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One To Watch: Daniel Knox at Schubas

By Kim Bellware in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 8, 2010 9:40PM

Photo courtesy of
This past Wednesday, Sun-Times Pop Music Critic Thomas Conner posted in his Via Chicago blog his picks for “10 Local Bands On the Rise.” Among his choices were some well-known acts--flame-haired brother and sister duo, White Mystery come to mind--and some that have been flying under the radar, like Daniel Knox, whose vocals Conner fittingly describes as “clarion.”

Indeed, Knox’s voice is one of the best parts of his music; it’s rich, resonant and steady, striking a perfect balance with his simple piano accompaniment. It’s not that we don’t enjoy (judicious use of) voice mods, but the effect can get tired, and Knox’s untreated vocals remind us just how stunning a really good voice can be.

Instrumentally, though Knox’s piano playing is unfussy, “simple” doesn’t quite encapsulate the music. Knox’s songs have their own special nuance, all backed up by a handsome array of drums, bass, saw, trumpet--and the occasional (and completely unironic) kazoo. Knox, who would probably describe himself as anti-fashion as Steve Albini, doesn’t restrain so much as he doesn’t needlessly indulge; there isn’t a single gimmicky instrument or trendy effect to be heard in his landscapes of dirge-meets carnival-meets cabaret music.

In his post, Conner muses, “who knows if a guy like Daniel Knox can break through anything,” though we hope for the sake of both Knox and the diversity of the local music scene, he can and does. There aren’t many (or any) folks out there who can write and sing songs that are flat-out mean--about breaking the fingers of friends, scaring children, and perishing at Armageddon--and at the same time, absolutely lovely.

With Knox and his band playing this Sunday at Schubas with Drag City’s Faun Fables, we’re inclined to agree with Conners: this is definitely a local act worth checking out.

Daniel Knox and Faun Fables play Schubas Tavern Sunday, October 10 at 8 p.m. Schubas Tavern is located at 3159 N. Southport Ave