Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Chad Vangaalen, Simon Dawes

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Calgary-born pop savant CHAD VANGAALEN recorded the material on his formal debut, Infiniheart, on a four-track at home, making liberal use of hand-built and modified instruments. At first he mostly handed out CD-R copies at shows, often in one-of-a-kind handmade sleeves, but in 2004 the tiny Calgary indie label Flemish Eye released a fine-tuned version that kicked off a scuffle among Sub Pop, Secretly Canadian, and Arts & Crafts, all of whom wanted to sign him. Sub Pop won out and shortly reissued Infiniheart; VanGaalen's new Skelliconnection, also on Sub Pop, leans harder on actual song structures than its predecessor, but there's still a fair bit of lo-fi fuck-aroundery mixed in with the likable, catchy rock tunes. --J. Niimi

There must be a thousand bands like SIMON DAWES in the world: a bunch of white guys in their early 20s with bedhead and a boner for the Holy Foursome of Lennon, Davies, Bowie, and Reed. At this point just seeing those names together on a bio sheet nearly puts me to sleep, but luckily I didn't read Simon Dawes's bio before I listened to their record--they had the chance to sneak up on me and kinda rock my world. Their upcoming Carnivore (out September 12 on Record Collection) has got all the hooks that anyone who's memorized the Kinks catalog is capable of regurgitating, but the boys sell it hard: they swagger just enough to make you think they might really believe they came up with this shit, and nod and wink just enough to remind you that it's all for fun anyway. Plus the songs just slay, with nuanced melodies and world-weary sarcasm that seem far beyond their authors' years. Onstage these guys suffer a bit from the absence of Carnivore's dirty-minded production--many of the core tracks on the record are actually recycled rehearsal tapes--but they can still whip a crowd into a froth, even when nobody in the room could pick them out of a lineup. --Miles Raymer

Band of Horses headlines, Chad VanGaalen plays second, and Simon Dawes opens. Tue 9/5, 9 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $16, 18+.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Wilkosz & Way.

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