Erstwhile “Rookie of the Year” and “American Pie” star Thomas Nicholas recently dropped a new single out in L.A., but it gets much of its flavor from right here in the Chicago area.
This isn’t the Blue Island native’s first ride with the musician and movie star. From an introduction by longtime Chicago collaborator Mark Rose (of Spitalfield), Anthony forged a working relationship with Nicholas as part of his touring band.
“(Rose) is awesome. He’s a good friend and all-around wholesome, hardworking guy,” he said. “He took me under his wing and showed me the ropes a few years ago by teaching me to be a self-reliant artist, navigating through the industry, and introducing me to tons of people.”
Touring with Nicholas for a few years gave him a good sense of his musical style, Anthony said. And Nicholas seemed inspired by the name of Anthony’s publishing company, Homelife Productions, which he created in 2018 to put an official business face on his recording and engineering work after studying at Elmhurst College.
“‘Homelife’ is an optimistic anthem on the state of humanity. We are all experiencing a home-life right now,” Anthony explained, referring to the global pandemic. “I think his message is that there’s good out there, but sometimes you have to look for it.”
Even though this is the first song he fully wrote (and played most of the instruments on) for Nicholas, Anthony said there are more in the works, along with an album with Chicago singer-songwriter Joey Harbert. Not to mention Anthony’s own songs, the most recent of which evolved around a high-minded pop aesthetic driven even deeper by touches of R&B and rock.
And to top it all off, he just launched a new podcast — “Storytime with Larry Anthony” — which involves relaxed and informative chats with artists and friends.
“The best way to succeed is still have a great understanding of what you want to accomplish and what you need to do to get there,” Anthony said. “I operate with small goals. Every dream starts with a few small goals. I have ambitious expectations, but connecting the dots makes it less daunting.”
Making the most of this year — when his main performing income and creative outlet were both wiped out by the pandemic in 2020 — has been Anthony’s goal. And between building up his high-profile writing credits, producing more, creating a podcast and still finding time to focus on his own music, his path to that goal is clear.
“A friend of mine who is a musical theater actor and playwright, we’re talking one day and he said ‘nobody’s ever going to write a role for me, so I wrote a show for myself.’ That resonated with me and completely changed my approach,” Anthony said. “If there is no door, build one.”
Deerfield native Alexander Glantz’s latest release, the single and video for “Cry Over Boys,” is yet another entry in the artist’s recent lineup of touching and emotional indie-pop songs. Now out in L.A. and known to the world as Alexander 23, Glantz and his stirring (and sometimes heart-wrenching) music live in that nebulous area somewhere between love and loneliness, often exploring the deep feelings and hurt created by both. “This song is about a loop I think a lot of people are stuck in. Romanticizing romance at the cost of their own sustainable happiness,” he said. “I hope it can help people break out of that cycle.” While he has toured the country, played Lollapalooza in 2019 and appeared on “The Late Late Show with James Corden” last fall, Alexander 23 still records and produces everything in his self-built studio. And judging by the success of last year’s releases — “Caught In The Middle,” “IDK You Yet” and his poignant and beautiful collaboration with Jeremy Zucker “Nothing’s The Same” — Alexander 23 is poised for even bigger things in 2021.
Friday Pilots Club
Caleb Hiltunen may be an Indiana native, and Drew Polovick came to the area by way of Michigan, but Friday Pilots Club is a Chicago band through and through. Between Hiltunen’s soulful vocals and the band’s muscular musical production — created by Polovick, Northbrook’s Eric Doar, Sean Burke of West Dundee and Brookfield’s James Kourafas — their recent output has soared as they’ve tackled new elements, but it always stays rooted in solid Chicago rock. Last weekend’s release of the single “I Don’t Care” shows band members stepping back from heavier influences for a more catchy, relatable take on things (“I wanna be the one who says that I don’t care”), but the edge they’ve developed working with their L.A. label connections at Big Machine/John Varvatos Records over the last few years is still on hand. Tune in to Friday Pilots Club’s social media for a flood of content, livestreams and interviews over the next few weeks.
Things to know:
• Pollyanna fighting pediatric cancer: Cal’s Angels, a St. Charles nonprofit organization raising money to benefit the fight against pediatric cancer, is hosting “In This Together: Fighting Pediatric Cancer,” a livestream fundraiser next week. The Thursday night high-quality livestream from Pollyanna Brewing Company in St. Charles will feature the Joe Marcinek Band. A Cal’s Angels Bundle — a collection of Pollyanna beverages, a glass and Cal’s Angel’s swag — will also be available for pickup at all three suburban Pollyanna Brewing locations. 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11; streaming at calsangels.org. Pollyanna Brewing Company is at 106 S. Riverside Ave ., St. Charles, (630) 549-7372; 245 E. Main St., Roselle, (847) 285-1909; and 431 Talcott Ave., Lemont, (630) 914-5834; pollyannabrewing.com.
• Funding education: House of Blues Music Forward program, in partnership with Live Nation and the Living Legacy Foundation, is looking to help young artists pursue education leading to careers in the music industry. $10,000 college scholarships are available for those studying concert promotion, venue operation, ticketing, sponsorship and artist management. An additional scholarship is also available for a student who has experienced homelessness or grew up in the foster care system. Find more information at hobmusicforward.org/programs/scholarships.
• Brian Shamie is a Daily Herald multiplatform editor and local music junkie. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter (@thatshamieguy) or Instagram (@chicagosoundcheck).