Posts Tagged ‘Illinois’

Hum’s first album in 22 years goes beyond the average expectations of a reunion album and pushes Hum’s sound in new directions left and right. It cements their legacy further than ever before, and it just might turn out to be their masterpiece.  I think many of us needed this without knowing, particularly those of us who love Hum and never imagined another album. Despite the undercurrent of melancholy in Hum’s music, that “look to the stars” hopefulness, and the lyrical explorations of when science, consciousness, and love intersect. Often times, a reunion album reminds you why you fell in love with a band in the first place, proves they’ve still got it, and helps re-establish the band as a force within an era that they had long been absent from. But in rarer cases, a reunion album cements a band’s legacy further than ever before, closing a book you might not have realized had been left open. Inlet, Hum’s first album in 22 years, is the latter. This type of heavy shoegaze/alt-rock is arguably more prevalent now than it was in the ’90s, thanks to Hum’s influence, and as good as many of Hum’s followers are, Inlet is the album that this distinct subgenre needed. Hum were maybe ahead of their time, and it’s as if they needed the world to catch up with them before they could release what may turn out to be their masterpiece.

Released June 23rd, 2020


All music written and recorded by HUM at Earth Analog and ELL.

Band Members:
Jeff Dimpsey,
Bryan St. Pere,
Matt Talbott,
Tim Lash,

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.


‘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

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.


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

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.

Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling

Like fellow Chicago rockers Twin Peaks’ latest release “Down in Heaven,” Flesh Panthers are taking a step back from brash garage energy in favor of something a little more “mature” (heavy emphasis on the quotes). With more atmospheric moodiness in the album lead-in and outro, “Willow’s Weep” is much more meticulous and coherent than straight garage rock assault, bringing to mind late-60s Rolling Stones more so than 70s punk.

“Willows Weep” is an absolute stunner. Stoned out rock and roll all smothered in jangly gravy.


It surprises me every time I listen to it, not because I didn’t think they were capable (their live versions of some of my favorite songs by the likes of Velvet Underground and Bob Dylan showcase their tightness and versatility), but because they’ve made such a remarkable transition from their high-energy garage punk into these really beautiful, compelling rock songs. I really love Flesh Panthers. They’re a brilliant inside secret of the Chicago rock scene that deserves far wider exposure. With “Willow’s Weep,” they’re proving they’re a force to be reckoned with beyond these city walls.


Introducing Stay Home, a Polyvinyl Record Co. compilation featuring 16 tracks including previously unreleased music, demos, and covers.

We’ve been especially inundated with covers this past month, though most have been recorded live from the artists’ living rooms. Hazel English’s contribution to the covers-heavy Polyvinyl Stay Home compilation, though, is considerably less of a novelty item, taking the impossibly dreamy Mamas/Papas joint and cranking up the dreamy factor. It’s stripped to the essentials—vocals, guitar, tambourine, and a Mellotron cameo, making for less emphasis on the plot and more on its unique stylizations .


There are some tracks from recent Polyvinyl releases and some previously unreleased material. That includes Owen covering the 1975’s “Me,” Xiu Xiu covering Kim Jung Mi’s “Haenim,” Palehound covering Karen Dalton’s “Something On Your Mind,” Squirrel Flower covering Emmylou Harris’ “Icy Blue Heart,” and Hazel English covering the Mamas & the Papas’ “California Dreamin’.” There’s also new songs from Chris Farren and Radiation City, and demos from of Montreal, the Get Up Kids, Yumi Zouma, and STRFKR.

Stay safe, and stay healthy Polyvinyl family. Some gems in this one

Released April 7th, 2020.

Tragedy and bliss woven together. A soundtrack for when dawn approaches and fades into daylight

Driven to Oregon by a loved one’s death and a relative’s deteriorating health, Robinson and frequent collaborator Esther Shaw withdrew from society and devoted themselves to writing the project’s seventh album. Pared down to a threesome with Thor Harris, drummer for experimental titans Swans, Wrekmeister Harmonies use somber expansivity and vulnerable minimalism to detail a path to healing with The Alone Rush. J.R. Robinson perceives life as a long, gradual process of decay. Lightness fades into darkness, while innocence succumbs to the evils of modern society. His music reflects not only this worldview but his emotional response to it.


