ISSUE #52 / March 21, 2019

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Girl K
For Now
Girl K

Coming right out of the gates, full steam ahead, Kathy Patino and crew rip through opening track “Ride,” starting off For Now with an intensity that never lets up. The second record from Patino under the Girl K moniker rides the melodic waves of dual guitars from her and Kevin Sheppard, and the steady backend held down by Ajay Raghuraman on drums and Alex Pieczynski’s groove-filled bass lines. But the real star here is Patino’s lyrics. A natural songwriter, she has a knack for crafting easy to follow storylines with enough poetic leanings to earn indie cred. Take the chorus of highlight “Speed Racer,” “She comes in at ninety miles per hour / And I want to hold her, she is like a flower / What do you want from her, want from her?” Or the hook from ballad “So Strange,” “It feels so strange / I can never see the light in someone’s face / I can never be the one you need / And I’m hoping it is me.”  She effortlessly compresses wide ranges of youthful emotion into easily accessible nuggets of comforting joy. Even when the subject isn’t uplifting, Patino and her band have a way of crafting the tune into a life-affirming embrace.


Girl K is opening for for The Slaps’s at their EP release party at Beat Kitchen on April 26th. Tix are $8.


Jovan Landry
Jovan Landry

Powerful in its scope and meaning, Jovan Landry has put together a fantastic crew to produce Synergy, the first all-female hip hop record to come out of Chicago. Completely performed, mixed, produced, and marketed by women; Synergy is a revelation that’s been a long time coming. Not only is it a statement of intent, it is tangible proof that the female-lead hip hop movement is here to stay. With contributions from a litany of local emcees, including Glitter Moneyyy, Sauda Muse, Jade The Ivy, Sundé, Tee Spirit, JuJu MinXXX, Tweak'G, and Landry; and production credits from Landry, _Qisum, Schenay, K Flow and mixed by Viibez, the record not only hits hard, it grooves on every level. From the rapid fire flows, to the killer beats, to the affirming interludes proclaiming female involvement in hip hop from the very beginning, the entire album works with masterful intent. This is a must own for any Chicago hip hop head, so scoot your ass over to their page and click “BUY” on this one to support the Synergy crew!   


You can catch the Synergy crew at the Hip-Hop Theatre festival at Uplift HS on April 8th, 10am and at The Paper Machete show at the Green Mill on May 4th, at 3pm.

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Oozing Wound
High Anxiety
Oozing Wound / Thrill Jockey

Grinding and crusty from end to end, the politically savvy Oozing Wound has produced a hard hitting, edgy fourth studio effort that just keeps it coming from every level. The local trio explodes from every facet of the speakers on High Anxiety with their combo of metal styles running full steam ahead into each other to create a fascinating noise pollution full of acerbic wit and social commentary. From the song titles alone—“Tween Shitbag,” “Birth of a Flat Earther,” “Surrounded By Fucking Idiots”—they make their content clear. However, there is a depth that goes beyond what some may see as just the dismissal and destruction of social and musical norms. There’s thoughtful analysis and complex feelings uncovered by such creative examination. Zack Weil’s wails and growls uncover a willingness to exist within this world while still being able to rail against it. And bassist Kevin Cribbin and drummer Kyle Reynolds destroy with rhythmic perfection behind Weil’s distortion soaked guitar. This is metal for the thinker, the contemplator, those unaccepting of authority and the willingness to scream for change.


They are headed to Europe for a stint but will be back home at The Empty Bottle on April 29th opening for Monolord. Tix are $15 ($18 doors).

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Lucille Furs
Another Land
Lucille Furs / Requiem Pour Un Twister

Psych rock has so many lush boulevards for a musician to travel down, and the Chicago-based five-piece Lucille Furs has chosen late sixties avenue with their sophomore record Another Land. Lucille Furs has produced a lush soundscape that is clearly steeped in the music that came from Southern California and England during the later half of the Baby Boomer rebellion, with just enough of the pop style hits that one might find on a throwback program on any radio station. It’s eerie and amazing at the same time how their self-proclaimed “baroque pop” blends into a hook-filled, uplifting opus that is simultaneously a part of the past and the present. Full of effect-laden organ, golden harmonies and upbeat pop bounce, Another Land is an accomplishment that really shines from start to finish.


They just had a record release last Friday and are off to L.A. for a show. Hopefully they are on a few festival bills this summer. This is the perfect music to dance the sun away as dusk descends on the streets of Chicago.

