ISSUE #43 / JANUARY 17, 2019
A four part instrumental suite from Chicago’s multi-instrumentalist Dave Zagar combines layers of electronic, percussion, and guitar into a minimalist, atmospheric daze of a record. Born from the aura of the 2017 solar eclipse, Zagar says the record is meant to “embody the celestial and ethereal emotions one experiences while gazing at the diverse skyscapes created by the sun and moon.” Composed in real time on his rooftop to the sunrise, sunset, and full moon along with a track composed the day of the eclipse, the pulsing drums and swirling sounds evoke a natural progression through the stratosphere of music and life. An urban look at natural world through celestial channels, Phased should be played through quality headphones or speakers with stereo sound to fully experience its otherworldly bliss.
He just had an album release party at Schubas last week, hopefully he plays out again soon.
Lucas Gillian’s Many Blessings
Chit-Chatting With Herbie
Lucas Gillan , JeruJazz
Local jazz drummer Lucas Gillian has created a track-by-track reimagining of the 1956 record Herbie Nichols Trio that featured the great legendary pianist at his best, mere years before he passed from leukemia. Gillian adapted the record for his pianoless quartet “because of the common thread he felt with his own music: swinging, melodic tunes permeated by an oddball sense of humor and experimentation.” Trumpeter Quentin Coaxum, saxophonist Jim Schram, and bassist Dan Thatcher form the group and are handed quite the load as both horns are tasked with bringing much of Nichols’ melodies to life while Thatcher and Gillian skillfully lead the beat. Jazz these days is an acquired taste as much as any genre, but these four have produced a polished and entertaining record that never ventures into boring territory. Each of the tracks on Chit-Chatting With Herbie stand out as interesting and provoking compositions worthy of Nichols’ influence and legacy.
They just had their album release show last week and don’t have any more gigs planned yet. Check out their website for more info.
The Footlight District
Fairytales for the Dark Age
The Footlight District
Sibling rocker quintet pools its hardships to release a concept album of what might happen if we all used our surroundings to reflect inward and have a conversation with the soul. In order to incite change, and respect others as they journey along their own paths, we must first look to ourselves to see what we are bringing to the table. The Footlight District not only blends the roots of a multitude of genres, but they record with self-prescribed limitations as bands of the past. In just one or two takes, the result is a complete capture of the raw excitement and passion that comes from recording a labor of love for the first time.
The Footlight District just celebrated the release of this album on Friday. We expect them to book a few shows soon.
Beyond The Golden Door
An eclectic, addictive record by French producer Jostereo via the Chicago electronic label ETC. The first several tracks are piano-based compositions with ethereal electronic backgrounds, but as the meat of the record hits, we are treated to a feature from Spanish rapper Zé Fuga and several more low-tempo treats that produce a thick daydream feel that is perfect for the mid-evening dusk; though “LaLaLa” sticks out as a quick, fun track that could be thrown on at any party to get the dance floor going. He ends the all-too-short collection of tunes with “Note To Elves” featuring rapper Days which brings the piano and electronic elements together into one amalgamated sound bringing the album to a perfect conclusion.
Jostereo has no upcoming shows planned.
Southern Indiana Drone Footage
Tropical Trash is a four-piece, snarling, noise-rock group out of Louisville, Kentucky. The Louisville scene is a bubbling hot-spring of malcontents these days, with punishing sludge-core adherents Knocked Loose, forward thinking d-beat gad-flies Coliseum, and power-popping wonder-weirdos White Reaper all snagging well-earned coverage from various big name indie blogs in recent memory. How the smoke signals emanating from TT’s own trash fire have gone unacknowledged by the indie elites in their Brooklyn high-rises is a mystery our grandchildren will still be pondering when they write for indie blogs of their own (provided rising ocean levels and megastorms don’t wipe us all out before they’re born). Southern Indiana Drone Footage is the group’s second LP and sees the band refining the bitter noise-core of their debut, lopping off the ‘core’ while retaining the restless drive. On this point, I got the sense from their previous album Ufo rot that they were a band that endeavored to be more Shellac meets Pink Flag era Wire, than Shellac meets Damaged era Black Flag. SIDF is the realization of this transition, a shrewd and serrated-winged butterfly that can’t be cudgeled back into its confining husk. Exploring the slow rot of the heartland through economic stagnation, dashed hopes, and conspiracy theories, this is a record whose message is as dire as its sound. I’m terrified to know what new and awful form Tropical Trash will take on their next album, but like any other phenomenally executed act of controlled demolish, I don’t think I’ll be able to look away even if I wanted to.
