Posts Tagged ‘Chicago’

Speaking of a throwback, you may have heard: We’re giving “Summerteeth” a deluxe makeover. The new package shines inside and out.

It’s got more than 40 bonus tracks including demos, alternate takes on the Summerteeth classics and live performances. These boxsets reimagine the original artwork in a metallic finish and include fresh liner notes drawn from recent conversations with Jeff and John. You’re gonna want this one in your collection, trust us.

Preorder it here and you can expect it on your doorstep November. 6th. Meanwhile; Wilco’s illustrious career hit a milestone in 2016, with the release of their 10th studio album “Schmilco.” They packed smaller venues during a fall tour to celebrate, including a run at The Theatre at Ace Hotel. We captured a private performance — stage set and all — at the Theatre, and it showcases a band at the peak of their powers. Rewatch this career-spanning set.

In the midst of three sold out shows in LA, Wilco set aside an afternoon to record a special live session for KCRW at The Theatre at Ace Hotel.

Wilco’s illustrious career hit a milestone in 2016, with the release of their 10th studio album “Schmilco.” They packed smaller venues during a fall tour to celebrate, including a run at The Theatre at Ace Hotel. We captured a private performance — stage set and all — at the Theatre, and it showcases a band at the peak of their powers.

Re-watch this career-spanning set.

Set List: 0:00 If I Ever Was a Child 2:53 Cry All Day 7:12 The Joke Explained 9:45 Someone to Lose 12:55 Dawned On Me 16:27 Impossible Germany 23:25 We Aren’t The World (Safety Girl) 26:04 The Late Greats

Chicago-based hardcore punk band LURK have released a lyric video for their song “Pressure Points” as well as an acoustic version of their song “Trample”. The songs are off of their upcoming EP, Pressure Points due out July 29 via Pure Noise Records.

Vocalist/guitarist Kevin Kiley tells us that the new song was recorded during the same sessions as the upcoming album, but that LURK “decided to keep it aside to release with this collection of songs instead.”

“Lyrically it’s about the damage caused by our desire for comfort and normalcy,” he continues. “In the wake of it we deplete our natural resources, murder animals, lower the standards of education and now apparently accept living with a deadly virus. It goes without saying but we need to do better and need rapid change.”

LURK tend to be a pretty genre-defying punk band, and “2043” is a fine example of this. It starts off giving the same IDLES-meets-Pere Ubu vibes as “Pressure Points” before evolving into a chorus that kinda sounds like shoegazy Stooges, and the song’s coda fuses psychedelic sound effects, harsh shrieks, and ’70s guitar heroism. It’s all over the place, but it works. Hear it for yourself below. LURK also tell us they also recorded some covers at home while quarantined, so stay tuned for those and more details on the upcoming LP, which Kevin says “will be coming when the timing is better.”

Our new single “Pressure Points” is out now via Pure Noise Records along with an acoustic version of an older song called “Trample”.

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Released July 29th, 2020

Fantasize Your Ghost

Sima Cunnningham and Macie Stewart of Ohmme make average rock bands sound unimaginative and unremarkable—while most bands are happy just rolling a hoop with a stick, Ohmme are reinventing said hoops, but they have far too much humility to ever point out that discrepancy. The band’s new album “Fantasize Your Ghost” follows 2018’s Parts, and it shows off the Chicago duo’s strengths: writing fascinatingly experimental songs with surprising accessibility and braiding their voices to a staggering effect.

Both musicians are classically trained, and their live shows prominently feature their raucous violin and guitar slinging as well as their unique artistic vision. Their forthcoming album opens with the wonderfully puzzling riff of “Flood Your Gut,” followed by the seraphic vocal harmonies and guitar bleed of “Selling Candy,” and right away, you know you’re on a sonically and artistically fruitful path. Another highlight is “3 2 4 3,” where colossal strings meet their astounding vocal might and subtle yet effective guitar lines.

Official Video for “3 2 4 3” by Ohmme off the album ‘Fantasize Your Ghost’ out on Joyful Noise Recordings.

Songwriters Sima Cunnningham and Macie Stewart formed their unbreakable bond performing throughout the fringes of Chicago’s many interlocking communities, collaborating with titans from the city’s indie rock, hip-hop, and improvised worlds. but together, along with drummer Matt Carroll, they’ve stretched the boundaries of what guitar music can do starting with the band’s experimental 2016 self-titled EP and their adventurous debut 2018 LP parts. now their longstanding partnership culminates with the stunning and muscular follow-up fantasize your ghost.

