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DECEMBER 17, 2007
Free Cold War Kids

Cwk If you jumped on the Cold War Kids bandwagon this year and never got the chance to procure their rare Mulberry Street EP, you are in luck. The band has just made it available for free download at RCRD LBL.com. Since most people know about CWK through their 2006 release Robbers & Cowards, this EP is a look into what went on with the band before they blew up and took the blogosphere by storm. Mulberry Street was their first of three 6-song EPs and was recorded in a garage in one day -- and only cost the band $60 -- in between listening to Iggy Pop and Neil Young and moving the lawn, according to singer Nathan Willett. As for RCRD LBL, it's an amalgamation of online labels and blogs that launched in November and offers free music for users from both veteran and up-and-coming bands from labels including Warp, Dim Mak, Ghostly International, Modular and more. At last check in, we learned that CWK are currently recording their follow up, likely for a 2008 release.

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OFFICE on MTV News

OFFICE, one of Chicago's biggest buzz bands (who I wrote about over a year ago) is getting some major national attention. When their album, A Night at the Ritz, dropped in September on James Iha's Scratchie Records (in partnership with New Line), the band garnered a lot of press from Spin, Venus, LA Times, TimeOut Chicago and, of course, my magazine UR Chicago (which is owned by En Prise Entertainment, who manages OFFICE). The band hit it big late last week with a fantastic plug on MTV News; the segment was shot in LA, during the band's current West Coast tour. Check it...

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DECEMBER 13, 2007
Kooks debut new songs at private Chicago show

                                       Band

On Wednesday night, British rockers the Kooks played a private show for about 250 people at Sam's Wines & Spirits' new location in Chicago's South Loop. While it may seem like an odd locale, it actually worked. The chill event was a promotion for the wine superstore pulled together by WXRT radio, with free wine samples, Goose Island beer and great food (shrimp cocktail, tuna tartare with guacamole, lobster rolls, etc) by Shaw's Crab House. But it was really the Kooks that brought the people. The guys – on a mini holiday tour for various radio stations around the country, played about 12 songs, mostly off their two million-selling (worldwide) debut Inside In/Inside Out, including "Ooh La," "She Moves in Her Own Way," "See the World" and the balls-out rocking encore "Jackie Big Tits." But it was also the addition of new tracks "Disappear" and another whose name I'm spacing that hinted at the band's new sound on their forthcoming sophomore album, Konk, scheduled to street April 15. The Kooks recently wrapped recording at former Kinks' frontman Ray Davies' legendary Konk Studios (hence the name of the album) and flew to LA to tighten it up with producer Tony Hoffer (Beck, Belle & Sebastian). Based on "Disappear," the track they played at Sam's, the Kooks seem to be building on their radio-friendly pop sound and moving into a more mature aggressive rock feel (a la the Stones in the early '70s) but with a country guitar edge. After their 45-minute set, I spoke with lead singer, Luke Pritchard, who I interviewed just over a year ago, and mentioned that they were likely popping over to nearby Buddy Guy's Legends to take in some quintessential Chicago blues. When in Rome...

[photos courtesy of Will Byington Photography]

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DECEMBER 03, 2007
New Video: Kid Sister "Pro Nails" feat. Kanye West

Chicago's own Kid Sister (aka Melissa Young) just released the video for her first single, "Pro Nails." It was shot in a nail salon on Western Avenue in Roscoe Village for a mere $3,000 and is a sweet example of Chicago's growing Juke scene. What makes this video so hot (other than the appearance by Kanye and Kid Sis' fly ensemble and weave) is the ever-present finger dancing (especially when the tiny pants and shoes show up about midway through). Watch for Kid Sis' debut this year -- and look for her write up as one of the artists who made an impact on music in 2007 in the new issue of UR Chicago, which streets Dec. 6 (download the PDF).

