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Pop Making Sense
Special to the Online Edition of Windy City Times
by David Byrne with Tony Peregrin
2010-03-10

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True Colors Tour alumnae Tegan and Sara have a new video with "Alligator," directed by Marc De Pape. It is a more light-hearted affair than the duo's previous clip "Hell," also from last year's Sainthood. In "Alligator," the Quin sisters dance among confetti and build igloos out of garbage bags.

Tegan and Sara will be at The Aragon, 1106 W. Lawrence, on Friday, March 26, with Steel Train and Holly Miranda as opening acts. Good luck telling these queer Canadian twins apart. But don't fret: Their on-stage sibling squabbles are hysterical.

Need more of our northern neighbors? Cowboy Junkies will treat Chicago audiences to three concerts on the eve of issuing the set Renmin Park. The folk-meets-country favorites will have two performances Friday, March 19, at The Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln, and another at Space, 1245 Chicago, Evanston, on Tuesday, March 23. Renmin Park is the first of four albums that makes up the self-released Nomad Series.

Kate Miller-Heidke has become a viral sensation because of "Are You Fucking Kidding Me," also known as The Facebook song. Her debut, Curiouse,r is finally out stateside. Here, she substantiates her popularity in her native Australia. "God's Gift to Women" boasts snarky lyrics similar to Lily Allen's. Miller-Heidke shows off the depth of her storytelling skills on "Caught in the Crowd" and "The Last Day on Earth." "Can't Shake It" serves as a perfect excuse for adults and kids alike to burn off some built up energy, while "I Like You Better When You're Not Around" is as an all-ages counterpart to Ida Maria's "I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked."

Curiouser makes a refreshing alternative to the processed pop material out there. Miller-Heidke is on tour again with Ben Folds And a Piano this spring with a run at The Vic Theatre, 3145 N. Sheffield, Monday-Wed., April 19-21.

German-born electronic artist Billie Ray Martin continually sets the bar higher for her peers. Just when I fear that the music industry is going to succumb to no-talents overusing Auto-Tuned vocals because they simply can't sing, Martin merely marches in with stunning new material to announce her presence.

Her latest, The Crackdown Project—Vol 1: Sold Out To Disco, contains 19 remixes of the songs "The Crackdown" and "Just Fascination." The Celebrity Murder Party remix of the latter delivers floor-moving bass lines married to her oh-so-cool, husky voice. With its partially spoken lyrics, Oicho's reworking of "The Crackdown" recalls X-Files star Gillian Anderson's 1997 venture into music, "Extremis." The digital collection Sold out to Disco should sate fans until Martin resurfaces with a new album in May with the outfit The Opiates.

San Francisco's Michaele Alyras de Cynge is the ideal tour guide on Art of Pop's outing Passages I. Here, the trans artist narrates a musical journey that transcends pop, soul and inspirational genres in English, Russian, Portuguese and French.

One of the standouts, "Somethin' about You," has traces of Michael Jackson's "In the Closet" as she pleads, "I don't know just what it is, but, baby, there is just somethin' about you." This leads perfectly into the mesmerizing Middle Eastern-hued "What's My Motivation." Also give the '90s-flavored ballad "The Girl I Can't Get To" a spin. Passages I by Art of Pop is out now.

Michael Scott McBride wowed the crowds at Gay Idol and the Chicago Pride Fest last year with his feel-good vibe. The Windy City-based singer-songwriter returns with the five-track digital EP Almost There. The ever-optimistic McBride does not limit his faith just to Sunday mornings, as heard on "I'll Praise My Maker" and "I Will Listen." "I Don't Wanna Fall in Love" is a Sarah McLachlan-worthy teary-eyed love song accompanied by a piano. On "Suddenly," he has a revelation of the divine master plan. This track is McBride's submission for the American Idol songwriting competition. The highly enjoyable electronic piece "No Big Deal" recalls Sam Sparro's breakout hit "Black & Gold." Almost There is available now on iTunes.

Jason Antone once again brings his fans "to the limit" with his uplifting new track, "Ooh Ooh Ohh." In the video, Antone is transported from the city to green pastures, where he revels with his headphones in the sunlight. Director Jeremy Kotin captures a magnificent shot of the out singer dancing along a hilltop, a nod to the great Keith Haring. "Ooh Ooh Ooh" can be found on Antone's full-length Start to Move. Remixes by Willie Ray Lewis, Josh Harris, Twisted Dee, Randy Bettis, QUBIQ and Vibelicious are available too.

Metallica and Slipknot, step aside and say, "Hello, Kittie." The all-woman metal quartet Kittie will be taking to the stage at Bada Brew Bar & Grill, 802 Theodore, Crest Hill, on Monday, March 15. Lead singer Tara McLeod summons a deep, possessed voice on "My Plague," while drummer Mercedes Lander provides impressive thundering rhythms. The Canadian rockers have a crossover hit waiting for the proper licensing opportunity with "Sorrow I Know." "Cut Throat" also appears on the Saw VI soundtrack. After having different line-ups since 1996, the latest incarnation of Kittie released In the Black last year.


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