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Ben LaMar Gay
Confetti in the Sky Like Fireworks (This Is Bate Bola OST)
International Anthem

Undoubtedly falling into Ben LaMar Gay’s experimental electronic composition category, Confetti in the Sky Like Fireworks (This Is Bate Bola OST) is as relaxing as it is boundary-pushing and complex. A South Side native, Gay is a celebrated cornetist who has dipped his toes into all sorts of genres, and this project finds him saddling up to a mixer, exploring soundscapes full of drawn out notes and fuzzy ambience. It's a dreamscape of ultimate beauty, packaged in a gorgeous forty-minute box that has no sides - just a clear-eyed vision of what music can be if given the right elements.


Ben LaMar is always performing it seems, but you can catch him live scoring a film this weeked at The Onion Film Festival.

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Tom Russell
October in the Railroad Earth

Renaissance man Tom Russell has lived an amazing life. A writer, musician, painter, journalist and storyteller who has seen and done just about everything in his seventy years on Earth. He returns to music with the country-leaning October in the Railroad Earth. Fashioned after the title of a piece of prose from Jack Kerouac and styled in the fashion of Johnny Cash, it’s full of lushly told tales of the forgotten towns and people out West, including his native California and the large swath of country in between. Peopled with the overlooked and long gone, the left behind and the warriors of the past, October in the Railroad Earth is one of those rare records that runs the gamut of emotions. It brings tears in “Red Oak Texas,” laughter in “Pass Me the Gun, Billy,” and quiet contemplation in the title track that summons the spirit of Kerouac from the grave. An accomplished songwriter, Russell has outdone himself with this one, creating a modern epic that deserves far more recognition than it will likely receive.


The living legend will be at Fitzgeralds on June 8th. Tix are $35.



Japan’s Chai has a lot to say about being cute (or not being cute, as the case may be), but still feeling pretty. Comprised of twin sisters, lead vocalists and keyboardist Mana and guitarists Kana, and joined by bassist Yuki and drummer Yuna, they are the lo-fi disco answer to the tender punk wave that gave the blogosphere a much-needed rinse two summers ago (too many dudes, not enough ‘tude). Describing themselves as neo-kawaii, they’re a glitter gun of self-acceptance and inner truth-telling, taking aim at the rigid stereotypes that confine women’s expression and press them into a soul-destroying grind to achieve dubious aesthetic standards. The band’s second full-length album Punk is probably the purest realization of the genre in both shape and spirit I’ve heard this year. Brief, irrepressible, willfully dazzling, and erupting with enthusiasm, it’s like witnessing a self-assured and magically conjured set of Jem and the Holograms covers performed by the Powerpuff Girls, emoting in a mix of Japanese and English. At just over thirty minutes, Punk is overstuffed with beautifully realized garagey renditions of mutant disco and alien house music, complete with burning pink-hued chameleon synths, slimy elastic bass, evasive guitars, super-heated beats that pinch and singe the rim of your ears, and vocal performances that resemble pop-stars doing unflattering impressions of other pop stars while doing justice to themselves. Like singing Cyndi Lauper into a bottle of shampoo while a Basement Jaxx track rumbles in the background, rag-dolling around on the neighbor's lawn the soak up the invigorating aroma of damp soil after a rainfall, or working with your friends to smash the patriarchy, Punk captures the kind of sugar high you only get from life itself.


Chai will kick out the jams at Pitchfork 2019 at Union Park on July 19. Tickets are on sale now!

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Angel Du$t
Pretty Buff

The Baltimore punk rocker’s newest effort is full of the anthemic pop-leaning tunes they are known for, with a bit of maturity creeping in on certain tunes. A coming of age that was hinted at in 2016’s Rock the Fuck On Forever, really takes full effect in Pretty Buff. Angel Du$t was brought together by Trapped Under Ice frontman, Justice Tripp, and staffed with a who’s who of the Baltimore punk-scene, including Turnstile members Daniel Fang (drums) and Pat McCrory (guitar), and bassist Nick Heitman. Pretty Buff is one of those elusive records that would go great with a party, a road trip, or cleaning the house. It’s full-tilt, accessible pop punk that never bogs down its crisp sound by venturing into heavy material..


No Chicago dates yet, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see them show up on the Riot Fest lineup.

