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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Pop Making Sense
2007-04-18

This article shared 2673 times since Wed Apr 18, 2007
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The Stewed Tomatoes, Chicago's premier female rock band, celebrates its 10-year anniversary at Jackhammer, 6406 N. Clark, on April 20. This date has a bad reputation since it is best known as Hitler's birthday and the anniversary of Columbine as well as the start of both the American Revolutionary War and the American Civil War, but this quartet is reclaiming the day. Hosted by Mr. Queer Rock himself, Jinx Titanic, this anniversary concert will also feature Scott Free, Actor Slash Model ( who the event is benefitting ) , Condenada and Thomas Frampton. The show starts at 9 p.m. with a $7 donation at the door.

On his sophomore outing, The Gospel According to Levi, singer Levi Kreis proves to be quite a threat to the religious right. As a former preacher turned pop star via a failed attempt at de-homosexualization, Kreis does not denounce spirituality or religion. Not as resentful as Depeche Mode's catalog and not quite as nurturing as Sinead O'Connor's Faith and Courage, Kreis's musical testimony tackles themes from a spiritual crossroads. Some might recall Kreis from The Gay Games Closing Ceremony last summer at Wrigley Field or his portrayal of Roger in the touring production of Rent. Expect to see Kreis as one of the draws this summer at Milwaukee Pride; moreover, his song, I Should Go, will be on the forthcoming queer compilation Revolutions ( Music with a Twist/Columbia Records ) . His gospel bears the cross celebrating universal love, life and, above all, free thinking. No wonder Kreis is considered a menace to organized religion.

Out singer-songwriter Swati debuts with her heaven-sent bow, Small Gods. Having turned down a scholarship from the famed Juilliard School to study the trombone, Swati ended up in New York's music goldmines, like The Living Room and Nightingale's. Small Gods features the lush song New Me, the frenzy known as Big Bang and a remake of Bruce Springsteen's I'm On Fire. When asked if straight men would hit on her more because women are moving into the male-dominated guitar god stage, the native New York singer and guitarist joked on her Web site, 'It would be a sad thing if a straight guy got me interested because I would make him wear a dress and feel fat. The same thing they do with women.' Small Gods is due out on May 1 via Bluhammock Music.

England's hottest success story of late is Amy Winehouse, who has tattoos of women on her arms and sometimes sports a bee hive. Coupled with Shirley Bassey, Angela McCluskey and GloveBox's Mishka, Winehouse brings back Billie Holiday's voice via the '60s girl-group era. A regular in the UK's tabloids, this 23-year-old tops Dusty Springfield, Dido and Samantha Fox, as Back to Black was the highest-charting entry by a solo British female in the U.S. charts until Joss Stone's recent release stole the honors. Not surprisingly, both of Winehouse's performances at Schuba's on May 3 quickly sold out; however, she will be returning to Chicago for Lollapalooza this summer. Already a hit overseas, Back to Black seduces listeners via the sexy single You Know I'm No Good and the rebellious Rehab. Winehouse is one bad girl you want to keep around.

Macy Gray's latest is titled Big—and is it ever. Easily her most cohesive effort since her 1999 breakout smash On How Life Is, Big has Gray on will.i.am's label, accompanied by all-star guest artists. The opening number, Finally Made Me Happy, has the chanteuse-turned-actor at her finest singing broken-hearted soul. The chorus is lifted to new levels courtesy of Natalie Cole, giving the tune a whole new meaning by making it a proper throwback to a 1970s Dionne Warwick chorus. Ghetto Love could easily have been Fantasia's sequel to Hood Boy, as Gray shows she's not exclusively dedicated to the adult-contemporary market. The song Treat Me Like Your Money shows that she also has a sense of humor. Money's sample from Dead or Alive's You Spin Me Round ( Like a Record ) actually works on top of will.i.am's incorporation of Run-DMC's It's Like That. Now only if Gray will get peak hour mixes to Everybody, then Big will surely be just that.

Bjork follows up 2004's Medulla with her sixth studio album, Volta, which is due out on May 8. Not only does she duet twice with Antony Hegarty from Antony and the Johnsons here, but she is making a more accessible pop record thanks to hot producer Timbaland. Her more recent projects lost me. What did starring in Lars von Trier's 2000 movie Dancer In The Dark do to Bjork's psyche? Volta's lead single, Earth Intruders, sounds like the love child of past efforts I Miss You and Alarm Call. More than just a musician, Bjork is an avant-garde visual artist, taking Laurie Anderson's approach to a new extreme. Anybody recall her body-piercing video for Pagan Poetry? Or her robotic-erotica clip for All Is Full Of Love? Fresh from headlining Coachella, the Icelandic prodigy is slated to perform to a sold-out crowd at the Auditorium Theater on May 12. Can't wait that long? The former Sugarcubes' frontwoman is on the collection A Tribute To Joni Mitchell, covering the song The Baha Dance.


This article shared 2673 times since Wed Apr 18, 2007
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