Rosenbergs | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader


If Julius and Ethel had gotten the kind of press this Long Island power-pop quartet has, they might never have been executed. The musical Rosenbergs made headlines early last year for turning down a particularly rapacious contract offered them by, a combination Web site/cable TV show/record label established by Interscope founder Jimmy Iovine and Universal Music Group chairman Doug Morris. had invited unsigned acts to upload music onto the site and, if the tracks proved popular, offered the artists slots on the show--as long as they granted the label an exclusive 60-day option to sign them to a six-album deal under which they'd forfeit not only their masters but rights to an official Web site of their own. After flipping the bird, the Rosenbergs were profiled in Spin and Entertainment Weekly, and later in the year they made news again for signing a novel agreement with Robert Fripp's label, Discipline Global Mobile: the band retained ownership of their recordings, and in exchange for a generous royalty rate on CD sales they granted the label a percentage of all their other business (merchandise, concert receipts, downloads). My hat's off to any artist who can undermine the plantation mentality of the record industry, but you can't dance to a business model--when it all comes down to the band's new Mission: You and a cash register, should you toss in your 12 bucks? In a word, yes: though no one can accuse singer-guitarist David Fagin of breaking new ground, his songs of love gone wrong (and occasionally right) are witty, intelligent, and packed with agreeable melodies that recall the late-70s output of midwestern acts like Cheap Trick and the Shoes. I listened to the disc cold, without connecting the group to its press, and would've recommended it then--though I'm a sucker for any band with a story instead of just a product. Saturday, March 24, 10 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee; 773-489-3160.


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