Posts Tagged ‘Illinois’

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The Mike Kinsella-led group’s third full-length album “American Football” (LP3) is a beautiful return to form, brimming with the band’s signature sonic elements while also shedding and reinventing so many aspects of their sound. It’s a wonderful step forward for them creatively.

By rights we should hate this album. It’s an incessant moan, flips the math-rock-lite thing which gotten boring last decade and is stuffed to the brim with whiny Yank vocals. But the songs are undeniable good. And it doesn’t stick around long enough for you to get pissed off yourself.

LP3’s most defining quality is how expansive it feels. On the sweeping seven-minute opener “Silhouettes,” gentle bells and chimes greet lush dueling guitars and pulsating drums as Kinsella’s voice floats into the track’s misty corners. Whispery reverb draws out each note as he ponders the “muscle memory” of love, and whether or not romantic strife is just the result of simply going through motions.

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The swelling ballad “Every Wave To Ever Rise” is pensive and cavernous, contemplating love’s inevitable heartbreak over wandering guitars and longing atmospheres. “Love is the cross you bear/ You’re every wave to ever rise/ Your slow retreat is no surprise,” Kinsella croons poetically, full of bittersweet acceptance over love’s ebb-and-flow. Buoyed by a trifecta of stunning features from guest vocalists Hayley Williams, Rachel Goswell and Elizabeth Powell, American Football (LP3) is 2019’s most endearing journey of melancholy, and another high point in the Midwestern band’s dazzling career.

Not long after Polyvinyl Records released American Football’s self-titled debut album in 1999, the band called it quits, having only played a smattering of Champaign-Urbana college house parties and sets at small clubs like Chicago’s legendary Fireside Bowl. Such an inauspicious turn of events made what followed all the more incredible. Over time, the record went on to become one of Polyvinyl’s bestselling releases to date, and ended up serving as “one of the single most influential rock records of its time” according to Noisey and many others.

Whitney are releasing a new 7″ single to celebrate their upcoming sold-out, four-night hometown run at Chicago’s Thalia Hall. One side is “F.T.A.,” an alternate version of the title track from this year’s terrific “Forever Turned Around”, with a cover of Wilco’s “Far, Far Away” on the flip.

Whitney was born from a series of laidback early-morning songwriting 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. 

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released November 22nd, 2019

Ryley Walker is the reincarnation of the true American guitar player. That’s as much a testament to his roving, rambling ways, or the fact that his Guild D-35 guitar has endured a few stints in the pawnshop. Swap out rural juke joints for rotted DIY spaces and the archetype is solidly intact.

Charles Rumback and Ryley Walker are both known for their creativity and curious spirits. Rumback is a drummer in high demand in Chicago’s free-jazz circles, and a pillar of the second wave of improvisers in a scene first shaped by the legendary players like Sun Ra and other members of the AACM. Walker draws deeply on other distinctly American styles, bringing a strong sense of folk tradition to his playing that is as arresting as his freewheeling performance style. Together, Rumback and Walker find common ground in their kinetic, intuitive playing and yearning creative outlook.

Little Common Twist, their sophomore release as a duo, finds both players at their most adventurous. It compiles instrumental pieces that convey a striking range of emotions, at once introspective and expansive, with a delicate interplay that delights as they move with ease across a spectrum of styles. The recording has a pastoral quality that recalls Van Morrison ’s classic album Veedon Fleece , and captures a remarkably dexterous performance by both Charles and Ryley that make this album so expansive and fresh. Little Common Twist was recorded over several sessions throughout 2017 and 2018 with producer John Hughes , capturing the duo playing in the moment with minimal overdubs. The guitar and drums duo eschewed each instrument’s traditional roles of rhythm and melody, experimenting with texture and rhythm. This album is the culmination of a creative partnership that has seen Rumback and Walker constantly challenging each other. In stretching the bounds of their interplay even further than before, the duo created their most evocative and expansive work to date, conjuring the afterglow of sun-scorched landscapes and ethereal after-hours ambience.

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Chicago quartet The Hecks have been at it since 2012, starting out as the duo of guitarist Andy Mosiman and Zach Hebert. The band drafted guitarist Dave Vettraino into the fold, a recording engineer who was recording the band’s s/t debut (Trouble In Mind, 2016) & ended up joining the band shortly thereafter. The band’s journey to the end result of “My Star” their second album – has taken them nearly three years in the making.

