Posts Tagged ‘Chicago’


There’s probably a reason why shoegaze never achieved widespread musical acceptance. The swirling, trippy waves of sound over the distant vocals and drums that were often more faint pulse than propulsive pop beat created a genre that would be beloved by few, but never embraced by many. As one of the blessed few who love the shoegaze sound, I was incredibly excited by Lightfoils’ new EP, Chambers, which perfectly captures classic shoegaze sound.

Shoegaze came out of England but Lightfoils comes out of Chicago, but you wouldn’t detect anything particularly American about the band. Singer Jane Zabeth Nicholson’s dreamy vocals are the sonic equivalent of Vasoline over a camera lens, taking an image just slightly out of focus. Her voice is similarly, and beautifully, out of focus, preventing her voice from being tethered to a particular geography.

Instrumentation is also an important part of shoegaze, and Lightfoils deliver there, too. Guitarists Neil Yodnane and Zeeshan Abbasi deploy the feedback, distortion, and tremolo characterizing the ethereal sound, although Lightfoils does play with cleaner guitar sounds in interesting ways.

The clean tones are in play on “Duende,” which has folk-influenced, almost-Spanish melody emerging from a chorus-laden guitar. Nicholson’s voice hangs over the track like a mist while dueling guitars chime and John Rungger’s drums ever-so-gently push the track along.

“Summer Nights” also has clean tones, built upon a low-key tremolo-y riff that almost phases in and out of time. But not time as in beat, but rather time as in chronology. The song, with its beautiful melodies and crystal-clear drums, gets stronger and more focused over an epic eight minutes, and while it never becomes a straight-ahead rock song, it does become more of a rock song.

Great shoegaze, like My Bloody Valentine or The Jesus and Mary Chain, can be liberating. Instead of focusing on notes and beats, the listener becomes wrapped up in sonic textures. It’s not so much about a song, so much as it’s about creating an almost-secret-yet-complete world.

Lightfoils have built a beautiful, sonically gauze-hazed environment in just five songs (and just over half an hour). Listeners who missed the first wave of shoegaze in the 1990s, or simply miss the sound today, should give Lightfoils a chance.


On The Lillywhite Sessions, Ryley Walker and the similarly indebted trio of drummer Ryan Jewell and bassist Andrew Scott Young cover Dave Matthews’ infamously abandoned 2001 art-rock masterpiece of the same name, a record where he and his band indulged a new adult pathos and a budding musical wanderlust. With a delicate rhythmic latticework and vocals that ask you to lean in, Busted Stuff recalls Jim O’ Rourke’s golden Drag City days. Emerging from a wall of distortion, Diggin’ a Ditch becomes a power trio wallop à la Dinosaur Jr, shaking off existential malaise like twenty- something pals writing rock songs in the garage. Walker’s Grace is Gone, the most faithful take here, is a testament to his unflagging love for the music that helped make him a musician.


This end-to-end interpretation of youthful fascination is a collective reminder that we are all just kids from somewhere, reckoning with our upbringing the best we can. Walker has stepped through the door long ago opened by the Dave Matthews Band to find a world teeming with musical possibilities. On The Lillywhite Sessions, he has, in turn, created his own.

FACS features Noah Leger and Brian Case of Disappears, and Alianna Kalaba. Using minimalism and space, FACS make abstract and modern art rock.

From out the ashes of Chicago’s beloved Disappears comes FACS, a new band that features three of the experimental luminaries four members. Their sound remains hypnotic, dark, and sleek, a sinister futurism that comes in electronic minimalism. The songs are bleak but iridescent, blinding when pointed in the wrong directions and melting with a radiant sort of corrosive post-punk expanse. There’s little of FACS that really feels human on Negative Houses, a record that draws an alien experience from us all, with cold, calculated mesmerization and a triumphantly focused numbness in its clinical precision. It’s a great debut that doesn’t feel at all like a debut, this is merely the next chapter.


This is one of those albums that have a very unique own sound and it’s getting better and better with every new listening. It‘s the stuff I am finding interesting and could be amomg my favourite releases in 2018!

Jeff Tweedy Previews His First Proper Solo Album with Twang-Tinged Single "Some Birds"

Jeff Tweedy  has shared “Some Birds,” the first single off his forthcoming solo album Warm, due out November. 30th through dBpm Records. The record, recorded at Tweedy’s legendary Chicago studio The Loft, will be his first proper album of entirely new solo work, and will feature liner notes by the acclaimed author George Saunders.

“Some Birds” finds Tweedy up to his old Uncle Tupelo tricks once again. The rusted alt-country of No Depression has, throughout the years, alternately been Tweedy’s boon and bane some of Wilco’s best work occurred when he was running as far away from roots rock as he could. But when he’s on his own, that naturalistic style of songwriting feels, well, natural.

