Saturday, March 16, 2019

Walking Bicycles

  The Walking Bicycles discography that I have is greatly treasured. I feel very privileged to have it down and swirling about in my head. They play relatively rare. It gives time for one to explore more deeply the music that is out now.  The time you would spend listening to what is new from them instead is spent longer on their present work.  Every show I see is a mission accomplished and forever remembered.  I hear it in the right moment, its empowering. There is a reason why the word "punk" is always in their description.  It is music for underdogs by those who lived as such. There is this park near where I live they got these elliptical machines. On the ipod they randomly played and I worked out to the entire To Him That Wills The Way LP. Other tracks find their way into daily mental soundtrack or randomly on the ipod. There is this .....maturity that stretches into their earliest works.

  Perhaps it's the 70's inspired artwork that came with the two newest releases, but there is that cool dark 70's vibe....the way movies now like to portray them.   70's noir...John Wick's muscle car .......driving to Walgreens to pick up mom's meds.  Damn, I need to stop mercilessly drowning my own metaphors in the bathtub like that.  It was a bubble. No 70's muscle car all in Bauhaus black....puuf! Just me in mum's van picking up her meds listening to Walking Bicycles along the way. I am rabidly getting into Fat Cat and ESP. These last few gigs I saw they were playing more and more of their new music. Hellz yeah I was into it.  It is perhaps ESP that I recall telling Julius in some long winded way how awesome it is. I throw that word a lot but I mean it always.  ESP was a further refinement, smooth and still intense.  And I know this is just subjective speculation, I hear traces of GO? in this one song. (I tried to look for the upside down question mark on my keyboard, really I did.)The path that was suggested in GO? is bulldozed, plowed and paved in ESP. It's refined, smooth and still powerful. Its a path finally taken and owned. Fat Cat reminds me of To Him That Wills.  I place it comfortably among my favorites of the band.  And these impressions so crudely expressed are but placeholders. Early chances at reaching wider audiences they turned down. And I can see why. They were not for those audiences. Theirs is for an older wiser.....cooler crowd even back then. An innate maturity comes with their punk. They have been tested by the hardest times. Defiance from a place of experience is scarier, tougher. There is a reason why my mind drifts to playing their music. In all scenarios it's light in the dark with the burn power of a laser, a burning simmering ember with a promise to burn it all down. I cam down from that elliptical machine feeling like that forward burning wick, but I was going to shower first.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Zanias/ Into The All

  Cold Wave seems to be on goth's foggy grey border.   Its hard to find sometimes. The GPS often fucks up and leads me well into Industrial country and I gotta ask for directions.  The Hideout audience when hosting Zanias, Fee Lion, and Visceral Anatomy did not look all that different from Burlington the night after for Cruz de Navajas.  These labels are elusive as magnetic north. Goth is like a shot gun blast that scares the wildlife away like the tiniest whisper of a camera click taking your soul instead of your picture.  Y'all need to relax. Sometimes you use such a term as a way to not use the g word. So we define around it.  I'm comfortable calling Alison Lewis/ Zanias  cold wave.   Dark, electronic and detached, longing for homes that are far far away......Australia, Berlin, Malaysia specifically.  Just pondering the miles between those names is intimidating.  Even during my travels to Whitby Gothic Weekend, the worry for home was a potent wire not to cross. The pigeons would remind me of the pet dove I left behind.  There is an awareness of the distance and a longing for human contact.  The first time seeing her in the first band Linea Aspera I can remember feeling so remote from the music of this artist, feeling like I'm seeing a star as close as this telescope....ehm...YouTube video can get me. There was so much work this artist put out.  Since Linea Aspera all her projects were each bands I would listen to separately forever, and still so remote.  The relationship with the music started with wonder, and built into it is this vast distance that you are aware. This is someone I may never see live.
  Let me go to this specific Tuesday night at Danny's in Wicker Park. I go with Marci. I believe Grun Wasser played that night. There was a long line to get in, but eventually we did. After the front room, all the back rooms seem intimate. Your natural inclination is to follow the hallway until the end. There are rooms on each side of the hallway, its almost like a private home and some eccentric fuck  has this party at his place. Anyway, so we go all the way to where the hallway leads and the very last end was everyone I saw the Friday before at Hideout.  Zanias, Fee Lion, Visceral Anatomy. That train that was so far over the horizon that I was longing for it.... I forgot that I was standing right in the middle of the tracks. I was suddenly the third grader in the teachers lounge....I was awestruck by a fucking bullet train.  This is so Frank Lloyd wrong!  This is either so fucking far and away that you want to see it, or a fly in their soup/windshield, depending on which metaphor.  My own social awkwardness kicked in.  I was wearing my newly bought Zanias shirt that I got from her  previous tour. I did not want her to see me with it and think I wanted undue attention. This twisted shyness just fucking grips you like its Carrie's mom screaming "They are all gonna laugh at you!" The music suddenly is so close, like I'm a fly doin' the backstroke in their soup.  I was just feeling that way, and was looking for a graceful quick exit before I feel too awkward. But you know, its nice to see her stay longer in Chicago.
  If you are already a fan of her, then  Aletheia and Idoru.... you just become a fan of her and everything that lead up to those songs. Its like stumbling into Unity Temple after walking out of a gas station designed by the same guy.  You recognized what little that you got to know was the tip to this beautiful ice berg palace.  So this will sweep up the first time fan as well. I see beautifully the delicate intangible tether that leads from Linea Aspera to the newest Into The All. What does it mean to mention Frank Llloyd Wright and his fucking filling station? It means even that was a palace. It means nothing was small or insignificant. Everything he built was grand, big or small.  I can see the consistent continuum with Zanias. I am into it all. So I treasure my small collection of her work like a collector of ancient and rare books.  Alison Lewis has been busy since at least 2011 with Linea Aspera. Dark, sleek and cold. She credits Dead Can Dance, Coil as a major influences, observing closely how  Lisa Gerrard sings. I think having produced her music within a span of less than and within a decade it can define that decade. It can be what we are nostalgic for in 20 or 30 years, and it can be what inspires another girl studying science to be a musician.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Anika/ Exploded View

