Best New “Chicago Sound”

Critics' Picks

Glammy garage

A little more a year ago the Smith Westerns dropped their self-titled debut album on HoZac, a mix of straight-ahead garage rock and swoony, slightly fey stoner pop that sounded like T. Rex reincarnated as a lo-fi basement band fronted by a snotty teenager—basically they’d replaced Marc Bolan’s space-wizard trippiness with brash adolescent energy. Six months later another local band, Mickey, put out a single on HoZac that fused the confrontational punk of the Functional Blackouts (the previous group of front man Mark McKenzie) with the swaggering bubblegum of the Sweet (the band you might know from “Ballroom Blitz” or a ton of even better songs). No-frills and in-your-face, Mickey have a lot in common with the streetwise, glitter-free British glam bands of the 70s, who sounded like Bowie one minute and a bunch of guys who’d cut you as soon as look at you the next. Chicago hardly invented the combo of garage and glam—it’s been around on and off for decades—but with two local bands stripping it down to jeans and a T-shirt, roughing it up a bit, and making it theirs, the city might be able to claim the next wave for itself.