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Weekend Playlist: Great Local Bands Actually From Chicago

By Jon Graef in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 10, 2013 7:00PM

Unlike certain other recent website lists of late, this playlist, intended to start a new weekly feature of weekend playlists, features great local bands who are actually from Chicago.

Look, it's easy to bag on Angela Hazen's article for CBS Chicago. Rehashing the grievances here would be pointless. The question is: why is no one paying attention to Chicago's underground rock scene?

Because the bands are there. Maybe saying no one paying attention isn't one hundred percent accurate. But here's the thing. Hazen's not the first journalist to ignore, de facto or otherwise, Chicago's blossoming rock scene.

Back in June, Red Eye columnist Ernest Wilkins wrote a piece called "10 Things everyone thinks about Chicago, but no one will admit." One of the subheads in his piece is, "Chicago's rock scene is dormant right now."

Here's what Wilkins wrote:

There isn’t currently a new crop of rock bands coming out of Chicago, and it’s kind of weird. Be it the ‘90s alt-rock boom or the pop-punk/metal/hardcore onslaught of the early 2000s, Chicago has cranked out quality rock bands by the boatload for decades. Recently, there has been a dearth of material reaching a large audience that’s mostly rock-based. Maybe it’s because the DJ community has expanded (for better or for worse) with the rise of EDM? All I can say is, it’s crazy as hell to see the rap community united and putting out more consistent material than the rock scene is in this city.

To be fair, Wilkins wrote, "reaching a large audience." A piece on Pitchfork, as local bands such as Russian Circles, Running, and Pink Frost have had in recent weeks, isn't guaranteed to have your band reach a large audience in, say, the way that The Smashing Pumpkins or Wilco do. But it also means that they aren't dormant either.

Writing that Chicago rock is dormant now would be like writing that Chicago hip-hop was dormant around 2008 or 2009. Sure, no one was blowing up to "I Don't Like" proportions, but acts and artists like The Cool Kids and BBU were emerging and creating vital, vibrant art. Who needs national attention? If the art speaks, the art speaks. Build it, and they will come.

But making the people come (err...) isn't just a matter of stating this music exists. If Wilkins and Hazen don't know about Cave, Verma, Archie Powell, Bare Mutants, and a whole host of other names, then that's not entirely their fault of not doing their research. (Though, holy shit, you think they'd know how to use Google.)

We're also to blame for not telling people about these bands until we're blue in the face. So what's a simple way of doing that? A playlist. Literally, all you have to do is press play. Here now is a playlist featuring 36 tracks do great, actually local to Chicago acts.

It's meant to be listened to in one fell swoop, but we conceptually we divided into three separate sections. There's playlist "C", playlist "H" and playlist "I". (See what we did there?).

Here's how those break down sequentially:

Playlist “C”

Willis Earl Beal - Evening's Kiss
Archie Powell & The Exports - Crazy Pills
Summer Girlfriends - Shockwaves
Heavy Times - Future City
Disappears - Pearly Gates
Alla - Sigue Tu Corazon
Mazes - Peace Can Do No Wrong
Andrew Bird - Fake Palindromes
Mannequin Men - Flyin' Blind
The 1900s - Bring The Good Boys Home
Wild Belle - Happy Home
Bare Mutants - Crying with Bob
Panda Riot - In the Forest (Some Kind of Night Fills Your Head)
JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound - Married For A Week

Playlist “H”

Wilco - Ashes of American Flags
Cave - High, I Am
Rabble Rabble - Why Not
Fake Limbs - Your Comments Are Atrocious
Pink Frost - You Should Know
Tight Phantomz - Black Seas At The Crib
Bloodiest - Fallen
Vee Dee - Into The Void
The Atlas Moth - Perpetual Generations
Nachtmystium - Give Me the Grave
Russian Circles - Death Rides a Horse

Playlist “l”

Locrian - A Visitation From the Wrath of Heaven
Indian - Guiltless
Yakuza - Man Is Machine
Verma - Salted Earth
Implodes - Ex Mass
Zelienople - Parts Are Lost
Canasta - Slow Down Chicago
Tom Schraeder - When Escanaba Rests
Head Of Femur - River Ramble
Angel Olsen - Sweet Dreams
Pelican - March into the Sea

Alright. Happy listening, and here's hoping you like the future "Weekend Playlists" we do.