Archive for the Artist Spotlight Category


Posted in Artist Spotlight, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on April 6, 2011 by bangbangslang

Since the passing of R&B Doggfather, Nathaniel “Nate Dogg” Hale, BBS has been feeling very soulful. Last week found us at Lincoln Hall for Destroyer and War on Drugs – our second favorite show of 2011 – and while the concert held promise as a sign of amazing indie rock crashing down the pipeline in Chicago, we couldn’t keep these funky feelings at bay. Couldn’t shake ’em and didn’t want to. We embraced them. We’re like – ‘Fuck this scene right now. We just want to grind on some R. Kelly and sip bubbly”. Chris Brown‘s “Deuces” remix has been on blast (don’t hate – Drake, T.I., Kanye, Fabolous, Rick Ross, & Andre 300?!), loving this mixtape by Toronto’s The Weeknd (free download below), and have concluded that the constant in this R&B equation has been OFWGKTA‘s smooth singer/songwriter – Frank Ocean. He’s the catalyst.

The Weeknd – House of Balloons


Frank Ocean‘s debut, “nostalgia, ULTRA”, is just plain sick – the most impressive R&B album (that’s not really R&B) to hit our ears in years . The 23 year-old New Orleans native often leans on left-field rock samples to aid the tone of the album, but balances the mood with the elements you’d expect to find on a Pharrell project or on BET After Hours – the end product is very soulful and  fresh to death. For example, Ultra‘s first full-length song jocks Coldplay‘s beat for “Strawberry Swing“, copping the same song title even, but the song doesn’t evoke Chris Martin‘s goofball, rainbow Sgt. Pepper costume, but rather a wave of nostalgic imagery in the form of young lovers, spaceships leaving behind a “dying earth”, and a painstaking breakup. By the albums’ end, Ocean references Radiohead, Van Halen, Coachella and samples MGMT and The Eagles (and another track that sounds a little Kanye-heavy via 808’s & Heartbreak). There’s even a Nicole Kidman soundbit that gets some love, a heated argument of one-liners on Kidman‘s end from Eye Wide Shut. Bananas. All the while, these sampled cuts sound fresh – just as fresh as the songs that stand alone from the “borrowed” approach that will no doubt have Ocean‘s fanbase doubled once Odd Future barfs all over the rest of America by summertime.

The album’s shining moment is the bass-heavy, perfectly personified  “Swim Good” – here Frank Ocean finds himself heartbroken, in a black suit, driving his whip into the ocean, swimming away from the heaviness of relationships and life’s bullshit. The song ends with a sound clip of waves crashing and bubbling onto shores of a beach somewhere seemingly far away, seagulls chirping, wind blowing. Ocean‘s strongest quality as a songwriter is his ability to create really tangible and visceral imagery and this is showcased from start to finish on Ultra. When he’s not painting himself as R&B’s Johnny Cash, full-throttle, headfirst into the Pacific, he’s having “cocaine for breakfast (yikes!)” in a dirty kitchen and shooting porn in a nearby bedroom or banging a girl in the bed of a garden, “making love underneath the cherry leaves, up against the cherry tree”. The imagery can be super gritty, but it’s very candid and Frank Ocean isn’t afraid to be human. One of the best genre-crossing bold voices in music right now.

Odd Future, Tyler the Creator, blah blah blah blah – Frank Ocean is swimming to success and swimmin’ good.


Frank Oceannostalgia, ULTRA



BBS will be catching Odd Future‘s set at COACHELLA next Friday. Will you be there?




BANG ON THIS! San Diego’s “Dirty Gold” Gear Up For Debut EP with “California Sunrise”

Posted in Artist Spotlight, Bang on This! (Song of the Day) with tags , , , , on March 14, 2011 by bangbangslang

Last Friday teased Chicagoans with the first sunny, early-signs-of-spring weather day that we’ve had in what seems like an ice age. And while listening to Aquarium Drunkard’s blog radio showcase with the sunroof cracked, another early spring treat sounded its way through the car speakers – an all-too fitting compliment to an already amazing travel day: Dirty Gold’s “California Sunrise”. We may be a little late on the ball here with these dudes, but better late than never and definitely deserving of our first ‘Bang on This!‘ of 2011.

