Sunday, December 30, 2007

...And Then There Were 3

Now that I, The "Real" Dan, have recovered from the massive article I wrote about Pain of Salvation's "Be," I can finally muster up the energy to let you know about an incredible band from Woodstock, NY that's been rocking my world for weeks. They're called "3" (aka Three,) and they've recently released the studio album "The End is Begun." I would describe them as the more progressive version of Coheed & Cambria (a band they actually toured with... and 3's old drummer Josh Eppard actually played with Coheed at one point.) But they're not "proggy" in the way you might expect (I assume you'd usually expect some combination of Rush, Dream Theater, Symphony X, etc.) Think Coheed meets the Mars Volta meets Zeppelin meets the Beatles meets Primus... and the list could go on. The point is that they've drawn from an array of influences and come up with their own unique sound. Joey Eppard, composer and frontman of 3, rocks audiences with his rapid flamenco-inspired slap-guitar playing, Middle-Eastern vocal techniques, and incredible energy. He's simply a natural.

Although I really feel that every song on their latest album could be considered a highlight, here are just a few of my favorites:

Diamond in the Crush - frontman Joey Eppard sounds like the Middle Eastern version of Michael Jackson, and it's awesome. Very fun song to listen to.

Been to the Future - eerie, great; kind of reminds me of Eleanor Rigby for some reason, even though the two songs are musically very different.

My Divided Falling - reminds me of the Mars Volta, another great band. The track kicks off with a funky, high-energy slap-guitar riff. The band moves together as a whole through odd rhythms and double-kick sections with precision.

These Iron Bones - one of the heavier tracks. A fine example of Eppard's clever songwriting. Lyrics and vocal melodies that refer to a common children's playtime tune (when Eppard softly sings, "We're gonna get you no matter where you turn") creates an eerie contrast with the heavier "These Iron Bones" sections.

Amaze Disgrace - this isn't even off the newest album-- actually from the album Wake Pig, this aong is by far my favorite. The title (and the lyrics that relate to it) is a musical and lyrical reference to "Amazing Grace." Maybe I'm partial to it because it's over 16 minutes long. The whole piece, including the Moby Dick-esque drum solo almost 11 minutes into the track, showcases the band's talent so well-- not just musically, but also creatively.

Update - Here's the video for "All That Remains," the single from 3's new album:

Also, look out for 3 at the Progressive Nation tour in North America this spring. They'll be playing with prog legends Dream Theater and Opeth. Check out 3's MySpace here:

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Stacie Orrico is ready to "Wait"...

Soulstar here, bringing you another dose of good music. This entry is dedicated to a beautiful lady with an angelic voice: Stacie Orrico.

Stacie Orrico is best known for her smash hit “(There’s Gotta Be) More To Life” from her self-titled second album. Originally a Christian Pop artist, Stacie was signed to Virgin Records. However, due to the poor handling of her third album, it was shelved in the US and only released in Japan.

Her third album, Beautiful Awakening, is a beautiful mix of positive soul and pop music. “Wait” is one of the highlights, showcasing her jazzy vocals over soulful music.


You can learn more about Stacie at her MySpace page:

Stacie is just another prime example of the major labels mishandling true artistry. In a day and age where mishaps such as “Soulja Boy” get nominated for Grammys’, and true artists like Stacie Orrico get overlooked, I wonder why I picked this industry.

However, I continue for the simple fact that true artistry never dies. One-dimensional music will disappear as quickly as it appeared; meaningful music will remain timeless.

Until next time, stay blessed and support good music.

- Soulstar

Friday, December 21, 2007

And I pretend to myself...

We've all been slacking. Especially everyone except Soulstar.

But I'm rectifying this situation, if not with my own frequent posts, then with numerous, wild threats to the other "contributors." Believe it.

So. I'm the kind of person that can be very obsessive with music. This happens in two ways.

The first is that I hear a song or record and don't know how I feel about it (usually I have very strong reactions to music upon first listen). This results in me listening to that track or album over and over again until I form a solid opinion, lots of times resulting in me realizing that I over the top love it.

