Last month, UR Chicago spent the afternoon hanging with Australian dance/rock group Cut Copy, in town for two hyped shows at the Abbey Pub and an after party at Smart Bar. We took along our friends from VIMBY (thanks Noah!) to capture the time, where we hit Crust pizza in Wicker Park (some of the guys are vegetarian), the Intelligentsia coffee roasting works in the West Loop (apparently it's not only Chicagoans who can't get enough of those beans -- it's also the band's No. 1 North American coffee choice) and Union Park (where Cut Copy will be this summer as part of the Pitchfork Music Festival). Our final stop, before dropping the guys back at the Abbey, was a quick trip to Dusty Groove -- Chicago's premier record shop for hard-to-find vinyl for serious DJs (lead singer Dan Whitford uncovered a Chic album he didn't have -- and they guys are ga-ga for the '70s disco heroes). Overall, the day was a blast, the weather cleared up and Cut Copy -- who is one of our faves -- couldn't have been a nicer bunch of guys.
"There ain't nothin' real about me but my heart," Dolly Parton told the sold-out crowd at the Chicago Theatre Thursday night, May 8. From the bleach blond wig (that she said came from a real nice Korean girl) to the voluptuous breasts (yes, they are even bigger up close -- and no, they ain't real), Dolly Parton brought her "Backwoods Barbie" tour to the Windy City -- and the crowd couldn't have been happier. The singer who has sold more than 100 million albums, has written hundreds of songs and has touched more hearts than you can shake a stick at was nothing but joyful and full of fun lovin' that night.
But one thing you notice when you're sitting up close (we lucked out and got fourth row center) is that Ms. Dolly, for all her talent and gumption, unfortunately lip synched a lot of her songs -- apparently the "ain't nothin' real" line wasn't just about her looks. This was a big surprise, and disappointment, because when you knew she was actually singing, she sounded great. But it almost didn't matter because she put on such a great show regardless. She played a bit of the banjo, harpsichord, violin, piano, recorder, a rhinestone-studded dulcimer and a worn-out, old acoustic guitar that was strapped on with nothing but a piece of rope -- apparently you can take the girl out of the Smoky Mountains but she's bringin' 'em with her wherever she goes. And thank god for that.
As if bowing at No. 1 in 27 countries around the world with her new critically acclaimed album, Hard Candy, wasn't exciting enough news this week for Madonna fans, Madge just announced the (currently) 27-city European and North American "Sticky & Sweet" tour. She will no doubt announce more cities and fill in extra dates for the ones already announced (she always does -- she played four shows in Chicago for the Confessions tour in 2006). Tickets, which range from $55-$350, go on sale Sat. May 17 at 11 a.m. CST (at least in Chicago) through Live Nation and Ticketmaster (believe me, it's worth it to pay the high price -- I sat 14th row on the catwalk that jutted out into the center of the crowd and was 5 feet from her the last time -- surreal!). The tour kicks off in Cardiff, Wales on Aug. 23 and will hit Berlin, Rome, Amsterdam, London, Paris and elsewhere across the pond before jump starting the U.S. leg Oct. 3 at the Izod (?) Center in E. Rutherford, NJ (wasn't that Giants Stadium?!). Can you stand it?
Radiohead this morning announced a North American jaunt. Sort of. It will take place in two segments -- with a break in the middle for an early summer European tour. While specific dates aren't set, the band will hit the following cities:
Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Houston, Indy, LA, Miami, Montreal, NYC, Philly, San Diego, SF, Santa Barbara, Seattle, St. Louis, Tampa, Toronto, Vancouver and DC.
Based on the above itinerary, it doesn't really seem like the band is playing any summer festivals -- although they do mention Chicago (Lolla?) and Philly (Vineland?) -- so who knows. But anyone hoping for Coachella or Bonnaroo ... the band isn't going anywhere near Indio or Manchester (unless LA hints toward Palm Springs, but that's a stretch). Either way, Radiohead is coming to America -- get psyched. Will they play sheds? small theaters? More info and exact dates coming soon...
** This Just In **
Acclaimed artist/producer BT speaks out on his missing daughter, Kaia Transeau, age 3- ½. Kaia was abducted over three weeks ago by her mother. There has been no contact since the first few days. BT is making all reasonable efforts to find his daughter. Currently Kaia has been placed on the national missing persons NCIC (National Crime Information Center) list (phone number 1-304-625-2000).
BT states, “I am diligently and delicately working to do everything possible to amend this tragic family situation. As a father my only goal is to get my daughter back home. I appreciate your continued support and understanding in this desperate hour.”