Like Wilco’s collaboration with Billy Bragg, or Tweedy’s own cover of Dylan’s “Simple Twist of Fate” off the I’m Not There soundtrack, “Some Birds” just feels right. His reedy voice seems to be made for lap-steel slides and clomping acoustic vamps. That’s not to say he’s gone all “beer, trucks and broken hearts,” though—he’s still got his deadpan wit and an eye for good imagery. “Some birds just sit / useless, like a fist,” he sings to start. “I lean on the wall / like a broom, confused / by the scope it all,” he adds later, his metaphors always dangling for a few moments, leaving you wondering just how a fist is useless, or how a broom can be confused. It’s comfortable but funny, lived-in but not tired.

According to Tweedy, “Some Birds” is “like a lot of songs on Warm, being a confrontation between self and shadow self simultaneously feeling I’m to blame and not to blame, present and gone, and utterly confused, but determined to hold someone accountable.”

Official video for “Some Birds,” the lead single off Jeff Tweedy’s solo album Warm.

Tweedy will be touring this fall in support of his new record. Check out the “Some Birds” video

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Lala Lala, the project of Chicago-based songwriter Lillie West, has released a third single from her forthcoming album The Lamb, out September. 28th through Hardly Art Records. The album is among the most anticipated releases of September.

Lala Lala shares “Dove,” the third song off their new album The Lamb, out September 28th. “‘Dove’ is very plainly about the death of someone I loved a lot and the guilt I had and still have afterwards,” West explains of the plaintive and heartfelt track. “Dove” is out now at all DSPs .

“Dove” confronts directly the topics that have hung in the periphery of the band’s previous two singles, “Destroyer” and “Water Over Sex.” West has talked often of the traumatic experiences that contributed to the writing of The Lamb, including “a home invasion, deaths of loved ones and general violence around me and my friends.”

On “Dove,” West focuses her grief into a powerful, unflinching track that addresses the past directly. ”’Dove’ is very plainly about the death of someone I loved a lot and the guilt I had and still have afterwards,” West said. The song fashions West’s hazy guitars and ethereal voice into an miniature anthem of regret and longing. It’s a watery shout into—and about—an absence.

After the stunning “Birthday”, Gia Margaret looks deeply into the space that remains after a loved one leaves your life. “Birthday” is a gentle, mid-tempo rock song that couches the weight of its lyrics in lush electric guitar chords, gleaming synthesizer patches, and big, expressive drums, hitting the sweet spot between Imogen Heap and Broken Social Scene. In a voice that barely rises above a whisper, the Chicago-based singer/songwriter details a sudden, devastating breakup. “I can’t pretend I didn’t know it/But then the night came and you were gone,” she sings, her voice multi-tracked and produced in a way that makes the edges of her consonants pop. After the shock of the initial split, Margaret starts to preemptively mourn all the rituals she won’t get to share again with her ex-partner. “Wouldn’t it be so strange/Not to be with you on your birthday?” she asks on the chorus. Her vocal melody skews oddly optimistic, vaulting up toward the top of her range as if she’s trying to put a positive spin on her loss. “Birthday” may be an emotionally moving breakup song, but it’s the kind that lets you self-soothe in the midst of grief.

 Gia Margaret releases the second single from her first record, There’s Always Glimmer. If that first track was about the moment things fall away, “Smoke” is a gorgeous evocation of the moment they come together.

Margaret’s writing taps into the fragility of happiness – the immensely overwhelming feeling of something you’ve wished for so vividly becoming real, the moment you surrender yourself to it. From the gentle cascading piano line that acts as the spine of the song’s crescendo, to the double-tracked near-whisper of the vocal melody, the soft-focus comfort of the song’s feeling of stillness layers itself like a Sunday den.

Even as washes of cello, reversed vocals and an electronic beat flicker into life towards the end of the track, reminiscent of Daughter, it remains true to the sparse feel of its title. Picturing the simple pleasure of making a home with someone through immensely intimate moments – crying in the bathroom, nestling into new sheets – its sensual feel unravels the transportive potential of emotional memory. Ethereal, effortless and all-enveloping, it’s a misty and atmospheric watercolour.


Smoke is one of the older songs on the album,” Margaret tells us. “It’s just something sparse I wrote to reflect on how beautiful the surrender of building a home with someone can be. It’s about sense memory and vulnerability. More specifically all the complicated feelings and memories that something as unremarkable as the scent of smoke can bring. Moving into an apartment with another for the first time and going from childhood home to “adulthood” was a transition. I wanted to capture how much I loved that apartment and the peaceful and still feeling that person and place enveloped me in. I hope the music speaks louder than my plain words. That was sort of my intent with this one.”

Doug Saltzman engineered, mixed and co-produced Smoke,” she adds, on the production of the track. “We worked on it over the course of four months, and the song wouldn’t have been the same without his efforts, his vibrations, and especially his electronic drum production. He really is a wizard! I played all the keys, and Molly Rife added the cello. Doug and I self-released a early version of Smoke two years ago, but it was basically just one of my home demos, with drums overdubbed by Doug. It was the first time I had collaborated with someone who made beats, and I was really into what they added. Doug is super collaborative and easy to bounce ideas off of. I’m so glad I got to revisit the song with him and take it to a new place.”