The second is that I hear a song and it strikes a chord with me. It tugs at my heart strings just so, and I find myself listening to the song over and over and never becoming sick of it. I'm that terrible roommate or car trip buddy that wants to listen to a song or album on repeat. Seriously, I want to bake my upstairs neighbor cookies in apology for how many times I've played the new Gogol Bordello record. Sorry, neighbor. Also, your dogs are rambunctious and have loud feet.

The song I'm featuring this post is the latter kind of song. The kind of song that dug itself under my skin upon first listen and has stayed there. It's by the amazing PJ Harvey, and it's called "The Devil."

This song is from her new album, White Chalk. Very piano driven, melodic, different and wonderful. PJ Harvey is the kind of chick that has this out of control voice (especially live) coupled with the striking looks of someone you will never forget, ever.

Please note that she is making those noises at the beginning WITH HER VOICE. I mean, what? What?? Please check this out:

I mean, if I could make that noise I would just do it ALL the time. Without warning. For any or all or no reasons. Haha.

Check her out at:

Happy holidays, everyone!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Jhene Aiko Chilombo... try to say it fast three times

Soulstar here, bringing you another song from another underrated artist.

Jhene Aiko Chilombo is a pint-sized beauty with a silky voice that will give you goosebumps. Formerly signed to T.U.G./Epic, her 1st album went unreleased, despite being featured numerous times alongside now-defunct boy group B2K. Her flawless runs and crisp harmonies make every song she graces unforgettable.

"Deja Vu" is an angelic ballad that showcases her subtle, yet crisp vocals. Jhene is currently recording, but at this time isn't seeking a label (who can blame her???). Myself being a songwriter and music producer, Jhene is one of those talents that every songwriter and music producer longs to find.

You can find more information about Jhene on her MySpace page:

Until next time, stay blessed and support good music.

- Soulstar

Monday, December 10, 2007

Solange and the Hadley Street Dreams

Soulstar back again, giving you guys the scoop on underrated artists. This entry's dedicated to a truly slept-on artist who holds more talent than her overexposed sibling: Solange Knowles.

A gifted songwriter, Solange has written for her sister Beyonce ("Upgrade U", "Get Me Bodied", and "Flaws and All"), Kelly Rowland ("Simply Deep", "Obsession", and "Love"), and a host of others; she also recently scored a publishing deal with EMI. Not only this, but Solange has a beautifully airy voice that floats over her music, which recently has been a mix of 60's Soul, R&B, and Electronica.

The eerie, yet soothing melodies and production of "White Picket Dreams" only touches the tip of the iceberg. Her upcoming album is set to be released in March of 2008 on Geffen Records.

You can find more information about Solange on her MySpace page:

Until next time, stay blessed and support good music.

- Soulstar

Friday, December 7, 2007

I am all the breathing "BE"

Hey guys,

I've decided that my first official blog post ever will be on the most ambitious album I've ever listened to: "Be" by Pain of Salvation. Daniel Gildenlöw, leader and frontman of the Swedish progressive metal band, is the mastermind behind the concept album, which explores existence, religion, the human and divine quests for self-knowledge, the shattered mind, drugs, wars, computers, overpopulation, you name it. Mind you, there are some heavy topics in the album, and they're all based on Gildenlöw's personal hypotheses and research-- although I may not agree with the concept, it's still very interesting to think about and explore. The story begins with a narrative by Animae, a character who's existed for as long as he/she/it can remember and devotes the rest of time to finding out more about itself and how it came to be (you could call this character God, but we learn later in the album that humans, who, according to many religions, are created in the image of God, parallel this quest). In the narration, Animae thinks, "Somehow I seem to have this predestined hunger for knowledge/A talent for seeing patterns and finding correlations/But I lack context." So, God created humans in his image:

"They all carry shards of the whole
Together they become me
I see them interact, develop
I see them take different sides
As were they different minds
Believers of different ways, and different gods
I think they will teach me something"

To make a long story short, we end up doing the same thing-- we create our own "slaves" and pursue our hunger for knowledge. Computers make our lives easier, we develop economies, establish our own values, develop medicine to extend our lives. As we grow, learn, and develop technology, we cause wars, hunger, harm the environment, and become materialistic (overpopulation and Global Warming are also parts of the equation)... and gradually the "shards" (we) stop interacting with each other (at least peacefully). As a result, many of us lose faith, lose our way in life, and become slaves to the problems we cause. Thus, we are overthrown by our creations, and in turn, overthrow God when he can't learn about himself through the context of mankind.

