By Mike Appelstein
By Daniel Hill
By Roy Kasten
By Kris Wernowsky
By Chaz Kangas
By Joseph Hess
By Julie Seabaugh
By Mike Appelstein
The City of Passersby's stories unfold song by song. Each track functions as its own unique chapter, meaning that the album's tales are told from different points of view through the eyes of individual narrators. And like pieces of a puzzle, they all fit together to form some kind of bigger picture. Using a combination of old instruments and a new folk-punk presentation, the talented members of Rats and People express the converging feelings in the album, with loss, confusion and hope taking center stage. (JL)
Best New Artist
Buoyed by Scott Lasser's surf-rock-influenced drumming and sweet-and-sour vocal harmonies from Laurel Mydock and Morgan Nusbaum, the 75s channel the punkish early days of the Go-Go's. Extra Fancy, the trio's debut LP, is a quick-and-dirty affair highlighted by cutting bass lines and Mydock's Liz Phair-esque vocal affectations. Thankfully, she doesn't channel Phair's flat boredom too; the 75s' smoking live cover of the Buzzcocks' "Orgasm Addict" keeps the original's angst. (AZ)
Market in the Loop, 3 p.m.
Although most noted for its unprecedented stage setup, the Livers isn't just a band with a clever presentation. The duo plays in front of a pre-recorded video of the two members as the rhythm section, freeing up the real-life Livers to sing and play guitar during the live shows. Word of mouth has done the band well, with uninitiated audience members attending the shows with the intention of watching the spectacle transpire — and instead finding themselves staying for the friendly vibe, funny between-song videos and riffed-out singable tunes. (JL)
Blueberry Hill's Duck Room, 1 p.m.
At the Grammy Awards, bands nominated in the Best New Artist category don't make it through to the next awards cycle. But we suspect that Wooden Kites is in it for the long haul. Built with seasoned local musicians who all seem to excel at their own instruments, the band combines scream-along choruses and joyously clashing verses – think Bright Eyes or the Replacements — to create a most audience-friendly experience. Look for the upcoming release The Orchard and an album release show at Vintage Vinyl on June 6. (JL)
Like many "new" bands in town, the Blind Eyes should be familiar to regular show-goers, especially since its lineup is the Gentleman Callers minus guitarist Mike Virag. This respectable pedigree likely explains the fully formed nature of the trio's first songs and recordings. "High Life" and "Find the Time" both conjure late-'70s pub-rock by Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe — while the band's energetic concerts channel the ghosts of another legendary mod-punk trio, the Jam. (AZ)
Fronted by singer and guitarist James Weber Jr., the Museum Mutters is a rock trio that plays by instinct, not by design. Sometimes its passions lead the band to droning Pavement art-noise, sometimes into Replacementsy guitar brawls and sometimes into druggy Big Star power-pop. The band recently released, via free download, what appears to be an eleven-song, lo-fi rock album, but which may actually be a topographical map noting the secret locations of pissed off and wild-at-heart rock nuggets. (RK)
Delmar Lounge, 10 p.m.
Best Pop Band
Perhaps the pesky (and incorrect) Arcade Fire comparisons that have dogged Gentleman Auction House will finally disappear when the septet releases Alphabet Graveyard next month. Recorded at Silver Sonya Studios in Washington, D.C., Graveyard's wintry pop songs incorporate reggae beats, new-wave sass, Rick James funk, bubblegum-soul and Bright Eyes-like folk. The band's formidable live show has become one of the city's best – thanks mainly to its ultra-danceable grooves and such playful touches as a cover of Rihanna's hip-pop "Breakin' Dishes." (AZ)
Main Stage, 3 p.m.
Like any good pop band, Jon Hardy & the Public doesn't find the genre's traditional verse-chorus-verse structure limiting. The group's fantastic 2007 release Working in Love often bettered the warm-toned soul and barbed hooks of Spoon while channeling the tortured souls of '70s power-pop royalty and hints of Springsteen's working-class sorrow. (AZ)
Denizens of the city's Irish (and Irish-friendly) pubs know Kevin Buckley for his prowess on the fiddle. But in rock clubs, he's known as the man behind the pure pop outfit Grace Basement. Last year's New Sense was full of compact, meaningful gems, such as the Superchunk-esque "Orphan Annie and the Dump Truck" and the twangy-folk standout "Santa Fe." Buckley's not one content to settle on one genre for long, though; the new podcast "Nestor Part I" on his MySpace demonstrates a prominent psych-folk influence (think Beta Band or My Morning Jacket). (AZ)
As a pop band that hits on punk and classic '70s rock & roll, the music of the Sex Robots is best experienced when its shambolic two-and-a-half-minute burners are witnessed live; its concerts are effortless in the way that only experienced musicians can present. Mostly, the members of the Sex Robots just make it all look so damn easy. Its pop elements are enhanced with bass grooves, thumping drums and virtuoso guitar shredding, and its lyrics contain depth and small stories. But like any good pop band, the presentation takes over any deep message. (JL)
Delmar Lounge, 9 p.m.
The list of piano-led rock groups that don't totally suck is a short one, but the piano-bass-drums trio the Feed makes a case for the keyboard's supremacy. Using a battery of vintage keyboards that would make Rick Wakeman proud, Dave Grelle infuses no small measure of soul into his band's rock-centric sound, both in his playing and singing. In their quest to be completely guitar-free, the band members treat their instruments like a six-string, running organs and saxophones through stomp boxes to create elastic, crunchy tones that rub up against Ben Reece's liquid bass lines and Kevin Bowers' intuitive drumming. (CS)
Blueberry Hill's Duck Room, 4 p.m.