    Gritty urban, noir with roots in Bristol trip hop.  In 2010 Anika a dark spot within dark hmm adjacent music released her self-titled LP of mostly covers. I saw her play Empty Bottle the fall of 2011.  This artist was originally a political journalist and poet who spent her time between Bristol England, and Berlin.  Hmm, Bristol....home of trip hop, Massive Attack....Portishead.  Its making sense. Bristol is the right breeding ground. The right climate, soil, etc. I saw her at Empty Bottle three times. Her covers are so unrecognizable to me. Really turns things into hers. Roughly its as if Portishead covered the music with Anika's deep otherworldly voice. She did work with members from that band for this LP, so that is not a surprise. I really thought Masters Of War was hers and not Bob Dylan's.  In The City by Chromatics originally, gets the Anika muscle car custom makeover you did not know it needed.  All y'all  who like  Suicide Commando's BTK I just caught dancing to He Hit Me.  That's Anika's cover from 2013 single. And don't make me bust out the R Kelly karaoke bar footage. Yeah....more of y'all than I embarrassing.  Another noteworthy cover Sadness Hides The Sun originally from Greta Ann. Is this one bleak. The original brings with it the outdoor scent and chill of a scary campfire story.  Ms Anika channels her inner Ian Curtis to adapt it's darkness to an urban space. You dance to this with the same abandon as a Joy Division track. I was so close to assuming it was not a cover.
  Music that is formulaic does not ever hit the spot it intends. Anika for me is not, even when she performs covers. She has a recognizable signature that she imposes and also creates with her own original tracks. The bass is fat, aggressive and hits your urge to dance like its a gag reflex. It's sleek urban noir that makes you want to move, and its amazing that she is not....taken by her own music. This I say about her work with Exploded View as well. It feels like a natural extension. I took home two releases under Sacred Bones Records when she played Empty Bottle November 2018, the latest Obey(2018) and the self-titled debut recorded in 2015.  For these projects she went all the way to Mexico City. It amazes me the international path this artist with her music has forged. I mean fucking wow girl!  Noteworthy for me are Disco Glove, No More Parties In The Attic, Orlando...let the others from the debut sink slowly, they are worth it. Dark Stains, and Letting Go Of Childhood Dreams on Obey are excellent as well.     
  She is very stoic when performing, fascinating.......she stands there like a vulcan Saul Goodman announcing bingo numbers.  Its not a complaint. How she performs makes her so mysterious. And just as this part of her image begins to solidify, the substance of this image shifts. Her eyes widen...tiny movements that express so much.  Then she gets off stage, walks around the audience as she performs!  These visuals spark and sustain the moment for the audience.  I think she even performed some of her poetry, with her music playing behind her. It seemed that way.  She did this the last two visits to Chicago. Spellbinding and unexpected.
      We have packed dog years of crazy since 2011. And let's not talk about what hit the fan since 2016. We know. That makes that first performance, a different...even a slightly more innocent world away. The other two gigs I went to see Anika was within these last 6 months.  In November 2018 she came with her fellow bandmates of Exploded View.  And she came back by herself January 2019. Iconic shows for me, concert therapy. How else are you going to fight the sadness that hides the sun than by dancing to a fucking song about it.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Solemn Meant Walks