To make the album even more interesting, Pain of Salvation transcends genres and even fuses styles together in certain songs. The creation of the world is portrayed by a folky, even primitive piece called "Imago." Gospel is used to convey prayer, while Gildenlöw plays the role of "Mr. Money," a materialistic, selfish millionaire who tries to later preserve himself through cryogenic freezing in a funky musical piece featuring wailing male/female duo vocal solos. You might consider "Vocari Dei" a breather, but listen carefully and you'll hear people's "messages to God"-- actual messages that Pain of Salvation fans left on an answering machine with their most personal messages of thanks, questions, and deep despair. You could call this album a heavy metal musical-- you'll hear a mini orchestra combined with heavy guitars, interesting double-kick rhythms, odd time signatures, and emotional vocals.

One of my all-time favorite songs is off this album. It's called "Iter Impius" (if you haven't noticed already, all the song titles are in Latin). Yes, the album is incredibly ambitious and very crazy (in a good way). It took me at least five full listens to start appreciating it, so if you're willing to take the time to dive in and enjoy the deep waters of this album, then it'll definitely be worth your while.

Update - I found the performance of "Iter Impius" from the live "Be" DVD on YouTube:

Check out more clips here: BE – Pain of Salvation – Music at

Progressively yours,

"The Real" Dan.

Smack it, flip it, slow it down... oh no!

Hello fellow music lovers! Allow me to introduce myself...

My name is Soulstar, and I'll bring to this slice of webspace my choices of underrated artists within the music industry. Some have been signed and left by the wayside; some are still reaching for the proverbial mecca known as a major label deal. Some are stretching out on their own, going the indie route and stying true. Whatever the case, they have extraordinary talent and creativity, and I want them exposed to the world.

My first entry is Yummy Bingham. A pint-size diva with a high-pitched voice and a unique swagger, Yummy was signed to Motown/Universal. Poor marketing tactics resulted in her album being shelved in the US. Despite her label issues, she has a MC-esque lyrical ability, and combines it with fresh vocal production and thumping beats.

"What More" is an example of her creativity, showcasing a taste of her style, which could be considered a mix of R&B, Soul, and Hip-Hop with a sprinkle of Jazz.

You can find more information about Yummy on her MySpace page:

Until next time, stay blessed and support good music.

- Soulstar

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

My mom thinks she's in love with you, but I'm not.

For the first post, Tep and I decided to do a joint blog.

It works out, because we were actually arguing about who got to write about this particular band just yesterday.

Architecture in Helsinki

I first heard of this band when my friend Jason randomly invited me to a show. I realized later that I had actually heard a couple of the songs before, but went to the show expecting to be underwhelmed. And I was amazed. They have possibly one of the best live shows I've ever seen, which really has a lot to do with their out of control energy. They also play a twisted version of "musical chairs"--only instead of chairs, they use their instruments. Each band member switches to a different instrument between songs! I loved them.

I have many favorite songs from the new album, but if I had to pick one that would express the lead singer's versatility and unique sound, I would choose "Like It or Not."


Rear Admiral "Chubby Browne" Tep prefers this song off of their older album, "Do the Whirlwind":

Check out the band's Myspace here:
They've also got a ton of great merch for sale, that I was unfortunately too poor to purchase at their live show. My favorite item, hands down, is the hoodie that says "AIH FANG CLUB"...with fangs on it. I love a good pun!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Getting it started...

Hello hello...

Welcome to Chicago Avenue! This is a place where a group of friends that work in the music industry post music that they love...amazing music that they not only want to share with each other, but with anyone else who might happen upon our own little corner of the internet. We also just happen to work on Chicago Avenue.

Nothing is being done for profit, for advertising, etc. This is all just to spread the word about fantastic songs, albums, anything - new or old.

Any mp3s posted on this blog are posted with the intention of bringing new listeners to that particular artist and will only be available for a limited time. If you are an artist who wants music taken down, contact me directly at and it will be removed.

And if you hear something that you like, support the artist and buy the album!

The vinyl, preferably.

But I'm just a snob like that.

- Jade