Posts Tagged ‘Chicago’

Expands on Sam Bern’s previous project Date Stuff, complex math guitar now with a fuller sound. Things seem to evolve naturally for Floatie. Friends become bandmates and riffs become albums. “Shiny,” the first song on their debut album says it best, “Some luck, it’s happenstance, or consequence / I guess that’s the way it goes.” The Chicago quartet have been playing shows and making music together in one form or another for nearly a decade, but it wasn’t until 2018 that Floatie came to light. It’s a project that is both exceptionally tight and radiantly enjoyable; the efforts of friends making music with dear friends.

While the band made an instant impact at live shows with Ratboys, Pile, Spirit of the Beehive, Peaer, Moontype, Stuck, and more, they’ve done so without recordings or demos. After gaining support in the close-knit Chicago music scene, the band recorded a full length debut at Chicago’s Pallet Sound with Seth Engel at the tail end of 2019, and then the pandemic happened. That record, “Voyage Out”, is worth every last moment waited, an album that’s as expansive as it is repetitive and as weird as it is inescapable. Floatie take a visionary approach toward creating music that can feel both tangled and hypnotic, challenging and comforting, all at the same time. Formed by Sam Bern (they/them) and Luc Schutz (he/him), the duo were soon joined by Joe Olson (he/him) and eventually Will Wisniewski (he/him), each member’s contributions fusing together to create a sound that relies as much on austere construction as it does on finding joy in their time spent together. The results of rigid assembly and blissful collaboration often yields results aptly described as mysterious.

Floatie offer a tongue-in-cheek view of their creative efforts, noting that “the song writing process is as arduous as it is mysterious. To discover a riff that we all enjoy playing is a blessing, and to sequence such riffs in such a way as to communicate something as complex and vast as human feeling seems insurmountable at times.” Voyage Out never fails to share those human feelings, even if often done from a more alien perspective. In “Catch A Good Worm,” Bern’s voice hovers over taut percussion, urgent guitar and murky synths: “Bright lights spreading vast and wide, beings at the gate / Rewind, cut off their supply, now we can escape.” The search for personal identity and a place in society can be felt throughout songs that dazzle with a sombre charm that feels both reflective and wide-eyed to a reality that is more complicated than immediately apparent. Bern expands on the single: “Two options could never represent the complexity of human expression. I think a lot of people could benefit from not having predetermined expectations of themselves in place upon arrival. Sometimes the pressures of challenging these patterns make me think that this is how I was born so that is who I’m meant to be. When the reality is that I can work towards being whoever I want.”


The band tackle questions of personal choice and acceptance over an ever shifting landscape of knotted progressions and dreamy technicality. “Shiny” for instance is “about finding the drive to make choices that will give you self-assurance and help you to feel worthy of others’ companionship. It is about forcing your own luck by committing to your decisions.” It’s in that determined commitment that Floatie reside; with a sound that is layered and involved. Yet the band does so without dissonance and abrasive feedback, instead relying on their mesmerizing connectivity. Voyage Out weaves together riffs and rhythms with an extraterrestrial precision and a cosmic grace.

The Band:

Sam Bern- guitar, vocals
Joe Olson- bass vi, vocals
Will Wisniewski- guitar, synths, vocals
Luc Schutz- drums

Releases March 26th, 2021

May be a cartoon of 2 people and text that says 'LIZ PHAIR THE NEW SINGLE 'HEY LOU' OUT NOW'

Liz Phair addresses the romance between Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson, pondering how they might have felt and interacted privately in her new song “Hey Lou.” Produced by long time collaborator Brad Wood, it’s Phair’s first new song in two years following the Wood-produced “Good Side.” There’s more to come. Phair is all set to release her first album of new material in a decade, entitledSoberish”, following a deal struck with U.K. Chrysalis Records.

“Hey Lou” dropped at midnight and is accompanied with a fun, Toben Seymour-music video featuring music’s quirkiest pair and a cameo from Andy Warhol, all rendered as puppets. It’s the Chicago-based singer and songwriter’s first release since 2019’s “Good Side.” Have you ever wondered what love looks like for your favourite celebrity couple behind closed doors? Hey Lou imagines a day in the life of two music legends, whose union was an inspiration for rock fans

Due out at an unspecified date in 2021, “Soberish” will be supported this summer when Phair hits the road. 