  I'm so fucking happy to call these guys friends of mine. Fondest memories of fall and winter drives through picturesque La Grange Rd emerge when listening to Solemn Meant Walks. I think I know why. Their video for  Highway is about Resurrection Mary, and where they filmed it is part of where I drive when I'm on La Grange Rd. Willow Springs is part of forever home of Ms Mary's ghost.  Archer Avenue crosses straight through Willow Springs.  There is so much ghost history in this place it might as well be fucking Twin Peaks.  They even have a haunted coffee shop, Ashbary Coffee House, right next to the forest preserve. More cemeteries than you can trip over, that's Willow Springs. And it has some weird and interesting homes.  Willow Springs, a south west suburb is where they filmed Highway. It so looks like it should be haunted, that it actually is. For ghosts, this is their Wilmette. The best fucking real estate. Rez Mary is like their celebrity ghost.  So anyway, the song Highway, about her, video filmed on location, for me this forever attaches the band to her history, Solemn Meant Walks. So, they got a CD release party coming up with Eve Black at Underground Lounge, Friday 18 January. It is so perfect that these two bands play together the same gig. Everyone knows each other, has history. It has been a long journey that I have no idea. SMW is Ami's passion project. Andrew is the drummer. He's done drums for the band Conflict and he teaches drums. Some of his students have become successful in their bands. The videos for her song Said The Night she has directed. They filmed it guerilla style at House On The Rock. Their video adds to the trippy wonder of the place. Its very interesting how they filmed it. It's an acid trip/tour and Ami is your tour guide.  The BTS would be an interesting story indeed, and its something only they can really say. Indeed let them tell you the story behind Highway.....they are the coolest people.  I would say their music is at the pace but more guitar leaning than Switchblade Symphony. They are lie comfortably between Breath Of Life and Collection d'Arnell-Andrea. Its exactly the shit I would like to dance some fantasy metaphorical dark gothic dance floor. They are coming out with new music along with Eve Black and its something I would like people to go see.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Bad Signs

I maybe caught like the last 3 songs and then I bought the CD Black Magic Moments. Its 9 tracks of fucking wow! The Bad Signs came with Ringo Deathstarr. Lightfoils opened the show at Chop Shop. They are from Nashville. They have already been featured in Noisy.  They were founded by members of the punk band the Blacklist Royals and fronted by country singer Samantha Harlow.  All the crayons that I was going to use on my coloring book of original and spot on descriptions are pretty much used. The store shelves are empty but everything but the most generic black. All the brands with references to Tarantino, Nick Cave, and I think David Lynch were used to describing The Bad Signs. Hmm, so I guess here I can chew on why. They are the three fucking kings of cool...with very different signatures of it that are present in the music of The Bad Signs. Its no accident that two of these names are film directors. The songs are perfect for storytelling, being in a soundtrack for some kind of Nick Cage cult movie. It was a matter of seconds that while reading and researching for this great band that I saw all three of these names used to describe them. And I absolutely agree.  I'm suddenly wanting to see Wild at Heart, Blue Velvet in one end of the spectrum and Pulp Fiction, True Romance and Death Proof. There may not ever be films with music from this band, I mean what are the odds. Imagine discovering the soundtrack to Grease without ever seeing the movie, or knowing there was a movie with it. Such is

that noir gravitational pull. Immediately they evoke in strong American noir colors, they paint you the picture you want to be in. They paint for you in sound the sequence of your best moments. They romanticize without being sappy. You want to be Fonz, but not when he jumped the shark. They are the Fonz after the show was picked up by HBO. When I researched them before seeing them my impression was indifferent to warm. It was actually unfair of me. I was just checking fast enough to dismiss them. That half-ass impression made me just on time to when I was fully ready. Now I can't get enough and marvel that the universe almost let me miss them. Almost....

