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Thumbnail image for jason.jpgNOTE: Freelance writer Jason Duarte books shows in Elgin and Chicago, is part of a band and occasionally blogs about the local music scene (usually Wednesdays) on Between the Bylines.


'The Other Side of Darkness'
Night Birds
Grave Mistake Records
Release date: 9/13/2011

Rating: 4/5


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New Jersey's Night Birds will release its first studio full-length titled "The Other Side of Darkness" on Sept. 13. I've been following Night Birds since the band's early days in 2009 (by obtaining a couple copies of the demo CD-R at Insubordination Fest 2009), and I've been waiting around for a proper full-length release of this band for two years. The 7-inches held me over, but finally "The Other Side of Darkness" is here.


Jason's review of the album, track by track, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for jason.jpgNOTE: Freelance writer Jason Duarte books shows in Elgin and Chicago, is part of a band and occasionally blogs about the local music scene (usually Wednesdays) on Between the Bylines.


'Know Your Sins'
Underground Railroad to Candyland
Recess Records CD/LP
Release date: 4/26/2011

Rating: 4/5


San Pedro, Calif.'s Todd Congelliere (Toys That Kill, F.Y.P., Stoned At Heart) not only fronts Underground Railroad To Candyland, as well as the aforementioned groups, but he put out his band's new record April 26 via his label, Recess Records.

The first time I heard URTC's debut record, "Bird Roughs," I thought it was really weird. It was a kooky, progressively jumpy album with songs that didn't really make sense. But the more I listened to it, the more I fell for it. I saw the band live a couple of times and really got a feel for what they're all about; having fun and partying and not taking yourself too seriously. Then it all clicked and the senseless made sense all of a sudden.

That being said, when the opportunity to review "Knows Your Sins" came along, I jumped, much like their backup singer, Jack Blast, does during the band's live performance.


Jason's review, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for jason.jpgNOTE: Freelance writer Jason Duarte books shows in Elgin and Chicago, is part of a band and occasionally blogs about the local music scene (usually Wednesdays) on Between the Bylines.


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Social Distortion: "Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes"
January 18, 2011
Epitaph Records


Last month, Social Distortion released its first album in seven years titled "Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes." In the 33 years Social D has been a band, they've blossomed from their Orange County punk roots, cross-pollinating with blues, rock 'n' roll and a little outlaw country, making them a well-versed hybrid.

Social D's last record, 2004's "Sex, Love and Rock 'n' Roll," was a soundtrack of love and loss. The band said in an interview that they wanted this one to be different. The album features 11 tracks, some of which the band has been playing live for several years, but all are finally recorded.


Full review, track list and band line-up, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for jason.jpgNOTE: Freelance writer Jason Duarte books shows in Elgin and Chicago, is part of a band and occasionally blogs about the local music scene (usually Wednesdays) on Between the Bylines.


Octogenarian rock n' roll icon Chuck Berry collapsed in disappointment at his keyboard about an hour into his set on New Year's Day at the Congress Theater in Chicago.


Chuck Berry at the Congress

Chuck Berry, before collapsing Sunday at the Congress Theater in Chicago


He opened the show with "Roll Over Beethoven," but it quickly took a turn for the worse as Berry would just stop playing mid-song. He became obviously frustrated with his backing band, whom he never practiced with.

The band seemed to do everything it could to follow Berry, but it wasn't enough. Berry kept changing songs mid-song and then tuned his guitar for half the show, either stalling or being legitimately out-of-tune the entire time. He walked over to the keyboard player, and would hit the keys, to tune to the notes and then told the keyboard player his keyboard was the one out of tune.

"I'm not saying it's your fault," Berry said.

It was horribly sad witnessing an 84-year-old man's intent and then watching him struggle and fail to deliver. He walked over to the keyboard, sat down and started playing/hitting keys, and then slammed his hand on some low notes and put his head down for a minute before being walked off stage by the Chicago Fire Department.

When he came back out later, he said he had "no strength." He looked defeated.

We were all thanked for coming out. Most of the people left. My friends and I stuck around with a bunch of others, and towards the back of the stage, Chuck suddenly walks out, puts his guitar on, and tries to play.


What happened next, after the jump.

Top 10 albums of 2010

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Thumbnail image for jason.jpgNOTE: Freelance writer Jason Duarte books shows in Elgin and Chicago, is part of a band and occasionally blogs about the local music scene (usually Wednesdays) on Between the Bylines.


This year wasn't so good in retrospect. An earthquake in Haiti killed 230,000 people. Monsoons left 20% of Pakistan under water. An Antarctic collision between an iceberg and a glacier gouged out a chunk of sea ice the size of Luxembourg. An Icelandic volcano ticked off a bunch of Europeans. Winter was so warm that Canadians couldn't even make fake snow for their Olympics.

Man just made things worse -- between the BP oil leak and this country's lawmakers not being able to balance a checkbook, it's been a stressful year to be an American.

But you know what? Despite all that, at least some great records came out in 2010. Here's my Top 10 of 2010...