LISTEN: Fort Frances,

The past year has been stuck on pause. Before the pandemic, time travelled on a superhighway at a million miles an hour, but since March, we’ve all been in a traffic jam. There have been plenty of huge challenges in that standstill, but the break from a consistent surge of momentum has actually been good in some respects. It’s been a chance to reflect and recognize that we’ve all been fooling ourselves as we speed through life seeking somewhere new. ‘Fits and Starts’ is a song about making the concept of time meaningless so that it feels okay to keep holding that pause button.” David McMillin, Fort Frances

Release date: February 5th, 2020

May be an image of text that says 'MOONTYPE WA OF WATER'

Chicago trio Moontype have announced their debut album “Bodies of Water”, due out on April 2nd via Born Yesterday Records. They’ve also shared a new track, “About You,” which follows their debut single “Ferry.” “About You” is a snappy, easy going piece of indie-pop tune, and its giddy tempo changes mimic the excitement of being drawn to someone who’s an instant mood-booster. Lead singer/bassist Margaret McCarthy’s vocals are trustworthy and sweet, as she beams about touching memories with a close friend over peppy guitars. “When I wrote ‘About You’ I was sitting in my apartment missing my friend who had gone abroad for the semester and thinking about all the moments that made our friendship so special. The friendship began as a crush but it slowly melted into something more lasting we made a synth together, we wrote songs together and I really just wanted to be around them most of the time!”

McCarthy says. “There was this feeling of being two magnets, pulling towards each other, but the pull doesn’t stay that strong forever and I wanted to remember what it felt like at the start. I’m grateful I wrote it down in that way because now me and my friend fall in and out of touch but every time we play that song I remember how special they are and how important they are to me.


Moontype is Ben Cruz, Emerson Hunton, and Margaret McCarthy.

From “Bodies of Water” out April 2nd on Born Yesterday Records.

Diagonal is a psychedelic six-piece from Chicago. Formed out of the ashes of a local post-punk cover band, the core of the group have been playing music together in one way or another since 2015. Their early works combine hazy waterfalls of shoegaze guitar, serious pop hooks, and layers upon layers of reverb.

They’ve made their way throughout the Midwest bringing a wall of sound to small clubs and festivals like Milwaukee Psych Fest and Detroit’s Echo Fest. They approach the three guitar line-up with nuance, wrangling melodies and riffs in a controlled way leaving room to let the song explode into complete sonic annihilation at any moment, while the rhythm section keeps things running on time.  The first single to come out of their current line-up, 2019’s “Detroit”, is a slow driving Motorik drum and bass groove that started as an impromptu basement jam while on tour in Detroit. On the B-Side, the band morphs Gary Numan’s “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” into an epic 7 1/2 minute guitar exploration. 

Weekly garage jams laid the groundwork for the songs that would form their latest LP.  In May of 2019, the band recorded four new songs including the follow-up singles “Negatives” and “Anticipation”. After retreating back into the garage to write and demo they made the trip to Key Club Recording in Benton Harbor, Michigan at the end of 2019. In one lock-in studio weekend, Diagonal recorded nearly ten songs, some pre-arranged and others spur of the moment improvisations.

The quintet’s latest single, “Anticipation,” is a catchy and shoegazey groove that makes me feel like I’m inside a lava lamp as I listen to it. Along with the single, they released an 11-minute instrumental jam that keeps the vibe going perfectly. For a taste of their live experience, I would recommend checking out their live sessions of “Negatives” and “Monotony” recorded at DZ Records, which can be found on YouTube. The band recently announced that their upcoming self-titled LP will be released mid February on Little Cloud Records

The bands line-up features Silas Mishler (vocals/guitar), Dan Jarvis (guitar), Alex Brumley (guitar), Chris Detlaff (drums), and most recently Brad Althaus (organ/keyboards/percussion). 

The resulting self-titled LP is a mix of highly polished psych rock, contemplative moments, and angular jams. The band’s first vinyl release will be out in February 2021 via Portland’s Little Cloud Records.

Growth with no reward. Finding strength in your less desirable traits. Coming up with the perfect comeback hours later in bed, glaring at the ceiling. Asking yourself: am I improving, or am I just changing into something unrecognizable? Chicago quartet Ganser probe the futility of striving for self-growth during the chaos of our times for dark comedy and jagged sounds on their potent new album “Just Look at That Sky”, released July 31st on Felte Records. Co-produced with Electrelane’s Mia Clarke and engineer Brian Fox, this is an assured, fully realized triumph of a record from an art-punk band that’s figured out how to focus on making great art, even if everything else around them falls apart.

The album drew critical praise from the likes of The Quietus, Sound Opinions, Bandcamp, Brooklyn Vegan, CLASH Magazine, and more. The quartet is back now with a series of remixes, the first being album closer “Bags For Life,” remixed by Andy Bell of shoegaze legends Ride, under his dance moniker GLOK.

