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The best kept secret in music


"A sharp little album of proficient anthem-rock"

Inside the album Tales From Shermer, Chicago's 9-Fifty sends "special thanks for endless inspiration" to John Hughes, Kevin Smith, and Cameron Crowe. In a funny way, that pretty much tells you everything about the band. Their straight-ahead rock 'n' roll harkens back to the mainstream rock (but not New Wave) of Hughes' heyday. The opening track, "Nobody Knows" and the later "Paula's Song" are straight outta Bon Jovi (even lead singer John Castino's vocals recall Jon Bon Jovi, although -- thankfully -- less polished). Like Crowe, there's nothing here that's even slightly scary or unnerving, and a lot that's skillfully done and worth hearing. Just when you get ready to sigh, "been there, heard that," 9-Fifty comes out with subversive numbers like "One Way" and the standout track, "Outshined." This is a sharp little album of proficient anthem-rock. A band to watch!

-- M.S. Dodds / Illinois Entertainer

- Illinois Entertainer

"Mainstream Rock’s Alive & Well!"

9-Fifty rocks! And that’s no small compliment these days when it’s not uncommon to hear reviewers and pundits alike lament the disappearance of Rock and Roll, whine that it’s been swallowed up by electronica or whatever the latest flavor of pop music is. But 9-Fifty’s Tales From Shermer, is here to tell you that mainstream Rock is alive and well.

By the late 70’s, the genre was in trouble, suffering from chronic bloat and stasis. The Punk explosion provided a much needed shot in the arm, but it wasn’t enough to stave off the plague of spandex and hair spray, and before long—with few exceptions—mainstream Rock and Roll had gone MIA. Oh sure, there were loyal torchbearers—fellow Midwesterners the Replacements and Soul Asylum come to mind—but they were forced out into the Alternative ghetto—a seedy wasteland set aside for good music only heard by a few.

Chicago’s 9-Fifty has finally coaxed that marginalized ethos back into the mainstream. They did away with the cowbells and all the other superfluous schlock, and what they ended up with is 12 slices of confident, introspective Rock and Roll.

“Come Undone,” for instance, tracks the all-to-familiar rise and fall of one of these hopelessly irrelevant, spot-lit wayward sons, complete with a “Behind the Music” reference. And it’s surely no accident that the following rocker, “Outshined,” opens with a glib recitation of the intro to Def Leppard’s “Rock of Ages.” From the bittersweet harmonies of “Never Gonna Let You Go,” to the sparse beauty of “Sanctify,” the band illustrates a certain honesty absent from the scene for too long.

All in all, this is a great record that’s not afraid to revisit and revise a nearly extinct form.

- Sam Reid, Atlanta Music
- Atlanta Music / Sam Reid

"F%$#ing Ahyyyyyyy! GREAT Job!"

F%$#ing Ahyyyyyyy! GREAT Job! The songs are both killer.

“Heads UP / Face DOWN” is pure adrenaline alternative-pop with a little punk thrown in for good measure. I really love this one. I hear a huge Replacements influence in both songs, but this one especially and at 2:16 it screams ‘single’.

“Take Away” is a very straight-forward rock song, with a nice little nod towards Americana. Sweet guitar tracks, solid rhythm throughout. John’s voice is really excellent (as always)… he’s cool without trying. I dig this one too.

Congrats on both tracks. I’m really psyched to have both songs on the compilation cd.

Joe Spadaro
American Laundromat Records
- American Laundromat Records


CD's by 9-FIFTY
Tales From Shermer - 2002 (Inde)
Heads UP Face DOWN - Summer 2004 (Inde)

CD's Featuring 9-FIFTY
International Pop Overthrow - 2003 (Not Lame Records)
Transistor - Summer 2004 (American Launrdomat Records)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Combining passionate, haunting vocals with a jangley groove and catchy, melodic pop sensibility is the infectious musical formula of 9-Fifty. Formed in the late 90’s after its members spent several years of crossing paths in other bands, 9-Fifty has entertained audiences throughout the Midwest, enjoying exposure at many of Chicago’s major alternative music venues.

As the bands’ influences range from The Replacements to Soul Asylum and Wilco, its songs are smoothly delivered with the pop-icon, Pirneresque vocal stylings of singer John Castino. Bassist and background vocalist Scott Barnas provides the solid bass foundation for the band.

Lead guitarist Matt Sanders extensive Jazz and Fusion background helps him shed new light on ‘alterna-pop’ guitar riffs while Drummer Kary “Elvi” Brown, consistently provides not only a precise, but lyrical rhythmic foundation for this up and coming groups music.

9-Fifty’s debut CD Tales from Shermer showcases their unique style. This collection of music, inspired by the imagery and vibe of the band’s Chicago surroundings, features “Nobody Knows,” which shines with John’s hypnotic, mildly wounded rasp. The song’s jangley guitars lay the groundwork for a slightly psychedelic groove. “One Way” has a Replacements feel with a large helping of Matthew Sweet thrown in for good measure. It’s an upbeat anthem that shows a little of the new garage-rock beat of bands like The Vines or The Strokes. “Paula’s Song” has a great melody, drenched in strong yet pleading vocals…and these songs are just the beginning. Tales from Shermer is a must-have for any CD collection.