FEATURE: My 2014 In Live Music

I went a little over two years without seeing any live music. It certainly wasn’t something I was trying to do, but it happened. This was pretty unforgivable for someone who blogs about music. This is even more unforgivable given my immediate proximity to Chicago. There were literally bands here always.

But, somehow, I went from July 2011 until November 2013 without seeing any live music. It was a pretty big drought. As is forever the story of my life, it was almost always due to money problems, health problems, or scheduling problems. I work 3rd shift on Wednesday through Saturday nights. This means I end up missing damn near every show. That two year span was a lot of disappointment. I’d see a band was coming, only to see the show was on a Friday or Saturday night. Meaning I had to work.

Luckily that streak was broken. I got back into the swing of things this last year. I got to see a pretty fair amount of bands. Here is my 2014 in live music:

NONA / Pet Symmetry / Meah! / The Valenteens

Dowsing / Donovan Wolfington / Bluebirds / Per Aspera

Dowsing / Little Big League / Winter Classic / L. Mounts

Lemuria / Cayetana / PUP / The Menzingers

Braid / Jason Douglass Swearingen

Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) / Joie De Vivre / Free Throw

Lemuria / Lifted Bells / Prince

American Football / Braid

Ten of those bands ended up on my year end lists.

Hopefully 2015 is as eventful. Though, with the apparent loss of Township, I feel like Sunday night shows are going to fall by the wayside. That is definitely a bummer.

So, bands I like, you are on notice. Please play Sunday shows when you come to Chicago. You will be my best friends, and you may end up on a year end list on a blog that not very many people read. Deal?

YEAR END! – Top Twenty Records Of 2014


  • Allison Crutchfield – “Lean Into It”
  • Braid – “No Coast”
  • Cayetana – “Nervous Like Me”
  • Crisis Arm – “Rend”
  • Dikembe – “Mediumship”
  • Divino Niño – “Pool Jealousy”
  • Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) – “You Will Eventually Be Forgotten”
  • Free Throw – “Those Days Are Gone”
  • Grey Zine – “Destitution”
  • The Hotelier – “Home Like Noplace Is There”
  • Kill The Intellectuals – “I Hope You Die Painlessly – With Laugh Lines And Wrinkles Around Your Eyes”
  • Kittyhawk – “Hello, Again”
  • Late Bloomer – “Things Change”
  • Living Room – “Moonchaser”
  • Mother Room – “Scorched”
  • Museum Mouth – “Alex I Am Nothing”
  • My Fictions – “Stranger Songs”
  • Perfect Future – “Manifesto”
  • Sport – “Bon Voyage”
  • Weak Teeth – “So You’ve Ruined Your Life”

REVIEW: Cayetana – “Nervous Like Me”

cayetananervouslikemeIf you want the truth, it is really hard to try and review this record. I’m sitting at the computer, wearing a Cayetana t-shirt, and trying to think of new ways to talk about how much I love this band. I touched on it briefly when I reviewed the Hot Dad Calendar single. In that review I said:

“I knew, from the minute I heard their demo/EP on If You Make It, that this was a band I was going to want to keep track of. And, goddamnit, I’m really glad I did. I can say without hesitation that the only thing disappointing about this 7″ is that it isn’t a full length. That isn’t hyperbole, it isn’t some bullshit. This is one of those rare times where you should believe the hype.”

And, to be honest, all that is still true. Any hype Cayetana gets is still 100% deserved. In fact, Nervous Like Me is definitely one of the top records of the year. I’ve been living with this record since June, when I got to see the band in Chicago. It is exactly what I would have wanted it to be. It’s a record that plays in the middle ground of punk and indie. The songs are melodic and catchy as all get out. But, and this is important, they still have a raw edge to them. This is evident from the get go. Augusta Koch’s vocals on the album opener, “Serious Things Are Stupid,” are still as raw as ever. It’s a rawness that just works perfectly with everything else. Be it the fuzzy, distorted guitar or the bouncing basslines. Especially on songs like “Dirty Laundry” and “Scott Get The Van, I’m Moving.”

The music is also totally on point. While Koch isn’t doing anything overly fancy with her guitar, she is definitely driving everything. Kelly Olsen’s drums are in touch with that more straight forward style as well. They push the songs. They get the song from start to finish in a more punk rock way. No noodling guitar, no overblown drum fills. What is refreshing is how the bass seems to be more up front. The bassline have some serious strength behind them. They are memorable. They are bouncy. The best comparison I can think of is that Allegra Anka’s playing reminds me of the kind of stuff Dan Andriano from Alkaline Trio did on Goddamnit. She adds a lot of dimension and character to what are otherwise very to the point songs. Her style of playing really shines on “Favorite Things.” She takes the scenic route instead of just doing Point A to Point B. And it fucking works.

Like, I have zero issues with anything on Nervous Like Me. The album versions of “Mountain Kids” and “South Philly” are great treats to people who liked the demo. “Animal” will be in your head for days. And, like, we can’t be friends if you don’t like “Dirty Laundry.” Never mind how strong “Serious Things Are Stupid” and “Hot Dad Calendar” are.

I don’t know what else to say. It’s pretty obvious that I love this record. If there was anyone who wanted a document of what great indie/punk sounds like, I’d point them in this direction.

Tiny Engines
Buy It

REVIEW: Cayetana – “Hot Dad Calendar (b/w Ella)”

cayetanaCayetana is a band with a great story behind them. The story goes that Augusta Koch, Kelly Olsen, and Allegra Anka all learned their respective instruments right around the time they decided to do the band. This would be a red flag for anything else, but not here. This is a band that sounds like they’ve been playing together for a long time. True to the spirit of punk rock, they’re doing what they want and figuring it out on the way. When so many bands seem like they have everything mapped out from the start, it’s refreshing to see a band come together for the sheer joy of playing music.

I knew, from the minute I heard their demo/EP on If You Make It, that this was a band I was going to want to keep track of. And, goddamnit, I’m really glad I did. I can say without hesitation that the only thing disappointing about this 7″ is that it isn’t a full length. That isn’t hyperbole, it isn’t some bullshit. This is one of those rare times where you should believe the hype.

Much like their contemporaries in All Dogs or Waxahatchee, Cayetana play in the undefined middle ground between what is considered “indie” and “punk.” There are a lot of bands in that ground, but only a few have the heart to stand out. Both songs, “Hot Dad Calendar” and “Ella,” are perfect examples of the exuberance of punk. Augusta Koch’s vocals are raw and strong. There are imperfections, but that’s what makes her voice stand out. Allegra Anka absolutely shines through. Her bass lines are distinct and creative, but never overpower or over complicate. Her bass and Kelly Olsen’s drums just keep everything smooth and fit perfectly with Koch’s riffing, driving guitar.

I know I’m getting a little long winded here. This is a 7″ that clocks in at just this side of six minutes. But, I’m just really excited about what’s going on here. If a 7″ is supposed to build hype for a full length, then mission accomplished. Cayetana have all the pieces in place, and unlimited potential. So, Tiny Engines, how long until that full length?

Tiny Engines
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