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OCTOBER 08, 2007
Interpol's Secret Chicago Show

Rumor has it that after Interpol mopes around tears up the stage at Chicago's Aragon this Thursday night they're going to hightail it over to hipster hang Empty Bottle in Humboldt Park to be the "surprise secret guest" currently being touted on the bill (in fact, friends of SG.com confirmed that it is going to happen). Already on the bill for the night are Rolan Vega and Far Rad. Show is called for 9 pm and tickets currently only cost $10. Don't run -- walk to secure your spot for Carlos D and his brood, who should go on around midnight. Buy tickets now.

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SEPTEMBER 09, 2007
MTV VMAs As Lame As Ever

Picture_1 The same question that's been asked for years: is MTV at all relevant? If tonight's VMAs were any indication then the answer would be a seriously loud no. First, could Britney's "come back" performance to open the show be any more dead? She looked like she was a second-rate stripper at a dress rehearsal and the lip syncing? Come on already. Sing dammit. Second, Gym Class Heroes, best new artist? Singing a Supertramp cover? Who the fuck are they anyway? Third, yes Chris Brown is talented, but again, sing, bitch. Come on -- what is wrong here? Justin had a great time, because he was drunk. Alicia Keys' new song was hot. Rihanna? Use your talent to record something memorable. Someone needs to produce an awards show for music that really matters and not shit that just sells records and premieres in the Billboard Top 10. Thank god for Tivo because if I had to honestly sit through two hours of that crap, I'd be pissed.

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AUGUST 02, 2007
Lolla Rumor: Ben Harper to play with Pearl Jam?

I know it's been awhile since my last post -- and I apologize greatly for that. I've been super busy producing UR Chicago magazine. If you haven't picked up a copy (in Chicago) check out our website and get a feel for what's going on over there. but enough of that ...

I interviewed Ben Harper a few weeks ago for UR Chicago's Green Issue, which also features loads of interviews with other bands playing either Lollapalooza or the Pitchfork Music Festival. During our chat, we discussed his Friday night headlining set at Lolla and he mentioned that he's likely going to hang out in Chicago for the weekend, take in some other sets and basically just relax. He also said that there's a good chance, although at the time it wasn't confirmed, that he's going to join Pearl Jam on stage Sunday night to jam. He didn't say which song or if he would sit in on more than one, but any Ben Harper fans have another thing to look forward to this weekend. Hopefully it will be something really crazy and special to help close out what should be an unbelievable weekend.

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JULY 02, 2007
Bloc Party Playing Block Party

Just got news that Bloc Party is headlining the first night of the annual Hideout Block Party in Chicago. Andrew Bird is headlining Saturday night. I have no other news...

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JUNE 13, 2007
Ben Harper Duets With Rising Brazilian Singer Vanessa da Mata

In preparation for my interview tomorrow with Ben Harper (my third time talking to the roots rocker), I stumbled across a forum post talking about Ben's duet with Brazilian chanteuse Vanessa da Mata for the song "Boa Sorte/Good Luck" on her album that is available as an import on Amazon. While I don't know anything about Vanessa, I do know that Ben's a great judge of character and knows talent. The song, as far as I know, doesn't have a release date for the US, but here's music set to a photo montage. It's truly a captivating and beautiful track. The pair harmonize well together and Ben's Weissenborn playing is, as always, magic. And as long as I'm talking about Ben, he had a Jimi moment last night, performing an instrumental version of the "Star Spangled Banner" at game three of the NBA Finals. Watch that too -- and I dare you to not get chills.

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JUNE 04, 2007
Mano Chao: New Single, Free Download

Manuchao Manu Chao, the Parisian-born musician of Spanish descent who has made a career of creating multi-influential, multi-cultural music (and who had one of the most energetic, lively and fun sets at Lollapalooza last year), has a new album on tap and slated for release in September. The first single, "Rainin in Paradise," is currently available for free download, which is a nice teaser for what's planned on the forthcoming La Radiolina, his first album in six years. Hit his website to either stream or download the single. If you want to hear a great night of music, try and catch Manu Chao during his current North American tour, which even makes a stop in Tijuana!


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