WBEZ | Music http://www.wbez.org/news/music Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en R. Kelly headlines another festival—and prompts another controversy http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-03/r-kelly-headlines-another-festival%E2%80%94and-prompts-another-controversy <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Kelly_0.jpg" title="" /></div><p>R. Kelly, the ever-controversial &ldquo;Pied Piper of R&amp;B,&rdquo; has been booked to headline another major regional music fest&mdash;<a href="http://www.fpsf.com/">the Free Press Summer Festival in Houston</a>&mdash;and he&rsquo;s being met by another controversy as members of the local music community protest his inclusion atop the early-June bill<em><strong>.</strong></em></p><p>As <em>The Chicago Sun-Times </em>documented over a decade of reporting, and as <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-07/timeline-life-and-career-r-kelly-107973">WBEZ recapped when Kelly was tapped to headline the Pitchfork Music Festival two summers ago</a>, the superstar singer and producer consistently abused his position of wealth and fame to pursue illegal sexual relationships with underage girls, leaving dozens of ruined lives in this city&rsquo;s African-American community.</p><p>Kelly was acquitted in 2008 in a case that focused on narrow charges of making child pornography, but &ldquo;not guilty&rdquo; doesn&rsquo;t mean &ldquo;innocent,&rdquo; and the controversy over dozens of civil lawsuits filed by underage girls lingers.</p><p>Part of an attempt to salvage his career by reaching out to a young, mostly white, and vaguely &ldquo;alternative&rdquo; audience, Kelly&rsquo;s performances at Pitchfork, Bonnaroo, and Coachella in the summer of 2013 caused little controversy. However, after Chicago music journalist Jessica Hopper questioned this blogger about the ramifications of cosigning Kelly&rsquo;s music if one hates Kelly&rsquo;s misdeeds <a href="http://blogs.villagevoice.com/music/2013/12/read_the_stomac.php">in a <em>Village Voice </em>article that went viral that December</a>, many music lovers began to rethink their positions on the artist, as well as on others such as Woody Allen and Bill Cosby.</p><p>Last July, when Kelly was booked to headline the Fashion Meets Music Festival in Columbus, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2014-07/columbus-cans-r-kelly-110568">the Ohio music community rose up in opposition and eventually forced the promoters to cancel his appearance.</a> Some Texans are hoping the sponsors of the Houston fest, <a href="http://www.freepresshouston.com/">a monthly alternative print publication and Website</a>, will do the same.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/freepresssumfest.png" style="height: 235px; width: 640px;" title="" /></div><p><a href="http://www.girlsrockhouston.org/">Girls Rock Camp Houston</a> is leading the attack, which includes <a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cancel-R-Kelly-at-FPSF-2015/1038039909543996?sk=info&amp;tab=page_info">a Facebook page</a> and the petition posted below. Response on Twitter and other forums has been considerable, and opponents already have met with the promoters once, reporting that &ldquo;the lines of dialog are open and ongoing.&rdquo; Their cause also is garnering local media attention from rival publications <a href="http://www.houstoniamag.com/arts-and-entertainment/on-the-town/articles/backlash-grows-against-r-kellys-free-press-appearance-march-2015">Hustonia</a> and <a href="http://blogs.houstonpress.com/rocks/2015/02/sizing_up_the_fspf_2015_lineup.php">Houston Press</a>.</p><p>According to the activists&rsquo; petition, Kelly is &ldquo;a pedophile indicted on 21 counts of child pornography [who] has filmed video footage of himself engaging in sexual acts with underage girls&mdash;teenage girls he would prey on outside of their gospel choir class at Kenwood Academy in Chicago&mdash;leaving long lasting emotional and psychological trauma&hellip; The girls of Chicago are the girls of Houston, and they matter&hellip; R. Kelly should not be able to continue to profit from performances that glorify his persona of sexual predator.&rdquo;</p><p>The promoters response to date? <em>Free Press</em> publisher Omar Afra told Houstonia, &ldquo; &ldquo;We&rsquo;re pretty much in the listening stage right now. We never preclude dialogue. If somebody&rsquo;s got a concern, we&rsquo;re here to hear that.