ISSUE #69 / july 25, 2019
Avery R. Young
Chicago poet, singer, songwriter and all around entertainer Avery R. Young returns with the fabulously soulful and funktified tubman.; a glorious exploration of blackness, freedom, and queerness meant as a soundtrack to his first published volume of poetry neckbone: visual verses. Blending soul, gospel, funk, rock, blues, and spirituals, Young produces a heady concoction of social protest that reveals layer upon layer with multiple listens. His gorgeous tenor floats above the varied instrumentals like a guiding light, similar to the albums namesake, leading the faithful through the dark. With so many references to past and present black history it could serve as a starting place for anyone looking for an entry point into the subject, with tunes like “get to know a nina simone song,” “lady day on soul-train,” “talllahatchie”, and the title track “tubman.” he channels a rich and troubled cultural past into a work of art so voluminous and distinguished it should play in a museum on constant repeat.
He and his band De Deacon Board don’t have any upcoming shows listed, but be on the lookout for this transcendent artist.
Ajani Jones / Closed Sessions
This golden voiced emcee from the Chicago has brought a groovy, soul searching record to life in Dragonfly. Born and raised on the Southside, Ajani Jones adopted his brothers name, which translates as “he who is one with the struggle,” and with his debut full length he has announced a new voice to be reckoned with in the local hip hop scene. Chock full of contemplations on childhood, violence, coming of age, love, and life’s heartbreaks and joys; Dragonfly walks through Jones’ life with a fine tooth comb, revealing his fears and doubts along with the hope he has for the future. With highlights like “Black Power Ranger” and “Pluto” he explores his past on the Southside, while cuts like “Quicksilver” are packed with reflections on looking toward the good in life through brutality and despair. A cohesive and challenging listen that should leave any hip hop head waiting for more as the last beats fade.
Ajani Jones is opening for J-E-T-S at Lincoln Hall on August 16th. Tix are $20.
Anxious Body EP
This pop-punk/emo act from Sleepy Hollow, Illinois use their hardcore tendicies, thrashing guitars and screams to emote on self doubt and break ups with their new EP, Anxious Body. The dual vocalists trade between singing and screaming, working parallel with the guitars, shredding in a tandem, alongside the vicious drums beats and painstaking lyrics. Most of the tunes explore where these characters are at, either at fault in a break up like in “Anxious Body”, or stuck at the ends of alcoholism and bad decisions as in “Where I Sleep”. A great emo hardcore band always has those moments where the vocalist emotes in a scream and Wilmette find those perfect instances to highlight a phrase or lyric while the vocals churn along. This one is full of head nodding moments on all 5 tracks and is definitely a play on repeat while singing your lungs out and shredding air guitar kind of record.
Wilmette was just at the Cobra Lounge in May. Hopefully they’ll have another Chicago show before the year ends.
Gender Confetti has a classic punk sound with driving drums, power chords, and politically charged chant/shout vocals. WE’RE GAY is an album speaking to the moment and directly addressing a lot of the issues that swirl around us: immigrant rights, gender constructs, consent, and black lives matter to name a few. In "Rainbow" they lay out political action as Resist, Get Pissed, and Persist going hand and hand with "We'll build a rainbow right over their heads, and throw a glitter bomb right into their beds." A glitter bomb sounds fun, but also like a chafing pain in the genitals. Whatever combo of genitals you sport. Pretty and devious. Sounds perfect. Alongside the messages of action and defiance there are tons of reminders that being true to who you are is the real path to happiness in this life. Listening to this album makes me feel like love and friendship and the rainbow of queerness are going to save the world.
Aug. 1 at The Burlington Bar, not sure, but prob $10ish. Don't forget to glitter up!
Light In All Of It
An entrancing debut full length from this Cincy shoegaze outfit, Light In All Of It flows through the mind like the warmth of a summer wind. The dual vocals of husband and wife team Ian Hilvert and Ivory Snow dissolve into an ether of textured synth and swirling guitar to take a journey through their visual inducing fantasy. They claim “the album explores themes of loss, identity, and personal hardship as well as the role of Universal connection in learning from and coming to accept such facets of existence.” With Snow’s haunted falsetto roaming throughout and Hilvert’s harmonizing glow flowing just under the surface till it breaks open, it creates moments of stunning duality that could completely be termed as musical Universal connection. (we know that’s not what they meant, but it works.) From the back and forth pull of “This River” to the driving rhythm of “New Familiar,” and beyond, each track has its own breath, never falling into the endless drone that can kill the vibe of a shoegaze record. Sungaze has a bright future awaiting them on the other side of the valley of sound they have carved.
Sungaze has no tour plans as of now.
