Two of my favorite unsung Chicago bands (well, mostly unsung) were at the Empty Bottle Saturday night (Feb. 9): Big Buildings and Palliard. The night started out with the only non-Chicago act on the bill, Dreadful Yawns from Cleveland. I’ve heard of these guys but never heard them – maybe that awful name never inspired me to seek them out – but I liked what I heard Saturday night, some real organic-sounding rock. Worth checking out for sure.
Palliard played second, and I was happy to hear songs from the group’s fine 2006 album Won’t Heal Alone. I just wish I had a new Palliard album to enjoy right now. They play a really nice brand of melancholy roots rock. Their set included a Gillian Welch song that she herself hasn’t released yet. After hearing her play it in concert, one of the Palliard members got her to write down the words on a napkin. (Speaking of records I’m desperately dreaming of… when is Welch ever going to release another one?!?)
The third band was The Thin Man. You’ll notice I didn’t mention them at the top of this blog entry when I said two of my favorite Chicago bands were playing. It’s not that I don’t like the Thin Man, but the vocals just wear a little, um, thin on me after a few songs. Saturday, though, the band was pretty lively and I ended up liking it better than previous shows I’ve seen.
Big Buildings headlined the night, a record release part for their new album, Wampum, which is an actual record in the old sense of the term – a vinyl long-player. Not available as a CD, it comes with a code for downloading a digital version. So far, I’ve just listened to it on the old turntable and it sounds excellent, even with the occasional phonograph pop and crackle. The group played a very energetic set, and their songs showed a lot of range, everything from garage rock and Wilco folk rock to Velvet Underground and ’60s pop.