Mac & Nolan are joined by CJ Anderson, Mac’s cousin, with no particular theme to this week’s episode. CJ chose every song, most of her favorites, ranging from indie folk to acid jazz.
Also on topic: Where the Wild Things Are, zodiac signs, many of CJ’s concert experiences, Bonnaroo, Houndmouth and their “Green House”, capture the flag, and the family tree of metal, dubstep, and trap.
Gary Aubrey, otherwise known as the Silver Stallion (or Mac’s father), joins Mac & Nolan this week for a show full of classic rock. Classic jams with the rock history man.
Also on topic: FM radio, the Lynryd Skynrd plane crash, musicianship vs. music production, Gary’s experience at The Derby Eve Jam with Bob Seger, Terry Kath’s death, women in rock & roll, and well… just a shit load of rock history.
Noise pop trio Cherry Glazerr has delivered once again, and this time with self-aware despondency.
The grunge-rock band released their second studio album, Apocalipstick, in January 2017 and held back, well, nothing. The album retires the notion that self-imposed exile is necessary as founder and front woman, Clementine Creevy, uses the depths of her daggering voice to adhere to the levity of the world around her.
Their junior album, Stuffed & Ready, released February 1, 2019, displays similar buzzy guitars and brooding choruses but rather a visceral focus that separates Creevy from her surroundings. The rigidity and minimalistic energy that deems Cherry Glazerr’s grunge songcraft remains intact, but self-awareness dominates Creevy into being vulnerable, yet tough as ever.
It seems as though Creevy has put up with enough thought-provoking bullshit and returned to the recording studio with a switchblade-like sharpness in her eyes and misery in the grain of her voice.
Tough as always.
Opener “Ohio” begins with lush, lof-fi strumming similar to that of the band’s first studio album, Haxel Princess, released in 2014. Without much hesitation, Creevy’s subtle humming is drowned out by Tabor Allen’s brash drumming. The resonance of Creevy’s voice further heightens the albums theme of self-reflection (“I wish myself the best, but I’m broken / The light inside my head went dead, and I turned off”).
“Self Explained” highlights a bouncy bassline by Devin O’Brien while Creevy vocalizes her antisocial tendencies (“I am embarrassed of my solo, I don’t know why / I don’t want people to know how much time I spend alone”). Her eerie, faint voice quickly gives way to fiery yowls.
Although Creevy’s sarcasm-heavy lyrics are introspectively apparent, she leaves plenty of room for diversions to recognize her criticisms of society.
“Stupid Fish” fires a raucous howl addressing such frustrations (“I’m a stupid fish and so are you / Maybe I’m mad ’cause I see me in you”). An ascending guitar riff follows and Creevy’s soul-shattering confession bellows (“I don’t wanna try to pretend / I see myself in you and that’s why I fucking hate you”). It’s this moment that fuels the entire album — releasing pent-up resentments of oneself and shifting them onto others.
Hesitation runs through the lyrical themes of the ten songs that make up this stellar album, but the raw guttural power of Creevy’s voice polishes the minimal imperfections.
Without self-reflection and contemplation, reason can never be wholly realized or satisfying.
Diving head first into an introspective art-soul sound, Saba’s second studio album, CARE FOR ME, cuts open fresh old wounds with interchangeable beats, a variety of flows, and immersive storytelling. The album’s synergistic relationship between neo-soul, R&B, and downtempo grooves embody Saba’s eccentric sound, elevated by guest vocalists theMIND, KAINA, and Chance The Rapper.
Before really getting into this shit, it’s safe to say the multiplicity of sound and mindful depth embedded within this album will break Saba through the thin silhouette he’s been lurking behind since the release of his first studio album, Bucket List Project.
Cut with 10 tracks total, CARE FOR ME depicts a melancholy, impactful mind trip exploring instability without concern, solitude, mental health, and conscious grief. Saba’s perception of life and death is illustrated through his growing experiences in the West Side of Chicago, emphasized by the passing of his cousin, John Walt (Walter). Walter’s death justifies Saba’s tripped-up psyche throughout.
One time through you’ll feel for the dude, beg for more, and repeat.
“BUSY / SIRENS” introduces grief as a major theme with a compelling outro to the first verse (“Jesus got killed for our sins, Walter got killed for a coat / I’m tryna cope, but it’s a part of me gone and apparently I’m alone”). The heavy hitting 808s of “LIFE” further extend Saba’s frustration (“They killed my cousin with a pocket knife”). He retains passionate, poetic detail that pirouettes around the beat.
Steering away from personal conflict, “LOGOUT” expresses Saba’s conflict with modern social media and the obsession that surrounds it (“Ain’t’ no beauty in the absence of broadcastin’ to your followers”). Chance The Rapper features on a final verse that further reflects on the music industry in the digital age.
Saba’s deft flow allows him to smoothly veer his audience away from the latest trap beats and rather into verbose, jazz-affiliated compositions with soulful horns scattered throughout. “GREY” finds this flawlessly. Scrutinizing the current state of hip-hop music, Saba unleashes his desire for something more in the rap scene (“The best song’s probably on the B-side / Won’t be surprised when the label deny”). The combination of awe-inspiring storytelling, vibrant horns, and brutally honest commentary make for an impactful track reflecting artistic turmoil.
