Kevin Salem | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Although he served three years in Boston's great pop failure Dumptruck and has played and/or recorded with, among others, Yo La Tengo, Syd Straw, Freedy Johnston, Pooh Sticks, and Miracle Legion, chances are you've never heard of Kevin Salem. That's OK, he's probably never heard of you either. But after a couple of listens to his impressive debut, Soma City (Roadrunner), you'll be interested in getting familiar with him. A popster with an ax to grind, Salem evokes a wide variety of sources: imagine the hooks of Tommy Keene, early Tom Petty, and Matthew Sweet sung with a nasal Dylan-esque moan amid a chunky, aggressive guitar attack that suggests the loose, raw grooves of the Rolling Stones and the blustery soul-searching of Neil Young. Lyrically, he mucks around with contemplative love-gone-awry junk like "Cut you up, broken valentine / Take what you need and go" from "Forever Gone." While he offers nothing especially new, his emotion-drenched work is pretty darn close to impeccable. Among endless waves of novelty, this kind of solidity can be a blessing. Saturday, 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport; 525-2508.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo/Karen Kuehn.

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