ISSUE #75 / September 5, 2019
Forever Turned Around
It’s said that “good things come to those that wait.” A tried and often misused euphemism, but in the case of local folk rock collective Whitney it’s as true as they come. Three years have passed since the once-Smith Western members Max Kakacek and Julien Ehrlich joined forces for the illuminating Light Upon The Lake; after all the hoopla and subsequent world tours had faded, the two took time to check their bearings and write one of the most cohesive and musically eloquent records to be released this year. Forever Turned Around has a soulful glow that stands apart from their local indie rock peers. It is at once the steady romp of ‘60s Laurel Canyon folk, the smooth groove of ‘70s Motown soul horns, with the melodic transcendental hooks of The Band, and the patience of accomplished songwriters continuing to explore their sound with a maturity that is incomparable. While their previous material traversed, the sprightly experiences of young love, and the inevitable heartbreak that comes with it, Forever Turned Around takes on life in adulthood. With tunes like, “My Life Alone,” “Before I Know It,” and the deep cut title track closer, Ehrlich and Kakacek have found a poetic way to encounter growing older and document life’s journey through an ever-changing landscape of emotional hardships, friends lost and gained, and how to grow and love along the way.
Whitney has a four-night run at Thalia Hall this December 5th - 8th. Friday and Saturday are Sold Out, but tix are left for Thursday and Sunday. They start at $30.
My Heart is an Open Field
Debuts are not normally this poised, but Jess Shoman has put together a stellar first effort that fuses her gorgeous low-key drawl with the beauty of ethereal experimental Americana to produce My Heart is an Open Field. Teaming up with the multifaceted Spencer Radcliffe as producer and collaborator, who brought in a team of crack local musicians including bassist Tina Scarpello and drummer Jack Schemenaner to flush out these thoughtfully gossamer tunes, Shoman (who named the project after her Grandmother Hortencia) composed these tunes very quickly, and the spontaneity shows through as if you are in the room while she plays it for the first time. With a soft vocal approach that brings to mind Big Theif’s Adrianne Lenker and a penchant for exploring sound pushing the boundaries of traditional folk, Tenci’s My Heart is an Open Field is one of the surprises of the late summer. The perfect record to ride off into the Fall. A light to keep close as the days grow shorter and the darkness comes to encircle us all.
Catch Tenci opening for Dave Monks at The SubT Downstairs along with Jessica Risker on November 8th. Tix are $12.
Ezra Fruman returns to lo-fi sound while exploring a harder brand of punk rock. This album is stripped back with just guitar, bass, and drums on most of the tracks. Overall it is rawer and fuzzier. The punk patter of “Rated R Crusades” really got me excited. The blown speaker fuzz of “Thermometer,” (and “Blown”) add jagged edges. The whine that sets Furman’s voice apart shines right through the fuzz. Lyrically, he is taking stock of his life and the world. Furman continues that perfect pairing of anger and lyricism that cuts to the heart of matters both personal and political. “I was considering ditching Ezra and going by Esme” (I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend). “You will vote for America, For the highways and court of America, How you’re not even dead yet, When they bury ya” (In America). The constant pressure to fit in a box when all you want to do is break out and be yourself. You could dissect this album to find connections and divergences. But really, it's best to let Furman’s music speak for itself. “You got no place you can go, You can’t go out, you can’t stay home, You got a little bit of soul...what can you do but rock, rock and roll?” (What Can You Do But Rock ‘n’ Roll).
So you best be there, Lincoln Hall, September 7th. Tix are $18.
Field Whispers (Into The Crystal Palace)
With a vast musical spectrum at her disposal, Angel Marcloid explores it all with her one person, transfemme non-binary, band Fire Toolz. The multi-instrumentalist takes on elements of electronic, experimental, metal, punk, ambient, psyche-rock and beyond with the fifth full-length from the project in four short years. Full of some of the most hair-raisingly, gorgeous, and then goulish elements imaginable, the distinct dichotomy of the two flavors and everything in between make Field Whispers (Into The Crystal Palace) a devastatingly compelling listen that is not for the faint of musical heart.
The Hideout is hosting Fire-Toolz Album Release show on September 28th. Tix are $8.
Cuckoo And The Birds
Cuckoo And The Birds
A really easy listen from Chicago indie rockers Cuckoo and the Birds packs five tracks into their new EP, Twin Stars. The album has a light-hearted melody, and with its acoustic guitars and slower drum rhythm, the band introduces heartbreak and sorrow. This EP foreshadows what listeners can expect; metaphors in their lyrics give listeners an emotional connection, especially when it comes to breakups and relationships. In their first song, “Beacon,” they use phrases to define a failed relationship and a longing for closure; “I don’t want to be your beacon/ shining light on your half-lies.” The singers asks to be saved from the shadows of the past.
Just had a show six days ago at the Tonic Room.
Common / Loma Vista / Concord
Common starts his album, Let Love with a female voice singing “Good Morning Love.” Samora Pinderhughes’ voice is breathy and high and somehow also warm. But this isn’t a song of romance, it’s about finding some source of comfort in a life that’s unrelentless in the pain it doles out. The music is smooth, rolling jazz. An appropriately mature sound for this OG of the Chicago rap scene. Jazz elements are woven throughout the album, which explores different kinds of love and loss. “Leaders [Crib Love]” has a kicking jazz drumming that really caught my ear, and Common’s flow really hits it stride. I felt it and then listened closer and found he was telling of his experience coming up in Chicago. Perhaps that personal connection is part of why he feels so loose and passionate on that track. The album concludes with a gospel tune, “God is Love” featuring the beautiful vocal stylings of two younger artists, Leon Bridges, and Chicago gospel singer Jonathan McReynolds. An uplifting note to end on.
We just missed his Ravinia performance, nothing else listed right now.
Young Heavy Souls / Fløver
Palm Haze started out in Brazil in 2015 when Anna Wagner(vocals) and Lucas Inacio(guitar, bass, sythns, beats) began playing around and decided to record their music because they thought it sounded good and wanted to remember. Taking it the next step once relocating to Vancouver, the duo added Caio Mendes(drums). On their newest album, Palm Haze blends electronic, indie/post rock, and shoegaze. Reve Bleu is hard to pin down to any one category of music because of the continuously revolving style from song to song. The album starts out with “Winds” which is mellow, indie rock lounge music that becomes a little heavier and spacey. Then “Drop In” shifts the vibe into a post-rock feel that makes you check to see if this is still the same album. The group changes it up with the title track, “Reve Bleu,” which is more of a trip hop track with a psychedelic beat. Finally rounding out the album, “Wildflower” and “Almost Soon” Palm Haze pull out some of the darkest moments of the album while providing a nice completion.
Palm Haze does not have an upcoming Chicago show.
Australian Blues musician Ash Grunwald is a surfer by day and rocker at night. Mixing blues and roots with new-age rock gives you a fresh taste of music that’s been around for nearly a hundred years. Featuring a slew of fellow Australian musicians, Grunwald brings out his buddies to help contribute to Mojo. The list doesn’t stop there; Grunwald also brings along the phenom Joe Bonamassa, and the late legend Eddy Clearwater. Grunwald use Clearwater and fellow Australian Blues musician Ian Collard to give Howlin’ Wolf’s “How Many More Years” a different take. Grunwald also covers Rag’n’Bone Man’s “Human” with features from Mahalia Barnes and Harry James Angus. The new style of blues that Grunwald presents follows the lead taken from Joe Bonamassa, where the music is a little bit more polished without losing its grit or toughness.
Ash Grunwald does not have an upcoming Chicago show.