Chris Knox | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Chris Knox

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Chris Knox is the grand old man of New Zealand's independent music scene. In the late 70s, he sang in Toy Love, the kiwi counterpart of the Sex Pistols, and as half of the Tall Dwarfs (since 1982) he has pioneered a low-tech recording aesthetic that still distinguishes the antipodean underground. He also engineered the earliest recordings by pop sensations the Chills, the Verlaines, and the Clean, is an accomplished cartoonist and painter, and has released four solo albums in New Zealand. Meat his only U.S.-released CD, compiles music from throughout his solo career and shows Knox to be an accomplished lyricist who undercuts movements of sensitive introspection with bitterly humorous celebrations of bodily functions and mental illness. Knox's music embraces equally jarring contrasts; his voice is a flexibly emotional instrument reminiscent of John Lennon's, his roaring guitar playing could grace a Buzzcock's song, and his drum-machine programs employ a hilarious array of shamelessly artificial sounds. Knox also writes melodies so effortlessly catchy that Marshall Crenshaw covered one ("Face of Fashion"). His ribald stage banter makes him a favorite regular attraction on New Zealand college compuses and he's come to this country twice before, but this is his first Chicago appearance. Opening is Ashtray Boy, an ingratiating trio led by Australian pop crooner Randall Lee that is about to release a superb album called The Honeymoon Suite. Monday, 7PM, Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln; 525-6620.

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