Saturday, March 30, 2013

On Warmer Music's Travel Mix: Side B - Let's Get Out Of This Country

There are some songs that you read the title of, hear for the first time and say "there's a mix there." I remembering buying Rogue Wave's first album in fall 2007 (at B-Sides in Madison, WI I might add, one of my all-time favorite record stores) and having just such an experience. I was trudging across the Rock River on one of those disgusting November mornings that makes you question why anyone ever bothers and listening to Out Of The Shadow when "Postage Stamp World" started playing. Its dry acoustic guitar and warm production immediately made life seem a little more bearable. When Zack Rogue started singing about "this postage s-stamp world" and the pedal steel kicked in, I was in another place. Soon I would leave for a semester abroad and my Postage Stamp World Mix would be my companion the whole time, providing aural comfort and stability throughout my travels. When I'm ready for some platinum-grade nostalgia these days, I give it a spin.

Camera Obscura's "Let's Get Out Of This Country" is another song that was dying to be a mix from the second I heard it. Dreamy pop, more escapism, it was destined to soundtrack great travels, either mental or physical. Along with it, I threw together a little bit of globe trotting, from a Bob Dylan song about a country that no longer exists (and that he wrote on a bet) to one of Big Star's loveliest little throwaways to one of the best Jonathon Richman/Modern Lovers songs of all-time, even if it is an instrumental. Ted Leo & the boys make such powerful get-off-your ass and move music, they had to be in here twice as well. I hope you have as much fun in these songs as I did.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

On Warmer Music's Travel Mix - Side A: Maps & Legends

Spring will arrive Chicago. I promise it will get here.

I get a lot of crap from my friends for my unrepentant winter-boosterism and fairly so, but everyone knows that the best part of a good Midwestern winter is how much sweeter it makes the spring.

There's something so completely and utterly-joyful about the first warm, sunny day after a long winter. When the grass is still brown and the trees bare but the air tells you that better things are coming. If there were a way to bottle the feeling of walking around in a tee shirt for the first time, it would be the hottest thing since sliced crack.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Artist Primer: Project Film

I could tell from the first listen that Project Film is the kind of band I could love. You see, I have a weakness for a certain kind of indie rock band that they play to with a vengeance. It’s a sound that I associate with the mid-‘00s, a sort of mid-fi, mid-tempo rock with inventive, guitars that tread that careful line between shimmery and spikey, maybe with some acoustic strumming and keys thrown in for good measure.

Project Film, is comprised of singer/songwriter/instrumentalist Sam McAllister with the assistance of Megan Frestedt (the two also run the band's label, Tandem Records) hit that sweet spot perfectly with their first album, 2010’s Chicago. I love the fact that McAllister apparently recorded the whole thing in his Chicago apartment, save for Frestedt’s vocals because there is a warmth, intimacy and slightly ramshackle quality to whole affair which that origin story would account for perfectly. It was good timing for me because this record worked its way into heavy rotation for me this January and February and it’s great hibernation rock. As a product of Minneapolis and Chicago, McAllister knows a thing or two about surviving a Midwestern winter and it’s no coincidence that a group of songs he holed up in his apartment to creates sound really good while holed up in one’s apartment.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Artist Primer: Sleepy Kitty

You might remember me writing about Sleepy Kitty last summer after being blown away by their mesmerizing but under-attended performance on a slab of sun baked concrete at the Electric Petting Zoo. I chatted with both drummer Evan Sult and singer/guitarist Paige Brubeck who were nice enough to slip me a copy of their album, Infinity City. At the time I made a mental note to write about it once I'd fully digested it. Well, it's eight months later and now I'm finally making good on that promise. It's my goal to use the month of March to buckle down and put digital ink to digital paper about some of the many great local bands I haven't yet found time to sing the praises of and I couldn't think of a better place to start.

Technically, Sleepy Kitty is really more of a St. Louis band, by way of Chicago by way of New York. And even more technically  they're a "graphic arts and music project,"   No matter, I'll take any connection, no matter how tenuous to lay claim to this duo on behalf of my city. They're the kind of band who you feel like could be way bigger if they cared half as much about self-promotion and "making it" as they do about the artists and communities that they're connected to. For example, upon starting this article I checked in with the group and, despite following them on Twitter and Facebook saw that they'd snuck a new album out this fall and played Chicago multiple times without my knowing! Saddened by the missed opportunities but excited for some new tunes, I quickly downloaded the songs and got to writing.