Demo2DeRo: Rick Ness

Sadly unheralded, mostly unsuccessful and largely forgotten also-rans of Chicago’s great alternative-era major-label feeding frenzy, Figdish ( will always have a warm spot in my heart. Few groups have done the drunken, chaotic, ramshackle but insanely infectious Midwestern garage-pop thing better. In that band’s wake, Blake Smith pursued more mannered glam-rock sounds with Caviar, while co-founder Rick Ness, displaying uncharacteristic hubris by naming his band Ness, has

followed the connections from heroes such as the Shoes, Cheap Trick and the Replacements to the dustier corners in the British Invasion archives of the Who, the Kinks and the Pretty Things.

Following “Up Late With People” (2004), Ness has topped that earlier effort and arguably everything else he’s done before with an incredibly well-recorded, musically sophisticated and emotionally powerful contemplation of the need to rock even as one ages (“My hearing’s fading and my eyesight is even worse/And I suppose that it’s a blessing, even though it’s so perverse”) on a sophomore album entitled “You Can’t Afford to Feel” and due to be self-released in June.

In typical Ness fashion, the band isn’t together enough to stream its new sounds or list any shows more recent than 2006 on its proper Web site ( But its MySpace page ( does offer samples of the older music that serve as an appetizer for the sweet new tunes.

Demo2DeRo is a weekly column reviewing the first-time demo and indie recordings by new Chicago bands. Got a demo you want reviewed? Email Jim.

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