The new Hecks album is way more fun than anything released by a godchild of Women has any business being. Despite mining the same corner of ’80s pop culture at nearly the same time as Ceremony and Omni, neither of those bands were quite as playful with their homage to new wave, even if that recreational period doesn’t extend all the way to My Star’s repetitive eight-minute closer. The slow build-up of vocals, percussion, synths, and an additional guitar over a single, simple riff across the title-track’s extensive runtime is subtle in a way the rest of the record definitely isn’t, recalling the harsh guitar-rock of their debut.

After recording an initial version of the album in 2017, The Hecks started gigging with new fourth member & keyboardist Jeff Graupner, whose synthesized squiggles added some welcome heft & swagger to the band’s tunes. After reworking & rearranging much of the new material to integrate Graupner, the band scrapped the recordings & rebuilt them from the ground up, incorporating Graupner’s skills at the keys.

Dave V: Vocals / Electric Guitar / Electric Bass Guitar / Engineering
Andy M: Vocals / Electric Guitar / Electric Bass Guitar / Drum Machine / Synthsizer
Jeff G: Vocals / Synthesizer
Zach H: Vocals / Drums / Electric Drums / Drum Machine

“My Star” Trouble In Mind Records, Released on: 2019-10-11

DEHD – ” Letter “

Posted: November 5, 2019 in MUSIC
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’Letter’ is a visual and sonic representation of the physical embodiment of subtle lingering grief and the arc of healing that follows once love has lost and relationship dynamics have shifted. The pain of one party moving on before the other, leaving a feeling of replacement. The empowerment and strength found from non-sexual friendship, from creative pursuits, and from constant, unapologetic self care, self soothing, and acts of self love. A moving on and moving forward that only happens once one has returned truly to oneself. ‘Letter’ is the beginning of the end of an era.

As if Emily Kempf’s throaty vocals weren’t pronounced enough on Dehd’s sophomore album “Water”, the Chicago trio dropped “Letter” as conclusive evidence that her voice is equally fit for fronting a metal ensemble or going solo as a theatrical pop singer of the exclusive tier pioneered by Kate Bush. As if to prep for another winter on the frigid coast of Lake Michigan, the band seems to be closeting their surfboards and infiltrating the icy post-punk scene, the track opening with nearly a minute of ambient synths before a familiar surf-rock guitar gets to work thawing things out.

released October 10th, 2019, Recorded by Jason Balla

Charles Rumback and Ryley Walker are both known for their creativity and curious spirits. Rumback is a drummer in high demand in Chicago’s free-jazz circles, and a pillar of the second wave of improvisers in a scene first shaped by the legendary players like Sun Ra and the AACM. Walker draws deeply on other distinctly American styles, bringing a strong sense of folk tradition to his playing that is as arresting as his freewheeling performance style. Walker’s musical explorations are not limited to his own songwriting: the guitarist regularly collaborates in Chicago and now New York with innovators of every genre. Together, Rumback and Walker find common ground in their kinetic, intuitive playing and yearning creative outlook. “Little Common Twist”, their sophomore release as a duo, finds both players at their most adventurous. It compiles instrumental pieces that convey a striking range of emotions, at once introspective and expansive, with a delicate interplay that delights as they move with ease across a spectrum of styles. The recording has a pastoral quality that recalls Van Morrison’s classic album Veedon Fleece, and captures a remarkably dexterous performance by both Charles and Ryley that make this album so expansive and fresh.

Little Common Twist was recorded over several sessions throughout 2017 and 2018 with producer John Hughes, capturing the duo playing in the moment with minimal overdubs. The guitar and drums duo eschewed each instrument’s traditional roles of rhythm and melody, experimenting with texture and rhythm. Rumback and Walker remarkably paint in both broad, gestural strokes and intricate melodic details. “Half Joking” and “Self Blind Sun” are warm, deep songs that draw on structures from the American primitive guitar songbook. “Idiot Parade” leaps into more explorative territory, Rumback setting an urgent, rolling cymbal groove while Walker paints melodic sonic vapor trails across the sky. “Menehbi” experiments further with abstract forms, atomizing guitar and drums into an ambient haze where loose flourishes from Rumback hint at rhythm and structure, while a steady electronic pulse provides an anchor amidst the fog.

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Little Common Twist is the culmination of a creative partnership that has seen Rumback and Walker constantly challenging each other. In stretching the bounds of their interplay even further than before, the duo created their most evocative and expansive work to date, conjuring the afterglow of sun-scorched landscapes and ethereal after-hours ambiance.