The Decaying Light
Brutal death metal is not a subtle genre. As the nomenclature implies, it’s one of the blunter forms of already extreme substrata of sound. But while Brisbon’s Disentomb may be dense, the descriptor is not applied derisively. The compounding layers of fully articulated dark and dissonant compositions demonstrate not only a mastery of their instruments but a dreadful ecclesiastic fervor, and homage to something miraculous and terrible Like the image a hungry Cronian monument on The Decaying Light’s cover, Disentomb appear to have cracked the seal on the crypt of an eldritch herald, and allowed the perturbations of its designs to permeate the supple thought centers of their brains. The result is undoubtedly brutal, but not in a purely sensational way. Guitarist Jack Wilkes is capable of crushing solos and peeling riffs, sure, but it’s the restraint he exhibits here that is revealed to be the most punishing. Such as the weary dragging chords in the opening section of “Dismal Liturgies” or the winding spiral descent of “Indecipherable Sermons of Gloom,” there is a malevolent plan and consciousness to the chaos of these tracks that makes them all the frightening to behold. The skeletal bass work of Joe Haley helps to allude to the abominable mystery of the tracks, tracing the outline of that thing which writhes just below the otherwise still surface, while his relentless drum work is the wind at your back, cajoling the listener ever forward into the mouth of madness. All the while Dan Field’s cavernous vocals, feel distant, indistinct, and yet unnervingly close. The bleak shroud that envelops and contains the maddening atmosphere of The Decaying Light separates it from the pack of technically proficient death metal dealers out there, providing both a powerful listening experience as well as a reminder of the things we don’t understand of the world, and further may not have the mental or spiritual fortitude to comprehend.
Disentomb will be in Chicago to fill the Cobra Lounge with abominable atmosphere on
September 25. Tickets are $16
Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.
Jangly guitar? Expansive reverb? Bouncy danceable rhythms? Glistening synths? Utter confusion about what is going through people’s heads? Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. That is the new album from LA band HUNNY. The directness of the “Saturday Night” lyric “When you didn’t call back, I cried, I cried, I cried,” made me laugh with understanding. Haven’t we all been there? Although some wouldn’t want to admit it. These guys are processing their feelings and decisions in their music. “I waited up all night, she’s an actress, way up, popping ritalin with my friends” (“Ritalin”). If you like dancing through life’s joys and regrets, you should definitely check out this album.
Hunny has no tour plans as of yet.
The Guardian in their coverage of Kristin Hayter aka Lingua Ignota recent London performance observes, it is impossible to control your own narrative once it has become public. I bring up this point because any coverage of Caligula that centers on its depictions of domestic abuse and assault feels like theft. The acknowledged themes and driving inspiration of the album are Hayter’s attempts to process her own experiences living with an abuser, a man who she trusted, who was the king of Providence, Rhode Island’s noise scene, and whose abuse and betrayal was made all the most damaging by her community’s deathless support for him. But writing about these themes on Hayter behalf, translating her words and performance into a pithy scrollable content feels like another piece of her soul being taken with our her permission. A minor, but not imperceptible trespass. Caligula, it the third album to surface from the troubled seas that swell and clap tauntingly under the banner of Lingua Ignota. The classically trained pianist and former church cantor’s compositions are bruising in their delivery, patiently paced chamber pop intruded upon by rib-rattling bass and lung-puncturing distortion, with Hayter’s vocals abruptly shifting between vicious shrieks and blindingly clear harmonies in the deeply ambivalent territory opened by the bare instrumentation. It is a response to torment endured, and a rebuke of the passivity engendered by narratives of “self-care” foisted on survivors. At times it feels like listening to someone walk across broken glass with their bare feet. Some utterances feel like a stranger’s nails carelessly scraping the interior of your skull. A confrontational aesthetic. One that isn't easily compartmentalized or reducible to a badge of wokeness to be worn on the back of a denim jacket. A projection of hostility as a form of healing. Every inquiry, an interrogation. Every attack, personal. A capsule of righteous, wrathful revenge, swallowed in a possibly vain attempt to inoculate oneself against further poisoning. This is me speaking for Hayter of course, and she is more than capable of speaking for herself. Your emotional response to Caligula will differ from my own, because your experience of pain differs from mine. The weight of Hayter story, the motives behind the stories you tell yourself to survive another day, and the sounds and heat of a city burning around us as the music weaves between the dancing flames, these are things that can’t be dictated to you. They are things that you know yourself. Feel yourself. Feel without fear. With the realization that knowing these things intimately, allowing yourself to feel without reservation, may not set you free of your torment, but are at least more liberating than the alternative.
