Drink and Eat, Featured

 

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As far as styles of pizza go, Chicago is parent to one of the most ubiquitous and well known: deep-dish. According to Wikipedia, “true Chicago-style pizza features a buttery crust, generous amounts of cheese and chunky tomato sauce,” and I would have to agree. But not all the ‘za coming out of the Windy City is “stuffed.” Each pizza is different and delicious in it’s own right. Many of the thin crust style pizzas served here are also unique to Chicago. Chicago and pizza have a pretty saucy (sorry) history.

The first deep-dish came out of Uno’s kitchen in 1943–so they say. Other sources quote that the first of its kind actually showed up a few years later, but by the hands a Malnati cook working in the Uno’s kitchen. I think the bottom line is that we are all grateful for yet another menu option. Chicago’s thing crust is also unique due to a crispy, crunchy crust instead of a soft floppy one; and it’s also served in squares instead of the triangle pie shape. Chicago will always love it’s pizza’s; and here is a list of the best-loved versions.

1. Home Run Inn Pizzeria
4254 W 31st St, Chicago, IL
South Side, low-key, and some of the best damn sausage. A great style of crust, too. A thinner crust, but with real substance.

2. Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria
439 N Wells St, Chicago, IL
Well-known and well-loved deep-dish.

3. Pat’s Pizzeria & Ristorante
2679 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL
My all time favorite thin crust. Roger Ebert’s too.

4. Pequod’s Pizzeria
2207 N Clybourn Ave, Chicago, IL
Lincoln Park hangout offers big, flavorful pies and a devoted following.

5. Piece Restaurant
1927 W North Ave, Chicago, IL
Spacious and complete with brewpub, this place is delicious and cool.

6. Pizzeria Uno
29 E Ohio St, Chicago, IL
The one and only. You will leave as stuffed as the pizza.

7. Giordano’s
730 N Rush St, Chicago, IL
As stuffed as they come; and loved by visitors and residents.

8. Gino’s East
633 N Wells St, Chicago, IL
It’s a little touristy, but graffiti for reading material is always fun–like the pizza.

9. Art Of Pizza Inc
3033 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL
This locals favorite for Chicago-style and thin-crust pies on the city’s North Side could be easily overlooked. Don’t make that mistake!

 

Drew Peterson Bond: 20 Mil

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Filed under Life and News

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Major creep and ex-Illinois cop, Drew Peterson, has his bond set at $20 million dollars following his indictment for the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, who was initially ruled to have died accidentally. The death was re-investigated following the mysterious disappearance of Peterson’s most recent wife, 23 year-old Stacy Peterson.

This case has drawn much national media attention. The families of both Stacy Peterson and Kathleen Savio had publicly spoken out about their belief in Drew Peterson’s involvement in the murder of both women. In both cases, circumstantial evidence pointed to the 55 year-old Peterson, but lack of hard evidence prevented any arrest until now.

Peterson appeared before Will County Circuit Court Judge Richard C. Schoenstedt about 1:30 p.m. today for an arraignment hearing, which was postponed until May 18 because Peterson’s attorneys weren’t present–one, Joel Brodsky, was in New York earlier in the day making appearances on network news programs.

This case should be interesting to follow for a couple reasons. First off, there is no way that this guy isn’t going to be found guilty. I really do think he killed his third wife, and I’m happy they have decided to try him for it. But what Drew Peterson is really going to be found guilty of is the death of Stacy Peterson. Despite Stacy’s body never being recovered, he has been guilty in the court of public opinion since this story initially broke. Stacy Peterson’s sister was at Peterson’s court appearance and told Chicago Tribune reporters, “It made me feel good to see him chained up like the dog that he is.” I would have to say that I agree.

OMG: Smiths Cover Band

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Filed under Music

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Next Friday at Reggies Rock Club the Handsome Devilz will be paying tribute to The Smiths. The 80’s English band originally consisting to Johnny Marr (guitars) Morrissey (vocals), Andy Rourke (bass) and Mike Joyce (drums). Critics have hailed their importance in the alternative rock scene of the 80’s and England and countless other acts have gone on to cite The Smiths as influential. The Smith’s are probably best known for Morrissey’s mopey love tales (and rhetorical questions for lyrics) and Marr’s catchy guitar hooks. The group split in 1987  and no longer plays together citing a variety of reasons, such as “we are not friends.” Ouch! Johnny Marr was the first to leave the group, Morrissey has never really forgiven him for that.

Despite numerous efforts to get the group back together, including efforts by Coachella promoters and VH1 television series, have all been flops.  So, I guess seeing Handsome Devilz will have to do. I guess now would be a good time to explain why I care.

The Smiths were my first “favorite” band when I was about 16. In my small town, The Smiths were not something blasting from the all the Chevy Cavaliers. I think the other kids were listening to “The Thong Song,” seriously. I am not claiming superiority over the other 16 year old’s of the day, but I just loved that music and lyrics. It seemed so real, so personal, so true. (“Burn down the disco–Hang the blessed DJ–Because the music that they constantly play–Its says nothing to me about my life.”) And it was old. And no one knew it. It wasn’t until I went to college that I could really let my Smiths hang loose. I once left a note on someones car because it was covered in Smiths bumper stickers. And not Morrissey solo. No, no, no. The magic, for me, was in that combo. Morrissey and Marr were totally my Lennon and McCartney!

I talked to a few other friends about a Smith’s cover band, and we all agreed on one thing: the bar is high. Almost any band with any loyal following has a cover band or tribute band, whatever. (Or if you are the Grateful Dead, you have 170.) But it seems as though the Smiths fans might be a little more weary and cautious. Or maybe we all just wanted the ship to go down with The Smiths. As for me, I can always listen to Johnny Marr play and Morrissey sing. “I like it here, can I stay?”

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