Monthly Archives: October 2014

Chicago Humanities Fest Pick: Rene Marie at Francis W. Parker School (November 4, 2014)

Rene Marie at Francis W. Parker School (November 4, 2014)
Poised to explode on the national scene, René Marie brings her infectious jazz stylings to a rare Chicago appearance with her trio. Fresh off her acclaimed album I Wanna Be Evil (With Love to Eartha Kitt), she pays homage in this program to the fiery chanteuse with sensual and clever interpretations of Kitt’s diverse repertoire and favorites from the Great American Songbook.

Courtney Barnett and San Fermin with Mikhael Paskalev at Metro (October 27, 2014)

Courtney Barnett

She is an Australian singer-songwriter and guitarist from Melbourne. Known for her witty, rambling lyrics and deadpan singing style,[1] she attracted attention from the North American and UK music press in October 2013[2] with the release of her debut full-length recording and well-received performances at the CMJ Music Marathon. At the latter event, Barnett was mentioned by both Rolling Stone[3] and The New York Times[4] as a standout performer.

San Fermin

The band is the work of Brooklyn composer and songwriter Ellis Ludwig-Leone. His self-titled debut album is strongly influenced by his unique background in classical music, which includes a job assisting composer/arranger Nico Muhly.

After finishing his musical studies at Yale, Ludwig-Leone wrote the album in six weeks while holed up in a studio on the mountainous border between Alberta and British Columbia. He focused on lifeʼs top-shelf issues – youth, nostalgia, anxiety, unrequited love – and tied these vast themes to different characters through vocal contributions from longtime friend Allen Tate, as well as Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of Lucius.

Mikhael Paskalev

His music is pop with roots in indie and alternative country rock. Inspired by names such as Paul Simon, The Shins, Edward Sharpe, the Mamas and the Papas and the Everly brothers. Paskalevs set is dynamic and varies from songs accompanied only by his nylon-strung guitar, to a six-piece band with the occasional trumpet and a circus of energy. The songs are mainly recognized by the instrumentation and the strong melodies, at times shamelessly catchy, but never leaves a lovely and raw soundscape.

Pick of Next Week: Tribal Seeds with Ballyhoo! and Beyond I Sight featuring Gonzo at Bottom Lounge (October 24, 2014)

Tribal Seeds with Ballyhoo! and Gonzo & Beyond I Sight at Bottom Lounge (October 24, 2014)

Tribal Seeds

From San Diego, California, award-winning reggae group Tribal Seeds have become known for their spiritually driven, refreshing rock vibe they have infused with the roots style of reggae music. Originally started by two brothers, Steven Rene Jacobo (lyrics, vocals, guitar) and Tony-Ray Jacobo (producer, keyboards, vocals). Tribal Seeds now boasts six members, including: Carlos Verdugo (drums), Victor Navarro (bass), E.N Young (keyboards, vocals) & Ryan Gonzo (guitar, vocals).


A rock band with punk energy and pop reggae grooves, Baltimore’s BALLYHOO! are a fun, fan-loving powerhouse. These road dogs have tirelessly toured coast-to-coast taking their music to the people. Between the road and the studio, BALLYHOO! have crafted a sound distinctly their own; fresh, fun, and embodied by the soul of the party lifestyle. Lead singer and guitarist, Howi Spangler, has a reputation for mixing slick lyrics with his smooth but powerful voice. Drummer Donald Spangler lays out the hard-hitting beats. Scott Vandrey layers in the finishing touches to the band’s signature sound on keys. The band recently welcomed Nick Lucera as their new bass player.

Beyond I Sight featuring Gonzo

Composed of seven of Southern California’s most talented reggae musicians hailing from various parts of Orange County and Los Angeles, Beyond I Sight has quickly risen to the top of the roots reggae scene. Deep bass lines and strict drums layered with tight skanks, rich keyboard layers and dub heavy horn lines are the foundation of this groups uniquely innovative sound. Combined with the smooth vocal styling of front man Ryan Gonzo (former guitarist/singer of Fortunate Youth, current guitarist/singer of Tribal Seeds), Beyond I Sight has emerged as a roots force to be reckoned with.

Pick of the Week: The Airborne Toxic Event with In the Valley Below at Vic Theatre (October 18, 2014)

The Airborne Toxic Event with In the Valley Below at Vic Theatre (October 18, 2014)

The Airborne Toxic Event

The Airborne Toxic Event is an American indie rock band from Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California. It consists of Mikel Jollett (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Steven Chen (guitar, keyboards), Adrián Rodríguez (electric bass, backing vocals), Daren Taylor (drums) and Anna Bulbrook (violin, keyboard, tambourine, backing vocals). The band released its debut self-titled album in 2008 and released its follow-up album, All at Once, on April 26, 2011.

