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Johnny L
 
Chicago musicians seem to have a propensity for side projects (case in point the whole Sea and Cake/Tortoise/Gastr del Sol group). More often than not, it proves to be a good idea. Johnny L. is no exception. A member of local indie legends The Slugs, Johnny L's first solo effort, Brain Pop, is much more than a "focus the spotlight on me" type endeavor. On the contrary, it's a tight encapsulation of 40 years of pop technique, reminiscent of what seems to be a band a decade - The Beatles, Cheap Trick and Matthew Sweet readily come to mind.

Brain Pop is aptly named. The album is an 11-track excursion into the world of pop, typical in the best sense of the word with its driving, catchy tunes, power chords and classically pop choruses. There's enough variation that the album doesn't blur into a pool of rolling drums, aided in part by cameos by other Slug members, though the focus is still on Johnny L.

Johnny L. has played a variety of Chicago venues since the album's release, such as Schuba's and Gunther Murphy's. He is also working with Mike Halston and James Pintozzi on a musical power trio of sorts.

KATE SCHWARTZ

For more information, visit their website: http://www.johnnyl.com

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