OUT, The Rutabega, Mint Mile, Andrew Cohen & Light Coma @ Township 5/28

This Sunday, May 28, Township in Logan Square hosts a rare showcase from the label Comedy Minus One, featuring four bands with fairly recent releases: OUT, The Rutabega, Mint Mile, and Andrew Cohen & Light Coma. The label's roster and pressing runs are often small, but Comedy Minus One is a quality-not-quantity affair, and this one-night holiday weekend show arguably offers more rock prowess than some full festival lineups these days. OUT and The Rutabega hail respectively from Kalamazoo and South Bend, and given their locales, it's not surprising that both operate in the realm of solid Midwestern rock. In broad strokes, both offer a sound that has been rolling along for decades, and Comedy Minus One has proven to be among the finest purveyors of such music. OUT's <i>Swim Buddies</i> arrived in February and is a fine choice for those who want to hear just that right amount of pop sensibility in their rock fare. It's the nominal openers here who offer the most familiar names. Tim Midyett and Andrew Cohen have played together for over 25edears in Silkworm and then Bottomless Pit, and now they each front their own projects. Midyett's Mint Mile has two EPs to their name, the most recent being last year's The Bliss Point. Midyett has long been an expert song constructor, one who's arguably not gotten his dues on that front. With Mint Mile, his approach is akin to an architect known for a distinct style whose active experimentation is now brought more to the fore, be it with layouts (roomier arrangements) or materials (yep, that's a slide guitar.) Meanwhile, it's Cohen's new collaboration which carries the hottest anticipation. The new album <i>Unreality</i> arrives in June, and it's the first featuring Cohen fronting every song. Light Coma have themselves been together for some time, and there is a previous connection as guitarist Brian Orchard played with Cohen and Midyett in Bottomless Pit. The credit for the collaboration though would seem to go to drummer Jim MacGregor, who approached Cohen after a solo show with an offer no guitarist could rightly refuse: We could be your Crazy Horse. (That story - and a lot of other great insight - comes from an hour-long interview with Cohen on Jake McKelvie's Crashing Your Planet podcast. It's well worth your time.) Cohen has long been a distinctive vocalist, with a unique emotional range. But it's his guitar which is the stuff of legend. Andy Cohen is the most singular rock guitarist of the last 25 years. And his new work is sure to keep old fans enthralled. There's some acoustic work here, offering a different accompaniment for his often introspective lyrics. When he plugs in, though, there's no questioning who's doing the wielding. As per usual, his guitar sometimes slices, sometimes drives, sometimes soars. Adverbs need not apply.
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Phil Huckelberry