Leave was the sort of hard-working, extremely talented but never flashy, meat-and-potatoes Midwestern power-pop band that can be heard in two or three venues around town on any given night, and which always prompts a smile. It's the kind of group that's all too easy to take for granted--until it's gone.
I last celebrated the effervescent grooves, tight harmonies and chiming guitars of bandleader Mike Murphy, guitarist Jim Latsis, drummer Terry Keating and bassist Joe Herrmann in one of the periodic roundups of local demos and D.I.Y. releases that were the precursor to this column in 2003. I kept an eye on their doings in the years that followed, but didn't get around to writing about them again until now, as their latest self-released album "On a Happy Note" arrives with both the best music and the saddest news they've given us.
The new disc commemorates Murphy's last recordings, completed two days before his death at the hands of a hit-and-run driver last year. The sounds can be sampled online at www.myspace.com/leavechicago, but it would be even better to celebrate it live from 3 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 10, at 115 Bourbon Street, 3359 W. 115th St. in Merrionette Park, during the "Murph's Gift of Music Benefit," a fundraiser for the Michael J. Murphy Music Scholarship Fund to provide lessons and instruments to children and teens who don't have the financial means. More information can be found at www.murphsgiftofmusic.org.
Demo2DeRo: Light Pollution
National Geographic has defined light pollution as "ill-designed lighting [that] washes out the darkness of night and radically alters the light levels--and light rhythms--to which many forms of life, including ourselves, have adapted." Light pollution, the phenomenon, threatens migration, reproduction and feeding in the natural world. But Light Pollution, the band, is much more benign in its swirling, hypnotic and alternately sweetly melodic and unsettlingly disorienting washes of reverb, analog synthesizers, clattering percussion and lo-fi noise.Originally formed by vocalist and bandleader Jim Cicero and his drummer-pal Matt Evertt [CQ] in DeKalb when Cicero was attending Northern Illinois University, the group, which expands to a quartet onstage, has become a much-buzzed fixture on the Chicago club scene, thanks to its mix of vintage '90s shoegazer psychedelia and more currently hip freak folk a la Grizzy Bear. What's more, it's beginning to garner attention throughout the Midwest as it tours to build anticipation for a forthcoming full-length album, following on the heels of last year's self-titled debut EP. Three enchanting tracks are streaming on the band's Web site--www.myspace.com/lightpollution--and after an impressive roster of far-flung gigs, it returns to its current home for a show at Schubas on Nov. 22.