Posts Tagged ‘Chicago’

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.

Since 1994, Bloodshot Records has championed the music that lurks between genres. We’ve always been drawn to the good stuff nestled in the dark, nebulous cracks where punk, country, soul, pop, bluegrass, blues and rock mix and mingle and mutate.
We like artists who work over American roots forms with chains and velvet gloves with little regard for formality or protocol.

It’s a collection of 17 limited or never-before-released tracks by Murder By Death, Laura Jane Grace & the Devouring Mothers, William Elliott Whitmore, Cory Branan, Ruby Boots, Ramblin’ Deano & Jon Langford, Ha Ha Tonka, Scott H. Biram, Kelly Hogan, Barrence Whitfield and the Savages, Freakwater, Robbie Fulks, ROOKIE, Banditos, The Yawpers, and Jason Hawk Harris.

Featuring original songs, b-sides, alternate versions, and acoustic tracks, as well ascovers of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Motörhead, Woody Guthrie, Nick Lowe, and our pal Chuck Ragan.

Pandemophenia is a thank you to all the fans who have been so supportive during this challenging time. It is something positive to enjoy and something for the artists to share with the world while they’re grounded. Getting these artists together on one release, in a time when we can’t all be together, is special in and of itself. It’s a reminder of the simple, but profound, joys music brings to us, individually, and as members of a missed community.

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‘Pandemophenia’ is a thank you to all the fans who have been so supportive during this challenging time. It is something positive to enjoy and something for the artists to share with the world while they’re grounded.

Getting these artists together on one release, in a time when we can’t all be together, is special in and of itself. It’s a reminder of the simple, but profound, joys music brings to us, individually, and as members of a missed community.

Released July 3rd, 2020

Andrew Bird is an internationally acclaimed multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, whistler and songwriter who picked up his first violin at the age of four and spent his formative years soaking up classical repertoire completely by ear. As a teen Bird became interested in a variety of styles including early jazz, country blues and folk music, synthesizing them into his unique brand of pop. Since beginning his recording career in 1997, Bird has released 13 albums and performed extensively worldwide. He has recorded with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, appeared as “Dr. Stringz” on Jack’s Big Music Show, and headlined concerts at Carnegie Hall, Sydney Opera House, Walt Disney Concert Hall, and festivals worldwide.

This collection of six songs was recorded at home during shelter in place.
Released June 26th, 2020
All songs written, recorded + performed by Andrew Bird

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There was the shoegaze phase some years back so at some point, after working my way through the staple bands (My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Slowdive, The Jesus and Mary Chain, etc.), I stumbled upon Hum possibly through fellow ’90s Chicago bands Pinebender or Lovesliescrushing. Hum were more aggressive than many of the other shoegaze bands I was listening to, thanks to their post-hardcore and metal roots, and their 1998 album, Downward Is Heavenward, left a big impression on me with its scorching riffs and heavy use of phasers. Two years after that album came out, they got dropped by their label and called it quits, but this week, 22 years after the release of that record, they surprise-released a new LP called Inlet. As expected, there are plenty of thick, driving and flat-out thundering guitar passages (“Waves” and “The Summoning” will blow your head off), and their sensitive, mystical sides come out too (“Desert Rambler,” “Shapeshifter”). It’ll take a while to explore all the nuances of their smouldering soundscapes, but this album is an instant listening winner.

Hum is happy to announce the release of our new album, Inlet. Vinyl (180g double LP), CD, pre-order via Polyvinyl Records “Waves” the first single from  Hum’s new album “Inlet”Earth Analog Records Released on: 24th June 2020.
The Band:
Matt Talbott,
Tim Lash,
Jeff Dimpsey,
Bryan St. Pere,

The record is also available for consumption at http://humband.bandcamp.com and will ripple out to all digital platforms within the week.

What do you do when pain blots out joy? How do you learn to take care of yourself? What happens when the things you think are helping end up doing the most harm? ‘Auto-Pain’ is the Sophomore album from Deeper, a record that finds the band embracing open space, using synths to create shadows where bricks of guitars once would’ve blocked out the sun. The group — singer and guitarist Nic Gohl, bassist Drew McBride, and drummer Shiraz Bhatti — were all graduates of Chicago’s rich DIY scene who came together around their love of Wire, Devo, Gang of Four, and Television.

While the new record is still within the Great Lakes post-punk tradition of their debut, the album isn’t as insular as its predecessor; it’s less interested in pile-driving and more willing to dwell in liminal spaces. Guitars enter the picture precisely, locked bass grooves propel things forward. Drummer Shiraz Bhatti, who is half-Pakistani and half-Native American, embraced the drumming patterns he’d heard growing up at pow-wows, channeling the anxieties of his heritage into his playing and keeping the group grounded when they switch into all-out percussive attack. The result is an album both more nuanced and catchy.

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A complete triumph–a document of overcoming total loss. one of the most exhilarating records of the year, These guys can put out some stunning music. They do a great job making something exciting and original out of their influences, even when dealing with some heavy and serious subjects.

