Posts Tagged ‘Chicago’

Basic Cable

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

I’m Good to Drive LP
Permanent Records, 2013

There are a number of higher profile groups pulling from the AmRep handbook of knuckle-dragging pigfuck noise rock, but this Chicago unit (with members of Heavy Times, Loose Dudes, and Running) plows deeper and harder with a dose of dark humor that draws a line of influence from groups like Scratch Acid to Mudhoney to Tractor Sex Fatality. Featuring vocals that oscillate from David Yow-style mumbling lunacy to full-throttled Mark Arm wails, backed with the lowbrow gut-punch of Tractor Sex Fatality, Basic Cable delivers the goods in a manner that won’t get them pixel plastered throughout the blogosphere. Heartily recommended for those with refined tastes for the unrefined.



Basic Cable on Bandcamp
Permanent Records

Lore City

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013

Absence & Time CD

Last spring when this album was released it was easy to escape the pull of this haunting disc. Now, as the last leaves fall and the palette of midwestern life is reduced to lifeless grays and browns, the soothing ache of Absence & Time is nearly impossible to ignore. There’s a sparseness and detached cool to Lore City that’s really seductive, as well as the sustained atmospheric haze that weaves through the 8 tracks on this Chicago duo’s debut. But there’s also an edge to what Lore City does that keeps them interestingly intense where most bands would be content to reflexively play by heart without pushing the envelope in any real way. With a monolithic, plodding pace that swells with occasional wave of exhilaration, Lore City has found a sound that fits somewhere between the preciousness of Zola Jesus, the warmth of Low and the severity of Swans. While the shock of Laura Mariposa’s haunting voice escalating to shrieking visceral growls is a bit unnerving, the deliberate manner by which they’ve inserted this texture into their sound gives Absence & Time depth and an experimental bite that refuses to be ignored.

Official Lore City website


Saturday, December 24th, 2011

43 10″
ActionBoy 300, 1995

A number of great bands in the ’90s were unfairly dismissed as Fugazi clones, and this suburban Chicago group might be the best example of just how great some of these groups could be. Gauge was a young band, which may have kept them from getting the respect they deserve, but they toured hard and put out a body of work that’s well worth a listen, especially this 6-song EP, their final release. Gauge definitely took some inspiration from Fugazi and the dynamic punch of early emo/post-hardcore, but their sound was distinct with throaty vocals and an earnest, utilitarian method of achieving a dramatic punch. At times they’re tense and gnarled, while other times hushed and subdued, offering a slightly math-rock inspired take on what Boys Life and Christie Front Drive were doing around the same time. If you dig this, you’ll also want to check out some of the bands that sprung from Gauge, like Traluma, Haymarket Riot and Euphone.


Stream “43” on Bandcamp


Sunday, October 25th, 2009

Flowers LP
Sacred Bones Records, 2009

Sprouting from the same Seattle weirdpunk nexus that bloomed The Intelligence, A-Frames, and AFCGT comes one of the most mysterious and puzzling bands currently rearranging the sonic DNA of noisenerd earholes worldwide. Pulling together sounds pioneered by early synthpunk groups like Chrome and The Units, and tweaking them with a dose of tranced-out Can and Faust-style krautrock, every element of Factums music is a couple steps removed from normal. I recently picked up the special edition version of their latest LP on the stellar Sacred Bones label, Flowers, and have been trying to decode it for the last week or so. Far more focused than the sputtering soundtrack of A Primitive Future and their early Spells & Charms LP, Flowers kicks out 22 tracks worth of weird jamz with hardly a lull. They didn’t eliminate the blippy experimentation and random cut and paste aesthetic found in their earlier releases, but with Flowers—constructed from recording sessions dating back to 2006 and 2007—they’ve trimmed these excursions just enough to keep the album flowing and interesting. Last year’s LP, The Sistrum, made the NFZ Best of 2008 list and this release at first take seems to be even more finely constructed and dazzling. It’s one of the better releases you’ll hear this year…