Ohmme formed in 2014 as an outlet for Cunningham and Stewart to explore an unconventional approach to their instruments. “that’s the whole genesis of the band: us walking up to our guitars and saying, ‘how can we make this noisemaker do something different?'” says Cunningham. but as their musical collaboration strengthened, bringing parts and intensive tours with acts like Wilco, Iron & Wine, Twin Peaks, and more, the band’s scope and focus has also broadened. “grinding on tour last year for so long, it can alter your mental state where you have to think about your life in a different way than you would if you’re home. a lot of the songs stemmed from just thinking about all of the possibilities that life could be and could take,” says Stewart. the commanding single “3 2 4 3” tackles the terrifying realization of needing to make a change. their deft scene-setting and the way their disparate voices blend together heightens the song’s inherent anxiety.

These moments of emotional clarity fill fantasize your ghost. written across 2019, early sketches of the album’s tracklist were demoed at Sam Evian’s Flying Cloud studios in upstate New York. “that’s where we really started to see the record come together,” says Cunningham. the sessions were intensely collaborative and open, the product of long, existential conversations between Stewart and Cunningham in the van about their lives and how to channel the anger they were feeling about the state of the world. tracks like the driving opener “Flood Your Gut” underwent several revisions with Ohmme uncovering several new directions the song could go before finishing it. fantasize your ghost was recorded over a six day session in with indie rock journeyman producer Chris Cohen and captures the astounding magnetism and ferocity of their live show. Fantasize your ghost encapsulates the thrilling and sometimes terrifying joy of moving forward even if you don’t know where you’re going. it’s an album that asks necessary questions: when life demands a crossroads, what version of yourself are you going to pursue? what part of yourself will you feed and let flourish and what do you have to let go of? this is a record of strength, of best friends believing in each other. unapologetic and brave, Ohmme are ready to figure it all out together.

Ohmme off their album ‘Fantasize Your Ghost’ out on Joyful Noise Recordings.

The Chicago euphoric country soul outfit return to pay homage to Labi Siffre, Brian Eno, John Denver, Kelela & others. Whitney was born from a series of laidback early-morning song-writing sessions during one of the harshest winters in Chicago history, after Julien Ehrlich and Max Kakacek (former members of Smith Westerns) reconnected – first as roommates splitting rent in a small Chicago apartment and later as musical collaborators passing the guitar and the lyrics sheet back and forth. 

Back in February we got the whole band together in Chicago with the idea of recording 2-3 covers to share throughout 2020. Those 2-3 tracks turned into a 10 song cover album called “Candid” out August 14th. Along with this announcement we’re releasing our cover of “Hammond Song” By The Roches. We hope you enjoy it. Stay safe and please continue to remain active and committed to the Black Lives Matter Movement.

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Covers have long been an integral part of Whitney’s ethos. Ever since the band first formed in 2014, tackling songs by the Everly Brothers, Allen Toussaint, and more played an important part in the breakthrough 2016 debut ​Light Upon The Lake​. Since then, their takes on NRBQ’s Magnet and Neil Young’s On the Way Home have become live staples, an essential and communal part of their sets. Their love for the music that makes up their deepest influences has always been genuine and tangible.

Following their acclaimed sophomore 2019 album ​Forever Turned Around​, Whitney have decided to return with a loving tribute to songs that have been formative and lasting to the entire band. ​Ca​ndid​is a 10-song collection boasting covers of artists like Kelela, David Byrne, John Denver,​ SWV​, and others but it’s also a band challenging themselves to explore more than their musical comfort zone. Recorded in January and February of 2020 over multiple sessions at Treehouse Studios in Chicago and ​Flora Recording and Playback in Portland​, ​”Candid” f​inally sees the full touring band in a recording studio together.  Whitney has brought their cinematic sound to The Roches’ “Hammond Song.” Whitney’s sound can best be described by the feeling of nostalgia. It makes you long for that one summer and for a sun-drenched drive. If you haven’t had the pleasure of hearing the beautiful harmonies of the original song, be sure to check it out as well!/

Their chemistry exudes throughout the tracklist but it’s especially apparent when they open up the dynamic to their friends, like Katie Crutchfield of Waxahatchee joining John Denver’s Take Me Home, Country Roads. On the cover of the classic, Ehrlich and Crutchfield’s voices merge for a joyous harmony over the chorus. Over eight days at Treehouse Studios, the band would show up in the morning, learn a song together, and choose an instrument, leading to a freewheeling and adventurous atmosphere. Their renditions of SWV’s ’90s R&B heater Rain or David Byrne and Brian Eno’s 2008 track Strange Overtones prove this, as they stretch Whitney into new musical directions.

