Northpilot: “1000 Lives” b/w “Maps and Dragons”

On their newest single “1000 Lives,” Northpilot has created a 4 minute sci-fi magnum opus. It seems much more appropriate to call it a composition than it does a song. With its darkly churchy synth work and layered atmospheric melodies, I can’t help but be at least vaguely reminded of Julian Casablancas’s solo work (“Glass” in particular.)

Where “1000 Lives” is enormous, the b-side, “Maps and Dragons” pulls back and shows a more folked-up approach. Still present, however, is the perfect mixture of human and electronic instrumentation. The highlight of the song is the not-so subtle homage to “Lake Shore Drive”.

If you hurry, you can catch Northpilot perform live on Audio Tree at 7:30 p.m. You can also catch them at Schubas on Friday, Dec. 16 with Color Radio and Minor Characters.




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Uh Bones: My Mistake

Uh Bones begin their lazy garage/blues tune “My Mistake” with the universally recognizable line, “When you’re on your own/have nowhere to go.” Anybody with a Blind Willie Mc Tell or Robert Johnson album has most likely heard the line or something similar somewhere. As I listened, I was reminded of something Little Steven said in my early garage rock schooling days. He said that garage music was just white guys butchering black blues. Welp, by Little Steven’s standards, Uh Bones appears to be the garagiest of the garage. Gloria times ten. The aptly named Uh Bones has taken the progressions and themes of somebody like Blind Willie McTell, turned them inside out so you can see its bare bones–so you can see that lonlieness, the blues aint pretty. This song may be sloppy, but it’s one hell of a garage tune.

Highlight: The sloppy solo that moves along as quickly as an underwater jog.

You can catch Uh Bones Thursday, Dec. 29 at Panchos with Those Howlings, Charming People, and Little Boy Jr.

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Magic Milk at Panchos this Sunday (11/27)

Kenny Alden of Magic Milk admits, “I suck at everything else so i have to take as much work as a performer that i can get.” And if you’ve been to a Magic Milk show, you know there may be some truth to that statement. After leaving the Beat Kitchen after their set opening for An Horse a few months back, I had trouble picturing Kenny behind a counter or in an office. He seemed much more at home taking off his pants on stage, thanking the sound guy with the wink of an eye and the rub of a nipple, ordering the crowd to clap along and finishing the night by destroying a bass drum. On record, Magic Milk is good garage revival music; but Magic Milk live is a whole other story. Aside from the above antics, Kenny howls and yips through his harmonica microphone like he’s the bastard son of Dexter Romweber and Elvis as the band behind him turns out golden 70s punk nuggetts. Check them out at Pancho’s this Sunday (11/27) if you want to see perhaps one of the best live shows Chicago has to offer.

Read on to hear about the new city ordinance involving Magic Milk and to see what makes Magic Milk’s perfect mixtape.

1. What are your top 3 influences?
girls, friends, movies

2. What 5 songs make the perfect mixed tape?
1.”dmsr” by Prince  
2. “moondog ’65” by Davie Allan and the Arrows
3. “tampico twist” by Los Beatniks 
4. “cold lips”  by The Beets 
5. “remember you” by The Zombies

3. I saw you guys at Beat Kitchen a few months ago when you played with An Horse. I have my own way to describe Magic Milk live. How would describe a Magic Milk show?
A writer once described Magic Milk as “knife fight party music” , I like that description. We also throw confettie when we can afford it.

4. (Less of an interview question and more curiosity) Were you guys able to fix the bass drum after that set or was it destroyed?
no, but that hasn’t stopped us from using it.

5. It sems like you guys are on almost every great bill in Chicago. Does it get exhausting playing so much?
The city of chicago will actually be enacting and ordinance next year that will require Magic Milk to be on EVERY great bill thereafter, so it’s going to be even worse. It does get exausting, but it seems like if the world gives you reason to believe that you are good at something, then you should put your whole ass into it. I suck at everything else so i have to take as much work as a performer that i can get.

6. Any plans for a new ep or full length in the near future?
we are finishing a full length studio album and will begin shopping it around within the next month or so. hopefully that will be in stores on your turntable by late winter/springtime. i’m also working on my cell phone album, who knows when that will be done.

7. What’s your recording process?
Get stoned, record shit on my cell phone, take it to Brian, go to Brian’s studio, Brian sets up the microphones and stuff, we get stoned, I track all the parts, we go home.

8. What’s your song writing process?
i play guitar and sing into my phone, then i write lyrics on scraps of paper floating around my room, then i forget about it. i have around 800 songs/ song musings saved on my phone.

9. Kenny-I’ve heard taking your pants off is inevitable at some point during a Magic Milk show. Is this true?

I try my best to be a professional.


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The Bears of Blue River: “The Joke”

I’ve come to terms with my predictability as a music lover long ago. You give me 9 gems like Bears of Blue River have provided with their recent LP Dames and I’ll choose the one that apes the outro to “Lask Kiss” for its intro. Now that I got that out of the way, “The Joke” really is the prettiest song on this album; think a 1950s Margot and the Nuclear So and Sos. Not surprising, the Bears have a creative relationship with Margot.

Listen to “The Joke” and then check out Bears of Blue River at Subt 12/8 with Julie Meckler.

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Mooner: “Dream”

There’s a lot packed into this 3 minute 40 second tune. It starts off as a simple three-chorder that sounds like Tom Petty filtered through a time honored progression set in motion by artists like Buddy Holly and Bobby Vee. But the real highlight of “Dream” comes during the light Pet Sounds break in the action, during which there’s a real subtle key shift that I think Brian Wilson would be quite proud of.

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The Sights at Ultra Lounge tomorrow (FREE with RSVP)

The Sights were one of the main players in the late ’90s garage scene that launched the White Stripes into the national eye and gave the Hentchmen near cult-like status among garage revivalists. As the 2000s went on and Jack and Meg climbed the charts, the Sights remained a local commodity before calling it quits in 2005.

The Sights are back now and seem stronger than ever. They traded their low budget garage sound in for a more riff-heavy, soulful 70s attack. You can catch the Sights tomorrow night at Ultra Lounge at 10 p.m.  Send an RSVP to before 9:30 p.m. to get in free.

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Ezra Furman & the Harpoons: “Penetrate”

By no means does Ezra Furman have a default vocal setting. One minute he’s awesomely and (sometimes) obnoxiously yelping heartfelt and (sometimes) out of key notes and the next he’s beautifully delivering Dylan-esque folk ballads. But never have I heard Ezra Furman whisper.

He and his Harpoons released a single for their song,  “Doomed Love Affair” today. The b-side to that single, “Penetrate” is a simple little folk song that shows what the man is capable with out his harpoons. What may be keeping that voice of Ezra’s caged on “Penetrate” is the cold he had when the song was recorded, but it feels more intentional. As I listened, I felt as though I were a guest in Ezra’s childhood bedroom as he shows me a new song he’d recently written. He’s careful not to wake his parents with endless sexual allusions, so he whispers the words. I was reminded of those days in college when I’d have what I thought to be a winner of a melody or song idea and I’d have to quietly record a demo so my roomate couldn’t hear me. After all, he was a metal-head and would laugh at me and my wimpy acoustic guitar.

What’s so good about “Penetrate” is just how intimate it is. Ezra’s no stranger to intimate either, writing over 100 custom songs to purchasers of his bootleg album back in 2009. Dylan had his basement tapes and bootleg series, and Ezra Furman has his wonderful bedroom recordings.

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