It's been a long wait for a proper album from Mikey Rocks (Antoine Reed) and Chuck Inglish (Evan Ingersoll), one of Chicago's most promising hip-hop duos: Cool Kids. After surfacing in 2007 in the wake of local breakouts like Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco, the Cool Kids released a series of fluid mixtapes and EPs and, because of some legal delays, are just now getting to a full-length platter.
Time has not blunted their rhyme skills, as they showed at SXSW, and the new album, "When Fish Ride Bicycles" (Green Label) (), is as easygoing as ever -- almost laid-back to a fault. Cheerily and often slowly, the Kids rap about mostly innocent topics, including a lot about cars ("Rush Hour Traffic," "GMC," "Gas Station") and the weather ("Summer Jam," "Bundle Up" ... I meant to ask MellowHype last week if their line "You faggots put on your jackets before it snow in the winter" was a dig at the Kids' "Bundle Up"), and they're joined by guests such as Ghostface Killah, Bun B, Asher Roth, Travis Barker and more. The reclined grooves come off as coasting on a few tracks, but overall this is sunny, smooth fare that should prop up the Kids' cred until things can get rolling again.
In concert: The Cool Kids are at Reggie's Rock Club, 2105 S. State, on Aug. 5. Tickets: $20, available here.
Stuck in my iPod: Chicago band My My My keeps getting by by by me. Last year's "Leather Silk" album grazed me with its infectious dance-rock hooks, but other music piled on and I didn't get back to it as often as I'd like. Now I'm late to the party announcing their new EP, "Wishing You Whatever's Best" (Le Petit Mort) (2.5 STARS) but it's become a well-worn thumb-punch on my iPod this summer. Despite grandiose, leaden dramas like "24 Hour Love Affair" and Meatloaf-with-better-grooves ditties like "Does the Sun Know It's a Dying Star?" most of this six-song EP is a sharp set of peppy guitar rock guided by demanding rhythms and just the right amount of electronics. "Hard Kisses," "Middle Age Hardware and Youthful Indiscretions" (dig the organ!) and the fantastic post-"Leather Silk" single "War Party" (slinky and coy till its anthemic chorus: "The time will come to decide / whether to f--- or fight") make the case that all '90s ance rock wasn't just Garbage.
Fellow X Japan fans: The revived Japanese band has released its latest cross-breed of heavy metal and power balladry, "Jade." The band played this epic song at Lollapalooza last summer, and it will be featured on its new English-language album, currently being polished up for release later this year.