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/11018858_1038048059543181_2556214920745120257_n.jpg" title="" /><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast or stream </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></div></p> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 10:26:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-03/r-kelly-headlines-another-festival%E2%80%94and-prompts-another-controversy Fall in love again with Alison Moyet http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-03/fall-love-again-alison-moyet-111640 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AlisonMoyet1.jpg" style="height: 301px; width: 640px;" title="" /></div><p>The occasional and exceptional celebration of a Patricia Arquette aside, popular culture&rsquo;s tendency to discount female artists once they hit the second third of their lives and careers is despicable, and it leads to missing far too much great art. Case in point: The resurgent voice of &rsquo;80s synth-pop icon Alison Moyet, who thundered back from the theatrical stage into the pop realm with a brilliant album called <em>The Minutes </em>in 2013, and who provides as strong a career recap and argument for a renewed celebration of her musical accomplishments as can be imagined with the recent concert set <em>Minutes and Seconds&mdash;Live</em>.</p><p>Moyet always has had a powerful, boundlessly emotional voice much more impressive than more celebrated and younger Brit phenoms like Adele and Amy Winehouse. And rather than reveling in retro poses, the Essex native always has employed her incredible instrument via a forward-thinking approach that represents the perfect merger of woman and machine, synths and soul. On this 13-track live set, the 53-year-old singer choose gems from throughout her 30-year catalog, returning at some points to her Yaz roots (but with added depth and maturity) while elsewhere reverse-engineering more recent material recorded with a traditional band&mdash;&ldquo;reworking organic songs into a programmed format rather than the other way around and sparing me the niggling suspicion that I was in danger of inhabiting my own tribute act,&rdquo; as she&rsquo;s said.</p><p>The result is a seductive, infectious, and unforgettable testament from a pop presence who is as vital now as she was when we first heard her.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/p0NjxQ5cdAg" width="560"></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Moyet%20cover.jpg" style="height: 450px; width: 450px;" title="" /></div><p><strong>Alison Moyet,<em> Minutes and Seconds&mdash;Live </em></strong><strong>(Cooking Vinyl)</strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the 4-star scale: 3.5 stars.</strong></p><p><em>Follow me on Twitter </em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike></em></strong><strong><em>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em>, join me on </em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em>, and podcast or stream </em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em>.</em></p></p> Mon, 02 Mar 2015 06:17:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-03/fall-love-again-alison-moyet-111640 I hated, hated, hated, hated, hated this movie http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-02/i-hated-hated-hated-hated-hated-movie-111610 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/la-et-mn-whiplash-review-20141010.jpg" style="height: 427px; width: 640px;" title="Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons in 'Whiplash.'" /></div><p>&ldquo;So, what did you think of <em>Whiplash?</em>&rdquo;</p><p>As a drummer, as a music critic, and as a sometimes curator of great films about music (via the occasional <em>Sound Opinions </em>movie nights), it&rsquo;s a logical question to toss my way, and I started getting it long before J.K. Simmons took home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor Sunday night, when the film began its limited art-house run last fall. My answer, then as now:</p><p>I hated, hated, hated, hated, hated this movie.</p><p>I do not invoke my heroic former colleague Roger Ebert&rsquo;s infamous assessment of <em>North </em>lightly. While I never discussed that review with him, <a href="http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/north-1994">it should be obvious to anyone who reads it</a> that his problems with the 1994 movie go far deeper than what he calls a lapse in director Rob Reiner&rsquo;s usual skills as a filmmaker&mdash;&ldquo;To call it manipulative would be inaccurate; it has an ambition to manipulate, but fails&rdquo;&mdash;striking at the core theme that parents should slavishly dote on their child prodigy or face dire consequences. The notion that any child would &ldquo;lightly separate from their [loving but human] parents&rdquo; is what really prompted Ebert to declare that he &ldquo;hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like [the movie], hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it.&rdquo;</p><p>So it is with me and <em>Whiplash.</em></p><p>While Simmons is undeniably impressive playing a brutal fascist even more monstrous than the character he portrayed in <em>Oz</em> crossed with a drill instructor even more sadistic than the one R. Lee Ermey played in <em>Full Metal Jacket</em>, to think that this man has anything at all to contribute to the act of music-making stretches credulity past the breaking point. This is a film that mistakes excelling in the arts with the competitive mindset that &ldquo;winning isn&rsquo;t everything, it&rsquo;s the <em>only</em> thing&rdquo;&mdash;which ain&rsquo;t even true in sports, at least when they are pursued the way they should be (and shame on any of you Little League coaches who stray from that ideal).