1. Iron Chic -- Not Like This

2. The Dopamines -- Expect the Worst

3. Sundowner (of Chicago) -- We Chase The Waves

4. The Brokedowns (of Elgin) -- Species Bender

5. The Riverdales -- Tarantula

6. Alkaline Trio (of Chicago) -- This Addiction

7. The Methadones (of Chicago) -- S/T

8. Old Wives -- See You In Hell

9. Off With Their Heads -- In Desolation

10. The Queers -- Back to the Basement


What were your favorite albums, songs or artists of 2010? Share your thoughts below, in the comments!


-- Jason Duarte, Freelance Writer

elgin watch list.pngThe Watch List is a weekly list of all those things we're watching, things we're loving, things we're talking about in the newsroom this week, in general.


1. What I've Eaten Since Wednesday Night: A Food Journal...


  • Deep fried turkey testicle. They tasted like mushrooms.


  • A chicken sandwich with fries.


  • Thankgiving, Plate One: Smoked turkey, grilled turkey, pecan-crusted sweet potatoes, stuffing, corn casserole, pickled beets, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, dinner roll, one glass of wine.


  • Thanksgiving, Plate Two: Farm fresh turkey, mashed potoatoes, wax beans, green beans, corn muffin, stuffing, one glass of wine.


  • Thanksgiving, Plate Three: Turkey and duck cooked in a deep fryer, two bacon-pineapple-cocktail weiner wraps, one beer.


  • Thanksgiving, Plate Four: One small piece of turkey and a cup of tea.


  • Friday: Not so hungy yet, though I might go grab the pumpkins bars I have in my trunk.



How about you? -- Mike Danahey, Staff Writer


Holiday happenings, pick-your-own Christmas trees, after the jump!

Thumbnail image for jason.jpgNOTE: Freelance writer Jason Duarte books shows in Elgin and Chicago, is part of a band and blogs about the local music scene (usually Wednesdays) on Between the Bylines.


My favorite band to see live announced it was calling it quits this past June.

The Methadones will play its final show this Saturday at Reggie's Rock Club (2109 S. State St., Chicago) with The Soviettes, The Copyrights and The Jetty Boys. And I've never had such a conflicted set of feelings for a show in my life.


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The Methodones in March 2009 at the Subterranean in Chicago.


I have seen The Methadones more than 20 times, more than any other band. Ever. I've made friends at their shows, met significant others at their shows and all-around had way too much fun singing along to Dan Schafer's infectious pop tunes and had an indiscernible number of guitarist Mike Byrne's grey picks stuck to my forehead after being in his mouth. And spit at me, for that matter. Seriously though, no other guitar player will encourage you to flip things up on stage (guitar picks, bottle caps, etc.) and into his mouth while playing a song.

My hetero-life mate, Jerry Cola (who I befriended after many-a-Methadones-show years ago) and I have been yelled at and had things thrown at us by drummer Mike Soucy for stealing Byrne's microphone at past Beat Kitchen shows and drunkenly singing with our favorite songwriter, Dan Schafer. Pretty much every time, it's a blast to talk to bassist Pete Mittler. Most of the times, he's hammered and says things to me like, "I hope I remember this song," or, "I'm not gonna f****in' remember this song." This past June in Baltimore, he's even condensed it down to, "I'm drunk. S***, we go on soon." But he's always pulled through, and it rocked.


More of Jason's memories of The Methadones, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for jason.jpgNOTE: Freelance writer Jason Duarte books shows in Elgin and Chicago, is part of a band and blogs about the local music scene Wednesdays exclusively on Between the Bylines.


I got really excited this morning when I read that WCIU's seven-time Emmy-award winning Svengoolie is coming to Elgin.

Legally known as Rich Koz, Svengoolie will be signing autographs and gracing Elgin with his presence from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30, at The Hemmens Cultural Center, 200 N. Spring St. Svengoolie introduced me not only to the bizarre town of Berwyn, Ill., via television, but also cult classics like "The Car" (1977) and movies I later bought on DVD such as "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians" and "Attack of the Killer Shrews."


That's not all! What else is coming to Elgin, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for jason.jpgNOTE: Freelance writer Jason Duarte books shows in Elgin and Chicago, is part of a band and blogs about the local music scene Wednesdays exclusively on Between the Bylines.


At 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30, the Elgin Symphony Orchestra will present a Halloween "Spook-tacular," the first part of the ESO Family Fun Series.

The orchestra will perform John Williams' music for the Harry Potter films. Tickets to each show in the Family Fun Series are $45 per adult and $30 per child.


More about the conductor, upcoming ESO Family Fun Series shows, after the jump.

Thumbnail image for jason.jpgNOTE: Freelance writer Jason Duarte books shows in Elgin and Chicago, is part of a band and blogs about the local music scene Wednesdays exclusively on Between the Bylines.


Remember that band from our awesome city I was talking about a few weeks back? You should. They were called The Brokedowns.

Anyway.

All went as planned, and the band's debut album on Red Scare Records, "Species Bender," was released Tuesday, Sept. 14. This Saturday, Sept. 25, The Brokedowns will be hosting a release show for "Species Bender" at Ronny's (2101 N. California Ave.) in Chicago with fellow Elginites, Bust!, Vacation Bible School and The House That Gloria Vanderbilt and Double Bird, from Minneapolis.


More about the show, after the jump.

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