Lingua Ignota will burn down the Empty Bottle on September 9th. Tickets are $12.
The New York based band via Gainsville, UV-TV, comes out with a sweltering sophomore album, Happy, that you can envision the band playing these songs at a DIY show and pouring sweat out song after song. The post-punk band has not lost their edge in which they attack each track and the fuzz/DIY sound is still their kicking even stronger. The major leap that has been taken since their last pieces of work, Go Away and Glass, is in the song writing. An album filled with being introspective and not following social norms blindly, UV-TV captures the disenfranchised punk’s ethos perfectly. The title track “Happy,” Rose Vastola is being honest and offers her gratitude towards others being happy in the traditional sense, but Vastola finds happiness other ways. Through being comfortable with their current state and not having any past regrets. Second to last track “Gold,” forces you to take a look at everything around and really think, do these things have real value to me or did I just think that because someone else told me. Instagram Influencers rule the internet currently and if you are not doing exactly what they are or something of the like, then are you really living life? The answer is no, you do not have to be a blind follower to think that you are happy, when in reality you can be happy by knowing that you are comfortable with the person you have become and trying to be. If more people followed Vastola and realized self validation is contained to yourself, then there would be a lot more wholesome people in this world.
UV-TV does not have an upcoming Chicago show.
Thoughts and Prayers
Just when you thought you were rid of them for good, Russ Rankin, Luke Pabich, Chuck Platt, and Sean Sellers are back in the studio to let you know exactly how much your well wishes are worth in a world on fire (hint: not much). If you are familiar with Good Riddance’s brand of skate punk and melodic hardcore, then their second album of the second act of their career (FYI, first act: 1990-2007) won’t have many surprises for you, but that’s probably why you’re reading this review. Pop-punk bands GR and Propagandhi always gets points for consistency, and Thoughts and Prayers adds to their already high score with the west-coast hardcore bleached screed “Edmund Pettus Bridge,” the sliding skate-fueled sputter punk of “Our Great Divide,” and the doomy march and skipping charge of “No King but Caesar.” If you need a relatable, politically-charged rock album to put a jump in your step, then Good Riddance has answered your prayers.
Good Riddance has no current plans to stop in Chicago.
what we say in private
Ada Lea’s album, what we say in private, sets the tone with the lead track, “mercury.” Changeable to the point of volatility. Much like mercury itself. It starts off with a tight electronic beat. As the strummed guitar enters. The first words her whisper-textured vocals sing to us are of introspection, “Is there something big you regret, and it’s eating up any life that is left.” She tests the waters of odd time signatures. Then at 1min 20sec she drops to half pace and gives us a completely different musical arrangement. A few bars later she returns to fuzzy rock, only to dismantle it into a psych wash and vocal choir. This song refuses to be just one thing. That unpredictable nature is at the heart of her sound. It is noise jazz. It is psych. It is garage rock. It is electronic. As I listened there were parts of every song I wanted to talk about. But in the interest of brevity, I will boil it down to this. Ada Lea’s music is intriguing and exciting and beautiful.
I am crushed she doesn’t currently have plans to visit Chicago, but I am hopeful she will soon.
Do you like Convulse? How about Bolt Thrower? And of course you’re a drooling idiot for Horrendous, right? I know your answer to all of the above is “f*ck yeah”! So I guess I don’t need to tell you about Tomb Mold. What am I saying? Of course, I do! Because they’re basically like all of these bands after having been absorbed into an uncanny floating Cthulian amebae made of a cacophony of deafening flavors, grating proprioception, and putrid smelling colors- dissolved, reconstituted, and excreted in a profane birth that would keep the meat-jelly variant of the Mind Flayer from Stranger Things 3 up at night. Dry, cadaver defiling, old school death revival, thy name is Tomb Mold. Planetary Clairvoyance is the third album by the foul foursome hailing from Toronto, and marks a turning point in their career, where they go from just an inspiring death metal band, to a flag wave vanguard of the genre. With cleaner, yet uglier production, tighter performances, and multi-phased tracks whose hooks and melodies are more than just a bountifully brutal evolution of extremity, but have their own narrative structure, this is the album you've been waiting for since you first heard the claustrophobic intricacies of 2017's Primordial Malignity. There are some incredibly innovatively rancid chords here and it’s clear that a great deal of care went into crafting each of these hooks in order to make them pop just enough to give your inner ear memorable spray of cold aural bile. I don’t have to be clairvoyant to know that Planetary Clairvoyance is going to find a home on many a “Best of” list in 2019.
Tomb Mold was just at Cobra Lounge, but they’ll probably loop back around in late fall. Just keep an eye on Reggies and Cobra’s calendars and you should be fine.