ISSUE #64 / June 13, 2019
8 1/2 Lives
From jarring and immediate in its opening chords, to the closing bars of soft feedback, Acquaintances’ long-awaited follow-up to their self-titled record is an adventure in cross country sonic achievement. With a lineup made up of vetern scenesters from Chicago, Philly, and Portland, it took them a year of traveling and shipping recording equipment to put together 8 1/2 Lives. The result is a noise rock opus that shows no cracks from the miles that separate the members. The ricocheting guitars, pounding beats, and fuzz-covered vocals all combine effortlessly to grease the cognitive wheels and flash the serotonin levels. A completely eyes closed, head banging gem that echoes in the brain long after the feedback flows to an end.
They just had their album release party at The Empty Bottle last weekend and unfortunately don’t have another show scheduled at this time.
Balanced between the jangle rock of Chicago’s indie scene and a folk sensibility comes local collective Busy Bodies with their debut EP- lightheartedly-titled, Extended Play. With a collaborative approach to songwriting comes an eclectic sound, and Busy Bodies ride the wave of genres, blending sounds from intimate folk rock on “In Your Cloud,” to singer/songwriter joy in standout “Simon,” to the catchy jangle pop rock of “If I Made It Into Your Heart.” A living room quality envelopes the whole record, making it seem like the band is right there with you, jamming on your furniture, creating a familiarity that isn’t easy to capture. Props go to the local five-piece for crafting a collaboratively cohesive venture that is sure to blossom into future avenues of even more sonic pleasure.
Busy Bodies play quite a bit around town. Be on the lookout for their next show!
Dark and gorgeously dense, local post-rockers Pelican have hit gold again with Nighttime Stories. The instrumental quartet’s first proper studio record in five years finds them at their heavy best: melodic metal blended with an indie rock ethos and plenty of moments that float above us all in layers of the stratosphere. With track titles like, “Midnight and Mescaline,” and “Arteries of Blacktop,” it’s no secret that Pelican are heavy hitters, and Nighttime Stories is a blaze of sonic desolation that takes no prisoners.
If you’re up to the mental challenge, Pelican will be at The Metro on June 29th. Tix are a measly $15!
Clearly a deeply-studied student of electronic music, Maxwell Allison, aka Mukqs, has been entrenched in the Chicago experimental scene for years, and his third project of the year finds him returning to his beat-based roots. In Mem Aleph, the skilled producer uses an improvised live session approach to harness a personal touch that doesn’t appear in electronic music very often. With low-key effect in tunes like “2 Mesos,” to layers of opaque beats in “False Minoshiro,” and the abstract house elements of “Miracle Love Item,” Mukqs has crafted a masterwork in production that runs laps around many of his contemporaries.
Catch Mukqs with Fire-Toolz at The Hideout on June 26th. Tix are $10.
Open Mike Eagle
The New Negros (Season 1 Soundtrack)
Some genius at Comedy Central decided to give comedian Baron Vaughn and Chicago-raised rapper/producer Open Mike Eagle a show titled, “The New Negros.” The soundtrack from the first season boasts eight tunes from the videos featured on each episode, collaborations between Open Mike Eagle and a guest. Ranging from the ultra-comedic “Extra Consent” (featuring Lizzo), to the more serious “Racism 2.0” (featuring Samus) and “Unfiltered” (featuring Danny Brown), each track has elements of biting social commentary that ring so true it would definitely offend your suburban parents. But that’s what satire is for, and this is the pinnacle of satirical hip-hop.
Open Mike Eagle isn’t expected back in Chicago this Summer.
A wonderfully mellow and superbly mature record from the Chicago rapper best known for his comedic hit track, “Dennehy.” Serengeti’s smooth flows and symphonic production on new record June, reflect a very serious artist who is distinctly coming into his own. With an eclectic back catalog that includes collaborations with Sufjan Stevens, Son Lux, Open Mike Eagle and Yoni Wolf, the local phenom proves that hip-hop can be much more than boom-bap beats and bravado. A true student of music, Serengeti opens the doors of auditory wonder with this dreamy bloom of a record.
He has no upcoming shows on his slate.
