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The Smith Westerns’ Romantic Pop

Above: The members of the band Smith Westerns.

My fan(s) have been clamoring for a follow up to my last post, so we'll dispense with that before we get on to current affairs.

First off, the whole endurance thing was rendered moot when TV on the Radio rescheduled their show due to the death of bassist Gerard Smith (though he was not touring with them ). But I was ready!

I was headed out the door when I double checked the show time and found that it had been changed.

The cover of The Pychedelic Furs album "Talk, Talk, Talk."
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Above: The cover of The Pychedelic Furs album "Talk, Talk, Talk."

Anyway, The Psychedelic Furs put on a good show despite the singularly inept efforts of singer Richard Butler. It's hard to believe that he is the man responsible for such good music. He seemingly had no connection with the music, his band or the audience. And it wasn't for lack of effort! The guy tries. It's just that his outdated Anthony Newley impression doesn't work in a rock context.

And they changed the running order of "Talk Talk Talk"! IF YOU DON'T DO IT IN ORDER, YOU'RE NOT DOING THE ALBUM! You're just playing your repertoire. So instead of anticipating songs, my friend Greg and I kept saying, "oh yeah, this one." On the plus side, the material is so good that even Butler couldn't wreck it. And they did do "India."

Mudhoney were good, almost great, at The Casbah. They played all their strongest material, started with one of their best songs, "You Got It" and finished their encore with Black Flag's "Fix Me." The band appeared surprisingly healthy and had a great look with their matching slate grey T-shirts. The only negative was when Mark Arm set aside his guitar and just sang in the second half of the show. His faux Iggy moves didn't add much.

TV on the Radio, despite a late start and a terrible opening act, played a solid show at 4th and B. On disc, their music seems keyboard driven but live they are much more guitar oriented with keyboards used mainly for color. They did a good range of material from all their albums and if they freed singer Tunde Adebimpe from keyboard duties and got guitarist David Sitek to face the audience (this is showbiz after all) they would have been even better than they were.

Now on to current business:

Smith Westerns current disc "Dye It Blonde" is one of the better releases so far this year.

Featuring dreamy, sometimes over the top romantic pop, it keeps its foot in the rock camp with some serious guitar hooks. I hear Oasis (and by extension, The Beatles) in their "we know we're good" approach.

Lyrically, they sometimes fall back into standard cliches (has anyone ever really danced the night away?), but occasionally pull off a good twist on the well worn love theme.

The Chicago quartet opens for Yeasayer this Saturday at the Belly Up.

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