Brothers John and Lincoln Ballif don’t even have their high school diplomas and yet they’ve graduated into the scene with mature, brilliantly catchy jams and a momentous reputation that’s throwing them in the same camp as their afro-pop, warm-riffed peers – Vampire Weekend and Beach House.  If it’s not snowing or butt-ass freezing wherever it is that you are – grab the rolling papers and your longboard, toss on your shades and go for a ride with this introductory gem from a band that is sure to blow up and show up in 2011. Dirty Gold’sRoar” EP finds its official release on April 12 2K11 (Autumn Tone), but the single is available via iTunes or for your listening enjoyment below. Brah.

LISTEN: Dirty Gold – “California Sunrise”


Dirty Gold News and Tour Info: HERE

THIS WEEK: Michael Showalter @ Schubas TONIGHT, Bright Eyes @ The Riviera TOMORROW… excited for some Arts & FARTS & crafts and maybe some fried terradactyl eggs tonight! Beers on US if you want in.

Jim Lauderdale Delivers Country Rock Goodness & Southern Hospitality TONIGHT! (SPACE – Evanston, IL)

Posted in Artist Spotlight with tags , on September 2, 2010 by bangbangslang

It’s been over a year since we’ve moved our hub Northwest, above the Mason-Dixon line, but Bang Bang Slang hasn’t forgotten our roots, dag-gone-it. We miss a lot about living in North Carolina: BBQ, the OBX, Asheville, Southern Belles, Sweet Tea, Chick-Fil-A, Cheap Cigs, Neighborliness, Camoflauge Bud Light Cans, but most of all we miss the presence of live “southern” music everywhere – namely, bluegrass, alternative country, and folk. Our near-decade spent in the South opened up our appreciation to bands that would’ve never got a listen in our original home base of Cleveland: Ryan Adams & The Cardinals, early-Wilco, Uncle Tupelo, Avett Brothers, Felice Brothers, The Minus-5, Phish, Grateful Dead, Johnny Cash, Old Crow Medicine Show, and various up-and-coming modern country-rock acts that were blowing up down there.

With the indie-rock scene healthier than ever in Chicago, it’s always comforting to hear when a familiar southern bluegrass and country name hits our concert calendar.  So Bang Bang Slang threw some ice cubes in our tumblers and poured our finest bourbon when we heard that two-time grammy winner and Carolina native, Jim Lauderdale, would be stopping by SPACE in Evanston tonight. He’s touring in support of his badass, newly released album “Patchwork River” (Thirty Tigers), a collaboration with Grateful Dead lyricist, Robert Hunter.

Jim Lauderdale – “Patchwork River”

LISTEN: Jim Lauderdale – “Patchwork River”

Over the last 48 hours, Bang Bang Slang finally had a chance to devote multiple full listens to Patchwork River – and with expectations based on the previous, more acoustic Lauderdale/Hunter collaboration “Headed for the Hills” (released 6 years ago), the biggest straightaway surprise with ‘River‘ is the electric guitar approach. And the transition here from acoustic to electric is just as graceful as it is hard-hitting for the listener. This change in direction works in every way for Patchwork, especially with the musical genre and songwriting formula that Lauderdale leaned on in the past getting flipped upside down on its head – we get treated to Southern funk (“Jawbone”), 70’s gospel  (“Good Together”),  good ‘ol Americana (“Between Your Heart and Mine”), and gritty, visceral country jams that you’d come to expect (“El Dorado”, “My Lips Are Sealed”). The musical congruency between Lauderdale and Hunter is more on point than ever, evoking the artistic camaraderie that Hunter shared with Jerry Garcia– but let it be stated that this partnership stands boldly on its own dignified, boot-kickin’ platform with masterful distinction. In addition, Lauderdale‘s smooth control of instrumental and vocal melodies on these 13 studio songs makes each track shine in a big, unique way – we knew he was a powerful vocalist, but hot damn…

So, tonight brings Jim Lauderdale to the Society for the Preseravtion of Art & Culture in Evanston or SPACE for short. If you’ve never been- it’s a killer venue and one that will suit Lauderdale‘s sound to a tee. Tickets are still available  and Jim takes the stage at 8:00 PM, sharing the stage with Beausoleil Quartet.

Jim Lauderdale LIVE @ SPACE 09/02/10 – Evanston, IL!!!