Their remix EP, Look at the Sun, will contain remixes from artists the band admires, has played with, or met online during quarantine and drops in full in the spring of 2021. Who will be next?


Ganser is Alicia Gaines, Nadia Garofalo, Brian Cundiff, & Charlie Landsman.

All songs written & performed by Ganser except “Bags for Life” trumpet and trombone performance by Kevin Natoli & Michael Cox.

Releases March 23rd, 2021

Oh yes! the New single / animated music video for “Trophy Deer” from Kali Masi is out now everywhere. Their upcoming LP “[laughs]” is drops March 26th via US & Homebound Music in Europe!. If there’s one word that can describe [laughs], Kali Masi’s second full-length album, it’s deliverance. On their new record, the Chicago-based indie punk outfit strives to break out of their personal chains to forge a path we all search for. The album is a collection of ambitious songs, musically and lyrically, centreing around the universal truth that the power and courage to be who we are is and always has been inside of ourselves — rather than in the arms and minds of those around us. 

Singer and guitarist Sam Porter shares the earnest narrative of feeling out of place both in your hometown and your own skin, and exploring that alienation as we strive for growth. The wailing guitars and powerful drums complement the urgent calls for clarity and understanding, noting the crushing emptiness of loss contrasted by the bittersweet reminiscence of youth.

Kali Masi have never been a band to hold anything back, and the four-piece stays true to this promise on the new LP. From start to finish, [laughs] is cutting, crucial and honest, with poetic recollections and curses of the past juxtaposed by contemplative acceptance of self in the present. On the new record, the band explores and dissects elements of strained friendships that often go unspoken, sometimes to the point of abandonment beyond repair. 

Recording once again with hardcore icon Jay Maas, co-founder of DefeaterKali Masi crafted another masterful balance of urgency, tension and alluring instrumental harmony. The seconds between tracks will leave you guessing whether to rest or revel, and no matter which you get, you’re always taken by pleasant surprise. 

The 10 new songs are for feeling lonely in a room full of familiar faces, as well as for restless nights in the throes of transition and growth. No matter where you are in life, Kali Masi is here with an explosive passion for finding who we are — and celebrating it. Take these songs with you as you cut yourself loose of the snares that once made you feel like a prisoner. With [laughs] crashing through your ears, you will be free.

Kali Masi – “Trophy Deer” (Official Music Video) From their upcoming LP “[laughs]” Out March 26th via Take This To Heart Records / Homebound (EU)

Burr Oak is the new project of Chicago based singer-songwriter Savanna Dickhut who merges together brutally honest, story- driven lyrics with raw, dreamy vocals. With just two singles out this past year, the Chicago Tribune wrote her songs “show the promise of a songwriter sure of her voice and sound, one that is piercing and deeply relatable and authentic.”

Based on her efforts in the first few months of 2020, Burr Oak could easily have appeared on this list last year. The project of Chicago’s Savanna Dickhut, Burr Oak was in the process of recording her debut album with producer Nick Papaleo, as well as opening shows for the likes of Twain and Buck Meek, until spanners were thrown into the global works. It wasn’t all bad news, as Savannah found time to release a pair of well-received singles, tracks that hinted at just how special her debut album might be, whenever it finds its way into the world.

Burr Oak formed following the ending of Savannah’s previous project, Elk Walking, with Savannah finding the confidence to launch her solo-project and allow her song writing to really shine. Debut offering Trying, is a straight talking depiction of her Savannah’s struggles to maintain her mental health and tendency to self-medicate with alcohol, delivered via fizzing-guitar lines and an impassioned vocal delivery as she sings, “some days I can’t get out of bed but I’ll keep trying, until I drop dead”.

That was followed in November by Flower Garden, which took the seasons as a metaphor for the ebbs and flows of a relationship and set them to a soundtrack of rolling drums and languid meanders of guitar that feel like an extension straight from the soul of their songwriter. There’s an open-hearted quality to Savannah’s song writing, the sound of someone with a story to tell, opening her lungs and letting it all out, whenever it does arrive Burr Oak’s debut album is going to be a record well worth keeping your eyes on.

Released November 18th, 2020
music & lyrics by Savanna Dickhut

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By the time Chicago had their first number one single in 1976, “If You Leave Me Now,” they were a far different band from their early days. Although their hits from that mid-1970s era onward were, by any measure, well-crafted pop songs but middle of the road, as the phrase went in those days, Chicago had left behind the horn-powered, soul-infused innovation of their earliest days. And they were very far removed from the music heard on “25 or 6 to 4,” recorded live at Tanglewood . Watch the Classic Video and you will witness one of the hardest rocking bands of its time. It’s actually difficult to imagine that this is the same band that cut those later hits.