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Eve Black, Fauvely, Hobbyist...and then Shimmer

 I planned it like this.......yet even in this plan you must accept that it can all go south. Go to Tonic Room early enough to see Fauvely and then from there go see Rani's new band Eve Black at Martyrs, and then from there bask and finish the night at Shimmer. The venues were a short drive away in the same fucking North side. Seeing Hobbyist in between them was completely accidental.  And I need time with them....but wow were they crazy! As soon as Fauvely was done and I can say hi and talk with them, then I would be on my marry fucking way to see Eve Black.  And so it almost happened.
  Second Tuesday means Philly and Sarah have their monthly shoegaze night. This was ambitious and fun thing to try, seeing all these shows and finishing the night dancing to shoegaze. Shimmer is this comfortable space. I understand Slippery Slope reverts to it's natural state on other days but when its Shimmer, its for me.  Its special and it would feel way more coming in from all them shows.
  To my warped German Expressionist memory I was going dump all these fucking events and make sense.....    Yeah...that Rani.....from Resistor... Dream House...Girl Detective. I fascinates me to no fucking end that I can call Rani and Sophie friends. Seriously? Let me just stay in this fucking universe as a stray black cat.  And in this German Expressionist world of course Rani and Sophie are friends.  Let me tell you how small the fucking world is.  Its gonna shrink to a familiar neighborhood.  Resistor's last performance was Fauvely with Dorsia!
  Eve Black is her new band...Rani's. I've been a Siouxsie fan since high school, but I was not familiar with all her music. I did not explore any further than what I knew and was familiar with. I was not into seeing cover bands. In comes Rani, she starts Dream House and it was impacting. I had to confront this dislike for Cover bands.  I mean here comes this friend, I'm a fan of ......hers and she's crossing all these wires that I kept apart, and its fascinating...... I was reintroduced to Siouxsie and all her music that I knew and did not know as much about. It was fascinating because her own voice for Girl Detective is different from her Siouxsie voice and yet they are both authentically hers.
  Girl Detective sounds to Mono, remember Mono? They got that one song into the Great Expectations soundtrack, Life In Mono. Then add to that, Mira, this Projekt band from around 2005. Sorry, trying to genuinely pin down how Rani sounded with her old band. I was angry at myself for missing so many Girl Detective shows and Solemn Meant Walks shows.....that becomes relevant...this is how I tie it in. SMW is my friend Ami's band. And she played guitar for these Siouxsie gigs. I went to a number of them. I got to see and I got to know these friends.  I missed their shows, but now they are friends and that is way cool. The mystery remains for me...where the fuck was I when they was playin'......
  Fauvely has been getting written about a lot....and I fucking love that. I am curious as to what the wider world thinks of this band I like. It's a window out of my own bubble....alright, a filtered window.  Its great to see others give this band that attention. "oh really,  you like Fauvely" fucking tell, please. Fauvely  showed there is real strength in being vulnerable, self critical...even sad with their first EP Watch Me Over Complicate This. The live gigs were great because they were so different from each other, revealing living sides to each song. The band was still figuring itself out. If the music that you chose to listen to as the soundtrack of your best moments then surely it must matter this.........There was an evolution that I observed with each show.  I have seen Sophie's Fauvely in small venues like DC Torium and at Empty Bottle.  Most recently, just casually in the space under Subt's. I think I have seen more than a few at Empty Bottle.  She has played a lot lately because she is promoting her newest 8 track Tides, and wow! She is also playing new songs I think that have yet to be recorded.  I gotta say, I am into this! Tides is bold, dramatic.  It takes off sprinting uphill on rough country.  Its way different from Watch Me. is not unrecognizable from it. It's still Fauvely.  As much as Tides is about her roots in Savannah. Fauvely still had to be a Chicago creation and I am fucking cool with that.  

  So these two band are playing the same night, but at different times.  Eve Black will play last at Martyrs which means Fauvely will play before somewhere.  I walked in time to catch some of the set of Fauvely. Hi, Sophie! You know this know I must come off like a trekkie know, Jon Lovitz with the ears...trying to talk to William Shatner. I always feel on the edge of making it awkward.  The other side of that is I do feel at relative ease around them, they are all cool people. Hi, Scott! It felt good to have the time in between shows. I was not intending to even stay for the next band, but I knew for sure that I would not be into what was before Rani so I dragged my feet. It just seemed weird to not stay so soon after seeing Fauvely. Still I remember stepping out. Then, I wandered back in...I mean yeah....take a piss, tie your shoes, soak the place in. The stage of Tonic Room is just is. It was my first time at the place.  This foggy German Expressionist memory has me sitting next to Sophie when Hobbyist begin their set.  Originally I was just coming back in to take a piss, kill time, but certainly not intending to stay and see who is next....and she tells me to sit down, and I do like a good little Zig. And then now...Hobbyist drops a brick wall of awesome...we're not at Eve Black yet. I'm listening to Soulless Lies now and I need a fucking moment.  That is just one song from their self-titled 2013 release.  In seeing this and while seeing this, I had to step back and see how fulfilled was the night already, how abundant it was with these wonderful moments. These are not artists I get to see from a distance. Their struggle to exist as such is like salmon swimming against the current. So Hobbyist has to have their own post. Here I have them as my first time seeing them. And I saw them by accident after Fauvely. So now I say bye to my friends for real this time. It turns out, Rani knows Hobbyist, had them at Resistor.
Martyrs is a venue I rarely see myself go. Its not deliberate. I actually don't know why. Its way up there on Lincoln Ave. There is a band still playing before Rani. Damn, I was real lucky to stay at Tonic. So now I actually have time to wander around... hi, Rani! Guess who else I just saw.....and now finally.....wait, washroom first. Alright now, we are ready for Eve Black.