Show some love and support for Mr. Lauderdale and make him feel welcome in the mighty Midwest! We’ll be throwin on our cowboy boots and as always, let us know if you’re headed to the show and BBS will buy you a beer on us – that means free. But tonight it’s gonna be a Pabst. Nothin’ better than Southern Rock and Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer. Right?


  • 09/03/10: Minnesota State FairSt. Paul, MN
  • 09/04/10 : Minnesota State Fair – St. Paul, MN
  • 09/09/10:The Ryman Auditorium – Nashville, TN
  • 09/ 18/10: Wheeler Opera House – Aspen, CO
  • 10/09/10The Grey Eagle Tavern & Music Hall – Asheville, NC

Follow Jim Lauderdale on Twitter! @jimlauderdale1

Jim Lauderdale Official Website: HERE

Hot Hot Heat Bring Dance-Rock Party to Lincoln Hall September 10th!

Posted in Artist Spotlight, Tour Information, Uncategorized with tags , on August 29, 2010 by bangbangslang

I remember relentlessly “spinning” Hot Hot Heat‘s debut effort “Make Up The Breakdown” my Freshman year of college, when I was DJing in a claustrophobic sardine box for my college radio station. If you were ever a college radio disc jockey stooge like me – you probably look back at those days with a love/hate nostalgia. That trapped swirl of cigarette smoke, Subway sandwich meat, coffee and B.O. smells in the studio. The relentlessly annoying range of radio personality retards who you were forced to share air time with. Midnight runs down the back stairwell during Bob Dylan’s “Hurricane” so that you could sneak a quick smoke and make it back to the mic unnoticed.  I had no free range to pick and choose content – instead I was forced to stick to ‘Director-Approved’ albums, but  at the end of each hour I was able to break from the mold and play any 1 song I wanted… then return to format (wow, thanks!). Fortunately, “Make Up The Breakdown” was getting heavy push for rotation from my Director during my time with WSOE and I guess if I have anything to thank that chubby nerdboy for, it would be for introducing me to Hot Hot Heat.

So what have Hot Hot Heat been up to since 2002?

Good question. Remember their sophomore effort, “Elevator”? And then the follow up, “Happiness, LTD”? Both albums were expert, infectious offerings  from the band, but with some gradual creative deviation from the song writing formula that earned Hot Hot Heat critical and commercial success (and a loyal following) and years of touring as opening acts for big names like Weezer, Foo Fighters, Wolf Parade, and Bloc Party they spent the last few years in a  self-built studio,  recorded their asses off, and have returned in 2010 with their “return to form” dance-rock, synth-driven fourth LP, “Future Breeds”. And it’s a triumphant return to form, indeed. One that marries HHH‘s anthemic pop abilities with some experimental indie-dance punk trippy-ness that paddles their new wave canoe  into uncharted waters.

Hot Hot Heat – Future Breeds (Dangerbird Records)

LISTEN: Hot Hot Heat – “Goddess on the Prairie”

With the release of “Future Breeds”, Hot Hot Heat finds their way to Bang Bang Slang‘s backyard with a September 10th tour stop at our favorite Chicago live music wateringhole, Lincoln Hall on September 10th. Tickets are still available and if you had any hesitation before, now is the time to grab tickets before they’re gone… and get those dancing shoes ready. It’s a Friday night for god’s sake. (Opening acts 22-20’s and Hey Rosetta! will provide support)


Bang Bang Slang will be covering more of Hot Hot Heat as they make their way to Lincoln Hall, so keep checking back for updates and coverage. In the mean time, if you’re a BBS visitor who doesn’t live in Chicago – you can check HHH‘s full tour info below:

  • 08/31: Masquerade – Hell Stage – Atlanta, GA
  • 09/01: Mercy Lounge – Nashville, TN
  • 09/03: Rock and Roll Hotel – Washington, D.C.
  • 09/04: Ottobar – Baltimore, MD
  • 09/05: North Star Bar – Philadelphia, PA
  • 09/07: The Bowery Ballroom – New York, New York
  • 09/08: Middle East Downstairs – Cambridge, MA
  • 09/10: Lincoln Hall – Chicago, IL
  • 09/11: The Crofoot – Pontiac, MI
  • 09/12: The Basement – Columbus, OH
  • 09/13: The Rave/Eagles Club – Milwaukee, WI
  • 09/14: Vaudeville Mews – Des Moines, IA
  • 09/15: Seventh Street – Minneapolis, MN
  • 09/17: Bluebird Theatre – Denver, CO
  • 09/18: Club Sound – Salt Lake City, UT
  • 09/20: The Empyrean – Spokane, WA
  • 09/21: Chop Suey – Seattle, WA
  • 09/23: Martini Ranch – Scottsdale, AZ

