Need to plan your itinerary for three days of tunes at Chicago’s Grant Park? We’ve done it for you, and Friday’s alignment is near perfect – complete with a dinner break. Also, graciously, we’ve directed you away from the glow-stick-raving teenagers.
Fifteen years after influential stoner rock act Kyuss disbanded, two of its original members — John Garcia and Brandt Bjork — went on to form Kyuss Lives! They’ve since taken legal action to perform under the original band name, which has former Kyuss members — Queens of the Stone Age‘s Josh Homme and Kyuss live stand-in Scott Reeder — fighting back. The two recently filed a federal lawsuit against their former bandmates to protect the Kyuss name.
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Earlier this year, when The Black Keys announced a new album via a used-car commercial spoof starring Bob Odenkirk, it was obvious that the band had something fun up its sleeve. The gimmick didn’t come out of nowhere, given the band’s knack for humor (see last year’s “Tighten Up” video). If anything, it felt right — with The Black Keys’ rising popularity in the last few years, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney seem to be enjoying themselves. And that’s never been more apparent than on their latest release, El Camino.
With the last decade spent tearing apart genres and sewing them back together, the blues-indie-rock outfit (which recently relocated to Nashville from Akron, Ohio) has become one of the most consistent acts around. And though many bands might crumble under the weight of mounting exposure — in the last week alone, the band has appeared on Saturday Night Live, The Colbert Report, and The Late Show with David Letterman, in addition to jump-starting a North American tour packed with numerous arena stops — the band has simply gotten more carefree. Auerbach and Carney look and sound like they’re having the times of their lives, and they probably are, even if that means adapting to their now-more-expansive surroundings. And El Camino, the band’s seventh effort in just nine years, showcases the end product of that transformation, as the duo has cultivated a bigger, more varied sound — without losing its edge.
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Formed in 2005, Cleveland-based duo Mr. Gnome has been offering introspective, spooky indie rock ever since its inception. Even though the art-rock band is composed of just singer/guitarist Nicole Barille and drummer/pianist Sam Meister, Mr. Gnome finds a way to make a lot of noise. And thankfully for us, it’s noise worth hearing.
Though two-pieces are fairly common these days, Mr. Gnome has managed to stand out with the best of them. The band’s latest effort, Madness in Miniature, finds Barille and Meister confident, collected, and ready for the limelight, armed with a catalog of varied instrumentation and musical styles.
The album flexes its muscles frequently. Oscillating between raucously distorted guitars, atmospheric soundscapes, persistent drumming, and Barille’s full-on belt-outs and soft-spoken vocal layers, the body of work immediately calls to mind the best stuff by Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Kills, with hints of Queens of the Stone Age peppered throughout. And just a few tracks in, it becomes apparent: this is fright rock at its finest.