Deeper is a band based in Chicago, Illinois and consists of Shiraz Bhatti, Nic Gohl, and Drew McBride.

Released March 27th, 2020

Chicago trio Dehd will return with their new album “Flower of Devotion”, due out July 17th via Fire Talk. They previously shared lead single “Longer” and have followed that up today with the second single “Flood.” The track’s release comes with a new music video directed by the band’s very own Emily Kempf and Andrew Miller.

“I want nothing more than to be a loner,” Emily Kempf sings early on Flower of Devotion, 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. A flood is powerful, uncontrollable, devastating. Water can nourish or destroy.”

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.

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 light hearted in the face of despair,” Kempf says. “Flood” is a meditative and atmospheric indie rock offering that carries a great deal of emotional weight and the video perfectly captures this emotive quality visually.

Flower Of Devotion by DEHD out May 22nd on Fire Talk

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Some psychedelic albums reach a hypnotic end cheaply. But “Shadow Talk”, the second album from Chicago experimental five-piece Cafe Racer, reaches heady emotional and sonic heights, not by leaning on overused effects or sprinkling meaningless, abstract imagery, but by expecting more out of a song and its lyrics. Shadow Talk is all about finesse and dynamics—melodies cascade with subtlety and spark with a euphoric glow. They’re also masters of grooves both meditative and invigorating, and they experiment with foreground and background sounds in mind-numbing ways. It’s an extremely calming album until it isn’t—the guitar and synth fury on “Faces” is life-affirming, the guitar solo in “Exile” is painfully emotive and its subsequent outro track creates blistering, ambient havoc. It’s a moody, empathetic album, bolstered by repetition and the palpable scenes they create, whether that’s an imagined, heavenly gorge or the melancholy urban landscapes you traverse every day

Band Members
Michael, Adam, Andrew, Rob, Elise

“Faces” performed by Cafe Racer Starring: Michael Santana, Alyssa Gyorkos, and Haley Dennis
Shadow Talk out on May 8th, 2020 on Born Yesterday Records

Deeper know tragedy better than most. While recording their sophomore album Auto-Pain, guitarist Mike Clawson left the band due to deteriorating relationships with the Chicago group’s other three members. Later, after their record was finished and the post-punk act was touring in Europe, they received the news that Clawson had taken his own life. Throughout this catastrophic period, Deeper decided not to let Clawson’s passing derail their tour and release schedule, instead using them as a way to pay tribute to his contributions to the band and speak out about mental health .

As lead singer and guitarist Nic Gohl mentioned in an interview , Auto-Pain was completed prior to Clawson’s death, but the album’s lyrics, written as a stream of consciousness, took on a completely different meaning. And it’s hard to listen to them any other way: Some depict graphic images of self-harm and violence (“Forced to set yourself on fire tonight / You shouldn’t count on the sun” from “Run,” or “I just want you to feel sick / Cause you’re better as you’re lying on the bathroom floor” from “Lake Song”) while others are a bit more abstract (“Is it any wonder / I feel so gray” from “Esoteric”). Auto-Pain is an album built on hues of blacks and grays, depicting a shadowy, sinister world. Clawson’s suicide turns those already gloomy colours into something several shades darker.

Auto-Pain represents the constant wave of depression felt by many in everyday life. Stemmed from Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’, Auto-Pain is a concept meant to be an inverse to soma, a pill in the book which makes everything numb. The idea of auto-pain is to epitomize the desire to return to a connection with thoughts and clarity, which comes at the expense of feeling everything simultaneously. The album artwork features the now-demolished Prentice Women’s Hospital in Chicago capturing the band’s rounded-off brutalism, and the album title appears in Urdu, a nod to drummer Shiraz Bhatti’s Pakistani heritage.

Released March 27th, 2020

A portion of the proceeds from Auto-Pain will be donated to Hope For The Day an organization that actively works to break the silence surrounding mental health.

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Love is everyday magic. That’s the impression you get listening to “Water”, the new album by Chicago trio Dehd. Veterans of Chicago’s increasingly fruitful DIY scene Jason Balla ( Ne-Hi and Earring) Emily Kempf (Vail and formerly with Lala Lala) and drummer Eric McGrady share a strange and inexplicable chemistry. Love rises up into the atmosphere like steam off a summer sidewalk and makes you wild. Love breaks your heart and you consider yourself lucky for it. Like water itself, it surrounds us, it supports us; it’s what we’re made of. It takes the shape of its container.

The music is hazy and reverb-drenched, a scuzzy and hyped-up take on surf rock that could only come from the Third Coast. It’s all animated by the red-lining feel-good spirit of the Velvet Underground’s Loaded and the breezy melodicism of C86-era indie rock, with a dash of the Cramps’ spooky-hop bop courtesy of McGrady’s locomotive drumming. It’s a clear-eyed look at the wild nature of everyday life that’s been spun up in sugary sweet melodies and scratched-crystal sounds. More than anything, it’s the embodiment of Dehd’s m.o. from the start:

As Kempf puts it, “Work with what you have and make it magical.”

From Dehd’s sophomore LP ‘Water’ out May 10th on Fire Talk.