Let's Active | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Let's Active

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On his third full-length record, Every Dog Has Its Day, prodigy producer and ultrapop songster Mitch Easter continues his search for the perfect hook. There's a drama to his efforts and a poiignancy as well: it's a noble task but a hopeless one too, and sooner or later one realizes that that's not really what rock 'n' roll is supposed to be about. Because of that, Easter (aka Let's Active) will remain a marginal figure in rock, never a central one. That aside, he deserves a listen: when that foolish search is paired with the right talents (for example, in his landmark productions with R.E.M., Marshall Crenshaw, Suzanne Vega, and bunches of indie acts), something pure and beautiful is often the result. And on his own records, his fixations combine explosively with his studio prowess and his love for pop history. Every Dog Has Its Day is lush and bountiful and weird: a gorgeous song like "Horizon" (sung by Angle Carlson, a key element in the now-solidified Let's Active touring ensemble) has a twangy feedback that turbocharges the backing track; "Mr. Fool" sounds like a bastard child of the Hollies and the Buzzcocks. Live, the group's attack is loud and often approaches thunderous. Their precision allows Easter to ring bells and save souls with his guitar. Velvet Elvis, whom Easter produces, and Friendly Fire open. Tonight, 7:30 PM, Cabaret Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 549-0203.

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

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