Foxing, Hop Along, Dikembe and Kittyhawk, 7/26

This weekend was a big one for fans of expansive and creative indie-rock. The city’s annual Wicker Park Fest (which featured performances by Owls, Hop Along, Foxing and Pet Symmetry) happened to coincide with a Dikembe and Kittyhawk co-headlining tour, compounding the already hard “who should we see” debates that festivals bring on. Luckily, we were able to catch both! Hit continue reading to check out our review and photos from both events. Continue reading


Field Mouse – ‘Hold Still Life’ Review

No phrase conjures up music snob rage quite like “emo revival.” This sloppy label has been applied to everyone from Owen to Dads, with no clear definition of what exactly makes this a “revival.” While I try to steer clear of this term for its ambiguous nature, there is one genre that seems to actually be reviving: shoegaze. Not-so-impressively dubbed “nu gaze,” bands like Pity Sex, Nothing and Whirr have been bringing fuzz back into vogue, replacing the reverb-heavy indie guitars of the early 00’s.

With this resurgence in distortion, 90s babies that once swooned over Hawthorne Heights now turn their adoration to My Bloody Valentine. As always, what was once old is new again. I write this not with better-than-thou, music snob snarkiness, but with happiness that this oft-forgotten genre is finally getting recognition, and that it’s inspiring some of the year’s best albums, a perfect example being the Topshelf-signed Field Mouse. Continue reading

Poor Thing

Premiere: The Calm Before – ‘Poor Thing’

For our first ever premiere, we’re psyched to present you with the newest track from The Calm Before. Pulled from their upcoming full-length, “Poor Thing” builds upon the foundation laid out on the screamo four-piece’s split with I Made You Myself by condensing everything down to a minute and a half burst of post-hardcore fury. From the Comadre-inspired blooming guitars and cathartically clattering drums to bassist Matthew Meifert’s searing delivery, “Poor Thing” is everything you could want in a post-hardcore song. If you couldn’t get enough of the new Frameworks LP or spend your time tracking down obscure City of Caterpillar releases, hit continue reading to stream the new song and head to their Bandcamp to pick up their back-catalog.

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Joyce Manor – ‘Never Hungover Again’ Review

As far as emo goes, Joyce Manor has always edged on the “happier” side of things – the side that titles songs “Five Beer Plan” and makes perfect party-shouting songs (see: countless nights of me screaming the lyrics to “Constant Headache” while clutching a 40 oz.). On “Never Hungover Again,” the Torrance, Calif. quartet slides in to more “sad” territory; like actual adult sad, not just teenage-heartbreak sad. There are friends leaving for the army and getting full-times jobs – but that doesn’t mean all fun is lost. Continue reading


It’s Mid-July and I’m Still Cold: A Feel-Good Summer Playlist by Dakota Bahney

Dakota Bahney is one of the best people I’ve gotten to know since starting the site. On top of running Cool Shoes Records and a brief stint in Smash Mouth, she plays in a bunch of awesome bands (check out the new Unraveler album, guys). Dakota was kind enough to provide us with her favorite feel-good (or at least feel-bad in a good way) summer jams. Check it out!

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next 4 years

United Nations – ‘The Next Four Years’ Review

It’s difficult to know exactly what to make of United Nations. Occasionally we see flashes of their excellent sense of humor; on the flipside, they can be deathly serious and explosively political. Often, this is what makes them a compelling group. Beyond their anonymity and penchant for being frustratingly vague about which musicians have contributed what to the group, they have managed to become more than just a gimmick.

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Loose Planes

Loose Planes – ‘Loose Planes’ EP Review

Consisting of members of Make Do and Mend and Fireworks, Loose Planes delivered their debut, self-titled EP via 6131 Records.  Considering the acts that consist of this band’s DNA  play very different styles of music (and the fact that I count both among my least favorite bands in recent memory), I was very intrigued to find out what Loose Planes would sound like.  I was not disappointed. Continue reading


Late Bloomer – ‘Things Change’ Review

Generally, most albums seem to follow one course of sound on an album. Even “experimental” bands usually just dance a bit outside of their genre before returning to the sound that they’ve honed. On their debut full length, Things Change, Charlotte, North Carolina group Late Bloomer wanders a bit further out and the result is an amalgamation of sound produced by three guys who listen to a lot of different music. Described as “punk, hardcore, garage, shoegaze and grunge”, there’s certainly a lot of material to dice up with Things Change.

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How to Start a Record Label from Your Bedroom: A Conversation with Topshelf Records

One of the easiest ways to contribute to a music scene is to lay a friend’s demo to tape and upload the MP3s to Bandcamp. After a few hours at your tape deck, congratulations! You’ve got a record label! While that first step may be easy, things get exponentially more difficult and involved the more seriously you take things. Building a following, web design, promoting releases, sifting through submissions, dealing with packaging, networking, pressing vinyl and booking tours are all part of running an independent label, no matter the size. Fret not, aspiring labelhead, because for this ongoing segment, we asked some of the most exciting independent labels how to start a record label from your bedroom.

For the third installment of this series, we talked with Topshelf Records’ Kevin Duquette. Started back in 2005 as a means to self-release Kevin and co-founder Seth Decoteau’s bands’ records, Topshelf has slowly shed its dorm room roots and grown to be one of indie rock’s finest young labels thanks to the pair’s tireless work and a catalog of killer releases. The label has and helped bring acts like The World is a Beautiful Place and I am No Longer Afraid to Die, Into It. Over It. and You Blew It! onto a national level while also putting out records from scene veterans Braid and future legends such as Enemies and Pianos Become the Teeth. When you pick up an album with Topshelf’s logo emblazoned on its back cover, regardless of what the songs on the record actually sound like, you’re in for something great. We asked Kevin about the label’s humble beginnings, finding a niche in a sea of independent labels and the rocky period when Topshelf almost fizzled out.
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Tawny Peaks – ‘In Silver River’ Review

It seems the older I get, the more I appreciate “sleepy indie rock.” While it’s easy to get lost in the lush, unspooling soundscapes of “Bad News” now, At Home With Owen would have certainly bored me to tears when I was 16 and only concerned with moshing to Pennywise and bands that sound like Pennywise.

Maybe it’s my own perpetual tiredness that’s caused this shift in taste, but at this point in my life, I’m much more likely to get goosebumps from a fuzzy Lemuria record than a circle pit-churning Fat Wreck band. New Jersey’s Tawny Peaks is definitely of the fuzzy and sleepy variety. The fact that band’s sophomore LP In Silver River is to be their last is particularly upsetting because of how well the tranquil sound suits them. Continue reading


Black Bananas – ‘Electric Brick Wall’ Review

For the duration of this review, let’s forget all about Royal Trux. Let’s forget about RTX that followed. Let’s forget about Twin Infinitives, let’s forget about their vast discography, and let’s forget about that one album cover with the toilet full of diseased-looking shit that consistently makes all the “Worst Album Covers” lists. Because Electric Brick Wall, the first release by Black Bananas, formerly known as the group involved in everything previously mentioned, should be viewed as something of a fresh start. Continue reading