Los Angeles Times

Taste's tops

There are just a few days left at this year's Taste of Chicago, and you're too tired-not to mention stuffed silly with turkey legs-to make any more decisions.

Don't strain yourself. (That goes double for your waistband.) We're here to help you figure out which acts you absolutely have to hear, even if you can't stomach another bite.

Once summer hits, we're not thinking much about quiet piano ballads or romantic acoustic mutterings. We need the funk! Macy Gray and Liquid Soul both certainly have our back in that department. Though Gray's star power faded soon after her first single, "I Try," her next two albums were both revealing and fun looks at a decently funked-up personality. Chicago jazz group Liquid Soul has been a staple in the city for years, and the band just released "One-Two Punch," its first album since 2002.
Verdict: We'll take Gray, if for no other reason than you can catch Liquid Soul far more frequently around town.

Remember when Liz Phair went pop? What was that about? Well, it seems she's somewhat back to her rockin' ways on her latest, "Somebody's Miracle," even if the sound has softened. But Phair's pop hit, "Why Can't I?" never had the presence of Fountains of Wayne's "Stacy's Mom," from the band's stellar 2003 album, "Welcome Interstate Managers." And we can't get enough of the band's catchy blend of storytelling and humor.
Verdict: Fountains of Wayne puts on an energetic, toe-tapping live show. When they're done, tell them to put out a new record! World Party also appears.

To be honest, if you've been attending Taste daily, you're better off spending the last day of the fest at home in a quiet room, eating Jell-O and listening to something calm. But if you just can't miss the last day of food and music, swing by to hear the bluesy-though not necessarily innovative-guitar stylings of Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Dennis DeYoung of Styx headlines, but despite our love for "Mr. Roboto," we think we'll sit this one out, domo arigato.
Verdict: Shepherd, because you're sad Taste is over and you've got the blues!

Matt Pais is the metromix music and movies producer.mpais@tribune.com

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