For official Hot Hot Heat merch and band info CLICK HERE

Follow Hot Hot Heat on Twitter! @hothotheat

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Nathaniel Rateliff & His Return to Chicago

Posted in Artist Spotlight with tags , , , , on July 7, 2010 by bangbangslang

Bang Bang Slang is back after nearly a week hiatus – happy belated birthday America (damn, you’re gettin old)! To pick up where we left off, continuing to build momentum for July music in Chicago and spreading the good word to the public on need-to-know artists, we’ve chosen a seasoned songwriter and mellow Midwesterner (via Denver)  to kick off our “Artist Spotlight” section: Nathaniel Rateliff. On the surface it would seem that Rateliff would serve as an odd musical force to propel BBS’ horsepower back into full gear, but in fact he’s quite the opposite. And he’ll be stopping through Chi-city July 21st at Schubas to prove to you he’s just not another singer/songwriter.

A month or so ago, I stumbled into Chicago’s Lincoln Hall (05/28), fuzz brained and spaced on a Sudafed and antibiotics cocktail, to see what all the fuss was about with Swedish one-man-band “Tallest Man on Earth”. Pushing through the sold out crowd and mental fog to a bar stool on the sidelines of the balcony, it hit me – “Oh, yeah. I get to see Nathaniel Rateliff tonight too… oh. This is him playing right now. Wow.” With a commanding, gorgeously sturdy vocal range, Rateliff and his band ripped through a faultless, haunting live version of “Early Spring Till” – a standout track from his Rounder Records 2010 debut “In Memory of Loss”.  His vocals were the magical glue that kept the crowd captivated and pin-drop silent (though the band was a notably polished unit), evoking a Jim James/Caleb Followill Southern frequency that held a definitive originality of its own – lyrically stirring as well.  I was floored and pretty sure the chills I was experiencing weren’t from the cold meds. Having missed about 20 minutes of his set opening, I was only able to get about 4 or so jams from Rateliff and gang, but made a mental note in between sets that I needed to get my hands on everything Rateliff had ever recorded quick.  (Sidenote: Tallest Man on Earth was incredible)

I still have yet to snatch up Rateliff and The Wheel’s  discography, but since I’ve learned a few things:

  • Rateliff’s first band, Born in the Flood, was pursued by Roadrunner Records with a deal to be molded into the next Nickelback outfit of sorts (ugh). Having respectfully – and thankfully – declined their offer (and potentially some serious cash), Rateliff and his band “The Wheel” went the more humbly fitting route of finding a home with the Rounder family
  • Rateliff is an avid Gardener
  • His “In Memory of Loss” effort is outstanding. Buy it HERE
  • Nathaniel Rateliff will be performing on July 21st at Schubas – tickets available HERE

Nathaniel Rateliff – “In Memory of Loss” (2010)

LISTEN: Nathaniel Rateliff – “Early Spring Till”

Indulge in a listen – or 10 – and be sure to catch up with Bang Bang Slang at Schubas for what’s sure to be a night of music that will surprise you and have you shaking your head in awe. Whiskey encouraged.

