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Thursday, May 11, 2006 08:08 am

Vinyl Static

The Smoking Popes, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Black Angels

SHOWS-A-GO-GO! Is a party ever really over? The Smoking Popes certainly thought so when they recorded their final guitar-fueled romp, Party’s Over, in 1998, much to the disappointment of their legions of loyal punk minions. But nothing brings a band back together better than nostalgia. When Chicago booking institution Flower Booking turned 15 in 2005, the Smoking Popes couldn’t resist an encore. Their performance at the Flower 15 Festival brought out all the old favorites, such as “Need You Around” — and it felt like a party again. Courtesy of Chicago emo/punk label Victory Records, a live album documenting the performance, cleverly named Smoking Popes at Metro, surfaced. Now the original lineup, minus drummer Mike Felumlee, embarks on a tour whose first stop is in our back yard. The Popes play at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington on May 16, an all-ages show brought to us by the good folks at WESN (88.1 FM), a lovely little indie-rock radio nook. The show starts at 8 p.m., and the cost is $10 for non-IWU students. On Friday, the Alamo welcomes Chicago blues’ second generation, Ronnie Baker Brooks, the son of Lonnie Brooks and a heckuva guitar player in his own right.
SINGLES ONLY: I can’t believe I’m writing about the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Nine albums out, the sock puppets are a distant memory, the Peppers’ headlining slot at Lollapalooza feels more awkward than appropriate, and yet, despite all this, the old boys may still have some steam left, although they won’t write another Mother’s Milk. Another Californication? Perhaps. The single “Dani California,” from the May 9 release Stadium Arcadium, feels tethered to the ’90s. A steady boom-boom-bap from drummer Chad Smith and Flea’s signature funky bass lines build the foundation for a mellow chorus and Anthony Kiedis’ off-kilter voice. But kids these days are listening to emo rock, hip-hop, or New York ’80s electro-pop revival. Where does an old California rock group fit in? Maybe they don’t.
BRAND-NEW: Welcome the hard electric folk of the Black Angels into your life. They sound like Black Sabbath with the psychedelic whirr of Velvet Underground. These Austin boys have captured the dark side of 1960s psych-rock. It’s a little creepy. The Angels’ first full-length album, Passover, was released April 11.
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