Huon | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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On "C86," from Huon's third album, Hung Up Over Night (555), drummer and singer David Nichols reminisces about chasing his youthful rock 'n' roll dream in England and Australia. The song takes its name from a cassette compilation of guitar-oriented pop (the Wedding Present, the Shop Assistants) that accompanied an issue of NME in 1986, and though Nichols sounds pretty nostalgic for those times--living on the dole, hanging out with the drummer from Alternative TV, spotting Edwyn Collins from Orange Juice at a Moodists show, even getting bronchitis after sleeping on someone's floor--the wobbly pop he's making now isn't stuck in the past. In fact, the Melbourne-based quartet Huon is the most adventurous and prolific band of his 17-year career. Former drummer for the Cannanes and Crabstick as well as an inveterate cartoonist and fanzine writer, Nichols assembled this latest group by recruiting singer-guitarist Mia Schoen (a member of Long Weekend and Sleepy Township) and two bassists, Andrew Withycombe (the Cat's Miaow, Hydroplane) and Ellen Turner (Long Weekend); Nichols, Schoen, and Withycombe were already playing together in Driving Past, behind singer-guitarist Gig Ryan. Such an incestuously cozy lineup might've seemed fated to make a comfortable, stay-at-home kind of music, but instead Huon has ranged all over the map--on the five albums they've released in the past three years, they rap over crackly accordion and balalaika loops, play synthesizer instrumentals that sound like Lene Lovich B sides, sing dreamy Galaxie 500-style ballads, and even groove to dance beats (on a ten-inch mini LP, Disco Square). Huon's latest album, Answers to Lucky (a joint release by the local Dutch Courage label and the Denver-based Animal World), is the first to document their live sound, which makes good use of the paired basses; they're more likely to carry a melody (or even two melodies at once) than they are to keep the beat. This is Huon's first-ever Chicago appearance; among the opening acts will be Steward, the solo project of 555 Records honcho Stewart Anderson, and acoustic popster Jan Turrell. Friday, October 26, 9:30 PM, South Lounge, Reynolds Club, University of Chicago, 5706 S. University; 503-706-2468.

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