Loud Family | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Loud Family

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Loud Family leader Scott Miller is something of a throwback. Like John Lennon and Brian Wilson, he labors to create pop that's sophisticated and intriguing as well as energetic and accessible. In 1982 his previous band Game Theory began releasing records that mingled brittle, lilting melodies and calliopelike electric keyboards into an oddly ornate, quasi-new-wave sound. As time went on, the guitars became more prominent, the arrangements more elaborate, and the melodies more fluid and engaging. Game Theory reached its zenith with The Big Shot Chronicles (1986), which featured infectious hooks, intelligent lyrics, and some exceptionally gorgeous ballads. Eventually Miller changed the name of his ever-shifting lineup to the Loud Family, and in 1993 Plants and Birds and Rocks and Things (Alias) reconfirmed his status as one of the finest craftsmen in rock today. Where most pop songwriters settle for a catchy hook or a propulsive riff, Miller uses shifting meters or elongated phrasing. Such tactics, along with his fondness for tape manipulation and conceptual dabbling, leave him open to charges of pretension, but his songs have an easy appeal and effortless lyricism that mask their artiness. The upcoming The Tape of Only Linda (Alias) is his most straightforward blast of high-volume power pop ever. At the band's last show here they unreeled old and new songs with vigor and precision. Saturday, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 276-3600.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Fiona O'Connor.

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