Best new release: Liars’ Mess

Like much of the band’s back catalog, songs on the Liars‘ latest album, Mess, are abrasive, challenging and befuddling. And I keep going back to them.

This is a band that hasn’t been too concerned about adhering to a single style or genre but you know a Liars album when you hear one. Liars’ music packs a punch whether it is coming from an electronic album like Mess or more of a post-punk release like 2004’s They Were Wrong, So We Drowned. (Liars released its first album almost a dozen years ago. Mess is the seventh full-length release.) This latest album shows a band that’s still willing to tinker with its sound for the better.  There’s an addictive quality to Mess, a dark and (at times) ominous album. Definitely give it more than one listen.

Live in Chicago: Roman Remains

Roman Remains is a side project from the Delta Spirit’s Liela Moss and Toby Butler. The music is much more electronic pop than the straight-ahead rock of the Duke Spirit (but it’s cool stuff and worth a listen).

Roman Remains, which just released the album Zeal, opens for Gary Numan and Big Black Delta at Metro Saturday night.

Dear Lollapalooza, I’m just not that into you

Once again, I’m one of the few people in Chicago who is not excited about Lollapalooza. What do I know? All the poor people tickets, including  VIP, are sold out already. (Get those platinum passes before they’re gone!)

I’m underwhelmed by the lineup. Outkast is the only intriguing headliner for the three-day, early August bash. While there are obviously some great artists each day, there simply aren’t enough. If you go early on Friday (August 1), see Courtney Barnett and Jagwar Ma (see video above). Spoon plays Saturday and White Denim plays Sunday.

Review: The Hold Steady’s Teeth Dreams

I asked Andersonville Dan to help me review the new album from the Hold Steady, Teeth Dreams. After 10 years, the band is still kicking. Front man Craig Finn still tells dark stories, though not so much about young punks. The first album in four years, Teeth Dreams returns to the hard rock of the band’s earlier releases, including the great Boys and Girls in America. Tad Kubler’s guitars sound bigger than ever.

Punks: Do you think after 10 years Craig Finn has run out of fucked-up kids to write about?

AD: Honestly, it does feel a little bit like that. Some of the characters are aging but luckily it’s still interesting. I hold everything they do to Boys and Girls but I really like this album. It’s not Boys and Girls but it feels closer to it than recent efforts (like 2010’s Heaven Is Whenever). I love listening to it.

Punks: It definitely rocks harder than Heaven. I think the Hold Steady works best when the guitars are loud but you can still clearly hear Finn’s stories. On With the Business is a good example from the new album. Compared with the band’s early days, Finn is more of a singer now, even on slower tracks like The Ambassador. Those first two songs on the new album shoot right out of the gate. I Hope This Whole Thing Didn’t Frighten You and Spinners are really high-energy anthems that work despite the overly polished sound.

AD: What fascinates me is how you have these two monster personalities that you can hear in Finn’s stories and Tad Kubler’s in-your-face guitar. The songs feel isolated but in sync at the same time. The whole band combines to make Finn’s words feel alive. It’s a cool, defining sound that elevates them above some other barroom band. I get such an emotional charge.

Punks: For me, the band’s high-water mark is Separation Sunday, the second album. It’s far less accessible than Boys and Girls or anything that followed. I still love Boys and Girls but the soul and spirit of the band is really captured on that second album.

AD: When you read about how much they drink on stage and how central it was to the music during the days of Separation Sunday and Boys and Girls, that’s kind of frightening (or maybe I’m just getting older with the band). Ten years ago, when I saw them as much as possible, I was right there with them. 

Teeth Dreams is out  Tuesday (March 25) in the U.S.


St. Vincent, Dum Dum Girls, more bands added to Pitchfork fest

St. Vincent will play Saturday night at Pitchfork fest in Chicago this July and Dum Dum Girls were added to the middle of the Sunday lineup. Those are the news highlights for me but there’s a little something for everyone with the latest additions to the July 18-20 festival at Union Park.

Danny Brown, Slasher Flicks (Animal Collective’s Avey Tare), Real Estate, Schoolboy Q, Earl Sweatshirt, Cloud Nothings, Hudson Mohawke, Deafheaven, Perfect Pussy, Jon Hopkins, Majical Cloudz, Mutual Benefit, Speedy Ortiz, Kelela, the Field, SZA, DJ Rashad and DJ Spinn, Hundred Waters, FKA Twigs, Isaiah Rashad, Empress Of and Chicago’s Twin Peaks also were added today.

See the full schedule here.

Best new release: The War on Drugs’ Lost in the Dream

The War on Drugs’ Adam Granduciel creates a style of music that nods to some of the elder statesmen of American rock (Springsteen, Petty, Dylan) and yet the sound seems surprisingly original. On his band’s new album, Granduciel creates a lush landscape of sound that pushes up against eruptions of steady, persistent beats that would blend in on a classic Springsteen record.

The War on Drugs’ new release, Lost in the Dream, follows two fine albums but this latest set of songs signals an artist and a band that really matured. Lost in the Dream is the result of two years of writing and recording. Granduciel formed his Philadelphia-based band with Kurt Vile, who has since left to focus on his own music. While Vile gets far more attention than War on Drugs, Lost in the Dream (out today) highlights Granduciel’s immense talent.

The War on Drugs plays Metro Sunday.

Stooges drummer Scott Asheton is dead at 64

Drummer Scott Asheton, one of the original members of the Stooges, died, according to reports. The cause of death wasn’t immediately made public. He was 64.

Iggy Pop posted this statement on Facebook:

“My dear friend Scott Asheton passed away last night.

Scott was a great artist, I have never heard anyone play the drums with more meaning than Scott Asheton. He was like my brother. He and Ron have left a huge legacy to the world. The Asheton’s have always been and continue to be a second family to me.

My thoughts are with his sister Kathy, his wife Liz and his daughter Leanna, who was the light of his life.”

Asheton’s brother Ron, guitarist for the Stooges, died in 2009. Scott Asheton continued playing with Iggy (performing as the reunited Stooges) after his brother’s death.




Band on the rise: Drenge

Undoubtedly, we’ll be hearing more about the hard-rocking UK brothers known as Drenge following their appearance at SXSW. Until early this year, Eoin and Rory Loveless had not released any music in the US (although iTunes offers a live performance and you can find the band on Spotify). In January, Drenge released two songs in the US: Bloodsports and Dogmeat.

Watch the video for another song, Backwaters, below.