At its core, Candid i​s a celebration of both the songs Whitney has adored throughout its formation and the band’s evolving bond through years of relentless touring and an enduring friendship.

Releases August 14th, 2020

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“I want nothing more than to be a loner,” Emily Kempf sings early on “Flower of Devotion”, the new album by Chicago trio Dehd. It’s a startling admission coming from a songwriter who, just a year ago on Dehd’s critically acclaimed “Water”, wrote eloquently about the joys and pains — more than anything, the necessity — of love, compassion, and companionship. But then, “admission” isn’t really the right word here, given the stridency of Kempf’s tone. “Loner” is a declaration.

The record ups the ante on Dehd’s sound & filters in just enough polish to bring out the shining and melancholy undertones in Jason Balla and Emily Kempf’s songwriting, even as it captures them at their most strident. Balla’s guitar lines at times flirt with ticklish cosmic country, while at others they reflect the dark marble sounds of Broadcast. Kempf, meanwhile, establishes herself as a singer of incredible expressive range, pinching into a high lonesome wail, letting loose a chirping “ooh!,” pushing her voice below its breaking point and letting it swing down there. When she and Balla bounce descending counter-melodies off one another over McGrady’s one-two thumps, or skitter off over a programmed drum pad, they sound like The B-52s shaking off heartache.

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What makes Flower of Devotion so impressive is how its creation seems to have strengthened its creators, both as individuals and as a unit, even as they’ve stared down their own limitations. It’s also striking just how much fun they seem to be having in the process. “It’s okay to be lighthearted in the face of despair,” Kempf says. It’s a theme that runs through the album, from the opening back-and-forth build of “Desire” to the click-clacking chorus of “Haha,” which finds them deflating their own history. Flower of Devotion was recorded in April and August of 2019 in Chicago.

It will be released on Fire Talk Records on July 17th 2020.
Recorded by Jason Balla & Dehd

It must be frustrating to have planned to roll out your new album and a massive months-long tour at what turned out to be the exact beginning of Lockdown 2020. But even if this disaster of a year stymied Ratboys’ hopes to conquer the open road, the band can take solace in knowing their new album is one of the year’s best, a barnburner that builds their appealing, folksy Americana into arena-ready anthems. Expanding their sound without losing the sweet, exposed heart of Julia Steiner’s humanistic vocals, tracks like “I Go Out At Night” expertly straddle the line between bombast and beauty, suggesting a group on the verge of something enormous. If only this damn virus would go away so they could get in front of everyone and prove it.

RatboysJulia Steiner had a fairly different experience with the record, citing a lyric from the track “Life Is Long” as a direct inspiration on the vaguely emo Chicago band’s third and latest LP, “Printer’s Devil”. “I’m lost but I’m not afraid” has become the unofficial mantra for the record, summing up the uneasy transitions occurring in Steiner’s life during the album’s inception period. Paralleling these changes was a shift in the band’s chemistry—once a two-piece comprised of Steiner and Dave Sagan, “Printer’s Devil” is the first Ratboys album to feature a full band, adding touring members Sean Neumann and Marcus Nuccio to the mix.

The result is something deeply personal, while injected with something of a Wikipedia-wormhole curiosity (several tracks seem to explore bizarre histories detailed on the free online encyclopedia) and a tinge of science fiction.

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Printer’s Devil is streaming now, and will be officially released tomorrow via Topshelf Records. Listen below, and read on to hear what Steiner had to say about the history of each track.

1. “Alien with a Sleep Mask On”

This was the first song that we recorded when we got into the studio. We took a couple hours to get drum sounds and make the guitars sound good, and then we just went for it. I started writing this song while we were on tour—after we had sound checked one day I was feeling pretty exhausted mentally and needed to get some space. I walked to our car and just played guitar for a while. The bones of the song came out right away, and they felt really fresh and urgent. The melody and hook had kind of been stewing in my mind for a while, which helped me just let it out I think.