Released April 13th, 2018

Image may contain: 3 people, indoor

Melkbelly sculpts their signature balance between subtle melody and frantic noise on new album “Pith”, their second for Carpark Records/Wax Nine. The Chicago-based foursome has made spatial dynamics central to its arrangements, reaching for weirder highs and more startling atmospherics, negative space giving way to enveloping walls of chaos. This sense of form is reflected not only in the purposeful production, but in the ceramic cover art created by Chicago artist Deborah Handler.

As with many of the groups who’ve been traversing Chicago’s underground scene for the past decade, Melkbelly are hard to classify. They’ve slowly pivoted from bizarro lo-fi noise into, well, a slightly more polished version of bizarro lo-fi noise, writing songs with titles like “Twin Lookin Motherfucker” and “Kissing Under Some Bats.” Miranda Winters’ deceptively calm vocals float alongside a largely indistinguishable wall of grunge guitar (courtesy of Bart Winters) and bass (Liam Winters), and James Wetzel’s Lightning Bolt–like percussion.

Recording in two short sessions six months apart, the band worked with longtime collaborator Dave Vettraino, this time at Bloomington, Indiana’s Russian Recording. Alongside an arsenal of rock gear and airy synth layers coaxed from a Moog Prodigy, Pith’s multidimensionality was refined by the studio’s collection of rare Russian tube mics, which were placed in every corner to capture Melkbelly’s unabashed loudness. Frontperson Miranda Winters’ charmingly bright vocals are newly effected, delayed to a menacing, mysterious thickness. Guitars, handled by Miranda and Bart Winters, interlock and separate with dizzying ease, riffs dissolving into floating trails and reappearing with metallic edges. Bassist Liam Winters’ low grooves bounce and kick along with drummer James Wetzel’s rhythmically unsettling performance, which stretches time yet never falters.

After two years touring internationally, the band felt comfortable enough to rearrange songs they knew well, their renewed closeness guiding them. Their literally familial relationship was crucial for support, as Pith was summoned from a place of mourning. “We lost an incredible friend suddenly and nostalgia always acts as a helpful tool for me in navigating difficult times,” Miranda says. “Revisiting emotionally challenging moments or significant social interactions helps shed light on confusing feelings for me. Lyrically, grief gave way to considering life.” She drew from diverse scenes—Grimm-like children’s stories too dark for kids; thorny, mossy forests—to create stories that feel distinctly Melkbellian: philosophically strange, strikingly textural, funny and sad and open-hearted.

Maturation, as well as their DIY reverence, can be heard on the tempo-shifting “Sickeningly Teeth.” It’s an homage to “feel[ing] like shit really loudly or obnoxiously. You know, in an unapologetic youthful way,” deadpans Miranda. James describes it as a “rhythmic exploration to make the song feel like it’s pulling itself apart.” Follow-up single “LCR” similarly shapes Pith’s dynamics and mood. Its shifting signatures held steady by James’ frantic beat, the track is a purgatorial homage to motion, ultimately propelled by its tangled guitars and layered vocal harmonies. “It’s about how having conversations with the dead can scoot you along in life, even when you’re really only hearing one side of the conversation or making up the other half,” says Miranda.


Since their 2017 debut Nothing Valley, the members of Melkbelly have an even better understanding of their sonic motivations. “We’re always going to sort through the past to make better sense of the present,” Miranda says, and in doing so Melkbelly continually finds ways to mutate its sound. On Pith, Melkbelly sought space, and succeeded in crafting it. What a pleasure to be let in.

1. “THC” 

Miranda: This is a song about losing a friend physically versus losing a friend emotionally—it’s a sad Venn diagram. Liam: Miranda calls the bass during the verse on this track “prom bass” after the original bass line was much more aggressive. Bart: A friend of ours says he likes to get stoned and listen to this track on repeat, which to me is the highest compliment you can give. James: If there were one Melkbelly song selected for the golden record sent out on the Voyager Spacecraft, it would be “THC.”

2. “Sickeningly Teeth”

James: Teeth is a tempo experiment—it pushes and pulls itself apart as the song progresses. It once was a ten-minute song that got chopped down significantly in the recording/mixing process. Bart: Usually we kinda tear apart the melodic parts of the songs Miranda brings to the band, but we decided to lean into it on the chorus for this one. I miss the ending that just continued to slow down for another three minutes.

3. “LCR”

Bart: Not something that we overtly discussed, but on most of these tracks we tried to pull back a little during sections of songs to allow for more variety in the song. On “LCR,” one of the guitar takes is pulled from the opening verse, leaving just Miranda’s sparse rhythm guitar. Felt weird at first but ended up working, in my opinion. Miranda: This is one of those songs that just fell out super fast which usually makes me nervous. We were happy with how basic it was and fought to keep it simple.

