In the ever-volatile, consistently surprising music world, the only
"sure bet" is that anyone who predicts a "sure bet" is probably an
Nevertheless, when pressed to name the 10 homegrown acts to watch
in 2008, I have no problem rattling off a list of Chicago artists
I'm fairly certain will make considerable noise in the months to
Are any of the musicians or groups alphabetically listed below
"the Next Big Thing"? I wouldn't bet on it. But they're certainly
making fans in Chicago -- and they're all deserving of much wider
1. THE ADORNMENTS:
Though it only recently has started playing out, this gleefully
goofy, fabulously unselfconscious rockabilly/New Wave/garage-rock
quintet instantly became one of my favorite local bands on the
strength of funny, catchy, minimalist anthems such as "Blogs Are
Cries for Help" and "Pox on Your Car." Think of the B-52's, the
Cramps and the Violent Femmes crammed into a van on a three-day road
trip. Then think of them on acid.
The Adornments perform March 8 at the
Nite Cap Lounge, 5007 W. Irving Park.
A psychedelic shoegazer band from Bridgeport? You know it, and this
quartet has got that vintage Ride sound down so well, you'll swear
they attended Oxford in the early '90s. The group has been touring
in support of its first full album, "The Battle of Sealand,"
unleashing a full-blown sensory assault to rival My Bloody Valentine
at its loudest and with visuals that would do Pink Floyd proud.
Airiel will return from a 10-gig tour
of the U.K. to perform a free show at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Metro,
3710 N. Clark.
3. THE COOL KIDS:
Kicking it old-school with two turntables and a microphone, rappers
Mikey Rocks and Chuck Inglish were one of the most impressive acts
at last year's Pitchfork Music Festival, and "Black Mags," the
standout track from the "Totally Flossed Out" EP, should do for dirt
biking what Lupe Fiasco's "Kick Push" did for skateboarding.
Gearing up to release a new EP called
"The Bake Sale," the Cool Kids represent Chitown at the South by
Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas, on March 12.
4. EZRA FURMAN:
Falling somewhere between New York freak-folk guru Devendra Banhart
and "Juno" soundtrack heroine Kimya Dawson -- with Jonathan Richman
at the root of the whole genre -- this sensitive 20-year-old made
his debut on the local Minty Fresh label with last year's "Banging
Down the Doors," featuring gonzo tunes such as "God Is a Middle-Aged
Hot off a Friday night residency at
the Annex in New York, Furman will perform March 8 at the Hideout,
1354 W. Wabansia, before heading to Texas for SXSW.
5. HEAD OF FEMUR:
Chicago continues to be a hotbed of beautiful ork-pop: The Scotland
Yard Gospel Choir and the 1900s both won widespread accolades for
their releases last year, and now it's Head of Femur's turn with a
lush and irresistible album called "Great Plains." Due on March 25,
it comes complete with cello, violin, viola, trumpet, trombone,
flute and a small orchestra's worth of other instruments.
The core Femur trio of Matt Focht,
Mike Elsener and Ben Armstrong perform at Schubas, 3159 N.
Southport, with the usual extended cast of friends and hired hands
on April 11.
6. KID SISTER:
Rapper Melissa Young won the blessing of none other than Kanye West
when he made a cameo on her single "Pro Nails," and she's been
signed to the label started by West's DJ, A-Trak. The buzz is that
she's one of the strongest female voices in hip-hop since the glory
days of Yo-Yo and Salt-N-Pepa, and fans are eagerly anticipating her
debut album, tentatively titled "Koko B. Ware."
Kid Sister performs for "MTV's Spring
Break" in Florida on March 18.
7. MATTHEW SANTOS:
Blessed with a gorgeous voice introduced to the world at large on
Lupe Fiasco's "American Terrorist" and "Superstar," this Columbia
College grad is slowly but surely garnering attention for his own
stripped-down folk-rock, as heard on last year's acoustic solo album
"Matters of the Bittersweet." The fact that he continues to perform
with Lupe in the company of Kanye and Pharrell Williams can't hurt,
8. TOM SCHRAEDER:
Hardworking, unassuming but wildly ambitious, this 23-year-old
singer-songwriter is touring the States with a nine-piece band in
support of his first self-released seven-song EP. The group is
showing its range during its Monday "Practice Space" residency at
Schubas this month, and clearly it's just warming up.
Tom Schraeder and His Ego play at 8
p.m. Friday at the Art Institute of Chicago, then a more
conventional gig March 8 at the Hideout before heading to SXSW.
9. THE SAPIENS:
Quite possibly the most stylish band in town right now, with the
spiffiest suits since the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, these five
musicians have been pinging on my radar for some time: They play
with the punk ferocity of overly caffeinated teens while writing
songs with the sassy sophistication of Elvis Costello or Ray Davies.
Right now, they only have a self-released EP to their credit, "Vs.
the Hornet," but it'll be interesting to see what they do over an
The Sapiens play at Beat Kitchen,
2100 W. Belmont, on March 7.
10. TEAM BAND:
America needed an answer to British pop-punk favorites Art Brut, and
here it is, complete with a D.I.Y. animated short on its Web site
and lovably self-referential ditties such as "Team Band Fight Song"
and "Team Band Anthem." Then there's the immortal (or at least it
should be) "Bond" from last year's "Rock & Roll" EP, which finds
singer Greg Drama cooing, "I'm Bond/I'm so bloody James Bond/You
know, baby, I'm cool as ice/And twice as nice." He may even be
Catch the Team Band spirit Sunday
night at Quenchers, 2401 N. Western.