I kept workshopping the song during sound checks throughout the rest of the tour, just singing and playing the parts I had so far and improvising them in that small amount of time. I always like doing that with new ideas on tour. Eventually Dave and I demoed out the song and nailed down the structure in Kentucky a few weeks later, and then we built it out even more with Sean and Marcus from there. For me, the song is about the disorienting reality of life on the road. And just about being inside your own head all the time, to the point where you start to question how you come off to others. It’s kind of a heavy topic, but I wanted it to be light hearted too, because that’s kind of how tour feels a lot of the time—heavy, but so fun.

2. “Look To”

This song rocks, and we had so much fun recording it. I remember it took us a while to find the right tempo, but once we got it I feel like we just locked in 100 percent as a band. The lyrics of this one deal with family relationships getting more complicated as you grow older. When we were demoing at the house where I grew up, I kind of found myself taking stock of the bonds I share with my family, specifically with my parents, and just thinking about how they’ve changed over time. The idea of helping your mom or dad through a hard time is so powerful to me, so that became the central image of the song in my eyes.

And then confessing a bit of frustration in the chorus, that things aren’t as simple as they seemed before. This song is very, very fun to play, we like to go absolutely wild with it. Then finally we tacked on a bit at the end—we wanted it to sound like you were walking into a sing-along at a party. That bit is an idea I woke up singing in the middle of the night. I recorded it right then in a little voice memo, which you can hear at the very end of the song.

3. “My Hands Grow”

This song is one of two on the record (the other being “Printer’s Devil,” the title track) that was based around a series of drum loops and overdubs, rather than using a live band performance as the base of the track. This one was really fun to put together, it almost felt like doing a puzzle. I love how clean everything sounds—I remember Erik (Rasmussen, who recorded the album) had to run an errand at one point, but he left a minute-long instrumental loop of the song going while he was gone. It must have been going for, like, thirty minutes, but all of us were just reading and chilling, we didn’t even notice the time passing or the song looping.

We realized after he got back that the music must be pretty nice if we could just listen to it for that long without stirring. The lyrics are based around some memories I have of spending time with two of my best friends from high school, driving down the back roads in Kentucky and hanging out by the river during the summer. I wanted to write lyrics that sort of reassure them that I’ll always be there to love them and protect them, even if I don’t say that out loud nearly enough. It’s a song about friendship and spending time outside in the sun.

4. “A Vision”

This song came together very quickly—I think I wrote it in less than an hour, all at once. I remember I was in my bedroom in my old apartment, and we had some friends over, but I got sucked into this moment where I had to write the song. That happens very rarely, so when it does and you know you’re 100 percent onto something, you have to follow it, no matter what else is going on. I had known for a few months that I wanted to write a song about a specific rainy morning that I had experienced on the road. It felt almost like a fantasy or a dream, so the song had to be that too. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was able to connect some rhymes across the length of the song, which doesn’t often happen naturally for me. I think that makes it really pleasing to sing.

I’m also really proud of how the studio recording turned out, because we were somehow able to capture the essence of the song while all playing together in the same room. I remember Ian (Paine-Jesam, our friend who played drums on this song) had to play extremely quietly, so that the drums didn’t drown out my acoustic guitar. We had a lot of fun adding some strange little overdubs. Lots of noises and textures, things that I can’t even remember now what we used.

5. “Anj”

This was the first song that Dave and I wrote for the new record. As soon as we unloaded and set up all of our gear for the first demo session, the riff for this song is the first thing I played, the first thing that came out. It felt natural right away, and we had so much fun just jamming on the progression because it’s so simple. For me, the lyrics are drawn from my life, specifically from my relationship with the woman who watched my siblings and me throughout my childhood. The time and effort she put into raising us while my parents worked is something I’m just now starting to really appreciate, so I wanted to write a song for her, to try to tell her how much I care for her and how I want to be there for her, to give some of that nurturing love back in some way. I think the song has that same mixture of heaviness and lightness that I find so appealing. Marcus’ drumming makes the whole song sound so huge and poppy—it was the final element we needed to really go full force and drive home the hook.

6. “I Go Out at Night”

This song is actually the oldest one of the bunch in the sense that it’s the only one that uses an older idea that we re-discovered and re-purposed for the album. I wrote the first verse and main guitar riff when I was nineteen or twenty, sometime around 2011. I always hoped that we would build the right little world for this song, and luckily the time was right and it happened. To me this song is about feeling a little restless, about figuring out the world in the midst of big change or creeping anxiety. Just kind of floating above everything.