</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/simmons%20nazi%20oz.jpg" title="Simmons as a Nazi gangleader in 'Oz.'" /></div><p><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/10/movies/in-whiplash-a-young-jazz-drummer-vs-his-teacher.html?_r=0">As Tony Scott wrote in <em>The New York Times</em></a>: &ldquo;This story of an ambitious young striver and his difficult mentor could easily have been a sports movie, and structurally, it resembles one. There are montages of grueling practice scattered among scenes of tense competition, all of it building toward a hugely suspenseful (but also, to some extent, never in doubt) championship game moment of reckoning.&rdquo; <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/10/20/high-fliers-3">Added Anthony Lane in <em>The New Yorker</em></a><em>:</em> &ldquo;Whether <em>Whiplash</em> tells us much about music, despite a fine rendition of Duke Ellington&rsquo;s &lsquo;Caravan,&rsquo; I&rsquo;m not sure. It&rsquo;s more about power than it is about jazz, and the fetishistic close-ups&mdash;of blood and flying sweat, as well as of tears&mdash;suggest a blend of boot camp, football coaching, and pornography.&rdquo;</p><p>Verisimilitude allegedly was important to writer and director Damien Chazelle, who based Simmon&rsquo;s hard-ass conductor at a New York conservatory on his time with the relentless music teacher who led the Princeton High School Studio Band in New Jersey. He even cast a real drummer, Miles Teller, as the driven jazz student, then made him take several months of lessons to get the playing exactly &ldquo;right.&rdquo; But many, many details are embarrassingly wrong.</p><p>A few of note: the alleged reverence with which Teller&rsquo;s Andrew Neiman holds Buddy Rich (a showboating bully with bountiful chops but little creative genius); the drums and cymbals themselves, which are off-brands that might be seen in a school rehearsal room but certainly not at Lincoln Center; all of that blood (only a drummer who doesn&rsquo;t really know how to play or hold his sticks would spray those geysers of gore all over his cymbals), and, most importantly, the story that provides the central metaphor for the film and the justification for Simmons hurling a folding chair at his student, WWE-style.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/whiplash%20bloody%20sticks.jpg" title="" /></div><p>As noted by many jazz historians (<a href="http://www.newyorker.com/culture/richard-brody/whiplash-getting-jazz-right-movies">here</a> and <a href="http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2014/10/11/whiplash_charlie_parker_and_the_cymbal_what_the_movie_gets_wrong_about_genius.html">here</a>, to cite just two examples), Papa Jo Jones never threw a Zildjian at Charlie Parker&rsquo;s head with the aim of decapitating him; he tossed a cymbal at Bird&rsquo;s feet to playfully &ldquo;gong&rdquo; him when the sax giant was lost in a free-flying solo. And flying&mdash;together, in collaboration and communication with others, not in macho moments of solo glory&mdash;is the only reason to play jazz, or indeed, any music. I&rsquo;ve never met any teacher or conductor whose primarily goal isn&rsquo;t to instill that love of music. <a href="http://www.kcet.org/arts/artbound/counties/los-angeles/drummer-peter-erskine-on-whiplash-film.html">Here&rsquo;s jazz drumming great and musical educator Peter Erskine on the subject</a>:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve played under the baton of stern and demanding conductors, as well as the critical ears of some pretty tough bandleaders. I&rsquo;ve always experienced equal amounts of praise and criticism from the toughest of them. A conductor or bandleader will only get good results if he or she shows as much love or enthusiasm as the discipline or toughness they dole out&hellip; I&rsquo;m disappointed that any viewer of the film will not see the joy of music-making that&rsquo;s almost always a part of large-ensemble rehearsals and performances. Musicians make music because they LOVE music. None of that is really apparent in the film, in my opinion.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>Note that Erskine lauds equal measures of love and enthusiasm, discipline and toughness. Innumerable cultural think pieces over the last decade have rightly criticized the millennial-parental mindset of &ldquo;everybody gets a trophy.&rdquo; And Simmons&rsquo; Terence Fletcher deftly skewers the kind of thinking that leads only to universal mediocrity: &ldquo;There are no two words in the English language more harmful than &lsquo;good job.