They keep reminding me of This Ascension, goth rock/ethereal. Also, Autumn, Changelings....Solemn Meant Walks . They are also goth rock with a heavy ethereal presence. This is kind of where Eve Black sounds to me. I like the two downloadable songs The New Horizon, To Breathe Again.  I was genuinely into every song they played. They have a show coming up 18 January, a Friday with Solemn Meant Walks at Underground Lounge!! Martyrs is more of a regular place. Its around the same size as Empty Bottle.  This was a long time coming, Eve Black, Rani's new band. You get hints of how great it will be, little confirmations that present themselves along the way. I was already into Girl Detective. Naturally I'm at least curious, if not inclined.  So when it does come around, on a Shimmer Tuesday, with Fauvely and Hobbyist....this is a constellation of starry moments that I shall put together as something to remember.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Spaces Of Disappearance

  Elaine from Spaces of Disappearance sang as Courtney Love to cover some songs from Hole. This cover band included Adele from Axons and I could be wrong but I think Danielle from Impulsive Hearts was in the band as well but she could have been just in the audience. I forgot the name of the place. This night, near Halloween in this fucking place I forgot....bands get to do covers. Before Elaine belted out her best Courtney. It was a real effort for her I think she said, to have to do that vocal range all the time.  Her regular singing voice is smooth and clear.  I only had a casual awareness of Courtney Love, never really dug into her music. It's not because I would not like it. I knew I would. The hype around her felt like familiarity. That makes you not get around it until some friend of yours dress up like her and cover some songs with her friends.     There was a band covering Portishead. They were fucking good.  Elaine had her Courtney Love look down. I saw more than a touch of Daisy Chain Saw era Katie Jane, but that would have to be intentional on Elaine's part therefore I was over thinking her effortless costume. This Halloween themed event was supposed to be at The Mutiny, but they are unfortunately closing. So they moved it to some place on Fullerton way west, just past Pulaski I think. I forgot the name of the place, but it seemed to have a space for the locals and a back room for the shows. The building itself was old as shit. Was once owned by a burlesque star, I think. The place has history. I wasn't knowing this when I was walking in. Adele's husband told me. He's cool too. He was there this night. In shows I would go to see anywhere in Chicago, if I saw Elaine, there was Danielle and Adele somewhere around. They all got their own bands. I see all three of them hanging around together all the time during shows. This is what my German Expressionist memory can narrative down. Frontwoman Fest was on them. And through that funnel I saw so fucking much. I think that was how I saw Impulsive Hearts the first time. Elaine would play a few of these. Elaine's Spaces has crisp original yet resonant beats and synth. I would place her in the company of Fee Lion, Pixel Grip, Sexy Fights. They are very original and resonant in what they do. And this is what Elaine is as well with her band Spaces. She weaves a clear texture of sound even when the beat alone is slow. The texture holds you down and has you follow willingly. I call it a texture....I have no better word for how she puts it all together, but there it is. The common thing with all her music is that it hits that urge to dance like it's a gag reflex. Each differently.
  Where ever she goes, her music will carve her out a welcomed home. These friends of mine, I am lucky to have. So is you is telling me these here three are my friends....shut up and don't fuck this up....that is a choral chant that is on mesmerizing repeat whenever my radar scans them together. Adele, Danielle and Elaine. So here we were in that venue that replaced The Mutiny.  There was an urgency to go see this show because I saw a FB post with a picture of all three. They were posting a picture of them after band practice. I thought it was the actual show, and I thought I missed it. I go to this one with greater urgency thinking it was a second gig. But I made it.....yay!! These friends of mine are musicians and I think their music should be known. Its culture they create that make where they live an awesome place to go. They create and they help others do the same....and then they let me hang around them like some lucky stray cat. That such people exist, yeah that part is easy to believe. They let me hang around them, that there is the incredible part.