It’s no secret that the members of CIRCLES have been around the Chicago music block a few times. Featuring members of THE PONYS, FOOTBALL, RADAR EYES, THE HOLY GHOSTS, and and even one of our own talent buyers, the band just released their first LP, Shadowgraph, out on the band’s own label, Diminished Arc. The group has all but perfected that careless, jangly power-pop sound. With upbeat anthems about dead friends, sweet lullabies to newborns, and a report on Marcus Gravey, Shadowgraph takes the listener on a roller coaster ride through self-aware ironies and tender moments, threading them with foot tappin’, hip shakin’ guitar and organ-driven pop, complete with vocal harmonies. Tomorrow CIRCLES will be celebrating their release that was three years in the making, alongside BARE MUTANTS and OUTER MINDS.
In a land deep below the Earth’s core, where homes are built from the bones of your enemies and acid drips from cave ceilings, where the Bog of Eternal Stench is a reality and The Humungus reigns, there exists RABBLE RABBLE. The quartet emerged from the slime of the underworld to join me in an exchange of words over the obnoxious hum of a home tattoo gun and a lot of laughter. Read on and find out whose farts belong to who, why you should definitely get in a van with a stranger who’s just shit on the street, and what the more mature Rabble Rabble has to say about life in the internet age. Do your research now and prepare yourselves, for RABBLE RABBLE will be summoning a vortex of demons, farts, and out of this world sonic creations that will tear through the Empty Bottle and all of our souls on the eve of Friday the 13th. It’s all in celebration of the release of their new album, BRAIN HOLE, and to start their tour of the underworld off right. RSVP here for free entrance to that live music engagement.
If you were to step briefly inside the brain of CHAD VANGAALEN it would no doubt be filled to the brim with unimaginable creatures, piss drawings, incredible home-made instruments, and god knows what else. From animator to sci-fi folk musician to instrument creator to movie maker to father of two, it’s no secret that Chad Vangaalen is a man of many weird hats. I got to sit down with him and talk about discovering music, reed instruments, Moebius, and the super-power kids have.
Walking down the winding halls of an Avondale warehouse, I am being led by the sound of someone wailing on their drum set. Past the snack machines and the arcade and the questionable pyrotechnic equipment, the sound gets louder as I turn my final corner, open a door, and voilá: VELOCICOPTER. I had the privilege to crash their practice, which was, I must say, the most productive, teamwork-centered, smiley band practice I’ve had the opportunity to photograph. Just a week away from releasing their latest album, VELOCICOPTER has hit their stride. With a sound that is becoming more electrifying and maturely structured with each day, it’s easy to see what all the smiling is about. Throughout the practice we talked all things hot dogs, taught Matt what Burger Time was, discovered some major realizations about their new found success in collaborative songwriting, and left sometime for some good, old fashioned arts and crafts.
If a band that cranks out the good vibes while melting your face with their shredtastic set is what you’re looking for, than look no further. I can honestly say that missing VELOCICOPTER next week at the Notes & Bolts 2nd Anniversary Party will be the dumbest thing you do all year. We’re only four months in people – don’t blow it already.
Good Vybes Fest is in full force at the Bottle this weekend. On Friday, March 21st, we started the night off right with the dreamtastic pop rock stylings of Today’s Hits, then continued to have our faces melted with sets by Rabble Rabble, Outer Minds and Useless Eaters. Before the madness I met the mastermind behind Eye Vybe Records and Good Vybes Fest, Karissa Talanian, at Margie’s Candies for a banana split. We spent some time talking about the frustrating limitations of life in the lower tax bracket, the gift of hindsight, and what Eye Vybe means to her. Check it out below.
Jeffrey Novak has been perpetually recording, creating, and producing music since the tender age of 14 when he bought his first 4-track. It’s over a decade later and he shows no signs of slowing down. With Cheap Time in it’s 8th year and it’s 4th LP, the group is still going strong. Despite being on tour for Exit Smiles, Cheap Time’s next album has already been written and sequenced proving again that just how little time Novak wastes.
I got to chat with Jeffrey and Jessica of Cheap Time before their electrifying and impressive no pause set here at the Empty Bottle. Read on and find out the best kind of friend to have, the most unifying bonds between the trio, and what he loves most about being in Cheap Time. Proving yet again that Jeffrey’s passion for analogue is only surpassed by his wild amount of musical energy.
Once known for his magical ukulele, Dent May has since proved he’s more than just a novelty act. Combining a hyper-awareness of his own mortality with the musical likeness of the Beach Boys, Dent has learned to embrace his anxieties and fears and is more than committed to keeping the south weird.
Surrounded by the taxidermy-filled walls of the Sportsman, Dent and I talk about film school, Miley Cyrus, and his favorite part of your best friend’s wedding.
Unbound by rules or genres, Gordon Stoneheart and Teen River Tapes are turning the standard release process on its ear and loving every minute of it. Teen River proves that if your underlying goal is simply to have fun, not much can go wrong. Operating in Chicago for roughly three years now, the label is a constant source of new life in the home recording community. Leaving no stone unturned, Teen River releases music from the noisy and ambient to poppy bliss, creating a sense of community that transcends the genres involved.
After their showcase and Tarnation release show at The Empty Bottle, Gordon Stoneheart and I met for a banana split and some laughs at Margie’s Candies. It quickly became apparent that Gordon is really into doing what he wants, and it just so happens that what he wants tends to be pretty fucking cool.
2013 was a big year for White Mystery: They toured both the States and Europe, wrote and recorded Telepathic while on the road and even made a few music videos along the way. Despite all of this, White Mystery shows no signs of slowing down. After spending New Years Eve playing alongside Roky Erickson, being added to this years SXSW official line-up and having already written the music for their annual 4/20 release date, it’s safe to say that White Mystery is starting 2014 off even stronger. Seeing White Mystery for the first time circa 2010 in Athens, Ohio was electrifying and now three years later White Mystery has all but perfected that alien, 60’s-influenced, garage rock sound. Saturday I got to reunite with the old rock and roll pals and snug as bugs on a pretty dirty couch in the Empty Bottle’s basement I got to hear what writing an album on tour is like, how growing up in a city like Chicago affected their sound today, and where the hell they found that psychedelic bus for “People Power” music video.
Fans of horror and synthesizers have a lot to rejoice about in 2013 – legendary synth rockers, ZOMBI, are back after a two-year hiatus for a tour with none other than, Goblin. Serving as long time inspirations for the duo and the masterminds behind the synth-tastic scores to films like Dario Argento’s Suspira, and George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, it’s no secret that Goblin and Zombi go hand-in-hand. I got to chat with the duo as they kicked off their tour at the Empty Bottle and find out where to go to feel like a rockstar, what it feels like to tour with your idols, and, of course, their Spirit Animals.