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>In the end, though, Fletcher/Simmons produces a drum machine, not a musician, an artist, or a better human being. Virtuosity and technical excellence devoid of personality and self-expression&mdash;that ineffable quality we call &ldquo;soul&rdquo;&mdash;is meaningless. And because of that, <em>Whiplash</em>, a 106-minute look at the act of making music, ultimately is one of the most anti-music, anti-art films I&rsquo;ve ever seen. So no, &ldquo;hate&rdquo; is <em>not </em>too strong a word.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/7d_jQycdQGo" width="560"></iframe></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/mVt_1lGTUcg" width="560"></iframe></p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast or stream </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Tue, 24 Feb 2015 08:44:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-02/i-hated-hated-hated-hated-hated-movie-111610 Dodos are a rare bird indeed http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-02/dodos-are-rare-bird-indeed-111602 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/dodos-right-size.jpg" title="" /></div><p>Celebrating a decade of swirling, atmospheric sounds based on a unique approach to shoegazing indie-rock, the Dodos sound as passionate as ever on their sixth studio album <em>Individ. </em>Rarely has a band made music this lush and enveloping with such a simple sonic palette: Most songs rely only on Meric Long&rsquo;s dreamy vocals and intricate, semi-acoustic finger-picking and Logan Kroeber&rsquo;s minimalist but colorful drumming. With the exception of an occasional cameo (Brigid Dawson of thee Oh Sees sings on &ldquo;Pattern/Shadow,&rdquo; filling the role here that Neko Case played on <em>No Color </em>in 2011), that&rsquo;s it. But the duo shows no shortage of inspiration in mining these basic ingredients, compensating for the sometimes vague and impressionistic lyrics of songs such as &ldquo;Bubble&rdquo; and &ldquo;Competition&rdquo; with sweet vocal melodies, jangling guitars, and African-inspired rhythms that are never less than enchanting.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/GY_-rTV4Y34" width="560"></iframe></p><p><a href="http://www.lh-st.com/Shows/03-06-2015+The+Dodos"><em>The Dodos perform at Lincoln Hall on March 6.</em></a></p><p><strong>The Dodos, <em>Individ </em>(Polyvinyl)</strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the 4-star scale: 3 stars.</strong></p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike></em></strong><strong><em>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast or stream </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Mon, 23 Feb 2015 06:16:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-02/dodos-are-rare-bird-indeed-111602 Lupe Fiasco gives us another winner, Bjork slightly less so, Father John Misty a pointless hype http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-02/lupe-fiasco-gives-us-another-winner-bjork-slightly-less-so-father-john <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1421815144_012015-Music-The-Rundown-Lupe-Fiasco-Tetsuo-Youth-Album-Cover-Art.jpg" style="height: 253px; width: 450px;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Catching up with some recent reviews on <a href="http://soundopinions.org"><em>Sound Opinions</em></a> that haven&rsquo;t been posted on this blog, the clear winner is <em>Tetsuo &amp; Youth</em>, the fifth album by Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco. Despite his contentious relations with the major-label system and his vacillating convictions about whether he even wants to be part of the hip-hop game, the proudly intellectual (some would say, less kindly, &ldquo;nerdy&rdquo;) artist never has sounded more vital or necessary, giving us a nuanced and humanistic portrait of the joys and troubles of life on the streets&mdash;specifically Chicago&rsquo;s West Side, but it could be any big, segregated American city&mdash;that is all the more powerful for its refusal to pander to gangster clichés. Lupe says more about the problems in America today in a few lines in &ldquo;Deliver&rdquo; than many other rappers and political commentators could say in an hour. (&ldquo;The pizza man don&rsquo;t come here no more/Too much dope/Too many niggas on the porch&hellip; Too many niggas getting shot.&rdquo;) And he rarely skimps on the humor, either&mdash;just try to name another rapper who can so effortlessly name-check Morocco Mole and Secret Squirrel.</div></div><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/1i90DrK5sFk" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong>Lupe Fiasco, </strong><strong><em>Tetsuo &amp; Youth</em></strong><strong> (Atlantic)</strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the 4-star scale: 4 stars.</strong></p><p><a href="http://soundopinions.org/show/479/#lupefiasco"><strong><em>Hear the full review on </em></strong><strong>Sound Opinions.