We knew we wanted this song to feel different from the rest, something like a daydream. I ended up writing the bridge during our time demoing in Kentucky, and the lyrics deal directly with moving out of your home and saying goodbye to the places that shaped you. That physical sensation of the sun waking you up, of the day breaking and pushing you onto the next phase. I experienced that during the end of our stay in KY, and it was powerful. I had to acknowledge and honour that sunlight. As silly as that sounds, it moved me.

7. “Victorian Slumhouse”

OK so this song is pretty ridiculous, and it’s one of my favourites on the album. I think it’s the first time we’ve ever just said “fuck it, let’s have some fun” and gotten really loose with our ideas. I remember that the inspiration for this song came about when Dave and I were visiting his parents and watching PBS after dinner. This British reality TV show called Victorian Slum House came on. If you’ve never seen the show, it’s based around a historical re-enactment, where all of the participants volunteered to be on the show because they have ancestral ties to the slums of Victorian England. It’s hard to explain, but the show is so entertaining—all of the participants constantly dwell on how much they miss the conveniences of modern life, and there’s a ton of drama.

We were kind of just sitting there mystified watching this and having so much fun, so I remember I started strumming the guitar and came up with the little opening vocal tag and guitar riff to make Dave laugh. Eventually we kept jamming on it because it was too much fun. I decided that I wanted the song to be about reality TV, and how it’s so voyeuristic and strange. I spent a lot of time imagining what it must have been like to be on that set, in the carefully recreated Victorian-era slum, but also surrounded by tons of high-end film production equipment and the whole crew, trying to tease content out of you at all hours of the day and night. I find I’m often drawn to crazy contrasts, and that’s this show for me. The song is a rocker, and we absolutely love playing it, especially the outro riff that just circles on and on.

8. “Clever Hans”

This song is based on a true story that I came across while reading Wikipedia one day. It’s told from the perspective of a horse named Clever Hans, who became famous in the 1800s because his owner claimed he could do math and tell the days of the week and stuff like that. Huge crowds would come and watch the horse, and eventually, teams of psychologists came to study Clever Hans. They realized rather quickly that the horse couldn’t, in fact, do math—but they noticed that Hans always picked the right answer out of a multiple choice set, because he perceived tiny, subconscious cues in his owner’s face when the correct answer was read.

Long story short, it turns out that Clever Hans was, in fact, extremely intelligent, just not in the ways everybody expected. He was emotionally intelligent. After reading that story, it made me wonder about all of the ways that animals feel and perceive the world around them, ways that we may never fully understand. So I wanted to write the song from Clever Hans’ perspective, to write poetry as a horse. Something tells me that horses are capable of writing poetry, in their own ways. So that’s really what this one is about.

9. “Listening”

I wrote this song one morning during the KY demo session immediately after I learned of the passing of Anthony Bourdain. This is the only song we didn’t demo—we finished arranging it in the studio.

10. “Printer’s Devil”

This is the title track, and my personal favourite song on the album. It feels like an artist statement to me. Dave and I sort of stumbled into this jam while we were demoing, and it had this meditative, almost addictive quality to it, like we couldn’t stop playing it. Eventually I started improvising vocal phrases on top of the guitar, which loops over and over again for the whole song. I wrote a ton of lyrics and ended up whitling them down to what’s on the recording.

The lyrics were inspired by some stories I had read about the poet Walt Whitman, about how he worked as a “printer’s devil” (or printer’s apprentice) as a young boy. I read about how Whitman’s boss in the print shop was obsessed with this radical Quaker theologian named Elias Hicks—so obsessed that he dragged Whitman and another employee to the cemetery in the middle of the night, to dig up Hicks’ grave. They were caught, and Whitman moved on to a different print shop, where he kept learning the trade.

I also read about how Whitman would test the ink in the shop by putting down lines of “little sentimental bits,” which made me think that maybe this job was the place where he started experimenting with poetry or just pondering language in general. That idea of just putting down lines, combined with reading about the teachings of Elias Hicks, fueled me to write and write and write, as if I were testing out the ink in the shop. The song felt right immediately, and we were able to record it and find the right sounds very quickly in the studio. It was a joy to make.