4. “Little Bug” 

Miranda: When we were in Berlin I was feeling real low and ended up at the apartment alone for a while. I was laying on my bed pitying myself when this moth showed up and wouldn’t leave me alone. The frustration inspired me to get up and start writing “Little Bug.”

5. “Humid Heart”

James: The oldest song on the record. Been playing this one for years and years and years.

6. “Kissing Under Some Bats”

Bart: This was originally not an eight-minute song, but during recording we started messing around with repeating the last note, stretching it past the point of being obnoxious or gimmicky (we hope) into a more meditative thing (Miranda still may not like this track). We are not reinventing the wheel, but, as with most Melkbelly songs, we don’t really have any goals for song genre or song length. It’s really just whatever we’ve been listening to lately or is rattling around in the back of our skulls.

7. “Season of the Goose”

Bart: We had a lot of challenges with this song. Initially it was James’ aggressive beat, then it was whether we should keep Bart’s synth-like guitar riff in the beginning. Developing this song was the complete opposite of something like “LCR.” We experimented with altering almost every aspect of the song at some point. I really like how it turned out, and its position on the album right after “Kissing Under some Bats.”  James: I’m a huge advocate of “the riff” at the top of this song. It almost didn’t make the cut, but thank god it did.

8. “Mr. Coda”

James: The best song on the record. Liam’s time to shine. It was fun to experiment with the second half of this track. There’s some Moog Prodigy bass line that’s being triggered/gated by the kick drum. And some Serge synth drone wobble in the background. When we figure out how to play this one live, it will be great.  Liam: Miranda had a very specific vision of the bass tone for this song. I tried a lot of different options until we agreed on something passable. I don’t think it was what she wanted, but I’m happy with how this song turned out.

9. “Stone Your Friends”

Miranda: This was a song that took a lot of playing before it felt comfortable. It’s about shopping at the mall.

10. “Take H20” 

James: Oldie but goodie. Blue Man Group inspiration throughout (think “Rods and Cones”). Bart: We played this song live for the first time at the Pitchfork Music Festival. It was one of the easiest to record because we had been playing it for so dang long, but also I think we were a little bored with the song by the time we recorded it so we ended up going back to the recording and changing/adding additional instrumentation. I think we tried to channel Oozing Wound during the little jam-out.

11. “Flatness”

Bart: Just a simple song that highlights Miranda’s voice and proves James can play the drums softly.

released April 3th, 2020

Miranda Winters – Guitar, Vocals, James Wetzel – Drums, Moog, STS, Bart Winters – Guitar, Liam Winters – Bass Guitar
All songs written by Melkbelly
Lyrics by Miranda Winters

Ratboys Printer's Devil

Back when they released 2017’s GN, Chicago’s Ratboys were regulars of the DIY/indie/punk world but they were injecting a little alt-country into their sound and they seem poised to be one of DIY/indie/punk’s next breakout bands. Now, three years later, their third album Printer’s Devil just might be the one that does it. Ratboys already seem to be getting more praise and hype than ever, and compared to their first two albums, Printer’s Devil sounds big. They’re channelling the soaring, power pop-tinged alternative rock of the ’90s, sounding kind of like a cross between Weezer and the Gin Blossoms but with a distinct delivery from vocalist Julia Steiner that sets them apart from any one band in particular. They also know how to change things up, with Printer’s Devil finding time for punk speed, folk balladry, atmospheric build-ups, and plenty of the in-between. As ever, Julia’s earworm melodies and the band’s strong vision tie it all together.


Upheaval and change are themes spread throughout the songs on Printer’s Devil, the latest Ratboys LP, released via Topshelf Records. A tangible sonic shift is apparent thanks to a newly-expanded lineup – founding members Julia Steiner and Dave Sagan are now joined by Marcus Nuccio and Sean Neumann on drums and bass. What started as an acoustic duo has finally transformed into a full-scale indie-rock band with a clear identity. Recorded live at Decade Music Studios in Chicago, Printer’s Devil features big-chorus power pop songs like “Alien with a Sleep Mask On” and “Anj” that sound massive and larger than life, alongside intimate folk songs like “A Vision” and devastating alt-country tracks like “Listening,” showcasing once again the group’s signature versatility. Building off their previous albums Ratboys captures the bombastic, electrified fun of their live show in a bottle on Printer’s Devil and showcases their growing chemistry as a tight-knit group.

The Band:

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