</strong></a></p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Bjork-Vulnicura1.jpg" style="height: 450px; width: 450px;" title="" /></div><p>Meanwhile, the good news for longtime Bjork fans on <em>Vulnicura</em>, her ninth solo album, is that she&rsquo;s passionate again about just making music, following several years of digital tomfoolery and multi-media experimentation with the <em>Biophilia </em>project. The bad news is that, while her vocals are a bit more straightforward and less operatic than on her last few releases, we&rsquo;re still a far cry from the rock fury and pop sweets of her best albums (say, <em>Post, Homogenic</em>, and <em>Vespertine</em>). Then, too, the much of the album tends toward the monochromatic as she ponders the heartbreak from the end of her long romance with American artist Matthew Barney, only really coming to life as she chases the glimmers of hope in songs such as &ldquo;Atom Dance&rdquo; and &ldquo;Mouth Mantra&rdquo; during the last third of the disc.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/J51Fpwu_pnc" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong>Bjork, <em>Vulnicura</em> (One Little Indian)</strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the 4-star scale: 3 stars.</strong></p><p><a href="http://soundopinions.org/show/479/#bjork"><strong><em>Hear the full review on </em></strong><strong>Sound Opinions.</strong></a></p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Misty%20cover.jpg" style="height: 450px; width: 450px;" title="" /></div><p>Finally, for all of the laurels being heaped upon <em>I Love You, Honeybear, </em>the second album since indie-rock veteran and former Fleet Foxes drummer Josh Tillman embarked on his fabled West Coast psychedelic odyssey and reinvented himself as Father John Misty, the hurdles toward liking much less loving this disc&mdash;the saccharine Laurel Canyon over-production, the at-times plodding rhythms, the allegedly humorous but really passive-aggressive love and loathing (both self-directed and, more troublingly, toward womankind), and the pretentious logorrhea (berating a girl for her malapropisms one minute, pleading &ldquo;Save me white Jesus&rdquo; the next)&mdash;not only prove insurmountable to this listener, but leave him wondering what the hell his fans are hearing that I most certainly am not.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/JODshFyKHuA" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong>Father John Misty, <em>I Love You, Honeybear </em>(Sub Pop)</strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the 4-star scale: 1 star.</strong></p><p><a href="http://soundopinions.org/show/481"><strong><em>Hear the full review on </em></strong><strong>Sound Opinions.</strong></a></p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast or stream </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Wed, 18 Feb 2015 06:33:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-02/lupe-fiasco-gives-us-another-winner-bjork-slightly-less-so-father-john Concert giant Live Nation facing new scrutiny http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-02/concert-giant-live-nation-facing-new-scrutiny-111565 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Live%20Nation%20Logo.jpg" style="float: left;" title="" /></div><p>While Live Nation/Ticketmaster continues to get pretty much anything it wants in Chicago, the giant concert promoter that many have called a monopoly is coming under increased scrutiny elsewhere in the U.S.</p><p>Last week, <em>Washington Post </em>reporter Lydia DePillis wrote a piece <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/02/11/how-live-nation-exploits-low-wage-workers-to-stage-its-rock-concerts/?postshare=6321423761299996">criticizing the company for using independent contractors</a> in a dozen major markets, including Nashville, Memphis, and Atlanta. The contractors are paid as little as $10 an hour to do &ldquo;tricky, dangerous jobs&rdquo; involving staging that might be better overseen by union professionals, albeit at a greater cost. (On Saturday, <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/chi-how-live-nation-exploits-low-wage-workers-20150214-story.html#page=1">the story was reprinted in <em>The Chicago Tribune</em>,</a> which does very little original reporting on the company&rsquo;s local operations.)</p><p>&ldquo;At an event run by the biggest concert promoter in the industry&mdash;Live Nation, with its hefty fees on tickets for concertgoers&mdash;the contrast is jarring&rdquo; and possibly dangerous, DePillis wrote. She went on:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;In the entertainment industry, the main union representing backstage labor&mdash;the 122,000-strong International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE)&mdash; worries the model might expand further, driving down salaries and cutting the number of hours available for their members&hellip;</p><p>&ldquo;This week, the union is going to start making some noise on the issue with the ultimate customer&mdash;concertgoers.