Pop Music Critic Thomas Conner has worked in music and features journalism for nearly 20 years. At the Sun-Times, he's been Music Editor since arriving …Read More
THOMAS CONNER: “Random Access Memories,” Daft Punk’s first full record in eight years, is not a great collection overall — dull in spots, self-indulgent throughout — but it is valuable and instructive.
THOMAS CONNER: It’s a season of big money and big names — from Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z to Jimmy Buffett and Bob Dylan — but there are affordable alternatives.
We knew this would happen. A band calls a time out, some members go solo, it doesn’t fly, the band regroups. Happens all the time — the question is: What’s changed? In the case of Fall Out Boy, Chicago’s suburban emo heroes, just listening to …Read More
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THOMAS CONNER: Backing away from the occasional clenched-fist eagerness of the lively debut and the spunky “Contra” (2010), Vampire Weekend on “Modern Vampires of the City” paces the streets of New York in a more ruminative state. The band’s third album refines the quartet’s built-in beauty with impressive grace.
THOMAS CONNER: Jonathan Segel, back on the road with a Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker tour, which stops Friday at the Cubby Bear, talks about Camper’s legacy, its reunion and the band’s latest California-centric album, “La Costa Perdida.”
A documentary is in the works about Dwight Twilley, and in addition to featuring songs from the pop-rocker’s four-decade career (including his pair of No. 16 hits, “I’m on Fire” in 1975 and “Girls” in 1984) the film features several new autobiographical songs Twilley wrote …
THOMAS CONNER: This is not one of those retro-hipster jazz projects that comes along whenever pop music gets too boring. It is merely another anachronistic hootenanny by Baz Luhrmann, mashing up modern music with his latest overstylized antique visuals for his adaptation of “The Great Gatsby.” How all this will mesh with the movie remains to be seen, since Luhrmann’s track record as a jukebox filmmaker is sketchy. As with any soundtrack, this one’s hit or miss.
THOMAS CONNER: In an annual tradition, independent record shops will open early Saturday, have sales, spotlight live bands and stock what they can from an eagerly anticipated list of records released especially for the occasion.
THOMAS CONNER: “The Terror,” indeed. The Oklahoma City band’s 13th album is a spookhaus of eerie soundscapes and synthesized atmospherics. Listening to this album alone, in even the sunniest of rooms, is a recipe for deep despair.
THOMAS CONNER: “Musicology,” debuting Friday on WYCC-Channel 20, tells the stories of diverse artists and presents their songs from the stage of the Old Town School of Folk Music.
They’ve made me write the column of criticism and so life was made possible. —from “The Brothers Karamazov” First things first: The band name is Ivan & Alyosha, but it’s a quartet, not a duo. “It’s been a bit confusing,” says Tim Wilson, Ivan & …
THOMAS CONNER: If only the classic rock institution (returning to Chicago on Saturday) could liberate itself from “Don’t Stop” and “Rhiannon,” play some theaters and bring back Christine.
THOMAS CONNER: The Joy Formidable doesn’t always sound punk — the bright vocals, the shoegazing guitars, the latest links in the Jesus & Mary Chain — except when they talk. “We’re of a mindset of, you know, f--- you. We are what we are,” said bassist Rhydian Dafydd last week at South by Southwest.
THOMAS CONNER: Green Day reboots their tour this spring, beginning Thursday night at the Chicago-area Allstate Arena. If this comeback showcase during the South by Southwest music conference and festival was any indication of what’s to come on the remianing dates, Armstrong couldn’t have looked more refreshed, reinvigorated and grateful.
THOMAS CONNER: “Delta Machine,” the 13th studio disc by Depeche Mode, cranks to life slowly, laboriously, dripping with the trio’s typical world-weary drama.
Since 2008, the Revival Tour has been an annual traveling conclave of punk musicians — who all play unplugged. Previous tours have found members from bands such as Against Me!, Flogging Molly, the Gaslight Anthem, Bedouin Soundclash, Chicago’s Lawrence Arms and many more, each picking …
Chicago has produced some of the finest Irish rock bands in the country — two of which are back together and celebrating milestone occasions this St. Patty’s weekend. First, the Drovers — formed on St. Patrick’s Day back in 1988 and widely acclaimed as one …
Nestled within the Ravinia Festival’s annual summery slate of intriguing classical and jazz concerts are regular pop and rock bookings — a festival within the festival. This summer’s pop shows at the beautiful North Shore lawn and pavilion are heavy on nostalgia acts and package …Read More
THOMAS CONNER: Bowie obsessives will find plenty here for forensic analysis, musically and lyrically, but ultimately “The Next Day,” his first disc in a decade, stands on its own, or at least as the culmination of what “Heathen” and “Reality” were trying out. Finally comfortable with his own legacy, Bowie has made a record that feels like classic Bowie.
This is why Charlie Musselwhite is such a good blues songwriter. He actually talks like this. He’s describing how he feels about his newest project — “Get Up,” an album and resulting tour with roots-rocker Ben Harper — and, brother, he’s feeling good. “It was …Read More