Guitar, vocals, lyrics – Julia Steiner
Guitar, bass (Tracks 3, 8, 9) – Dave Sagan
Bass – Sean Neumann
Drums, synths – Marcus Nuccio
Drums (Tracks 3, 4, 8, 10), Vibes – Ian Paine-Jesam

Released February 28th, 2020

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We are announcing the release of four new songs, Side A.  While we take pride in our art and love to share it with our fans:

Regarding the new release: you can hear the first track “What’s the Matter” now. Clay says this song “was written with groove in mind. recorded it in our practice space studio. got our friend V.V. Lightbody to play some of the funkiest flute you ever heard. our friend Sima smacked on some of her gorgeous singing. A song against the darkness, against Ganon, a song for the outdoors and the hero. There is a sword hidden in the lost woods and it will be found.” Here is a message From The Dudes:
Hello, we here at TWIN PEAKS DUDES LLC are writing to inform you of our new release, “Side A.” We run the recording side of our operations out of our very own Studio D at Treehouse Records. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we realized our recording efforts would be waylaid, so we wanted to finish the songs closest to completion remotely;

When you preorder the 10”, you will instantly receive a download of all four songs so you can hear it right now. The 10” won’t be shipping until October because of delays related to Covid, but the EP will officially be released digitally on July 3rd.

We refuse to let this release distract us from the moment at hand. If you support our music, couple that with actions, today and every day henceforth, that are for the betterment of our community in Chicago, for the Black Lives Matter movement, and for dismantling the structures of White Supremacy in America.

We must all continue to educate ourselves, listen, donate, share resources, and allow ourselves to learn. You can start by making a donation to Black Lives Matter Chicago.

To provide some resources, here are two lists of petitions, donation funds, resources, and information on how to make yourself useful to the movement and take action:

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I have listened to the album “Fantasize Your Ghost” a fair few times since I got a hold of it. The word that always pops into my mind is filthy. Sima Cunningham and Macie Steware are classically trained but refuse to be hemmed in by any construct. They are relentlessly ambitious in their music but it always comes across as human and authentic. Still in their 20s, Stewart and Cunningham are both classically trained musicians and are established players within the Chicago music scene. They are especially involved in performing and working for venues within the local experimental music scene. They’re constant collaborators and have recorded and toured with homegrown acts as varied as Tweedy, Whitney, Chance The Rapper and Twin Peaks.

I dug their debut, Parts, but this is a lovely leap forward. It’s almost as if that after a year of touring around playing Parts; they were like, We’re pretty good at this music stuff. Let’s kick it up notch.” The second track, Selling Candy, is just stupid good.

“The band started because we knew we could sing well together and we wanted to make some noise with the guitar,” says Cunningham. Stewart elaborates, “Sima and I are both trained classical pianists and we know many of the sonic spaces keyboards have to offer. Since we were interested in experimenting and creating something different from what we had both done in the past, we chose guitar as our outlet for this band. We wanted to create both new and uncomfortable parameters for ourselves to force us into a different creative space.” These guitar-heavy experiments are sometimes earthy and resounding, at other times shimmering and buzzing—swirling around the duo’s expertly crafted vocals while creating a chaotic bed of harmony. Cunningham’s smoky alto complements Stewart’s higher-register croon, all underpinned by the restrained yet highly inventive polyrhythmic percussion of drummer Matt Carroll.

They laid this art-pop tune on top of a scuzzy blues garage tune. They guitars are riffs you’ve probably heard a million times before but they just turn the whole thing on its end. Simply brilliant stuff. 3 2 4 3 builds of an entrancing Cosmic Americana riff that reminds me of Steve Gunn. The second half sees the tune slowly goes on as if you’ve fallen into a hole that goes on forever.

The tracks range from sweetly shiny 2-minute hypnotic bangers to woozy and sprawling 7-minute long tracks boasting moodily atmospheric wafting guitars and piercing feedback shows a band colliding thoughtfulness and creative ingenuity to produce music as unique as it is earworm-worthy.
Band Members:
Macie Stewart
Sima Cunningham

“Ghost” from Ohmme off their album ‘Fantasize Your Ghost’ out on Joyful Noise Recordings.

Chicago songwriter and guitarist James Elkington—who has collaborated with everyone from Richard Thompson to Jeff Tweedy to Tortoise—recorded his sophomore album at Wilco’s Loft, expanding upon his celebrated 2017 debut Wintres Woma as well as his recent production and arrangement work for the likes of Steve Gunn, Nap Eyes, and Joan Shelley. 

