Friday, August 1, 2008

Heard These Guys Yet? - July 08 Edition

Well, we're late again, and we skipped June. What can I say, we're all busy during the summer. But we have another slew of bands that you may or may not know about and we're happy to share our enthusiasm with you. So dig on in.

Recommender: Biz
Band: Bottomless Pit (and Silkworm)
Blurb: Unfortunately, it took a terrible and tragic event for me to discover one of Chicago's greatest rock bands. I think many people that would have dug them are still not aware of Silkworm, but they maintained a pretty low profile despite their enthusiastic and loyal indie following. Silkworm is a band that improves better you know them, with every listen. There are subtleties and complexities to their songs that bring you back. And there is a lot to come back to: they have ten albums and all are great. Starting in 1987 in Seattle, they served as an influence to many talented followers. Bottomless Pit, a band that shouldn't have to exist, is the current incarnation of Silkworm without their drummer. Michael Dahlquist died in 2005 along with 2 other local musicians, John Glick and Doug Meis, in a horrible car crash. Even worse, it was not an accident since the person intentionally hit them in a suicide attempt. If you want to know more, a good place to start at is this tribute site. The Bottomless Pit released Hammer of the Gods last year, easily the best rock album released in 2007. It is in many ways in memory of Michael, not just in the lyrics, but even the concept of the album and band itself. I think the name, Bottomless Pit, obviously represents an irreplaceable loss. And although the the band has nothing to do with Led Zeppelin, I think the Hammer of the Gods reference is used here because Zeppelin was another great band that could not go on after the loss of their drummer who was crucial to their sound. Bottomless Pit still sounds a lot like Silkworm, but it's like the sense of loss on this album puts them into more of a "post-rock" realm. All the tracks on this album are quite strong, except for a song at the end, which uses "sampled" drums. But again, this is to show a deliberate absence. There is some optimism and a sense of moving on as well, particularly on "Human out of me". They have a new record, Congress, coming out on July 11. They play on July 17th at Schuba's.** A documentary is currently being made about Silkworm and you can watch the preview here. **Biz got his recommendation in on time - blame Reed for the delay!**
Reminds me of: Pavement or Sebadoh with more noticeable musicianship
File Under: How Could I Leave This Behind?
But don't take my word for it: Bottomless Pit at Myspace

Recommender: PMaz
Band: Liam Finn
Blurb:I grew up loving Split Enz, Crowded House, and I still relish anything put out by the Finns. So imagine my excitement when I found out that Neil's son Liam was following in his footsteps. I first saw Liam play on Neil's "7 Worlds Collide" DVD as part of the backup band for Eddie Vedder. It turns out that backup band was actually Liam's legitimate rock band, Betchadupa. I don't know if Betchadupa has officially called it quits, but it's likely that's the case if Liam continues to garner critical attention after releasing his solo album "I'll Be Lightning" earlier this year. There is no doubt Liam's famous father influenced his musical career, as songs like "Remember When" sound like vintage Crowded House. But you can also hear a touch of Vedder in his songs, though solo, Liam sounds a lot less raucous than he does with Betchadupa. The music is more personal, but with plenty of experimentation, distortion and electric guitar to keep things interesting. Liam already sounds like an accomplished singer-songwriter, and at age 25, he has a bright future ahead of him.
Reminds me of: "Figure 8"-era Elliott Smit and solo Neil Finn
File Under: A Chip Off This Old House
But don't take my word for it: Liam Finn at Myspace

Recommender: Jonas
Band: The Helio Sequence
Blurb: The Helio Sequence is one of the many great artists that has sprung from Sub Pop label since they began to diversify their lineup, moving beyond grunge and punk ten or so years ago. This is a fairly straightforward indie-pop band with a subdued lead singer with a light and sharp voice, Brandon Summers. Although this band has had 4 studio albums, I had not had exposure to them until their most recent “Keep Your Eyes Ahead”. Most songs are very heartfelt like the opening track “Lately”, where Summers sings “Lately, I don’t think of you at all, I’m living alone, I don’t need you anymore”. This is an example of the straightforwardness of the lyrics throughout, which I personally appreciate. There are many great head-bobbing guitar filled pop tunes, especially the title track. And they are also masters of adding just the right amount of light electronic elements, like on “Hallelujah” and “Back To This”. A perfect blend, nothing that detracts from the harmonious guitars. With how catchy and well done the up-tempo songs are, I think I’m more impressed with the softer tracks, like “Broken Afternoon” for example. I sounds like Summers and a guitar are alone in a dark echoy room. Really beautiful stuff. This is a solid album from a solid band, and I look forward to working my way back in their catalog.
Reminds me of: A bit of Rogue Wave mixed with the softer sides of Built To Spill.
File Under: Walk A Mile In Our Shoegaze
But don't take my word for it: The Helio Sequence at Myspace

Recommender: Reed
Band: Frightened Rabbit
Blurb: I'll be honest, I had this band all picked out and ready to go before a funny thing happened. I got a bit tired of them. Frightened Rabbit is getting a lot of indie buzz with good reason. They've staked out an upbeat sound with a catchiness that's found in its shimmer. The only way they could sound more Scottish would be if they infused some bagpipes. True to their roots, they remind me of other Scottish acts. Unfortunately, at times they venture a bit too close to the Counting Crows, which I think is where the whole "getting a bit tired" thing came in. Maybe that's just me feeling guilty. Either way, their potential is vast. So I'm recommending them now, but with an eye for the future. I think their next album could be the brilliant one - they've found a great sound and have shown some potential in terms of songwriting. Even still, sometimes a great sound is enough, and I was immediately drawn to this band. Maybe you will be, too.
Reminds me of: Later era Idlewild merged with The Twilight Sad (throw Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sean Connery in there, too - just for good measure).
File Under: If It's Scottish, It Snaps
But don't take my word for it: Frightened Rabbit at Myspace

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