“PROM / KING” is far from enigmatic. The first part of the track undergoes the efforts of Walter trying to hook Saba up with a date for prom (“My cousin hit me back, ‘Don’t trip, bro. I got you a date’ / So he sent me this link to some girl I had never seen / He said to call and tell her ‘Walter sent you, you with me’”). Ambiance and incisive wordplay surround lush piano keys, swallowed by dark drum beats midway.
CARE FOR ME is the sound of a self-aware artist proven by the stylistic risks Saba takes as he breaks down each track by feeling with intention. Sure to be an influential light that shines on the next wave of hip-hop, this record is an example of pure artistic expression.
Arriving 20 minutes late, thanks to my dear drunken friends, I scurried to the front of the I.D. check line. It was time for some Saturday Night Fever, baby, and I refused to waste a second more of my boogie time.
I could hear a muffled yet familiar song through the door crack of The Bluebird. Could it be? No … there’s no way. After approval of my 21-year-old identification, I swung open the door to hear Huckleberry Funk covering “Whipping Post” by The Allman Brothers Band.
“That’ll be $6 for cover.”
Passed the bar and into the crowd I flew soaring along an unholy guitar riff executed by Mike Gronsky and more R than B, yet pure velvet vocals, by Dexter Clardy.
Huckleberry Funk is a rock, soul, and funk – emphasis on funk – band based in Bloomington, IN. The illustrious band has made a name for themselves in the Midwest since members Dexter Clardy (vocals), Mike Gronsky (guitar), Alex Dura (saxophone, keyboards), Brennan Johns (horns, keyboards), Matt McConahay (bass), and Lex Lindsey (drums) united as a group in the fall of 2016.
Speaking of my face, Mike Gronsky and Matt McConahay collectively melted it off when they simultaneously dropped the rhythm and bass line to “She’s A Bad Mama Jama.” Four beams of yellow light appeared behind the band and scanned across the crowds’ line of sight almost like sun rays accompanying the presence of Carl Carlton himself.
It was in that moment when I decided to surrender to The Funk Gods.
A frat bro sitting next to me noticed my hand rapidly scribbling words down on my $1.29 notepad and proceeded to shout in my poor, poor right ear, “Hey, lady! I don’t do music, but I sure do groove. And THIS shit is THAT shit to groove to! Write that down.”
So, you heard it here first. Huck Funk is officially THAT shit according to frat bro. And, well, everyone else inside the walls of The Bluebird on March 3, 2018.
The energy only ever picked up. Dex was quick to address the overwhelming smell of spilt PBR bottles and water longs, “Y’all came to get fucked up tonight, didn’t ya? You came to the right place. Tip your bartenders well.”
A button more down on his shirt. Another button more down on his shirt. That’s right, folks. Dexter Clardy was now standing front stage with only one button keeping his shirt together. Without further ado, “As a young black man, I love my women. Ladies, you are looking mighty fine tonight … Mike, let’s talk to ‘em.”
With shades on that appeared seemingly out of thin air, Dex filed in after Mike’s guitar screamed, “Yeah, this is definitely Marvin Gaye’s ‘Let’s Get It On’.”
Much of Huckleberry’s material feels like an infectious, groove-driven march in terms of the rhythm and instrumentation. It was quite fitting when Alex Dura’s saxophone solo hit like dynamite during their rendition of “Let’s Get It On.” Damn, do I love myself some sax. Noted: The front row dude wearing a white leisure suit and synthetic afro wig loves sax, too.
Lovebirds and strangers abruptly stopped slow dancing upon the realization that Marvin Gaye was through and it was time for some Rick James, bitch.
“Give It To Me Baby” initiated a hot trombone solo from Brennan Johns. When I say hot I mean scorching. The Bluebird‘s thermostat skyrocketed, man. I could see the glistening sweat shining off the faces of the crowd as the band transitioned into “Redbone” by Childish Gambino.
“If you know this song … you better be singing along.”
Not to worry, Dex, not to worry.
It sounded as though the entirety of The Bluebird was belting alongside the unhurried momentum of “Redbone,” which ended with a roar of applause, naturally.
Without hesitation I can wholeheartedly say: If Huckleberry Funk played every week, I’d try to catch it every time. This was my fourth time seeing them live and it was just as, if not more, different and magnetic as the three previous performances I’ve experienced.
Huckleberry’s set came replete with veritable light production, at least four empty Budweiser cans on stage, resplendent outfits and accessories (including Brennan’s golden dream catcher necklace), and lengthy psychedelic soul anthems that glided through different movements. The end came far too quickly with an outro by Dex, “We go by the name Huckleberry Funk. We got one more song, is that cool? Let’s get to it.”
What better way to close out a full-fledged funk-fest than with a keytar solo?
A better way: A keytar AND a behind-the-back guitar solo. Kudos, Alex and Mike.
Huck Funk’s audience should expect to leave in raptures after indulging in a blast of east coast styled horns here, a keyboard solo or piquant guitar lick there, with soulful bass lines and hard-smacking drums throughout. In other words, they deliver quality boogie music.
The room was thick with people, and now smelling of a few sparked joints, when chants for an encore ensued. The Huckleberry Funk men shuffled off stage radiating satisfaction.
It’s insane to me that a band with only a year and a half worth of experience together are so entirely reinvigorated and conquering with each performance. They’re captivating live, and it was hands down one of the most positively stimulating shows I’ve attended at The Bluebird.