• Blank Realm, Grassed Inn

Cubicle neighbor and bowling captain Kevin Warwick wrote a blog post last year in which he urged Chicagoans to check out Australian band Blank Realm‘s show at the Burlington. For whatever reason I was unable to attend last year’s show, but Kevin doesn’t use precious blog space to promote local rock shows that often, so I bookmarked the album he wrote about in the post, last year’s Go Easy (Fire). While I enjoyed the album, it didn’t prepare me for the melodically sharp, downright graceful garage rock of the band’s latest, Grassed Inn, also released on British label Fire Records. It reminds me at times of college rock like the Replacements or Hüsker Dü, with the inclusion of a synthesizer recalling the punkier edge of the early work of bands like the Psychedelic Furs and the Church. Lead singer Daniel Spencer’s voice summons the straining, passionate larynxes of countless 80s underground-rock vocalists (at times I hear the Clean’s David Kilgour and even Rites of Spring/Fugazi’s Guy Picciotto). The whole album rips, so I might as well just include the album’s second track, “Falling Down the Stairs,” as today’s 12 O’Clock Track. It’s an album standout regardless, and you can hear it below.