As one of the regular hosts of The Moth here in Chicago (the incomparable Brian Babylon being the other), I like to open the show with a Ken Nordine-inspired piece of word jazz that sets up the theme for the night. All of the stories are required to utilize the theme in the telling so I like to try and cover a multitude of angles tellers can approach.
Jul. 2, 2015
Jun. 28, 2015
Chris Squire, the co-founder of progressive-rock giants Yes, an innovative virtuoso on the bass guitar, a key songwriter for the group, and the one constant member throughout its nearly half-century history, has died of leukemia. He was 67 years old.
Yes has never have gotten much respect from rock critics, and it still isn’t in that wretched and phony Rock and Rock Hall of Fame. But to those of us who loved the group in its prime on record—and I’d put that from the start in 1969 through Tormato in 1978 (with 1971’s Fragile, 1972’s Close to the Edge, and 1977’s Going for the One standing as my choices for unqualified masterpieces)—and into the present onstage, the loss is tremendous. And Yes wasn’t even Squire’s first important band.
Like many of the best British progressive-rockers, Squire first made his mark in the psychedelic-rock scene of 1966 and 1967.
Jun. 24, 2015
Jun. 23, 2015
As Sound Opinions prepares to air its 500th episode originating from WBEZ on Friday, it struck me that some listeners might be interested to learn how it got where it is today, airing on more than 100 public radio stations across the country, and with an average podcast listenership of 50,000 per episode. Or maybe you just want to know, “Who ever thought it was a good idea to let these shmucks on the air?” Either way, you’ll hopefully excuse my self-indulgence in taking a break from the usual fare on this blog to tell the story.
Jun. 15, 2015
Did you miss part 1 of the best spring releases? Find them right here.
As we hit the midway point of 2015, it’s high time to catch up on this blog with some of the finest albums of the year so far—the topic of this week’s episode of Sound Opinions—which I’ve yet to mention here, including two startlingly powerful visionaries, Alicia Bognanno of Bully and Torres, who are mining difficult upbringings to produce cathartic and brilliant music.
Bully, Feels Like (Columbia)
Rating on the 4-star scale: 3.5 stars.
One of my favorite acts at SXSW 2015, Bully has in part been unjustly pigeonholed as ’90s revivalists, despite the fact that frontwoman Bognanno only recently has become aware of many of the alternative-era heroes and heroines people keep citing in comparison.
Jun. 12, 2015
As we hit the midway point of 2015, it’s high time to catch up on this blog with some of the finest albums of the year so far—the topic of this week’s episode of Sound Opinions—which I’ve yet to mention here, starting with the bounty of riches in the worlds of hip-hop, R&B, and neo-soul from Kendrick Lamar, Shamir, and Van Hunt.
Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly (Aftermath)
Rating on the 4-star scale: 3.5.
Though Lamar’s first two albums were by any measure huge critical and commercial successes, they left me cold, with too many of the violent and misogynistic stereotypes that plague mainstream hip-hop.
Jun. 9, 2015
Like Kanye West and every other Chicago hip-hop superstar, Chancelor Bennett didn’t hone his craft in a vacuum before breaking nationwide. But the dedicated individualist and diehard independent has been much quicker—and a lot more generous—in turning his spotlight on his musical compadres and the scene that produced him.
And so, before he’s even dropped his first proper album (that is, if you consider 2013’s Acid Rap his second mixtape instead of a proper album, and I’m not sure I do), we’ve gotten the gift of Surf from Donnie Trumpet & the Social Experiment, released for free via iTunes on May 28, and already closing in on a million downloads.