Factums on MySpace
Buy Flowers at Sacred Bones

New Rob Robbies

Monday, September 21st, 2009

Nuts & Balls 10″
Mind of a Child Records, 1994

While you’ll find no shortage of bands doing collegiate, guitar-driven pop punk, only the smallest of a percentage are truly worth your time. It’s difficult to identify and quantify what makes some so much better than others. All use the same tools and conventions, but for whatever reason, some simply don’t make an impression while others can’t be heard enough. This Chicago-by-way-of-Bowling Green, OH group is one of those rare bands that got it right as evidenced by this stellar 10″ from Ohio’s tiny Mind of A Child label. Their loosely sketched, midwestern kegger approach to crafting catchy garage pop sounds something like Archers of Loaf doing a set of cover songs pulled from Crypt Records’ Back from the Grave compilations, captured in the grooves of the Meat Puppets’ early records. They’ve been compared to Hüsker Dü as well, and that fits too, if you can imagine the Hüskers flying some fIREHOSE flannel in a basement show in some midwestern college town student ghetto. They followed this release with an album on Mind of A Child in 1996 and their sophomore album on Colorado’s Owned and Operated label in 1999. Also included with this post is another hard to find track: their side of a split 7″ with Chicago’s Vambo Marble Eye from 1994 on the Off White record label. Enjoy!


New Rob Robbies – Nuts & Balls 10″ (30mb zip)
New Rob Robbies – “Pig Day” from split 7″ with Vambo Marble Eye


Friday, July 24th, 2009

Gag Box / Unwind 7″
Spangled Records, 1992

The last posting got me thinking about another great math rock band from Chicago. And even though they’ve got one of the most boring band names you’re ever gonna hear, Table put out one of the best singles of the early ’90s. It’s got all the elements of your average math rock band: muttering detached vocals, fragmented shards of clanging guitar, and a propulsive rhythm section that’s all business. But Table takes these basic elements and goes a step further than most by giving their songs sustained tension and texture instead of the standard tension/release, loud/soft manipulations found with lesser bands. In particular, their thick, gnarled bass sound really sets them apart, almost approaching funk bass territory while still firmly planted within the rigid metronome of math rock. So even though their name has never been tossed around as much as Shellac, Tar, or 90 Day Men, everything Table put out was on par with those other Chicago legends.


Table – “Gag Box”
Table – “Unwind”

Unofficial Table page on MySpace

The Great Brain

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

Ray / Half-Decayed 7″
Faye Records, 1995

We live in weird times. Record shops close by the dozen, but there’s vinyl at your local Best Buy and nearly every obscure, fractionalized sub-genre that sputtered through speakers for a few brief moments over a decade ago in maddeningly short supply gets resurrected and posted by one of a handful of people who remember or at least give a shit. So while I mourn the closing of many record stores and often long to flip through the stacks of those long-gone music mini-meccas, I’m also grateful to live in a day and age when a lazy Google search or bumbling web surfing yields a score that many years of crate digging never procured. Such is the case with this long lost math rock group, The Great Brain, whose Algorithm CD I came across while catching up on some of the fine postings over at Built On A Weak Spot. For years, I anxiously awaited an album by this Chicago group after hearing this 7″ release, but I never kept tabs on them in those dark, pre-internet days, so I never even knew that they’d managed to get an album out. At the time, the midwest was full of math rock bands usin’ their noggins to complicate and control the energy of hardcore punk with deconstructed riffs precisely arranged and played with a musical virtuosity that most punk bands couldn’t (or wouldn’t) achieve. What makes The Great Brain noteworthy is that they were able to keep a frayed, loose edge to their sound that most bands of similar ilk would smooth and/or polish over. Their sound has a gut-level umph to it that many bands of the genre lacked. “Ray” falls somewhere in between the loose jangle of Pavement and the jazzy aggressiveness of St. Louis greats The Dazzling Killmen, pairing catchy choruses with shouted bursts of nervy noise. The flipside, “Half Decayed,” completely ditches any hint of math rock with wavering twangs of oddball guitar that simmer into a straight-up, collegiate guitar rager. Check ’em out, and if you’re ready to hear The Great Brain get Captain Beefheart weird on you, give their Algorithm CD a spin…

The Great Brain – “Ray”
The Great Brain – “Half-Decayed”

The Great Brain’s Algorithm at Built On A Weak Spot

The Daily Void

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

Identification Code:
Dead Beat Records, 2008

I was sold on The Daily Void from the git go, being the twisted, sci-fried mutation of Chicago’s blistering Functional Blackouts. And after picking up their raging HoZac and Florida’s Dying 7″ singles, I knew that an album’s worth of their Crime-damaged paranoia punk would be A+ essential listening for modern noise mutants. With stabbing stereo shards of guitar piercing a tightly-wound rhythm section and snotty, robotic vox sneering songs with titles like “(You’re Not A Man) You’re An Insect”, “You’ve Been Erased”, and “The Man Without A Face”, The Daily Void give their apocalyptic primal punk sound a modern cybernoid edge that reveals an Orwellian view to life in the age of Twitter.


Download MP3s at RCD LBL
The Daily Void on MySpace
Dead Beat Records