Once upon a time Chicago trio Frontier were as well-known for their audience-pummeling visuals—smoke machines, blinding lights, slideshow projections—as they were for their epic avant-garde blasts. At the Empty Bottle in September, the three members convened from three different states to play their first show since 2003, doubling as a wedding band of sorts—they were celebrating the nuptials of Mark Ferguson, proprietor of Roscoe Village's Hard Boiled Records & Video. Apparently the reunion stuck, because they're playing again February 19 at the Abbey Pub. Frontier will be supported by an all-star lineup of noisy kin, including postindustrial brutalists Wolf Eyes, ambient solo-synth act Envenomist, and local heavy hitters BLOODYMINDED and Plague Bringer.
Swell Season front woman and Oscar winner Marketa Irglova was in town earlier this winter to record her solo debut at Soma with boyfriend/engineer/local dude Tim Iseler behind the boards. The album, slated for a summer release via Anti-, features a slew of Chicagoans, including jazzers like drummer Frank Rosaly, trombonist Jeb Bishop, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, and trumpeter Jaimie Branch. Irglova is also rumored to be relocating to Chicago later this year.
Folkish rocker Dan Schneider, the main songwriter behind local band the Singleman Affair, has been pleasing ears with his finely plucked melodies and lusty, heavily reverbed vocals for years. So far the Singleman Affair's big claim to fame has been that Alan McGee gave their 2006 debut, Let's Kill the Summer, an overseas release on his Poptones label. McGee was a pretty decent talent scout, having signed small-time bands like My Bloody Valentine, Primal Scream, and Oasis to his wee label Creation in the 80s and 90s—maybe you're familiar with that stuff. Anyway, Poptones folded in 2007, so Schneider reissued the album in 2009 on Cardboard Sangria Records, a label he'd formed in 2000 with one of his collaborators, Gary Pyskacek. The Singleman Affair's long-time-coming second full-length, Silhouettes at Dawn, which they released on Tuesday, features a hearty host of local luminaries, including members of Fruit Bats and Mucca Pazza as well as guitarist Emmett Kelly and bassist JoshUA Abrams, both of whom also gig with Bonnie "Prince" Billy's band. There's a release party February 11 at the Hideout; ethereal singer-songwriter Angel Olsen opens.
The Swan King, a Chicago trio who court chaos with a riff-heavy, grueling metallic barrage, release their debut full-length, Eyes Like Knives, on Portland-via-Chicago imprint Seventh Rule Recordings February 11. At that point you can buy it on CD or as MP3s, but if you wait until the February 19 record-release show at Beat Kitchen with Chord and Electric Hawk, you can get a copy free with admission. Just drop by the merch table and ask for one. Brutal swag for diddly-squat!
Are you wondering where self-proclaimed "dirtbag" noise trio Birth see themselves in Chicago's underground scene? "We don't fit in with the Art Institute hairy-leg-girls Day-Glo shit or the hardcore scene, and definitely don't wanna be a part of this neo-psych-fest shitstorm that has wah-pedaled me to death already," speaketh guitarist Josh Russell. The hairy-legged boys dropped their self-titled debut LP last week on Dead Beat. Birth have already put out two cassettes, but don't front like you've been down with them since their zygotic state—they made fewer than 20 copies of each, and you don't have one. But what they call their "winter tape" is up on Soundcloud (bit.ly/birthtape), in case you want to dub your own. The record-release show is February 18 at Empathy Lodge; for more info e-mail email@example.com.
Disappears and new drummer Steve Shelley (of Sonic Youth, maybe you've heard of 'em) made their local debut together Friday night at the Empty Bottle. By all accounts, they were a cohesive unit at the sold-out record-release show, with the new drummer pushing the band's sound into a different pocket. (That's what she said!) Disappears were also slinging a new five-song CD-EP, cut with Shelley, at the merch table. The EP is purportedly for Europeans only—on Tuesday the psych-rockers departed for a two-week tour of the continent with their ol' new guy—but local fans got to dip in for a taste first. Now that Shelley has proved to be such a perfect match for Disappears, this Wolf thinks they should recruit Kim Gordon!