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>&nbsp;Live Nation/Ticketmaster&rsquo;s labor relations have not drawn criticism in Chicago to date, though many of its other business practices have, from heavy-handed treatment of competitors, to poor customer service and egregious ticket fees.</p><p>The company, which counts Mayor Emanuel&rsquo;s brother Ari among the members of its board of directors, has a long-term contract here for the 30,000-capacity Northerly Island concert venue, and it now owns a controlling interest in Lollapalooza. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-02/emanuel-cashes-big-lakefront-concerts-111486http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-02/emanuel-cashes-big-lakefront-concerts-111486">As this blog recently reported</a>, the mayor has accepted campaign donations from top Live Nation and Lollapalooza executives, despite his pledge not to take money from city contractors, and he broke a promise to ask for an independent negotiator to deal with those companies during his first term.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/venue-1150.jpg" style="height: 200px; width: 640px;" title="The Greek Theatre in L.A. (www.greektheatrela.com)" /></div></div><p>Meanwhile, Live Nation/Ticketmaster also is under fire in Los Angeles, where the City Council voted to oppose its bid to run the historic Greek Theatre.</p><p><a href="http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-vote-greek-theatre-20150211-story.html">According to <em>The Los Angeles Times</em></a><em>, </em>Live Nation is the choice of the mayor and the parks commission to run the theater currently operated by competing bidders the Nederlander Organization (which once ran Poplar Creek here). &ldquo;But when city lawmakers were asked to weigh in, most disagreed with the decision to choose Live Nation.&rdquo;</p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast or stream </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Mon, 16 Feb 2015 06:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-02/concert-giant-live-nation-facing-new-scrutiny-111565 An impressive sophomore disc straight outta Portland http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-02/impressive-sophomore-disc-straight-outta-portland-111557 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Summer-Cannibals.jpg" title="" /></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m back where I started from,&rdquo; vocalist Jessica Boudreaux sings as sweet backing harmonies flirt with growling guitars and hard-hitting rhythms in the choruses of &ldquo;All It Takes,&rdquo; the opening track on Summer Cannibals&rsquo; <em>Show Us Your Mind. </em>She could be talking about the state of a troublesome relationship, or about the band&rsquo;s roots in the great, grungy tradition of Northwest bands such as the Sonics and the Wipers. Either way, the noise/melody mix is indicative of the quartet&rsquo;s approach on the 11 tracks from its second album, and it&rsquo;s irresistible.</p><p>Named for a track by Patti and Fred &ldquo;Sonic&rdquo; Smith on the 1996 album <em>Gone Again</em>, Boudreaux, Marc Swart, Devon Shirley, and Jenny Logan made their debut with <em>No Make Up </em>in 2013, a promising effort that only hinted at the strength of the songwriting and playing on its follow-up. Like <a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/show/450/#gotagirl">Southern California&rsquo;s beloved Muffs</a>, the pop-meets-garage ethos is hardly innovative. But the wicked wit of the lyrics, the roar of that guitar, and the melodies of sweet &amp; sour confections such as &ldquo;Something New,&rdquo; &ldquo;Summer,&rdquo; &ldquo;Not Your Turn,&rdquo; and the title track are thoroughly addictive.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/LLQNL8oCEVY" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong>Summer Cannibals, <em>Show Us Your Mind </em>(New Moss Records)</strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the 4-star scale: 3.5 stars.</strong></p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike></em></strong><strong><em>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast or stream </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Fri, 13 Feb 2015 06:54:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-02/impressive-sophomore-disc-straight-outta-portland-111557 Numero Group digs deep for 'Cavern Sound' http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-02/numero-group-digs-deep-cavern-sound-111535 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cavern%20sound.jpg" style="height: 456px; width: 450px;" title="" /></div><p>Measured against other historical rock archives devoted to unearthing hidden gems from the fertile period of psychedelic exploration in the late &rsquo;60s and early &rsquo;70s, Numero Group&rsquo;s <em>Local Customs: Cavern Sound </em>is no <em>Nuggets </em>in terms of being truly indispensible, but then few such compilations are. It is, however, easily the equal of, say, the <em>Pebbles </em>series; that is, these groovy period ditties may not be treasures you&rsquo;ll wonder how you ever lived without, but they do make for a pleasant and trippy soundtrack, delivered with the Chicago label&rsquo;s usual loving care toward presentation, annotation, and audio quality.