The “Beechwood Park/Corridor Country” single follows James Elkington’s 2020 full-length album Ever-Roving Eye (PoB-050) and includes one studio outtake from that acclaimed album as well as a cover of the Zombies classic. Both “Park” and “Country” are performed in solo settings. Uncut awarded Ever-Roving Eye a 9/10 rating, hailing it as a “triumph … an outstanding record from a humble collaborator” (and their Album of the Month), while Pitchfork, MOJO, The Guardian, and many others described it as Elkington’s best work to date.

James shares his thoughts about both “Beechwood Park” and his relationship to memory and the past: I’m not really a nostalgic person, but I write about the past a lot as if it happened in a dream and that I’m merely reporting on it. “Beechwood Park” by The Zombies has that same feel to me. On the face of it, it seems to be an idealized view of the past that’s almost trite in its remembrance of “summer rain” and “country lanes,” but the winding chord sequence and spidery guitar tone makes it feel like it’s happening in a different dimension, and I’m always drawn to music that does that.

I worked up this version last year when I was sitting in a studio in upstate New York, waiting for a cab. The band I’d been working with had already left that morning, and the studio engineer was elsewhere, so I was on my own for some time. I can’t remember what prompted me to start working on it, but I do know that the studio was on a country lane, and it was raining, late summer. 

Released July 3rd, 2020

Performed by James Elkington (vocals, guitar, harmonica)

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Rookie is six matching jumpsuit-clad, shaggy-haired friends from Chicago who play rock-n-roll that’s more at home next to their parents’ battered LPs than on their friends’ streaming playlists. The band’s self-titled debut full-length album deftly reformats the classic rock landscape with blowtorch hooks, enthralling harmonies, evocative touches of cosmic country, and distinctively indie-minded songwriting.

Rookie’s modern take on timeless American rock ‘n’ roll pulls from all corners of the sonic map; it’s familiar but fresh, lived-in but blown-out. It’s the ‘70s/’80s pop-rock sheen of recent tour-mates Cheap Trick; 3-minute precision songwriting of Big Star; loose Neil Young Americana; and the hazey, psych-flavored boogie of The Allman Brothers and Thin Lizzy. Though barely able to comfortably fit on most stages, once they’re plugged in and smooshed together, it’s a potent blend of power chords, blistering leads, and performance prowess beyond their years.

Like local peers Twin Peaks, Whitney, and Post Animal, Rookie emerged from an idealistic grassroots, Midwestern, youth community-centric, DIY scene. House shows and divey all-ages venues were the preeminent performance spaces and rock-n-roll was once again king. There is an all-inclusive and carefree essence surrounding the band, as well as their audience, reminiscent of the wide-eyed drive and sense of purpose of an underdog sports team or—more appropriately, given their coveralls—a Formula 1 pit crew.

That cooperative vibe is most clear in their balanced attack, each of the six members bringing a signature part of the layered sound from song to song. “Hold On Tight” bashes down the door with a deceptively simple AC-to-the-DC riff, but the three-headed guitar monster attack of Dimitri Panoutsos, Christopher Devlin, and Max Loebman takes the standby arena rock formula to wild new places. In “Sunglasses,” Loebman’s lead vocals evince an ethereally sunny pop disposition, which he later strips down to great effect, just his upper register and acoustic guitar, for the stark “Elementary Blues.” Throughout the album’s 12 tracks, the rhythm section of Joe Bordenaro on drums, Kevin Decker on bass, and Justin Bell on keys establishes a groove-meets-power foundation. On several songs, including “I Can’t Have You But I Want You,” Bordenaro sings lead as well, while the rest of the group piles on with a rowdy gang chorus.

The band of 20-somethings created their broad-yet-intimate sound not long after forming in 2017 from the remnants of under the radar local outfits Joe Bordenaro & the Late Bloomers, Yoko and the Oh Nos, and Max and the Mild Ones. The budding project soon became the subject of excited whispers around town. In 2018, the group released two singles (“One Way Ticket” and “Let’s Get It Right”) and a 7” single (“I Can’t Have You But I Want You” and “The Move”) for nascent Chicago studio/imprint Treehouse Records. These recordings raised the whispers to the level of folklore.
Band Members:
Dimitri, Joe, Kevin, Max, Chris, Justin

From ROOKIE’s self-titled debut album, out March 13th.