There’s Always Glimmeris out on July 27th via Orindal Recordings..

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The first time Chicago’s Campdogzz graced my ears, I couldn’t help but feel similarly to when I first heard Hop Along. The Jess Price led quintet has a knack for writing driving, powerful music, evocative of sonorous midwest roads and stopovers. They notched a moderate hit with 2015’s “The Well,” off a promising debut record that sees Price delivering with Frances Quinlan-like fervor. In Rounds will be the first new release on Cursive’s recently established 15 Passenger label and Price’s commanding vocals are already on full display atop the dizzying riffs and consonance of “Souvenir.” Campdogzz capture the bleak yet spirited heart of the industrial midwest in a five-piece band propelled by driving rhythms, insistent dual guitars set in intriguing arrangements, and the haunting, evocative songs and voice of Tulsa native Jess Price. In a moment, Jess turnsa beguiling melody to a darkening storm, rich in portent and meaning.

Campdogzz have earned a devoted following in Chicago and the midwest, with a lineup that has solidified into a potent live band featuring Jess Price (lead vocals, guitar and keyboard); Mike Russell (guitar and backup vocals); Nick Enderle (guitar); Mahmoud Haygood (bass); and Matt Evert (drums). In addition to their own headlining shows and tours (until recently conveyed by a school bus rigged for self-sufficient touring and camping; if you don’t know where to get the best falafel in every American city, you are definitely not a Campdog), the band has opened for Big Thief, Sam Evian, Ohmme, Tim Kasher and others. They were recently seen in the first season of the Netflix series, “Easy,” recorded a popular Audiotree live video session, and self-released “Riders in the Hills of Dying Heaven” in 2015. That early recording has been streamed nearly 2 million times. Now, Campdogzz are poised to come aggravate your blues, bang your head, and remind you where you are on the long road away from home.


Mike Russell,
Jess Price,
Nicholas Enderle,
Andrew Rolfsen,
Matt Evert,

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Miranda Winters is a song-writer and musician best known for her role as the indomitable vocalist / guitarist of Chicago powerhouse, Melkbelly. Drawing on deep roots as a song-writer in Chicago DIY, Winters continues to evolve a signature sound by pursuing her music as a solo artist.

Miranda Winters currently fronts the chaotically good Chicago band Melkbelly, and before that she had her hand in a number of other different projects, including Coffin Ships and a solo endeavor called Flowers Everywhere. Last week, she released the first tape under her own name, titled Xobeci, What Grows Here?.

The songs on it have the same confidence that she exhibits while helming Melkbelly, but distill that into songs that sound skeletal but textured. There’s a sense that some of these, like the penultimate “Glitter House” or “With Love From St. Fake, WI (P.A.M.),” could mutate into one of Melkbelly’s signature squalls with the right ingredients, but the restraint that Winters demonstrates allows her lyricism and sour melodicism to really shine.

They also all act as showcases for Winters’ circuitous guitar skills, which can get lost amongst her main band, but here serve as particular highlights, like on the wiry outro to “A Handy Garden Plot” or with the gentle pluckings of closer “O.T.O Revised.” Winters’ solo material has a way of hooking you in


Released June 15th, 2018

All songs by Miranda Winters
Miranda Winters – guitar and vocals

Xobeci, What Grows Here? is out now via Sooper Records.

With the debut album from Chicago based band Deeper. Origins of the project date back to 2014 where the band has made their mark locally supporting like minded acts Omni, Protomartyr, Chris Cohen & fellow Chicago powerhouses Whitney & Ne-Hi. Fresh off official after show appearances at Pitchfork & Lollapalooza the band is poised to jump out wide with this debut record. 9 tracks channel the anxiety and uneasiness of modern life in this pit of endless internet, chiming post punk rave ups with pointed “of the times” lyrics & gorgeous ambient interludes woven in.

“The Chicago quartet’s debut is well-oiled and worn-in indie rock, played with the precision and confidence typically expected from a band much further along in its career.”


Band Members
Michael Clawson,
Shiraz Bhatti,
Nic Gohl,
Drew McBride,

From Deeper’s Self Titled debut album out on Fire Talk Records.

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Chicago band Deeper make wonky post-punk that’s elegantly packaged in bursting riffs, swirling rhythms, and introspective lyrics. They’ve fittingly supported bands like Omni and Protomartyr, and are now set to make their mark with their self-titled debut, out May 25th via Fire Talk Records. The album’s shimmering opening track, “Pink Showers,” is a beacon of hope in a dark world. According to the band, the song “was conceived through the grid lock of Chicago traffic and the ‘pursuit’ to make your monotonous life meaningful.”



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