Happy new year! A little late, I realize, but campus was silent until Tuesday, and I never have been much for convention anyway.
Record Service is gone for good, but downtown Champaign has its first CD store since the demise of Periscope Records. Right after Thanksgiving, brothers Jeffrey and James Brandt opened Exile on Main Street next to the new Merry Ann’s Diner. By all appearances at first just a video-game store, it promptly phased in new and used CDs, many specialty titles. The grand opening extends through today.
Right before Christmas, The Blackouts assumed a new name:‑The Living Blue, like their 2004 album Living in Blue. Since the name “The Blackouts” is more famous for a 1980s Seattle act, as well as an early Frank Zappa project, The Living Blue ought to reduce confusion as the Champaign-Urbana band broadens their base. The Living Blue will play Feb. 11 at Nargile, then go into the studio to record for their new label, Minty Fresh Records. Meanwhile, The Living Blue will appear in the February issue of Alternative Press.
Saraphine, a Chicago group that maintained close ties to Champaign-Urbana, closed up shop Dec. 18 after four and a half years of music. Guitarist Phil Kosch has joined affiliate band Empyrean, and the rest of Saraphine has become a new, unnamed band with the addition of guitarist Mike Patti. Saraphine was one of eight finalists in a 2001 Rolling Rock talent search and opened for Local H twice here.
Triple Whip emerges from hibernation Friday to play at Courtyard CafÇ, their first local show since the 14th Annual Great Cover Up. Also aboard are ifihadahifi from Green Bay and So Many Dynamos from St. Louis. Show time is 9 p.m., and cover is $5.
On a related note, Phyllis, an Ohio band that played here two years ago (within a day) with Triple Whip, at last is back. Phyllis performs with The Frame (ex-Monster Honkey) and Mad Science Fair Saturday at Mike ‘n Molly’s. Show time is 10 p.m., and cover is $3. In addition, under the name The Double Standard Practice, Mike Clayton of Mad Science Fair has a new 18-song album, Beautiful Music for Ugly People.
Also Saturday, singer-songwriter Joni Laurence visits from Tennessee for a free concert at Pages for All Ages in Savoy. Show time is 7 p.m. Jan. 10, she began a five-week internship at Compass Records in Nashville.