Cornershop | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Cornershop are responsible for two of the catchiest rock songs I've heard in the last decade: "6 A.M. Jullander Shere," from the 1996 album Woman's Gotta Have It, and 1997's alt-rock radio hit "Brimful of Asha," from When I Was Born for the 7th Time. But despite these successes, songs don't seem to come easy for front man Tjinder Singh. Both of those albums contained lots of what's charitably called filler--in the form of noodly hip-hop-inspired loops that never went anywhere--and it took the band five years to release the new Handcream for a Generation (Wiija/Beggars Banquet). A couple of the new songs are almost as catchy as their two biggest hits: on "Staging the Plaguing of the Raised Platform" the nod-along strumming is cut by a fat 70s-style lead, analog synth lines that echo the Rockford Files theme, and a kiddie chorus, while on "Lessons Learned From Rocky I to Rocky III" Singh rips on hipsters' obsession with 70s rock ("the overgrown supershit") over a guitar lick that wouldn't be out of place on Elton John's "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting." Much of the rest of the album consists of more experiments with loops--but for the first time in the band's history they work. In 2000, under the name Clinton, Singh and Cornershop's only other steady member, Ben Ayres, released Disco & the Halfway to Discontent (Luaka Bop), a collection of half-formed house, hip-hop, and electronic dance grooves that in retrospect seems like a workshop for this stuff: the new "Music Plus 1" is a thumping house track with wild effects and neat chopped-up funk guitar, "Wogs Will Walk" breaks up the endless cycling of a two-note organ lick with scratching from Rob Swift of the X-ecutioners, "Motion the 11" is a convoluted reggae groove with a guest vocalist making like U-Roy, and "People Power" is a quasi-disco loop that appeared in vastly inferior form on the Clinton album. Friday, May 17, 10 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Chris Davison.

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