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La Fille
Alright Already
La Fille

Alright Already is a head turning debut from the Seattle four-piece La Fille. Fronted by songwriter Jay Louis and held down by drummer Joe Oakes, they have crafted a solid mix of indie-rock feels with the driving beat of new wave. Bordering on bouncy at times and reminiscent of Seattle post grunge of the past, the stripped down sound is ready-made to balance Louis’ self deprecating, crazily descriptive and humorous lyrics with its tight hooks and off kilter power chords. It’s indie-rock for the nostalgic being in all of us, who is just looking for that new act that will take us back to our college years.


Hopefully their debut garners enough attention to get them out our way! Come to Chicago La Fille!

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Stephen Malkmus
Groove Denied

Pavement was seminal in holding down the aura of indie-rock in the late nineties, and by the time they flamed out in ‘99, it was clear that frontman Stephen Malkmus wasn’t done. After toying with Kim’s Bedroom (alongside members of Sonic Youth), and playing for almost two decades with his back up band The Jicks, Groove Denied is his first true solo album in fifteen years. Recorded completely solo over a number of years, the record could be viewed as a cross section of Malkmus’ musically genius brain. By blending almost every genre available (there is even some elements of Industrial hidden up in here), he has created a truly wonderful and original work that is purely of him. Billed as his electronic record, Groove Denied is much more than that. The only real well known comparison would be an early Frank Zappa - though more sane in content and musicality. Think of this as Malkmus’ bedroom recordings, a true look at the artists as man, and the man as artist.


Malkmus is playing Fullerton Hall at The Art Institute on May 8th. The evening is sold out.

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The Faint
Saddle Creek

Part of the trio of bands that built Omaha, Nebraska’s diverse Saddle Creek (including Bright Eyes and Cursive,) The Faint have emerged from their hideout on the plains every few years to deliver finely crafted dance punk that defies description. Returning to the fold of the Saddle Creek brand, Egowork is the band’s most electronic-leaning record to date, most likely due to the addition of Reptar’s Graham Ulicny on keys (replacing longtime member Jacob Thiele). At times heavily steeped in the ‘80s electro pop and ‘90s industrial of their youth, The Faint have really outdone themselves on their first studio effort in five years. It must be moved to!! No one would be able to withstand at least toe-tapping through the entirety of this record- its infectious groove cannot be denied.


The House of Blues is hosting the dance rock maestros on August 9th. Tix are $27.50.


Stay Wild

Singer/Songwriter artists know how to pull at their listeners’ heartstrings and know how to tell their stories in the most beautiful manner.  Like a mural, singer and songwriter Joseph LeMay, or SONTALK, gives listeners this landscape of emotional turmoil through his lyrical settings and his instrumental mise-en-scene.  Whether singing about getting over an addiction, the end of a marriage, or just past times as a youth, drunk driving, and falling in love; LeMay’s production choices according to each song gives listeners something different to hear in the 12-track album, Stay Wild.  Almost a year after releasing “I Am A Mountain”, LeMay debuts as SONTALK with Stay Wild featuring acoustic instruments from guitars to violins and cellos as well as eerie synthesizers. Stay Wild is LeMay’s emotional art piece.    


SONTALK will be performing at Schubas with Telekinesis on April 8th. Tickets are $15

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Dis Fig

One of the most compelling debuts this year, PURGE is a screeching cacophony of a delicate nature; gauzy one second, then decimating the next. Normally known for her live DJ skills, Felicia Chen has crafted a hallucinatory journey through a warped world of sound. As Dis Fig, Chen has regularly rocked clubs all over New York and beyond, but PURGE is a piece of art with a whole new color scheme. Heavily soaked in industrial and experimental but never reminiscent of another artist, Dis Fig vanishes into textured worlds of echoes and devouring silences until she unleashes a litany of beats that flash through and disappear without leaving a trace. Unlikely to garner praise in the mainstream but already beginning to be highly regarded in the annals of the experimental scene, Chen will more than likely reinvent herself again and again, but PURGE feels like the perfect record of the moment filled with an unbridled anxiety that blinds one from the future and past at once... Only the present exists here.      


