Left to right: Nicole, Nikita, Caitlin, Sara and Kristin of the Chicago band Summer Girlfriends. (Dave Rentauskas Photography/Rentauskas.com)
Hate-watching the Grammys is an annual tradition for this pop culture nerd; however, the majority of last night's sham of an award show
was so blatantly awful that I almost didn't make it to the end. In years past, I've reveled in the sheer camp of Nicki Minaj levitating like a demon
or Lady Gaga bursting out of an egg
. This year, I groaned aloud at several key moments ("We Are Young" winning Best Song, Mumford and Sons' Babel
winning Best Album, that god-awful Bob Marley tribute
wasting 10 minutes of my life) and did not find pleasure in them at all.
Chicago has a thriving local music scene with long list of notable alumni (Wilco, Andrew Bird, Kanye West, the Lawrence Arms, White Mystery, the Smith Westerns, Common and the Smashing Pumpkins all got their start here), so chances are good that the show you saw for free at the Empty Bottle
on Monday night could become one of those life-changing experiences you tell your grandchildren about one day.
Local music blog Loud Loop Press
just released their list of 13 Bands to Watch
in 2013, an impressive roster of Chicago talent that immediately sent a ripple of show-going excitement through my friendship circle: "You guys, we need
to see more local bands this year!" However, a number of other buzzworthy artists that didn't make the cut (like the contemporary classic rockers of Vintage Blue
, the hypnotic brass ensemble of Kelan Philip Cohran
and underground hip-hop quartet Typical Cats
) still deserve some spotlight.
Ergo, I present my own list of favorites: a rousing local mix of pop, punk, rap, soul, garage rock, indie folk and groovy psychedelia:
Label: Addenda Records
: The super-fun debut LP Shockwaves
(June 2012) and this Goth Beach Party
Chance the Rapper
"A 19-year-old rap master from Chicago"
Breakthrough: The debut mixtape 10 Day, a title inspired by Chance's 10-day school suspension from Jones College Prep (April 2012).
"We are the children of the forest gods"
Label: Southpaw, HoZac Records
Breakthrough: A sprightly self-titled debut (March 2012), followed by the darker psychedelics of sophomore LP Behind the Mirror (November 2012).
"Band Interests: Morrissey"
Breakthrough: McGill has been a staple of the Chicago music scene for over a decade, but his fifth record Is A Beast (April 2011) was also his first to utilize a full backing band, What Army.
Label: Autumn Tone Records
: The debut LP Remember When
(August 2012) premiered to commercial and critical acclaim
before the band's senior year of high school.
Label: PlusTapes, HoZac Records
: Their infectious self-titled LP (February 2012) was recently selected by AllMusic Blog
as one of the top albums of 2012 to be snubbed on most year-end lists.
"Feel good sad jams"
Label: Count Your Lucky Stars
Breakthrough: Their totally awesome first full length record It's Still Pretty Terrible (July 2012).
Archie Powell & the Exports
Label: Good Land Records
: The band's sophomore full length, Great Ideas in Action
(May 2012), backed by a series of wonderfully inventive music videos