Named after a section in Don DeLillo‘s novel White Noise, the group is known for its blend of rock music and orchestral arrangements, having performed frequently with the Calder Quartet, a string quartet based in Los Angeles. The group has also played concerts with the Louisville Orchestra and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.

In the Valley Below

Vocalist Angela Gail puts it frankly: In The Valley Below make “mostly music that we would want to listen to,” an honest and unapologetic statement from the Los Angeles duo, rounded out by vocalist/guitarist Jeffrey Jacob. In The Valley Below is hushed swirls of male and female vocals forged with dark stories of brooding riddles and romance. Jeffrey grew up in the storied musical town of Memphis, given a guitar at the age of 13 and creating music from that point forward. Angela left the binding depths of a “mostly cold and cloudy town in Michigan,”. In The Valley Below was created when these two found each other, having crossed paths in artistic circles after they separately made their way to Los Angeles. The duo honed their craft together, using faithful archetypes as their inspiration, “Our biggest inspiration is powerful subjects like sex, crime and religion. And how that fits into the lives we’ve chosen, our dreams and struggles, mistakes and heartbreaks.”

Tuesday Pick! Betty Who, Joywave, and Great Good Fine Ok at House of Blues (October 14, 2014)

Betty Who

Australian-born pop singer Betty Who makes vivacious yet bittersweet music that calls to mind divas such as Whitney Houston, Robyn, and Katy Perry. Born Jessica Anne Newham in Sydney, she began playing cello, piano, and guitar as a child, and moved to America with her parents when she was a teenager to attend the Interlochen Center for the Arts performing arts school. She then went to the Berklee College of Music for more training as a cellist, but really wanted to focus on being a singer/songwriter (she began performing her own songs at age 16). While at Berklee, she met producer Peter Thomas, and the pair began writing and recording material together. Drawing inspiration from the songwriting skills of Joni Mitchell and Carole King and the epic synth pop of M83 and MGMT, they came up with a sound that was equally nostalgic and contemporary on songs like “Somebody Loves You,” which Who wrote shortly after Houston’s death. The song became the first single from Who’s self-released debut EP, The Movement, which arrived in April 2013. ~ Heather Phares, Rovi


Joywave is an American indie rock band from Rochester, New York, consisting of members Daniel Armbruster (vocals), Joseph Morinelli (guitar), Sean Donnelly (bass), Benjamin Bailey (keyboards), and Paul Brenner (drums).[1] The band is best known for its collaboration with electronic music project Big Data, “Dangerous“, which peaked at number one on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart. Also achieving considerable popularity is Joywave’s “Tongues”, featuring KOPPS; as of July 2014, the official music video had surpassed 150,000 views on YouTube.[2] The song has also reached over 850,000 plays on SoundCloud and has been featured on FIFA 15.[3]

Great Good Fine Ok

Just two days ago we posted about Blood Cultures, a mysterious new act with little if none biography available. And today comes yet another; “You’re The One For Me” is the debut of the faceless Brooklyn duo Great Good Fine Ok, a band name that undeniably carries a positive vibe. And so does their music. Their sound is a pinwheel of glistering synthesizers and beautiful falsetto vocals that come ready-made with earwormy hooks satiated on happy pills. But fascinatingly, this joyous mix of maximalist synth-pop and R&B is juxtaposed by a weird but thought-provoking video of a woman making a bizarre sandwich of every ingredient imaginable. The video, directed by The Wild Honey Pie, do raise some important questions, but I leave does up to you. -

Saturday’s Pick: Delta Spirit with Peter Matthew Bauer at Vic Theatre (October 11, 2014)

Delta Spirit
An American indie rock band from San Diego/Long Beach/Orange County California. They previously lived in Brooklyn, New York but recently moved to Texas. Delta Spirit is most known for their intense live performances, their congregational song writing, and their driving rhythms.
Peter Matthew Bauer
Peter spent 13 years as a member of The Walkmen, the beloved NYC band, which has now run its course. “We’re all friends,” says Bauer. “But it was time to call it a day.”
At whatever level you choose to listen, the new record stands proudly on its own, a roundabout life story couched in a dynamic blend of soulful balladry, folk-tinged meditations, and full-bore rock & roll. Written and realized in Utrecht during a bout of insomniac wanderlust

Pick of the Week: Nonpronto and Ness at Tonic

Nonpronto with Ness at Tonic Room (October 10, 2014)

1. Nonpronto

Nonpronto is a piano driven power trio from Chicago.  “Pop jazz akin to something like Bublé hit by Fun, co-written by Cullum and Levine.” —AllAboutJazz Free MP3 of the Day

2. Ness

With revelatory lyrics, whimsical melodies, and the authenticity of Motown, Ness breathes Soul like fire into every Mic he wields like magic. Sharing his journey on the uphill battle of Life, Ness spreads a message of hope, logic, optimism, kingship, loss & love.