Its members have
been some of the most familiar faces on local stages for the last
two decades, and the sound the group is dedicated to exploring --
gloriously primitive, wonderfully snarling garage rock -- is
certainly nothing new. But the Goldstars are nonetheless one of the
freshest groups on the Chicago music scene, and their recently
released second album, "Purple Girlfriend," is as good as the genre
think the goal this time was just trying to take what we had and go
into the studio and lay it down; there wasn't really a concept per
se," says bassist-vocalist Matt Favazza, who goes by the nom de rock
we started the band, I just loved the 'Nuggets' era" -- the period
of mid-'60s garage-rock one-hit-wonder charted by Lenny Kaye on the
"Nuggets" album. "It was an amazing time in music, because you could
still have a local band from an area no one heard of have a hit, and
to me, that was almost glamorous: You had a chance! Like hitting the
lottery or something, the odds were still stacked against you, but
the chance was there.
"You didn't have
to be the best player in town; you just did it! You took everything
you had and made the best of it. It was a very in-the-moment kind of
thing. I always really center on where I'm at; I don't think, 'Oh, I
want to try to destroy the world or do this or that.' I want to just
start where I'm at and where I live. These bands had the opportunity
to do that, and they wrote some really great songs."
So, too, did the
Goldstars, especially on the new album, which has fewer covers than
their fine 2003 Pravda Records debut, "Gotta Get Out." Witness the
rampaging fury of "Fire," which finds guitarist Dag Juhlin
alternating between a choppy R&B rhythm and fiery riffs as drummer
Goodtime hammers a frug-worthy groove, keyboardist Skipper colors
the sound with a trashy organ drone, and Sal howls, "You've got a
fire, baby, and I ain't gonna put you out!"
After about a
decade behind the drums with the power-pop band the Krinkles, Sal/Favazza
was looking for new challenges in 2002. "Not that I didn't identify
with the music, but creatively, I was like, 'Man, I'd really like to
do stuff that's a lot simpler. I started to listen to a lot more
primitive music, and I was at a show with Skipper" -- a k a New
Duncan Imperials bassist and Pravda founder Kenn Goodman -- "and I
just kind of turned to him and went, 'Do you want to be in my band?'
It was really dumb, because when you've been playing for a while and
then you're not in a band, you feel like an idiot; you don't know
what to do with yourself. I was in that stage and was like, 'You
know what? Maybe he'll want to do something. NDI hasn't been as
active as they've been in the past.'
"So Skipper came
on board first, and then he was like, 'I guess we're going to need a
singer.' I said, "No, no, I want to sing and play bass; we need a
drummer.' He said, 'What about Goodtime?'" (NDI rhythm king John
Smith, a k a Goodtime, guards his real identity better than some mob
informants.) "I was really surprised; I don't know why, but I didn't
think he'd want to be in a band with me."
A few guitarists
came and went in the months that followed, until the lineup was
completed by Dag Juhlin, the "Chicago rock legend" (it says so on
his Web site) and guitarist for Poi Dog Pondering and the Slugs. "He
was originally kind of a fill-in," Sal says. "But we were praying
he'd want to stay and that he could do it, because he's so busy.
This is not a money gig; we do it because we love it. Dag is an
incredible player and songwriter, and he's just so funny and so much
fun to hang out with. Anyway, he was having fun, and he stayed, and
if he didn't, I wouldn't be here and we wouldn't have a second
So Dag has given
the Chicago scene one more reason to thank him, and the Goldstars
have given us one of the most vital sets of garage rock that recent
revival has produced, easily earning a place beside the Hives, the
Mooney Suzuki or Jack White's new side project, the Raconteurs.
"I don't think
we really fit in with a lot of what's going on because we're not
really traditional -- we're not purists," Sal says. "I love that
stuff, but I like a lot of other things, too. I never intended it to
be a really purist band where we would dress exactly like Paul
Revere and the Raiders. I like bands like the Hives and Mooney
Suzuki, who aren't afraid and aren't really traditional."
Imperial fans may miss the Silly String, and Poi Dog followers may
find the rhythms much less hippie-twirl-inducing, but the Goldstars
are guaranteed to deliver the hard-rockin' goods at Saturday night's
record-release party at the Hideout, and Sal does promise some
surprises. "We have some amazing go-go dancers from Kansas City," he
After a 14-year
break from issuing any solo recordings, Tom Verlaine, the
main vocalist and one of two guitar heroes in the legendary art-punk
band Television, gave us not one but two new albums earlier this
spring, both issued on Chicago's always adventurous Thrill Jockey
"Warm and Cool," the new disc "around" is an instrumental set that
finds Verlaine offering 16 varied explorations of his famously clean
and precise sound, which can range from vintage San Francisco
psychedelia (Quicksilver Messenger Service has always been one of
his most unheralded influences) to Duane Eddy twang, and from
heavily reverbed and vibrato-laden surf music to flights of free
jazz. His first vocal album since "The Wonder" in 1990, "songs and
other things" is a more rocking but slightly less successful disc.
It lacks a single tune as strong as "Postcard from Waterloo," much
less anything from Television's first two albums, but again, lovers
of inventive rock guitar will find plenty to draw them in.
recorded the latter disc with a group of musicians including drummer
Louie Appel and Television bassist Fred Smith, who are playing in
his touring band along with guitarist Jimmy Rip. Verlaine's Chicago
gig at 8 p.m. Monday is one you probably don't want to miss, and
it's been moved from Metro to the more intimate Double Door, 1572 N.
Milwaukee. Tickets are $18 in advance, $20 at the door Call (773)
489-3160 for more information.