ISSUE #61 / May 23, 2019
Spencer Radcliffe & Everyone Else
Run For Cover
Continuing their laid back, indie-folk style, Spencer Radcliffe & Everyone Else have produced a relaxing gem that doesn’t skimp on thought-provoking substance. With Hot Spring, the multi-talented musician (who doubles as electro producer extraordinaire Blithe Field) has captured the glow of a late summer evening and packaged it as an album. Gorgeous western-tinged instrumentals float through the ether, held down by Radcliffe’s rambling vocals that are as thought-provoking as spiritually affecting. Whether it’s the boldness of the lilting guitar solo on “Clocktower,” or the rattle of fingers moving over strings on instrumental “Thick Fog,” or the peak of the harmonica on closer “Centaur’s Song,” the tunes draw you in, while Radcliffe’s lyrics slowly unfold into an inclusive saga that only begins to unpack itself over multiple listens.
They don’t have any tour plans as of now, but keep on the lookout because this is one great live band.
This Is What The Living Do EP
It’s clear from the first instrumental track of local dream-pop maven Fauvely’s new EP This Is What The Living Do, that what began as an avenue for guitarist/singer Sophie Brochu’s songs has blossomed into a full band affair that has everyone contributing to their fullest. The lushly layered soundscapes breath on their own as Brochu’s vocals flow through and around, creating an ethereal quality that only becomes solid as she lands the high peak notes of standout “Fall Asleep to Tv,” or rants on never “getting good news” on “Good News.” With bandmates as talented as Dale Price (guitar,vocals), Chace Wall (bass), Dave Piscotti (drums), and Scott Cortez (multi-instrumental noise), it’s no wonder Brochu has excelled as a songwriter. They have all rallied around her to create a fresh sound that brings reminders of Mazzy Star at her ‘90s prime or contemporaries like Julia Holter. This Is What The Living Do is a prominent reminder of the diversity of genre the Chicago indie scene can attain and the depth of quality in which we are currently steeped.
Favauly is playing Logan Arts Festival Battle of the Bands at Sleeping Village this Sunday at Sleeping Village! It’s freaking FREE!
Steel Pulse , Rootfire , Wiseman Doctrine
Classic, punk-aligned, Birmingham reggae heroes Steel Pulse return with their first album in fifteen years. The famously outspoken, anti-racist, and clarion unity proclaimers are able to keep the rhythm and the faith in a better tomorrow on Mass Manipulator, this is despite having been worn by the passage of time down to core original members, frontman David Hinds and keyboardist Selwyn Brown. Amongst the bouncing grooves, buoyant syncopation, and clean sounding brass, are darker undertones and subject matter like the plaintive agonizing over the loss of autonomy in “Human Trafficking” and the highly danceable lament of pan-African diaspora “Cry Cry Blood.” But there is hope that shines through the billowing clouds of tear gas and chain-link-enclosed detention centers as well. These trusting moments come in the form of the flexing Living Color-esque call to action “Rize,” the horn guided up-tempo block party anthem “Thank The Rebels,” and a deliberately naive and brashly optimistically Rastafied cover of Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love” winkingly subtitled “Rasta Love.” The world might not have emerged into the bright future Steel Pulse and others imagined back in 1975, but if they can keep fighting 40 years into their careers, you and I can do our part to carry the torch of unity for 40 more. Let’s love and respect each other...
Steel Pulse will play the Hollywood Casino Amphitheater in Tinley Park on September 18th w/ Shaggy and UB40. Tickets start at $29.
Local Fun Boy
A blistering full-length debut from Brooklyn’s Grim Streaker has blasted into the world in full mosh mode. Jam-packed with their genre-bending noise punk, with elements of new wave beats and goth attitude, No Vision rips open the ears with a dual layered guitar attack under Amelia Bushell’s roaring vocals. Her effect-laden screams and snarls rend through this all-too-short collection of tunes that tackles anti-feminist viewpoints with a violent clothesline to the throat. Buoyed by the walking bass lines and driving drums, the guitars swirl and combine into a wall of noise anchored by Bushell’s howls, and No Vision is everything you could want from a debut: hard-hitting tracks that burst forth from a deep well of angst and affirmation.
We’re starting a petition to get Grim Streaker to Chicago! (Just kidding, but we really, really want to see this band!)
Life Is Hard When You're Soft Inside
Philophobia , Knuckle
Opening with the devastating anti-Brexit anthem, “Spilt Milk,” the UK trio Knuckle launches their debut full-length Life Is Hard When You’re Soft Inside. It’s a rollicking mix of punk, blues, and pure power-trio madness that hits every tally on the list of pure protest rock gold. With their hooks driven in, the Huddersfield trio runs the gamut of genre while claiming they are a garage blues outfit. Whether it’s the mariachi trumpets opening the title track, or the punk power chords of anti-homophobic anthem “Rewind the Feeling,” to the Sabbath-esque “2n2,” along with the self-proclaimed blues rock rock riffs running throughout, Knuckle takes all the influences and jams them into a package that explodes with deafening sound and tongue-in-cheek wit.
