Agony Shorthand

Thursday, July 01, 2004
VARIOUS ARTISTS : “MAYBE CHICAGO” CD.....It’s time for this decade’s Chicago rock update and a 21st Century equivalent to “Busted At Oz” or “Hog Butcher for the World” . Looks like “Maybe Chicago” is up for the challenge, in fact it’s a lot better through-and-through than most regional comps have a right to be. This one focuses solely on the more raw edge of garage punk rock, and has a couple of real hot standouts, most notably both slithering HOT MACHINES tracks (especially “Tear Me Apart”), THE DIRGES’ pumped-up basher “Shame Shame” and THE PONYS’ “Pop Culture” (nice to know Richard Hell stayed at home for this one). This band the TYRADES that so many people are busting a nut over sound awesome & scathing musically, as they do on their own 45s, but have just got to lose the overwrought girl vocalist who sings as if she’s trying to spit a tire iron up through her windpipe. Insufferable. Insufferable doesn’t even begin to describe “The Busy Kids”, who are part of the burgeoning “uh-cum-owwwn-bay-buh” school of two-chord doofus rock last heard on the MISTREATERS’ recent CD. But hey, it’s a comp. These things’ll slip by. Perhaps the best bits are two classic interludes of former Cubs manager Lee Elia giving profanity-soaked tirades (pun not intended) on his team’s shiftless fans – I even remember this rant getting some play in the sports pages back in the day, but it still doesn’t rank as high in Chicago baseball lore as the night of the great “Disco Sucks” riot. “Maybe Chicago” allows me to speculate on a scenario that may emerge on my next trip to Chicago, one in which I jet in that evening, pick up the Reader to find out there’s a HOT MACHINES / DIRGES / BASEBALL FURIES / PONYS show on at the Empty Bottle, and it’s also “all the Leinenkugel you can drink” night. And the Giants are in town to brutally beat the Cubs the next day, and I eat a knockwurst, a bratwurst and a chili dog in quick succession. Here’s hoping it all comes together soon.