Signals into Space
It’s been almost 30 years since Ultramarine’s Folk, but you wouldn’t know it having only seen 7 releases since that time. The duo Ian Cooper and Paul Hammond may not be prolific, but they’re certainly consistent. Their latest release is just what you would expect from them: it’s laid-back and dreamy, yet more organic than most electronic work we get. Saxophones, pianos, and organs dance around serrated synth and ambient techno beats. Anna Domino’s vocals, whose work in the ‘80s on record label Les Disques du Crepuscule first inspired the duo, adds a more human element to a third of the songs.
“Elsewhere,” “Arithmetic,” and “Sleight of Hand” are all wonderful jazz-dub inspired tracks, while “$10 Heel” might actually get confused with a pop song attempt. It’s definitely not a step forward in a new direction for electronica, but it’s a brilliantly crafted work of meditative music—one that let’s us ride easily into 2019.
Accessible, shimmering shoegaze pop from this Toronto quartet on their impressive debut effort. Sarah Cogan’s vocals float atop the jangling guitar and propulsive beat, gets you nodding along to the addictive sound. Plenty of elements of English new-wave ride along here, including evident influences from The Smiths, The Cure and Cocteau Twins. You can also hear a hearty helping of shoegaze from the likes of Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine. But despite the impressive array of musical influences, they have maintained enough originality to keep the sound fresh and young. Tallies is definitely an act to keep an eye out for, their future looks very bright indeed.
No large tour plans for them yet, but we’re hoping some momentum behind this one brings ‘em to Chicago.
Kansas City had a healthy punk/emo scene in the late 90’s. It birthed some great acts that have stood the test of time. Emerging from some of the top KC bands of the period, the members of this supergroup have put out a debut that captures the youthful spirit of the time with just enough cynicism to let you know that they’ve reached middle age. Made up of Matt Pryor and Jim Suptic of The Get Up Kids, Josh Berwanger of The Anniversary, and Adam Phillips of The Gadjits and The Architects; this quartet has plenty of pop punk and emo cred. Delivering sharp hooks and driving rhythms, Strays has a classic third-wave punk sound without feeling old or tired. It’s a large feat considering how overplayed and stale the genre has become. Pryor, Suptic and Berwanger all take turns on vocals, adding a change of pace to each song that keeps it fresh, while never veering from the stylistic sound. Radar State may be a one-off, but we’re sure hoping to hear plenty more from these KC scene vets.
They’re coming to Cobra Lounge on Saturday February 2nd. It’s gonna be a blast. Tix are a mere $13.50!
All Power To The People
In an interview with the Bandcamp Weekly podcast, the London house and electronic musician Marc Mac described new release All Power to the People as “a record to set the record straight.” The latest in a series coined “Beats ‘n Knowledge,” the album is an attempt to educate the people of the 21st century about the true meaning and motives behind the Black Panther Party. The full name of the organization, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, is rarely invoked in the media because of the history that this name exposes. Often maligned as an anti-white hate group, the archival tapes reproduced here over sumptuous ‘70s beats, “college mixtape” style, allows the members of the organization to speak for themselves. What is revealed through this process is the history of a civic organization concerned with poverty, equality, and self-determination. It’s a thousand times more enlightening than a thousand self-congratulatory, mainline civil rights documentaries or major studio distributed feature-length dramas on the same topic: the soundtrack is a thousand percent fresher, too. This record comes from both a place of deep appreciation and an even deeper knowledge of the struggle of black people to be recognized for the inherent dignity that flows through all people and is required listening for anyone curious about the history of civic resistance to state tyranny and discriminatory social practices. There may be catchier records yet to be released in 2019, but it is unlikely that there will be any more reifying as a historical document than All Power to the People.
Love Train 2
In the recent era of female R&B singers such as Solange, SZA, and Ella Mai, there is also room for Asiahn, who is no stranger to the subject of love and loss. Continuing with the theme from her first album Love Train, Love Train 2 begins with heartbreak and transitions into a loving ending. In the songs “Belong” and “Games”, with a traditional R&B-type beat heard in countless other songs, Asiahn talks about her significant other playing games with her emotions as she pleads with them that they belong together. But in “Something New” with a soft techno beat, she’s ready to leave her unfaithful partner, as she puts on her red dress and red lipstick. She then changes the tone to seek love again, such as the song “Like You,” in which she chooses not to cheat on her significant other with a fleeting interest, but rather fantasizes about finding someone better, a romantic figment of Asiah’s imagination. This album is full of beautiful lyrical narratives and emotions- something that is traditional in a R&B album. In her song “Lost in London,” she describes meeting a woman and having a romantic adventure; even though she does know the woman’s name she has forgotten all about her ex. Although Asiahn ends the album with a short repetitive chorus and a chorus of people singing with her, the song is so loving with a beautiful use of metaphors. Asiahn sings, “I wanna get stuck on loving you, as consistent as the sky is blue.” Her emotions in this album are triumphant, and a great R&B album for the new year. We’re very excited to hear what she has in store for her music career.