Full of Hell
Full of Hell seems well on their way to becoming as synonymous with contemporary grindcore as Napalm Death was at the genre's inception in the '80s and 90’s. Thanks to high-profile collaborations with eccentric sludge metal groups like The Body and noise exhibitionists Merzbow, they're probably one of few active metal bands your hipster friend can name off the top of their head without sneering. Their mounting success is one of the many surprising attributes of a band with such a harsh sound. I suppose it's true what they say, Fortune favors the bold, and Full of Hell's good fortune isn't even close to running out on their fourth LP and Relapse Records debut, Weeping Choir.
Starting out as a DIY hardcore band that would've played just about any house party they were fortunate enough to get invited to, Full of Hell has given birth to, and brutally murdered, more incarnations of themselves then they'd probably care to mention in polite company. They're a band that is always striving for a more complex, intentional, and concerted incarnation of themselves. It's why they have downplayed their roots as a power-violence romancing version of Pulling Teeth in favor of more intricate interweavings of technical death metal, Neurosis steeped sludge, and cochlea filleting noise-core.
Weeping Choir furthers their progressive vision of heavy mixes and abstract themes that has characterized their recent work, up to and including 2017's Trumpeting Ecstasy, only this time with a narrower focus on what are quickly becoming their signature traits: vocalist Dylan Walker's upper register death squalls, soul-rattling electronics, serpentine hardcore grooves, and rivers of blast-beats that tumble over precipice-rimmed breakdowns. While the harrowing rubber-fire grind of opener "Burning Myrrh," the ripping cyclopean sludge-core of "Thunder Hammers," the deliciously perverse gore-grind of "Silmaril," the mechanistically malevolent death-dirge "Aria of Jeweled Tears," and the perilous swirling killer-wasp thrash of "Ygramul the Many" are each noteworthy additions, and collectively, a worthy parade of horrors that deliver the cathartic beat-down slaves-to-the-grind have come to crave, these more outwardly punishing tracks are not necessarily the album's highlights. The heart of Weeping Choir instead lies with the unnervingly tranquil tubular bells and trancelike drumming of the cool, black rain drenched enclave "Rainbow Coil" as well as the feedback-coiled ghostly passage "Army Of Obsidian Glass," featuring the backing vocals of the begrimed folk witch Lingua Ignota, and which resembles the feeling of crawling through kaleidoscopic shards of shattered stained glass windows as you find their barring in a collapsed chapel following an earthquake. A place that was supposed to be your sanctuary but has not become a tomb.
Weeping Choir is many things, but it is not an album that fails for its ambitions. There were moments when I wished the band would have stuck with an idea longer or allowed certain idiosyncratic choices to be expanded on more in-depth, but this album, like their previous work, is highly economical, and it’s leanness and the relentlessness are hardly to be trifled with. It might not be a perfect release, but I'm hard-pressed to think of specific ways it could be improved. The threshold states that Weeping Choir pushing the listener towards are difficult to qualify, and whether you are left leaking tears of joy, or terror, appear to be equally desirous outcomes.
Full of Hell will be bringing the house down at Reggies on May 26 w/ Murder Junkie and Primitive Man. Tickets are only $12!
Trouble In Mind
The follow-up to the New York duo’s self titled debut last year, Living Theatre is an atmospheric rush of genuine gold. Olden Yolk takes inspiration from a head-spinning assortment of influences and crafts them into indie-pop gems that push and pull at the mind through psych-folk flows glued down by their intimate lyrics that explore a myriad of subjects with the deft hands of poets. No wonder they named their record after the environmental theatre movement that swept New York in the ‘70s! Shane Butler and Caity Shaffer took three months off after a whirlwind year of touring to craft this record, and their commitment and dedication show in every last note and flowing lyric. From the dream-pop layers of “Violent Days,” to the folk flavors of opener “240 D,” every track is crafted to perfection. This is what dedicated musicians can accomplish when they have a clear picture of their goals and how to get there.
The Hideout is hosting the duo, with locals Bill MacKay and Matchess opening on May 30th. Tix are $10.
After years of performing as Los Angeles Police Department, Ryan Pollie set out to write a more personal record under his own name. What he didn’t bank on was a cancer diagnosis and the impending fight with the disease that corresponded with the writing and recording of the record. The result is a fascinating exploration on overcoming adversity and sickness along with facing loved ones’ reactions, leaving home, and the everyday efforts it takes to get through life- all the while keeping a rather upbeat persona in the face of his own mortality. A brave and thought-provoking piece, Ryan Pollie shows the power of art to lift one up in the face of hardship and woe. As he says in the affecting “Raincoat,” “Life goes on.”
Pollie has no upcoming dates in Chicago.
A funk rock powerhouse from the depths of London makes good and finally gets their due with a major label debut. It’s a story that doesn’t happen often these days, but it’s come true for The Heavy. With Sons, the workhorse quartet comes out swinging, proving they’re worth those dollars the label infested with insane grooves on standouts “Better as One” and “Fighting for the Same Thing.” Leaning into their funk roots on tunes like “Simple Things” and “Put the Hurt on Me,” they bring out comparisons to the classic Sly and The Family Stone or modern mavericks Fishbone. This is not your Mama’s funk!
Typical of most English bands they are hitting the coasts but not stopping in Chicago. Boo!