In fairness, they weren’t quite the same. As you watch this seven-minute performance of “25 or 6 to 4” take note of what happens just before the three-minute mark. Terry Kath, the group’s guitarist, tears into a two-and-a-half-minute solo that has to rank among the most insane of the era. He’s so numbingly good that Jimi Hendrix reportedly stated that Kath was a better player than he was. To understand how Chicago became what it did, it’s informative to know where they came from. They formed in 1967 as Chicago Transit Authority, with guitarist/singer Kath, keyboardist/singer Robert Lamm, bassist/singer Peter Cetera, saxophonist Walter Parazaider, trumpeter Lee Loughnane, trombonist James Pankow and drummer Danny Seraphine. Signed to Columbia Records in 1968, they released their self-titled debut album the following spring. The group, which happened to come around at a time when rock bands were beginning to incorporate horn sections Blood, Sweat and Tears and the Electric Flag were two others. 

Two singles culled from the James William Guercio-produced album, “Does Anybody Really Know What Time it Is?” and “Beginnings,” reached the top 10 in 1970 and ’71, respectively, but by that time the group had shortened its name to Chicago and released its second LP, another double, this one simply titled “Chicago”. (From that point onward, most of their albums, for the rest of their career, would be titled with consecutive Roman numerals at last count they were up to Chicago XXXVI in 2014.)

Like its predecessor, Chicago struck a balance between soul, hard rock, ballads and what might be called nascent jazz fusion, although its center-piece was the 13-minute suite “Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon.” From that, the undeniably catchy “Make Me Smile” written by Pankow and sung by Kath, it became Chicago’s first top 10 hit in 1970, but it was the follow up, “25 or 6 to 4,” written by Lamm and sung by Cetera, that showed their ability to rock as hard as anyone else on the scene. It reached No#4 in the summer of ’70, the period seen on this Classic Video.

So what exactly was “25 or 6 to 4” about? Who knows?! In its time, there was speculation that the “25” part of the title was a reference to LSD, whose full pharmaceutical name was LSD-25. The “6 to 4” was said to be a ratio involved in the manufacture of the drug. Lamm laughed off those suggestions, stating that it was simply inspired by a time of day: 25 or perhaps 26 minutes before 4 o’clock.

Still, with lyrics such as these, one can understand where some listeners might have come up with the idea that it was about an acid trip:

“Should have tried to do some more, Twenty five or six to four, oh yeah
Feeling like I ought to sleep, Spinning room is sinking deep
Searching for something to say, Waiting for the break of day, ohh”

As early as Chicago III the first of the numbered albums the band began losing its original driving focus but its increasingly mainstream sound benefited Chicago commercially. “Saturday in the Park,” in 1972, was the last gasp from the original Chicago before they morphed entirely into a more disciplined pop outfit.

They continued to release an album per year and had recently put out Chicago XI when tragedy struck. On January 23rd, 1978, Terry Kath was in California at a party when he began playing around with guns. Although he was an experienced gun user, he did not know that the pistol in his hand had one round in its chamber. Kath pointed the gun at his head, pulled the trigger and died instantly. He left behind a wife and young daughter. Chicago briefly considered quitting, but they soldiered on, replacing Kath on the dance music-oriented Hot Streets (before returning to numbers on their next album) with guitarist Donnie Dacus. Chicago is still an ongoing outfit today, with four original members still on board: Lamm, Loughnane, Pankow and Parazaider. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016.

If they ever had a more incendiary moment than this one from 1970 though, we haven’t seen it.

The band Chicago performs “25 or 6 to 4” and “You’re the Inspiration” as part of the “Be Chicago, Together We Can” fundraising event on April 29th, 2020, benefiting the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund to aid the on-going efforts by the United Way of Metro Chicago and the Chicago Community Trust in the fight against COVID-19

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A perfect pairing is a joy to come by, and a blind pairing is even finer; here, a role of dice slides Bill Callahan into Jerry Jeff Walker’s big shoes to walk over an ethereal Mojave country take on Mike Burton’s classic cowboy tune, courtesy of Wand’s Cory Hanson, shape-shifting into his solo persona with ease, and giving Bill and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy plenty of room to display theirs too. Cover artwork by Aline Cautis, shown as part of the group show “The Monochrome Set”, at Soccer Club Club, October 2018.


Released January 20th, 2021