If you’re one of our non-Chicago web visitors – no need to worry. You can catch Rateliff on tour well into the final days of summer. (And Chicagoans, you’ll have 2 more chances to see him again in Dekalb & Rock Island):

  • 07/14: Santa Fe Brewing Company – Santa Fe, NM
  • 07/16: The Loft – Dallas, TX
  • 07/17: Emo’s Indoors – Austin, TX
  • 07/18: Mango’s – Houston, TX
  • 07/20: Off Broadway – St. Louis, MO
  • 07/21:  Schubas – Chicago, IL
  • 07/22: Club Garibaldi’s – Milwaukee, WI
  • 07/23: Turf Club – Minneapolis, MN
  • 07/27: Plush – Tuscon, AZ
  • 07/28: Bar Pink – San Diego, CA
  • 07/29: The Echo – Los Angeles, CA
  • 07/30: Steynberg Gallery – San Luis Obispo, CA
  • 07/31: Café Du Nord – San Francisco, CA
  • 08/02: Doug Fir Lounge – Portland, OR
  • 08/03: The Triple Door – Seattle, WA
  • 08/04: The Media Club – Vancouver, BC
  • 08/06: Local 522 – Calgary, Canada
  • 08/07: Auditorium Hotel – Nanton, Canada
  • 08/14: Kilby Court – Salt Lake City, UT
  • 08/21: Bohemian Nights – Fort Collins, CO
  • 08/25: Jackpot – Lawrence, KS
  • 08/26: The Waiting Room – Omaha, NE
  • 08/27: Rock Island Brewing Co – Rock Island, IL
  • 08/28: Otto’s – Dekalb, IL

Nathaniel Rateliff’s Official Website: HERE

Our Apologies, David Vandervelde! (Artist Spotlight)

Posted in Artist Spotlight, Tour Information with tags , , , , on June 30, 2010 by bangbangslang

Our apologies indeed, Mr. Vandervelde!!! BBS completely forgot to mention that David Vandervelde will be the opening act at July 1st’s Black Mountain show at Chicago’s Lincoln Hall.

Over the past few years, Vandervelde has earned our complete respect and admiration…we’re BIG fans. For those who are unfamiliar with his slim but sick body of work, let’s begin with 2007’s “The Moonstation House Band” (Secretly Canadian) – this was David’s official indie label debut and also gainfully points to his creative bond with producer and late ex-Wilco member, Jay Bennett. Around the time that “Moonstation” was released, I had been revisiting my love for T.Rex/Marc Bolan and while I hate to put an obviously redundant bad taste into Vandervelde’s mouth, his debut evokes Bolan’s songwriting and voice like no other. In fact, last year I was blaring a playlist in my car where Bolan’s “Cosmic Dancer” was followed by Vandervelde’s incredible “Jacket” and my buddy barked out, “Dude, this wasn’t on ‘Electric Warrior’, was it?”. At 8 tracks total, “Moonstation” may not have been a husky offering from DV, but where the album lacked in song length it more than made up for in melodical, layered, beautiful arrangements and excellent producing (Hats off, Jay Bennett).

David Vandervelde “The Moonstation House Band (2007)

LISTEN: David Vandervelde – “Jacket”

Riding off the momentum and fleeting success of “Moonstation”, Vandervelde packed his bags and headed to Brooklyn to pump out his follow-up, “Waiting for the Sunrise” (Secretly Canadian). With “Sunrise”, Vandervelde seemingly backed off his T.Rex tendencies (most notably in his vocals) and instead showcased his multi-instrumentalist talents and lyrical chops, crafting 10 excellent, sprawling tracks. If you’re looking for the younger, jangly, more vulnerable sound of its predecessor, you’re arguably not going to find it on album #2, but “Sunrise” continues to powerfully shine listen after listen. Tracks like “I Will be Fine”, “Someone Like You” & “California Breezes” have a gorgeous contemporary feel, perfect for a summer drive in the country, almost nodding to an early Wilco-era sound. Tracks like “Knowledge of Evil” and “Lyin in Bed” could have been “Moonstation” b-sides, but they belong on this record.

David Vandervelde “Waiting for the Sunrise” (2008)

LISTEN: David Vandervelde – “I Will Be Fine”

I’m tempted to call the pairing of Black Mountain and David Vandervelde on tour an “interesting match”, but it makes sense with them sharing a label and both musical outfits here are clear talents on their own. We’ll have pics and a review after the holiday break, so stay tuned. Meanwhile, give “The Moonstation House Band” and “Waiting for the Sunrise” a listen over your long weekend. Both albums will serve as a perfect compliment to sunny weather, drinking by the pool, playing horseshoes, grillin’ hot dogs, or trying to ease your mind when you’re stuck in holiday traffic.

For more info on David Vandervelde and Black Mountain, check Secretly Canadian’s website HERE – they’ve definitely got a good thing goin’ on…