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Yard Birds

By Lizz Kannenberg in Arts & Entertainment on Dec 18, 2008 5:41PM

2008_12_sygc.jpgSince releasing its self-titled full length last year on Bloodshot Records, Scotland Yard Gospel Choir has tirelessly drummed up business and collected fans here and abroad through exhaustive touring. Lucky for us, they've come home for the holidays.

Though the band revolves tightly around Welsh-born leader Elia and a few key players, live shows in Chicago are generally a gathering of the who’s-who of the city’s independent music scene. Sally Timms of the Mekons is a frequent contributor, along with members of Bright Eyes’ touring band and Windy City folk heroes Kelly Hogan and Nora O’Connor. It’s no wonder that the result is a scrappy blend of hook-laden folk rock and cheeky, irresistible chamber pop. Horns and strings are a given, as are Elia’s and pixieish guitarist Mary Ralph’s ocaasional zero-to-sixty propulsion of the pretty songs from bedroom twee to bona fide folk-pop-punk. It’s like if Jens Lekman and Richard Hawley took a bunch of speed and flipped out on early Minor Threat…but like, with trumpets.

Chicago homeboy and troubadour-about-town Tom Schraeder opens with his excellent band, His Ego, to get the holiday folk rock juices flowing. Schraeder's been culling approval from critics near and far since his underdog appearance at Lollapalooza in 2007, and recently represented the Windy City at the venerable Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

BONUS: We have a pair of tickets to give away to one lucky reader. Enter after the jump before 3 p.m. today for your chance to win!

Scotland Yard Gospel Choir plays tomorrow night at Double Door, 1527 N. Milwaukee, w/ Tom Schraeder & His Ego, The Fabulous Petterbaugh Sisters, Kevin Junior (Chamber Strings) and DJ Screeble Dee, 9:00 p.m., $10, 21+