Asiahn has no tour dates set up yet, hopefully we will see her in an upcoming tour/festival
Joining the three very personal EP’s from mid-decade comes this debut full length from the L.A. based rapper/singer/producer gnash. The triple threat creates music that is all about emotive resonance and pop hooks. His feelings and thoughts are in plain speech set to catchy guitar and beat grooves that are incredibly accessible without falling into the sappy trap that has swept up some of his contemporaries. From picking up the pieces breakup song “t-shirt,” to tackling self-doubt in “dear insecurity,” to hanging at home, running away from the world in “pajamas,” he captures an aspect of the attitude of the millennial generation in a way few have before. With plenty of influences ranging from R&B, folk pop, and hip hop, gnash combines it all into a modern sound that is rather his own. we is sure to make a splash early this year with young listeners who are looking for someone to validate their ever-vacillating emotions.
gnash is coming to Bottom Lounge on Saturday January 26th. Tix are $20.
With the youth of today rediscovering… well, Youth of Today and other good ol’ fashioned ‘80s hardcore like Madball and Gorilla Biscuits through fast-paced but even tempered modern upstarts Turnstile and Angel Du$t, it might be easy to forget that there was a time when to be a relevant ‘core’ band meant having some variation of “post” or “prog” attached to you. While far afield from Scary Kids Scaring Kids or Pierce the Veil, Ukraine’s rising star of metalcore, Jinjer are infinitely more compelling than their post-hardcore predecessors (and unquestionably more talented as long as we’re being honest). Combining elements of metal genre blenders like Opeth and Gojira, as well as notorious hip-hop acts like Cypress Hill, Jinjer presents an elastic groove anchored, densely layered, and intricate vision of hardcore and alternative metal that perfectly fills a here-to overlooked space in the current patchwork of heavy music. Their latest EP Micro is a follow up to 2016’s King of Everything, with the band refining the mathy elements that replaced the straightforward thrash grooves of 2014’s Cloud Factory. This album also clears space for more advanced vocal experiments by singer Tatiana Shmailyuk. Shmailyuk’s ability to shift her singing styles on a dime, from a Hypocrisy-esque death rattle to clean vocals ala Amy Lee, has been a signature of the band’s sound since their early days. Micro feeds her appetite for creative destruction, raising a platform on which she can fully explore aspects of her dynamic vocal range, leaping from the theatrical and sardonic on the reproachful “Ape” to the sing-rapping chorus of “Teacher, Teacher!” and the gothic soul heights of “Perennial.” The band really empties the tank with this record, and I can’t wait to see how they take what they’ve learned here and build it up for the next LP. World be warned: this is just a small taste of what Jinjer has in store for you yet.
The First & Last Days of Unwelcome
Being heavy as hell while remaining melodic is no small feat, but LUMBAR seems to reach that state with ease. Coming out of the grey of the Pacific Northwest, the hard-hitting super trio of Aaron Edge (Ramparsad), Mike Scheidt (Yob) and Tad Doyle (Tad) was formed to give Edge a platform on which to reflect on his multiple sclerosis diagnosis. The band’s name comes from the three spinal taps Edge had to endure before receiving the life-changing news. The three gathered back in 2013 to record what is their first and last record. Originally released by Southern Lord Records, it is receiving a re-release this year from Anima. After knowing the circumstances around the recording, it’s a difficult listen, but has a highly affecting emotional resonance. The inevitable hangs over The First & Last Days of Unwelcome like a fog of decimation. It’s a haunting and gorgeous experience that every fan of great music will appreciate.
Taking Back Sunday
Craft / Concord
Celebrating twenty years as a band, Long Island emo rockers Taking Back Sunday have put out a retrospective collection, including tunes from all seven of their studio records with two new tunes thrown in at the end for good measure. The growth is apparent when heard from the angst-ridden tunes of debut Tell All Your Friends to the more mature rock stylings that permeate ‘16’s Tidal Wave. They went from third wave emo upstarts to scene juggernauts, selling out shows around the world. With an undeniable swagger and gritty determination, these New York boys have had twenty strong years. Here’s to twenty more!
They’ve played countless shows in Chicago, and have been a fixture at Riot Fest, but their current world tour passes us by.