Final Transmission opens with a voice memo recorded by bassist Caleb Scofield. It is a simple chord progression accompanied by a simple melody. A demo dripping with the finality of its context. Transmitted to fellow bandmates before the long-standing member of the influential east-coast hardcore band Cave In died during an automobile accident. It’s hard to talk about Cave In’s latest album removed from the circumstances of this tragic loss. From the title and unassuming opener, to the fact that Scofield was present for, and guided much of, the writing and recording of the album, his presence here is felt like the heat radiating from a nearby star on a planet in its orbit, slowly tilting its horizon to reveal the emanating helios. Sonically, the album clings tightly to the post-hardcore space-rock by- way-of-Radiohead that Cave In first realized on 2000’s Jupiter, with flashes of solar-flare cascades ala 2011’s White Silence. The shimmering pulsar of pathos that is “Shake My Blood,” is an admitted attempt by vocalist Stephan Brodsky to pay tribute to his friend while mourning his loss. Other parts of the album return to the super-nova of the band’s birth, such as the dire power-thrash guitars on “Winter Widow” and the terra-firma stomping titanic beat of “Night Crawler,” both serving as affectionate nods to their metallic hardcore roots. If you’re looking for a smart-sounding alternative rock album, there are few records in this vein that I would recommend before Final Transmission. Certainly, there are no brighter send-offs to a musician who has passed this year.*
*According to the band’s label, half the proceeds from the sale of the album will be given to Scofield’s widow and children. If you are going to splurge on some records this weekend, consider putting a copy of Final Transmission in your shopping cart.
Cave In does not have any Chicago stops planned this summer as of yet.
With each successive release, Ellen Kempner makes leaps in her sound. From lo-fi bedroom pop of debut Dry Food, to the successful full band transition on A Place I’ll Always Go. She has made another successful jump with the propulsive Black Friday. Her tunes are tighter, the lyrics more affecting, the journey more convincing. Palehound has always been about Kempner’s growth as a person, and with Black Friday, many more discoveries were made that she needed to share with the world.
Palehound is playing the House of Vans Party curated by The Breeders. RSVP here.
Lez Dance is Loamlands’ sophomore country/folk album- their first with Cruisin Records. The stripped-down instrumentals, (primarily guitar,) accompany Kym Register’s alluring vocals and lyrically fearless storytelling.There is so much depth and thoughtfulness that goes into each song, but however tough it was for Register to courageously write and release these songs, they knew that it had to be done. Growing up Durham, N.C. and spending most of their lives there, Register has seen the abuse and unjust first-hand. Moving away from their folk-punk roots, Loamlands is now trying to bring change through compassion, love, and open mindedness. A few songs that stand out and embody these emotions are “For You to Own Me,” which starts out with, “I won’t tell you my story too soon, I just want to know about you,” All the way through, this type of caring about others is fading and we are losing the ability to learn about someone and what makes them who they are.
“How Do You See Me” is another deeply moving song that focuses on Register’s struggle with coming out and watching others come out who worry if they are a liar about who they are. Register struggles with these issues, but like others, they just want to daydream, run around, and have unjudged fun.
Loamlands unfortunately does not have a Chicago concert coming up, but hopefully soon!
The Grand Descent
I’m going to let the name Fuming Mouth sink into the gooey wrinkles of your head meat for a second... I’d like to see what threatening images flower in the peat of your cranial cavity. Maybe the steaming mow of a dragon guarding a heap of plunder? Possibly the image of smoke rising from the gaping jaw of a man who just severed his skull from his spinal column with a bullet? What about a frothing pool of super-heated, bacteria-laden water about to erupt into a tourist-obliterating geyser in one of our nation’s sorely neglected national parks? When it comes to Massachusetts’s Fuming Mouth, all of the aforementioned images (plus whatever messed up stuff you thought of) are accurate visual representations of their terminally transgressive sound. Dredging up the aural terror of late ‘80s death metal ala Earache record catalog and spearing this already pathologically pessimistic body of influences with the scrap-metal blade of late ‘90s metallic hardcore, Fuming Mouth’s debut LP, The Great Descent, is a gratifyingly savage masterpiece. It’s the rock ‘n roll equivalent of running naked at night during a hail storm. As unforgiving as it is exhilarating. The Kurt Ballou production is rich in texture, capturing every sonic grain of these grisly and devastating performances. They don’t have the sheer songwriting chops of Power Trip or Code Orange yet, but they are well on their way. This is a shockingly accurate and deadly delightful opening shot from a promising new hardcore band. I am anxious to see what great depths they explore next.
If you want to catch Fuming Mouth in Chicago this summer, you’re in luck! They’re playing with Creeping Death at Beyond the Limit on Irving Park Road on June 21st, and again at the Beat Kitchen with Harm’s Way and Jesus Piece on August 7th. Tickets to the BK show are only $16!