Indie faves TV on the Radio are set to enter a Brooklyn recording studio in the coming weeks. While there isn't a lot of news to report, I can say that Kyp Malone and Tunde Adebimpe have written a whole mess o' songs. Guitarist Dave Sitek will produce (he's worked with Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Scarlett Johansson, Beck and NIN) and the band is scheduled to start mixing around March (assuming all goes well with the recordings). No word yet on what guests will join them, but knowing TVOTR, they'll likely invite some influential musical pals into the studio. Unlike TVOTR's last album, 2006's Return to Cookie Mountain, whose release was held up with legal wranglings with their former label, Touch and Go, this still-untitled set will hopefully come out in the fall.
Is it actually possible to have another great rock band thrust at us from Paris (other than Phoenix, of course)? Where the band sings in English and doesn't have a hint of an accent -- and does it well? Neïmo might just be the next great hope to break through on our side of the pond (although they're kind of cheating now by moving to the US to tour throughout 2008). The band is parts rock and parts glam – think Velvet Underground meets Marc Boland and then runs into Frank-N-Furter doing lines with the Strokes. They have the package: fuzzed-out guitars, electro synts and commanding (sometimes insipid), storytelling vocals. They're going to hit SXSW – and I think they're going to be one of the buzzier bands down there. If CBGBs were still around -- or if Neïmo were around in the late '70s -- they might be mentioned alongside the Ramones and Blondie. Bold statement? Sure. Check for yourself on their MySpace.
Hot Aussie indie dance rockers cum DJs (their 2006 FabricLive mix last year was truly amazing and one of my fave mixes to come out of the London super club) just dropped a new mix -- and we're one of the first places in the US to have it (it was sent to my magazine, UR Chicago, as an exclusive from Modular Records). Based on what they've released in the past -- and how they (really lead singer/songwriter Dan Whitford) made me shake my booty with the FabLive mix, this one should be setting dance floors ablaze in no time. The mix features songs from Cut Copy's forthcoming album, In Ghost Colours (gotta love the non-American spelling), out April 8. It follows up their smash 2004 debut, Bright Like Neon Love, which was an album that I at first dismissed but revisited a year later and wondered why I had stayed away so long. Don't make the same mistake -- get on the Cut Copy bandwagon, you won't be disappointed.
Download the new mix here.
Chicago blues diva Koko Taylor, Bay Area down-tempo/house genius Miguel Migs, legendary (albeit douchey) R&B guitarist/songwriter Ike Turner and indie rockers Joan as Police Woman, Apples in Stereo and the Silver Seas (!!!!) were all named winners in the 7th annual Independent Music Awards. The awards were chosen by an international panel that included the Kinks' Ray Davies, Mavis Staples, Snoop Dogg, Suzanne Vega, Judy Collins, music journo Anthony DeCurtis and many more.
Want a complete list of winners? Go here.
Swedish psych rock (and slightly electronic) outfit the Soundtrack of our Lives are currently working on the follow up to 2005's Origins Vol 1, which, if you're familiar with it, blew your mind I'm sure [Update: just got a note this morning (Thurs) that the album will be available sometime this spring). They're going to announce a US tour soon and will also make a stop at SXSW in March. In the meantime, they've recorded a mellow, melancholy and slightly ironic Christmas song. Stream it and read along with the lyrics below.
Everybody hit the mall again with the piper / Better hurry cause it´s Christmas time in my head
Gonna buy to everyone I can with the piper / Santa is coming and I think I´m seeing red
Here´s a present for you I saw it on youtube / With the the extras on and the making of the songs
And you know the set was really hard to get / It´s a limited edition and your copy was the last they had... / Everybody hit the mall again with the piper / Better hurry cause it´s christmas time my friend
Gonna fill another empty life with the piper / Shopoholics are anonymous again
Here comes Santa Clause / An old man I suppose / Jump into his lap - don´t mind if he´s too fat
Tell him that you´ve been good / As good as Robin Hood / If your wish come true this package is for you... / Only you... / (Old fashioned solo-singalong part makes Ric Ocasek happy)
Everybody hit the mall again with the piper / Better hurry cause it´s christmas time in my head
Gonna smoke up all my stash again with my piper / Santa is coming and I´m waiting here in my bed
Here´s a present for you / If the past is all you do / With the extras on and the things that turned out wrong / So you better be good / While I´m knockin´ on heavens wood / May your wish come true ´cause I wrote this song for you... / For you...