</p><p>The story this time centers on one aptly named recording studio located deep underground in Independence, Missouri&rsquo;s Pixley limestone mine. Cavern Sound was active until the late &rsquo;80s, but <em>Local Customs </em>focuses on 1967-1973, years when the local rock-minded teens, like those across the U.S., were all growing their hair long, dreaming of being the Beatles, and imitating that group&rsquo;s studio innovations and sonic journeys toward the white light, whether or not they actually had the enhancement of psychoactive substances.</p><p>Aesthetic ambitions and a similar time and place aside, two dozen tracks from two dozen bands can make for an inconsistent ride, but when Numero is doing the compiling, the range is still from pretty darn great to slight but fun, with no downright stinkers. Among my highlights: the strutting, horn-augmented &ldquo;Aunt Marie&rdquo; by American Sound Ltd., which somehow makes the 63-year-old titular heroine sound hotter than the contemporary Nancy Sinatra; the sunny but nasty &ldquo;I Don&rsquo;t Really Love You&rdquo; by a band called Sheriff; the rollicking &ldquo;Little by Little&rdquo; from Morningstar, and the Dylan-meets-the Seeds trip of &ldquo;One Day Girl (Twenty-Four)&rdquo; by Burlington Express.</p><p>Tune in, turn it up, and dig deep, and thanks again, Numero.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/HgSSHUMnXn0" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong>Various artists, <em>Local Customs: Cavern Sound</em> (Numero Group)</strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the 4-star scale: 3.5 stars.</strong></p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike></em></strong><strong><em>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast or stream </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Wed, 11 Feb 2015 08:06:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-02/numero-group-digs-deep-cavern-sound-111535 Gretchen Seichrist stuns with new 'Iamlonesomekid' album http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-02/gretchen-seichrist-stuns-new-iamlonesomekid-album-111518 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/lonesomecover.jpeg" style="height: 374px; width: 450px;" title="" /></div><p>&ldquo;How come nobody falls to their knees in worship?&rdquo; Gretchen Seichrist wonders at the end of &ldquo;Hot Feet,&rdquo; one of 10 stunning tracks on the debut album with her new group Thelonesomekid. And she&rsquo;s justified in asking.</p><p>Speaking as someone who resided there for a year or two at two different times, Minneapolis is a place where living can be almost too easy&mdash;an odd thing to say about somewhere that sub-zero temperatures make you feel as if you&rsquo;re on the surface of the moon for several months a year, but true nonetheless, in the sense that the small but supportive artistic community and the chill pace of life in general can be so seductive that a lot of creative people do great work without ever summoning the energy to leave home, barely making noise as far away as Madison or Milwaukee, much less Chicago.</p><p>In the case of a voice as powerful as Seichrist&rsquo;s, that&rsquo;s a damn shame. True, I slept on writing about her prolific outpouring as Patches and Gretchen (six D.I.Y. albums!), despite enthusiastic notices from hometown cheerleaders I respect and her collaboration with my old pal and former bandmate <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-01-19/vortis-diaries-ghosts-bands-past-95654">Devin Hill</a>. The fact is, I liked but never really loved those discs. <em>Iamlonesomekid</em>, the debut by her new band/multi-media project, is a different story.</p><p>Recorded in Water Valley, Mississippi with producers Bronson Tew and Matt Patton (Drive-By-Truckers) and bandmates Christopher Thompson, Jules Daud, Dave Pederson, and Danny Viper, the album finds the singer, songwriter, painter, and performance artist reenergized and recommitting to her unique and alternately seductive and angry merger of art-punk, blues, folk, scatting jazz, and spoken-word poetry. Think of Patti Smith at her most Dylanesque crossed with a less pretentious Karen O or Amanda Palmer and possessed of the pop smarts of Aimee Mann, who happens to be her half-sister. And you&rsquo;re still only partly there.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/PatchesGretchen-625x350.jpeg" title="Gretchen Seichrist." /></div><p>Seichrist is a smart student/pilferer of rock history: You&rsquo;ve gotta love the way the Sonic Youth maelstroms of guitar noise yield to the Stooges-like one-note piano in &ldquo;Funnels&rdquo; and &ldquo;The Heartfelt News.&rdquo; She can also imagine Elvis Presley as a blonde while convincingly delivering a torch song (albeit one more twisted than Bertolt Brecht) in &ldquo;My Bed,&rdquo; or veerx close to pure pop perfection in a ditty such as &ldquo;Baby Me,&rdquo; which only reveals it layers of strange confessions on repeated listens.