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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Pop Making Sense
by David Byrne with Tony Peregrin
2012-08-15

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It has been 30 years since the release of the breakthrough album, Rio. Now Duran Duran is touring this summer with a sold-out stop at Ravinia, 200 Ravinia Park Rd., Highland Park, on Wed., Aug. 29. The beloved New Romantic band had an hour-long set at the London Summer Olympics 2012 Opening Ceremony celebration and just issued another live package, A Diamond in the Mind: Live 2011.

Although the band tends not to perform all of its hits in one show in order to keep fans wanting more, there are plenty of favorites on A Diamond in the Mind, including "A View to a Kill," "Come Undone," "The Reflex" and a medley of "Wild Boys" with Frankie Goes to Hollywood's evergreen "Relax." The 2004 song "(Reach up for The) Sunrise" overshadows the more recent material from the Mark Ronson-produced album All You Need Is Now.

The Steve Aoki remix of the smash "Hungry Like the Wolf" is available on Yahoo! Music as a free download. Duran Duran plans to start recording new material in Feb.

Chicago Black Gay Men's Caucus' 8th Annual LoveFest is taking place on Sunday, Aug. 26, at Jackson Park, East 63rd Street and Hayes Drive, 12-8 p.m. LoveFest will have multiple activities like yoga, volleyball and flag football plus medical screenings. To entertain the crowd, Crystal Waters will be performing. It has been 15 years since Waters' last studio album. But by having singles and cameos such as "Le Bump," "Speakerphone" and "Masquerade" with that distinctive voice, the "100% Pure Love" singer is able to maintain her presence on the dance charts and in the club community. I remain hopeful that the talented, dimpled singer-songwriter will issue a new collection soon. For more information on the event, visit www.chiblackgaycaucus.org .

Sophie B. Hawkins has never run short on passion. On her latest, The Crossing, the out artist continues to proudly display her fervor in her music, which suits her often-hoarse voice. For proof, just listen to the raw emotion in the opening of "Georgia." As she did on her previous studio effort Wilderness, Hawkins tackles another song from Nina Simone's catalog with "Sinner Man" here. Having been a percussionist, it is no surprise that she opts to remake a track with such a prevalent, spellbinding rhythm. Her previous effort was more oriented toward adult contemporary pop, while here Hawkins favors a cabaret setting with a piano, as witnessed on "Miles Away" and "Gone Baby." The Crossing features an extended version of the standout "Betchya Got a Cure for Me," a demo of "Missing" and acoustic versions of her biggest stateside hits, "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover" and "As I Lay Me Down." The Crossing is out now via Trumpet Swan Records.

After her fantastic debut, Pieces, Kelli Scarr returns with Dangling Teeth. Here, she leaves behind the Carole King-inspired songs, instead making a natural transition to Nashville-driven ditties like "You Could Be So Great" and "Our Joy." Scarr still has beautiful, slower-paced tunes that complement her angelic voice, like "Airon" and "Trouble." "I'll Always Wait" comes to life with a spirited guitar solo by Scott Metzger. The pedal steel on the title track will melt your heart. The New York-based siren rocks the house once "It Ain't Me" reaches its climax. Scarr's superb Dangling Teeth is out now.

Congratulations are due to Neon Trees drummer Elaine Bradley as she had a baby boy July 30. Bradley continued to play drums for the band into her seventh month of pregnancy. Neon Trees is on tour with a substitute drummer with Chicago-area shows at BenFest at Village of Lisle Benedictine University Sports Complex, 5700 College Rd., Lisle, on Sat. Aug. 25, with The All-American Rejects and then at Riot Fest, Congress Theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee Ave., on Friday, Sept. 14. Let's hope that the terrific "Trust" is the next single from Neon Trees' sophomore outing, Picture Show.

Looking for a cool, laid-back album that captures summer's twilight? Then check out Ivy's All Hours. There was a gap of more than six years since the indie darlings released In the Clear. In the interim, an album in progress was scrapped and the band kept busy with its side projects Fountains of Wayne, Brookville and Tinted Windows.

Produced by Steve Osborne of Perfecto Records fame, All Hours opens with "Distant Lights" and "Fascinated," both perfectly marrying electronic elements with a left-of-center college radio rock vibe. Serving as the first two singles from All Hours, these tracks have an infectious synthetic clap to complement the groove.

Lead singer Dominique Durand has an airy voice that matches the material well, often drawing comparisons to fellow French-born chanteuse Laetitia Sadier from Stereolab. "Suspicious" is simple and stripped down, as if it was plucked from Martina Topley-Bird's outing Some Place Simple. "Make It So Hard" gives a nod to Ivy's alternative rock roots. The closing track, "The Conversation," is a hypnotic lullaby with a guitar and soft drumming that hint at a riff from the '80s power ballad "Somewhere Out There." Here, Durand sings, "Close your eyes and drift away. Where are you now?" Ivy got pushed into the limelight when "This Is the Day" and "I Get the Message" were used in 1998's There's Something About Mary. All Hours is out now via Nettwerk.


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