Unfortunately Dis Fig is not visiting Chicago anytime soon,

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Karen O and Danger Mouse
Lux Prima
Lux Prima , BMG

A team-up that has been rumored for years has finally come to fruition. Karen O, the adventurous and compelling leader of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, has paired with journeyman producer Danger Mouse (Broken Bells, Gnarls Barkley, and litany of producing credits that is a who’s who of modern indie rock and beyond). Cinematic in its scope, Lux Prima creates a world unto itself, lush in its textures and rife with the rolling beats that have become a Danger Mouse staple. The two have committed to an art installation at Marciano Art Foundation in L.A. soundtracked by the album, and though no dates have been announced as of yet, we wouldn’t put it past the two to appear at a few festivals this summer.


We might be wrong, so we’ll just have to wait and see if the two appear on any of the lineup announcements rolling in this month.

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Venom Prison

Venom Prison is a death metal band from the UK who sound like Cattle Decapitation after freebasing the ashes of a Suffocation fan, after which, in an oasis of psychological clarity, they decided to add the “patriarchy” to their list of things to burn ahead of factory farming and environment-destroying corporations. Samsara is the band’s second LP and sees the Venom Prison consciously limiting the chugging hardcore that filled out their previous albums while dialing everything else up to 11 ½, including abrupt temp changes, concussive deathcore breakdowns, and choking palm-muted slam riffs. Speed variance is nothing new to death metal, but the aplomb disregard that Venom Prison demonstrates for music theory is simply a master class in creative destruction. The fact that this intensive technical musicianship services a feminist message is all the more impressive and endearing. The ripping and plying axe work on “Matriphagy” is just the barest bloody tip of the chops guitarists Ben Thomas and Ash Gray exhibit throughout Samsara. The low rumble of Mike Jefferies’ bass is a solid obsidian foundation on which Jay Pipprell fires shattering blast-beats which caustically ricochet and double-back in a heartbeat. This doesn’t even cover the man-eating howl and versatile range which Larissa Stupar displays in her vocal work- feral majesty of which is perhaps best captured on the grim and gouging pull and pluck of “Implementing the Metaphysics of Morals.” Few albums are dense to the point of being inscrutable and yet manage to clearly convey a message of reform for a world as painfully misguided as our own. Samsara is already in my top ten for the year. 10/10. Would listen again, on repeat… forever.


Venom Prison have no current tour dates… which is just maddening.

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Mike Baggetta & Jim Keltner & Mike Watt
Wall of Flowers
BIG EGO / Mike Baggetta

A guitar geek’s wet dream, Mike Baggetta has been using his well-honed skills for years with expertly crafted, stylistic instrumental jams that harbour improvisation as a means to an end. Teaming up for Wall of Flowers with Minutemen legend Mike Watt on bass and the premiere session drummer of the twentieth century, Jim Keltner, the three bob and weave, running around each other for 40 minutes of musical madness. Not quite jazz, but embracing the concepts of the experimental wing of the genre, their recording sessions had to have been quite the experience. How much of this material was ever written before they stepped into the studio is questionable. Wall of Flowers is the result of a melding of three musical minds that never loses their sheen, even when they spend minutes at a time dabbling in atmospheric jams.


They are stopping by Sleeping Village on March 26th with mythical drummer Stephen Hodges replacing Keltner. Tix are only $20!  


Cave Twins
Best Friends For Now
David Mayfield & Abby Luri

Real life can be crazy sometimes... David Mayfield and Abby Rose are fraternal twins who were separated at birth. Both became musicians separately, (Mayfield in a family band and then touring with The Avett Brothers, Black Keys, and Mumford & Sons); Rose toured with The Speedbumps for years. The two found out about each other and developed a relationship that turned to expression through song. Thus was born the Cave Twins. Their debut Best Friends For Now is a nu-folk caravan of tunes that explores the simplicity of acoustic instruments and vocals to illicit a connection that runs deeper than anyone who isn’t them can ever imagine. Who says life can’t have happy endings?


They are visiting 210 Live in Highwood, IL on April 3rd with MMCM. Tix are $10-$12.


Snarky Puppy

Containing anywhere from a dozen to twenty pieces, the jazz funk outfit Snarky Puppy has been kicking out the jams since 2004. The Denton, Texas-based collective led by bassist Michael League has garnered numerous awards and nominations for their singular genre blending. Their latest effort Immigrance is full of their signature groove-filled tunes. If you like dancing, getting down, doing the thing, than this record will be right up your ally. Slap it on, and let the waves of funk-infused motion wash the problems away in a sweaty get-down of epic proportions.


They are hitting the stage at The Riv on May 18th. Tix are $35.