</p><p>&ldquo;She knows where she&rsquo;s going,&rdquo; the aforementioned Hill said of Seichrist in a <a href="http://www.mprnews.org/story/2010/03/10/gretchen">profile by Chris Roberts for MPR back in 2010</a>. &ldquo;You just have to hold on.&rdquo; Well, with <em>Iamlonesomekid,</em> she&rsquo;s gotten there, and it&rsquo;s a place I can&rsquo;t stop visiting, on album and on the enchanting series of films/videos she&rsquo;s made for each song. Now if only she&rsquo;d hop in the van and head out of the Twin Cities on tour.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/S9AadG1Qn2k" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong>Thelonesomekid, <em>Iamlonesomekid</em> (</strong><a href="http://www.thelonesomekid.com"><strong>www.thelonesomekid.com</strong></a><strong>)</strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the 4-star scale: 4 stars.</strong></p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><strike>@</strike></strong><strong>JimDeRogatis</strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong>Facebook</strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast or stream </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Mon, 09 Feb 2015 07:38:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-02/gretchen-seichrist-stuns-new-iamlonesomekid-album-111518 Screaming Females mature on 'Rose Mountain' http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-02/screaming-females-mature-rose-mountain-111495 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/screamales.jpg" style="height: 450px; width: 450px;" title="" /></div><p>Over the course of a decade-long career that started when they were barely out of high school, force of nature guitarist-vocalist Marissa Paternoster and her formidable rhythm-section bandmates Jarrett Dougherty and King Mike progressed from playing punk-rock basements in and around New Brunswick, N.J., to opening huge shows for Garbage, the Dead Weather, and Arctic Monkeys.</p><p>Paternoster made a <em>Spin </em>list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time&mdash;albeit at No. 77&mdash;and after working with Steve Albini on their last studio album (2012&rsquo;s aptly named <em>Ugly</em>), she and the boys indulged in a move that often signals that a group is running out of steam, releasing a live album (albeit a cool one recorded by Albini at Chicago&rsquo;s Hideout).</p><p>Was it time for Screaming Females to grow up, get a day job, and maybe tone the caterwauling down to a gentle roar? Hardly.</p><p>Longtime fans may be surprised at first by the bigger, bolder, dare we say more polished sounds of <em>Rose Mountain, </em>which was produced by Matt Bayles, best known for working with hipster/n<em>ü</em>-metal bands like Mastodon and the Sword. But as Paternoster said <a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/show/340/#screamingfemales">when the band appeared on <em>Sound Opinions </em>circa <em>Ugly</em></a><em>, </em>she&rsquo;s always admired more ambitious, arty groups like Radiohead and the Smashing Pumpkins, and big, bold melodies were always part of the mix, even if they were buried under layers of garage grunge and overpowered by the trio&rsquo;s trademark ferocity.</p><p>Well, Screamales are still raging&mdash;just listen to those barn-burning riffs in &ldquo;Triumph&rdquo; or &ldquo;Empty Head&rdquo;&mdash;but they&rsquo;re also making the daring move of slowing down some of the rhythms, emphasizing the hooks, and pushing the often more melodic vocals much higher in the mix. Songs such as &ldquo;Wishing Well,&rdquo; &ldquo;Broken Neck,&rdquo; &ldquo;Hopeless,&rdquo; and &ldquo;Rose Mountain&rdquo; are no less potent for the polishing; indeed, they rank with some of the band&rsquo;s best tunes ever.</p><p>More importantly, Paternoster remains a singular and very welcome presence. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m nothing like the others,&rdquo; she sings in the massive chorsus of the title track, and earnest and self-effacing as ever, you know she ain&rsquo;t kidding.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ECIURtpwRnk" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong>Screaming Females, <em>Rose Mountain </em>(Don Giovanni)</strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the four-star scale: 4 stars.</strong></p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong><em><strike>@</strike>JimDeRogatis</em></strong></a><em><strong>, join me on </strong></em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><strong><em>Facebook</em></strong></a><em><strong>, and podcast or stream </strong></em><a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/"><strong>Sound Opinions</strong></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Thu, 05 Feb 2015 07:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2015-02/screaming-females-mature-rose-mountain-111495