More Local Artists


January 28, 2005


This week: More prime submissions from the always overflowing mail bins of Do-It-Yourself releases by local artists.

Reptoids, self-titled EP (

“Used amps, stolen guitars, bladder infections, UFO conspiracy theories, L7, too many cigarettes, jilted ex’es”—these are a few of the favorite things this Chicago quartet lists in its bio, and that roster summons a pretty good description of the group’s ultra-attitudinal brand of grungy punk (heaviest perhaps on the L7). Inspirational lyric from “Cowboys Scars” off the combo’s three-track debut EP: “Total loss of communication/Forget about the joys of masturbation.” Reptoids perform at Mutiny, 2428 N. Western, tomorrow night; call (773) 486-7774.

Carson’s Window, self-titled EP (

Launched by singer-songwriter Caryn Carson in her native Pennsylvania, Carson’s Window relocated to Chicago last May and expanded to a quartet featuring drums, bass and violin in addition to its leader’s understated piano playing. The band’s self-titled six-song debut is overly mannered at times—given the strength of Carson’s voice, it would be nice to hear the group rock a bit harder—but it will definitely appeal to fans of Lilith Faire; think of a mellower Tori Amos, a less pretentious Jewel, or a not-quite-but-maybe-someday Sarah McLachlan. The group performs at the Buzz Club, 308 W. Erie, at 8 p.m. on Feb. 11; call (312) 475-9800.

The Bon Mots, “Le Main Drag” (

Formed by power-pop veterans Eric Chial and Mike Coy in 2000, the Bon Mots are an appealingly jangly psychedelic/power-pop quartet that draws on the familiar influences of the Byrds and the Zombies but rises to the top of this always-overcrowded genre by virtue of its strong songwriting, Chris Frantisak’s atmospheric keyboards and the swirling production of its 12-song album. The disc has been out for some time, but I just caught up with it, and it’s worth the attention: At its best moments, it evokes the Rain Parade’s classic “Emergency Third Rail Power Trip”; at its worst, it veers close to the Zombies at their most twee and precious, but that’s still an accomplishment of sorts.

Zapruder Point, “Spirit of 91” (

John Aselin of Electric engineered this strong six-song EP, the follow-up to home-recording maven Dan Phillips’ earlier two-disc set, “Low Resolution.” Phillips’ skewed, ultra-personal brand of folkie art-rock follows in the tradition of the Elephant 6 bands—notably Neutral Milk Hotel—but the sound has grown more expansive as the group’s lineup has solidified into a trio with Casey Millard on violin and her husband Tom on drums. This disc, too, has been out for quite some time now, but it’s much too good to remain overlooked and underheralded.

Mabel, “Epidemic” EP (

Mabel is another cool indie-rock group that makes surprising but effective use of strings, with Chai Wolfman’s cello caressing Erin Hillert’s vocals and cascading piano as the two boys in the band keep things moving along with bass and drums, sort of like a more organic Stereolab. The quartet relocated from Madison before the release of this endearing five-song disc, and Wisconsin’s loss was Chicago’s gain.

The Blind Robins, “The Origin of the Wasteland” (

Based in Rockford and named for a pickled-fish snack popular in the backwoods bars of northern Wisconsin, this quartet displays as much of an old-school country influence (Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard) as it does traces of that new-fangled alt-country music. Its debut boasts chops aplenty—especially on the part of six-string wizard Adam Davis—a hearty and timeless sense of humor in the originals (a song called “That Goddamn Herbert Hoover” kicks things off), and a well-chosen cover in Neil Young’s “Campaigner.” The Bottle Rockets may have finally spawned a worthy successor.

Miasma of Funk, “Groove on the Mania!” (

Most fans of Chicago’s influential ’80s industrial-punk band Big Black know that guitarist Santiago Durango dropped out of music to become a lawyer, while Steve Albini is of course still doing his Steve Albini thing as a “recordist” and leader of Shellac. Bassist Dave Riley’s whereabouts have long been a mystery, but it turns out he’s living in downstate Warsaw and making music with Joe Irizarry (ex-Coitus Manifold), who runs the Top Scrap Records label. Funny and hard-hitting tracks such as “Radio Waves from Russia” (which samples Captain Beefheart’s “Dachau Blues”) and “Urr Chamber” recall that vintage Big Black groove and twisted sense of humor, minus Albini’s sizable personality. Riley has also published a collection of stories called Blurry and Disconnected: Tales of Sink or Swim Nihilism; for more info, visit

Mick Luter, eight-song demo (Day 1 Entertainment)

Luter is another rising rapper who’s showing the influence of Kanye West with an easy flow, a natural rhyming style and a fondness for building new tracks based on cool old R&B dusties. The West Side artist has been pegged as a comer since winning the Source’s emcee battle in 2000, and he made a splash a few years ago with his first album, “The Word.” Like that disc, his new material is largely produced by the well-respected No I.D. If the forthcoming album, “The Red Letter Edition,” is as strong as the best tracks on this sampler—“Someday” and “Rotate Wit Me”—Luter may soon be giving West a run for his money.

The Bish, two-song demo (

Led by Dan Cain, the Bish has some stoner-rock influences—there’s more than a little Deep Purple in its mix—as well as an aggressive, dirty garage-rock vibe courtesy of some killer Farfisa organ. These two tracks, “Alpha Male” and “Coronation,” have certainly whetted my appetite for a forthcoming album, due early this year. The quartet performs at the Elbo Room, 2871 N. Lincoln, on Feb. 12; call (773) 549-5549.

Aderrick, “Thirsty” (

This sexy and winning 12-track album, the follow-up to an earlier D.I.Y. release called “This Is Where It Begins,” brings to mind Prince circa “Controversey” crossed with cutting-edge electronica. Hot ’n’ horny grooves such as “Belly of the Beast” and “Rules of the Game” succeed on the strength of Aderrick’s sexy vocals, layered synth-heavy productions and a sultry wall of female backing vocals. Fronting a big, funky band, he could slay; I’d love to hear him get the chance.

Your Little Ponies, “Get On and Get Off” (

Here’s an oddity: A dirty-minded acoustic quartet that’s proudly deserving of the fake “Parental Advisory: Explicit Content” warning label on the cover of its second album, the follow-up to the equally well-titled “Saddle Up.” These unrepentant frat boys sing about doin’ the nasty, making love and rolling in the hay—with a few songs about sex as well—using fairly sophomoric but pretty darn funny language. As such, they’re sort of a modern analog to the pioneering and scatological Fugs. My favorite ditty: “I Really Wanted to Hump Her.”