Thomas Conner biography

Pop Music Critic Thomas Conner has worked in music and features journalism for nearly 20 years. At the Sun-Times, he's been Music Editor since arriving …Read More

Search recent columns

More Columns

John Fogerty stuck in low gear again on duets album

THOMAS CONNER: While beautifully recorded with guests including Alan Jackson, Jennifer Hudson and Foo Fighters, “Wrote a Song for Everyone” smacks of retirement planning and a lack of inspiration.

Daft Punk strives to return life to dance music with new album

THOMAS CONNER: “Random Access Memories,” Daft Punk’s first full record in eight years, is not a great collection overall — dull in spots, self-indulgent throughout — but it is valuable and instructive.

Summer music preview: With so many stars, Chicago’s too darn hot

THOMAS CONNER: It’s a season of big money and big names — from Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z to Jimmy Buffett and Bob Dylan — but there are affordable alternatives.

Fall Out Boy still fighting for the right to be weird

We knew this would happen. A band calls a time out, some members go solo, it doesn’t fly, the band regroups. Happens all the time — the question is: What’s changed? In the case of Fall Out Boy, Chicago’s suburban emo heroes, just listening to …

Vampire Weekend’s latest refines the band’s beauty with impressive grace

THOMAS CONNER: Backing away from the occasional clenched-fist eagerness of the lively debut and the spunky “Contra” (2010), Vampire Weekend on “Modern Vampires of the City” paces the streets of New York in a more ruminative state. The band’s third album refines the quartet’s built-in beauty with impressive grace.

Camper and Cracker hit the road again

THOMAS CONNER: Jonathan Segel, back on the road with a Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker tour, which stops Friday at the Cubby Bear, talks about Camper’s legacy, its reunion and the band’s latest California-centric album, “La Costa Perdida.”

Dwight Twilley perfectly content to churn out CDs

A documentary is in the works about Dwight Twilley, and in addition to featuring songs from the pop-rocker’s four-decade career (including his pair of No. 16 hits, “I’m on Fire” in 1975 and “Girls” in 1984) the film features several new autobiographical songs Twilley wrote …

‘Great Gatsby’ soundtrack mostly a hit-or-miss effort

THOMAS CONNER: This is not one of those retro-hipster jazz projects that comes along whenever pop music gets too boring. It is merely another anachronistic hootenanny by Baz Luhrmann, mashing up modern music with his latest overstylized antique visuals for his adaptation of “The Great Gatsby.” How all this will mesh with the movie remains to be seen, since Luhrmann’s track record as a jukebox filmmaker is sketchy. As with any soundtrack, this one’s hit or miss.

Record Store Day revolves around the comeback of vinyl

THOMAS CONNER: In an annual tradition, independent record shops will open early Saturday, have sales, spotlight live bands and stock what they can from an eagerly anticipated list of records released especially for the occasion.

Flaming Lips’ ‘The Terror’ lives up to its name

THOMAS CONNER: “The Terror,” indeed. The Oklahoma City band’s 13th album is a spookhaus of eerie soundscapes and synthesized atmospherics. Listening to this album alone, in even the sunniest of rooms, is a recipe for deep despair.

Chicago’s world music TV series spotlights sounds from all around

THOMAS CONNER: “Musicology,” debuting Friday on WYCC-Channel 20, tells the stories of diverse artists and presents their songs from the stage of the Old Town School of Folk Music.

What’s in a name? For Ivan & Alyosha, watch words are seasoned, sunny

They’ve made me write the column of criticism and so life was made possible. —from “The Brothers Karamazov” First things first: The band name is Ivan & Alyosha, but it’s a quartet, not a duo. “It’s been a bit confusing,” says Tim Wilson, Ivan & …

Fleetwood Mac: 5 ways the iconic band could reignite the flame

THOMAS CONNER: If only the classic rock institution (returning to Chicago on Saturday) could liberate itself from “Don’t Stop” and “Rhiannon,” play some theaters and bring back Christine.

The Joy Formidable making some serious music

THOMAS CONNER: The Joy Formidable doesn’t always sound punk — the bright vocals, the shoegazing guitars, the latest links in the Jesus & Mary Chain — except when they talk. “We’re of a mindset of, you know, f--- you. We are what we are,” said bassist Rhydian Dafydd last week at South by Southwest.

Green Day sets off on reinvigorated tour after SXSW outing

THOMAS CONNER: Green Day reboots their tour this spring, beginning Thursday night at the Chicago-area Allstate Arena. If this comeback showcase during the South by Southwest music conference and festival was any indication of what’s to come on the remianing dates, Armstrong couldn’t have looked more refreshed, reinvigorated and grateful.

Depeche Mode offers more moan than melancholy on ‘Delta Machine’

THOMAS CONNER: “Delta Machine,” the 13th studio disc by Depeche Mode, cranks to life slowly, laboriously, dripping with the trio’s typical world-weary drama.

The Revival Tour an ‘unplugged hootenanny’

Since 2008, the Revival Tour has been an annual traveling conclave of punk musicians — who all play unplugged. Previous tours have found members from bands such as Against Me!, Flogging Molly, the Gaslight Anthem, Bedouin Soundclash, Chicago’s Lawrence Arms and many more, each picking …