Clearance Record Release Show Tonight

Clearance’s shambolic melodic clutter belies a bright-eyed optimism and work ethic; maybe I’m just used to weirdo noise-rock acts stretching out inter-song breaks in blazing hot basements with interminable banter and discomforting costume subtractions, but their live act is a lot tighter and more polished than most.

I’ll be real, it’s kind of refreshing to see some young people get their shit together and turn out some well recorded, catchy, head bobbing alt rock. Tall Pat previewed the test pressing for a Friends of Tall Pat Records barbecue earlier this summer, and I can vouch that it’s excellent music for eating grilled thick-cut bacon on a blanket with your friends.

I recently had the chance to interview Mike from Clearance for my day job at Do312 (which has a new app btw). You should definitely go read it and stream the full record, and you should totally scramble to that show at The Owl like Pizza Rat scrambles down some subway stairs with a slice.

Their debut full length Rapid Rewards is available on two different record labels: the aforementioned Midwest garage label that tolerates no weak pits, and Unsatisfied Records out of LA. (If you’re reading this, you probably live in Chicago. Buy it from Tall Pat. I was born in the valley, and I still traded my Lakers allegiance for the Bulls mythology, so if I can show some hometown loyalty, so can you).

Clearance, American Breakfast, Salad Boys
The Owl, The Owl, 2521 North Milwaukee Avenue
21+ / free / release show

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Soddy Daisy “Trashtopia” Album Review & Release Show 9/18

Listening to local band Soddy Daisy’s new album Trashtopia, it’s no surprise that they all have a hand in running legendary DIY partyplex Young Camelot, or that the album was partially recorded there. Regal and shambling, I’ve seen some of the stickiest bangers unspool in their cavernous space, all sticky with beer and humid with sweat.

YC is drunk conversations between girls in line for the bathroom, sloppy X’s on your hands, and two people almost fucking on a melting couch. It’s carpet fermented lager and a better populated smoking section than a septuagenarian’s favorite Las Vegas casino.

Trashtopia, from the name, to the cover art, to the sound evokes the bacchanalia and bad decisions, the adrenaline hype and the greyed-out nod-outs. It’s the perfect album to be born in Young Camelot’s messy womb, and I can’t imagine a better place to host the release show this Friday.

The third and forth songs on the album bring restrained lounge vibes and an bluesy growl of an intro, respectively, showing a willingness to experiment beyond the kind of partypunk oblivion I watch three different bands careen through on your average Wednesday night.

WEAK Radio uses the production trope of a scrambled scan through radio land to introduce a torchy doo wop addiction ballad that evokes blue-lit pimple-faced shuffling slow dances and a weary chanteuse draping herself across a Rhodes organ, eyelids slowly closing in resignation.

It’s an album of ambitious length for a self-recorded DIY band. The repetitive dirge When the High Subsides could have clocked in under four minutes (or found a more secure home on an album that promised less shambling and surf), but Soddy Daisy does rollicking lofi pop extraordinary well. I’m charmed with the couplet “Nothing else has ever changed, I’ve got an embryonic brain” on the sunny jammer “Water Cooler.”

Feel free to scream out the names of these songs I’ve described while they play at Young Camelot this Friday. It’s that kind of place, and that kind of band: messy, collaborative, and beautiful.

Evasive Backflip, Rat Hammer, Soddy Daisy, Not For You, Le Tour, Alex Rowney Piano Beast
Young Camelot
Fri, September 18 / $5 / not byob – bring $

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The 3 Best Drummers + Vocalists in the World

A few nights ago, I found myself in a South Minneapolis DIY spot on a sticky, humid summer night. The basement venue, known as The Riverboat to the Twin Cities’ dread-skulleted punk denizens, was so hot we all dripped and drooped like melting candles.

“You know that scene in Mrs. Doubtfire, where they’re watching TV, and someone’s getting their face smooshed around like it’s clay and all the kids are grossed out? That’s what my face feels like right now,” I confided to Jen Lemasters, a record store owner and multi-media artist who, like me, had traveled all the way to Chicago just end up at the same dank basement.


Photo of Make-Overs from Bric-a-Brac’s Instagram

She & partner, Nick, who own Bric-a-Brac Records, were criss-crossing the country with South-African drummer and guitarist Martinique Pelser and Andreas Schönfeldt, stopping at flea markets to hunt collectible toys and kitschy roadside attractions to pose with outré art installations. When they’re not touring together, Martinique and Andreas tour by Megabus.

Later, after a kind Riverboat resident sold me a $2 Hamm’s well into Minneapolis’ Blue Law Sunday Beer Blackout (then traded it out for one that didn’t have puke on it), Make-Overs took over their designated corner of the basement. They quickly sound checked their signature equipment; an array of pedals at Andreas’ feet, a microphone headset snaked around Martinique’s ear.

As the band tore through their layered, spacey and raw arrangements, the audience forgot the insufferable heat and slammed into each other in surging tides, smearing sweat on each other and pressing wallflowers into the crumbling basement bricks. They traded off vocal duties, Martinique more than holding her own despite the more physical nature of drumming, her powerful vocals ringing out, occasionally distorted by pedals into something psychedelic and alien.

I started thinking about all the drummers out there who excel at maintaining vocal intensity even as they exert themselves pounding away. I came up with my all time top drummers + vocalists, who are, in no particular order:

  • Bill Roe of Cococoma (and the record label Trouble in Mind)
  • Lamont “Bim” Thomas of Obnox, BLAXXX, The Puffy Areolas, etc
  • Martinique Pelser of Make-Overs (as well as many earlier projects discussed in this great interview)

And that got me thinking about how lucky we are that 2/3 of these artists have upcoming shows in Chicago. Cococoma, coaxed into reuniting and brushing up on their old songs when their longtime friends Janet and J.J. tied the knot last February, are hanging up the hat again when guitarist AJ Cozzi moves to California. TOMORROW, they’re playing their last official show at The Empty Bottle as an aftershow for the Beyond the Gate show in Bohemian National Cemetery.

Make-Overs are making the most of their stop in the USA, with at least two more shows upcoming in addition to their duties opening for Ty Segall last week.

Whether you agree or disagree with my top three ranking (make no mistake, I’d love to hear about it in the comments), you should see these bands while you can.

Cococoma, Ultimate Painting
The Empty Bottle, 1035 North Western Avenue
Thu, September 10, 9pm / 21+ / $10

Make-Overs, Wolf Pac
The Whistler, 2421 N Milwaukee Ave
Sun, September 13, 9pm / 21+ / free

Pookie and the Poodles, Make-Overs
Bric-a-Brac Records & Collectibles, 3156 W Diversey Ave
Tue, September 22, 5:30pm / free / AA

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