WHPK, the student-run radio station at the University of Chicago, originally started its own modest take on the school's big Summer Breeze concert as an antidote to that end-of-year student bacchanalia. These days the station's own outdoor event is practically part of the official festivities, but its program still stands in stark contrast to the evening lineup, which this year includes Talib Kwele, Cake, Andrew Bird, and the Cool Kids (if you're not a student at U. of C., you can only go with someone who is). Beginning at noon tomorrow with the Smith Westerns, WHPK's show also includes Animal Law, Dead Luke, Wolfden, Bird Names, and the New York duo Talibam!
Talibam! could get under the skin of even the biggest fan of abrasive, antisocial music. Drummer Kevin Shea, formerly of Storm & Stress, is dedicated to the art of pushing listeners' buttons--he also plays in the superb freebop combo Mostly Other People Do the Killing and in a strange duo with guitarist Mary Halvorson called People, among other groups. He drums like Animal from the Muppets doing his darnedest to shake his own head off his shoulders, and his sound is like an entire gamelan orchestra falling down a long flight of stairs.
Shea's partner in Talibam! is synthesizer player Matt Mottel, who triggers an endless profusion of needling little riffs, occasionally punctured by some free-ish noodling. And on their recent Ordination of the Globetrotting Conscripts (Azul Discografica) they're joined by a full complement of top-shelf guests, including brilliant MOPTDK trumpeter Peter Evans and the rest of that band, plus Cooper-Moore on, among other things, diddley bow. The album veers between post-Flying Luttenbachers chaos, quasi-hillbilly two-stepping, faux-house pounding, and wanky prog rock on the verge of collapse.
Talibam! headline WHPK's Summer Breeze, and the weather's supposed to be nice, if a little gusty--but if you don't feel like being in the vicinity of thousands of college students, they also play tonight at Ronny's.
Sonny Simmons, Last Man Standing (Jazzaway)
Jean-Claude Vannier, L'Enfant Assassin des Mouches (Finders Keepers)
Nick Lowe, At My Age (Yep Roc)
Alec K. Redfearn & the Eyesores, The Blind Spot (Cuneiform)
Robbie Basho, Venus in Cancer (Tompkins Square)