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Heavenly Choir 

Wednesday, Nov 28 2007
Certain cities have legendary and/or mythical stylistic hallmarks — say "Los Angeles" to rock fans and it's likely they'll think of Sheryl Crow, Black Flag, Warren Zevon, and/or Van Halen. Say "Chicago" and they'll think Naked Raygun, the Tortoise axis, Smashing Pumpkins, and/or the roots-oriented Bloodshot Records roster. The last thing most folks would expect to emanate from the Windy City is twee, melancholy, slightly melodramatic art-pop à la Belle & Sebastian and the Television Personalities … yet that's just what Chi-town's Scotland Yard Gospel Choir serves up in fine style. But it’s not a knockoff — while the Choir shares a penchant for rainy-day-at-the-bus-stop wistfulness ("I Never Thought I Could Feel This Way for a Boy," "This World Has No Place for Me") with its UK forebears, it has a somewhat crunchier, more brittle style, especially live. Aside from Welsh-born Elia Einhorn (vocals, organ, guitar), Ellen O'Hayer (bass, cello), Sam Koentopp (drums), and Matthew Kerstein (guitar, vocals), the latest eponymous recording features contributions from locals Sally Timms (of the Mekons, now resident in Chicago) and Kelly Hogan. A fine mini-album/maxi-EP, Scotland Yard Gospel Choir closes with the sublime "Everything You Paid For," a virtual cross between early Belle & Sebastian and Basement Tapes–era Dylan.
Sun., Dec. 2, 9 p.m., 2007

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Mark Keresman


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