Releases November 8th, 2019

With Sam Kassirer (Josh Ritter, Lake Street Dive, Langhorne Slim) at the production helm, Alio stretches well beyond Fort Frances’ Americana roots to unlock the potential that’s been building for the past two years with louder guitars, jubilant horns and dueling rhythm sections. 

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If there was any concern that David Berman had lost any of his stunning acuity with language in the 11 years since the last Silver Jews record, the record is set straight right out of the gate: “You see the life I live is sickening/ I spent a decade playing chicken with oblivion/ Day to day, I’m neck-and-neck with giving in/ I’m the same old wreck I’ve ever been.” The musical milieu may be different this time out—lush indie rock that feints frequently toward Americana—but Berman’s knack for weaving evocative narratives shot through with hope, doubt, and self-destruction are as strong as they’ve ever been. The album feels like a gift: when Berman blew up Silver Jews in 2008, he disappeared entirely; the long silence that followed made it seem like things might stay that way. Purple Mountains rewards the patience of his ardent followers with some of his strongest melodic songwriting to date, and also has enough clean hooks and clever barbs to reel in a few new ones.

Centerpiece “Margaritas at the Mall” likens the futility of human existence in the face of a silent God with day-drinking at a shopping center: “See the plod of the flawed individual, looking for a nod from God/ Trodding the sod of the visible, with no new word from God/ We’re just drinking margaritas at the mall/ That’s what this stuff adds up to after all.” The melody in the chorus sounds triumphant; the lyrics are anything but. The album is dusted with traces of pedal steel, barroom piano, and string-like keys, but—as it should be—the centerpiece is always Berman. “If no one’s fond of fucking me/ then maybe no one’s fucking fond of me/ Maybe I’m the only one for me,” he sings wryly in the album’s closing number. Berman may feel alone, but his legion of disciples cheer his return—and hang on every word.

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David Berman comes in from the cold after ten long years. His new musical expression is a meltdown unparalleled in modern memory. He warns us that his findings might be candid, but as long as his punishment comes in such bite-sized delights of all-American jukebox fare, we’ll hike the Purple Mountains with pleasure forever.

Released July 12th, 2019

2019 Drag City Inc.

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Whitney was born from a series of laidback early-morning songwriting sessions during one of the harshest winters in Chicago. 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.

Whitney have shared another new song from their forthcoming album “Forever Turned Around”, which is out August 30th via Secretly Canadian. It’s called “Valleys (My Love)” and arrives with a new music video from Kamp Grizzly. Directed by Nick Woytuk, it follows a truck driver. Watch it below.

Whitney’s sophomore album features production from Brad Cook (Bon Iver, Hand Habits) and Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado (who’s worked with Weyes Blood and Father John Misty). The new single follows “Giving Up.”

Whitney are performing later this year’s at Green Man Festival Brecon Beacons, UK

“Valleys (My Love)” from Forever Turned Around, the new album from Whitney, out August 30th, 2019 on Secretly Canadian

V.V. Lightbody (Vivian McConnell from Chicago bands Santah / Grandkids) is playing music that is self-described as nap-rock. V.V. released her debut LP, ‘Bathing Peach’, in June of 2018. Her songs have cocktail lounge vibes; layered with flutes & lyrics about dried fruit. Think of glitching mermaids with dozing and comfortable songs. 

Just a few weeks when we last raved about Chicago’s V.V. Lightbody, yet with the release of her new single this week, we’re more than willing to do so again. The track, Car Alarm, is the latest taste of where V.V.’s music is going following last year’s Bathing Peach.

“Car Alarm” is a somewhat darker affair than the bossa nova shuffle of V.V.’s last single, Baby, Honestly. Discussing the track, V.V. has suggested it came to her in around 10 minutes, combining her, “humid nap rock”, with a more driving quality. There’s a nod to the more 1970’s leaning moments of Angel Olsen’s My Woman, as Car Alarm bounces on a chunky lead guitar riff, even finding room later for a twanging, beast of a solo. Lyrically, it finds V.V. pondering death, yet finding a quiet humour in it, “the thought of me hypothetically trying to contact everyone in my life to let them know that I’m dying made me laugh. The chorus pokes fun at being a selfishly dark artist, taking small human moments and exaggerating them into song”. Another thrilling trip into this songwriting mind, V.V. Light body is a musician on a roll.

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Car Alarm is out now via Acrophase Records.

Song and lyrics by V.V. Lightbody (Vivian McConnell)
Guitar & Vocals – V.V. Lightbody 
Lead Guitar – Evan Metz 
Drums – Nate Friedman
Bass – Michael Harmon