Posts Tagged ‘Illinois’

Hey hey, happy Spring! This is Julia from Ratboys, writing to you with some very exciting news to share…Next month, we’re celebrating our 10th Anniversary as a band! That’s right: 10 years ago this April, Dave and I put out our first EP, “Ratboy”, on Bandcamp. The EP was 5 songs that we recorded in our dorm rooms and bedrooms during spring break that year, and we didn’t really have any expectations or hopes when we put it up online… just that our friends might hear it and hopefully enjoy it.
When we heard back from our friends, that they did in fact like it, we were able to start playing some shows that summer, and boom! the rest is history.
Now that a full decade has passed (absolutely insane), we’re gonna celebrate this milestone with a one-of-a-kind full band concert, which we filmed/recorded live on the floor at Schuba’s Tavern in Chicago. This 10th Anniversary Show is unlike anything we’ve made before, and we are just so absolutely thrilled to share it with you live, April 29th at 8PM central.

The show itself features 10 songs from across our discography plus some excellent archival footage plus the four of us reminiscing on ridiculous tales from the road, meeting by chance, and figuring out how to be a band together. 

We recently announced that we’d be helping Ratboys celebrate their 10th anniversary as a band by presenting a new virtual performance. However, that’s not the only way Ratboys are marking the decade: they’ve now released a surprise new album, “Happy Birthday, Ratboy”, ten years to the day after their first EP, 2011’s Ratboy, came out.

Happy Birthday, Ratboy features new recordings of all five songs on the 2011 EP, which they recorded as a duo, before expanding their line-up and signing to Topshelf Records, as well as five more of the band’s college-era tracks, and most recent single “Go Outside” (which is on the record, but not the Bandcamp stream). The new versions sound fantastic, freshly polished and fleshed out takes on songs that very much hold up, and you can see the cover art and track listing, 

10 years ago this April — April 1st to be exact — Chicago’s Ratboys put out their first collection of songs. “The RATBOY EP”, consisting of five indie-folk dorm room recordings, was free to download on Bandcamp and humbly passed around to friends on social media.

Ratboys would normally be celebrating their 10-year anniversary on the road, playing a mix of songs from their very first release to their most recent, last year’s critically-acclaimed Printer’s Devil. Instead, just two weeks after the album’s February 2020 release and mere days before heading out on their first headline tour, the COVID-19 pandemic forced all touring to a halt. Despite not being able to play in-person shows for the past year, Ratboys has managed to stay busy by performing their music online via their own Virtual Tour series and by finding a different way to celebrate their first decade of being a band.

Lots of time at home last year gave Ratboys a chance to hit the studio, which has led to Happy Birthday, Ratboy, a surprise party of a new album featuring 10 brand new recordings of the band’s earliest songs + a newly-written bonus track entitled “Go Outside.”
The Band:
Guitar, vocals – Julia Steiner
Guitar, pocket piano, ukelele, lap steel – Dave Sagan
Bass – Sean Neumann
Drums, percussion – Marcus Nuccio

Released as a surprise on April 1st, 2021, 

A guitarry hybrid of AZ’s edgy rock/soul/r’n’b sound. Grooving good times, acerbic exchanges overheard in the street, shifts in community, the losses you will carry always, dark recesses late at night that echo with a wonder you’ve never felt before. Life! All instruments played by Azita; the wackest, most Azita-harmonious sounding pop album yet.

For those who find the passage of time a one-way process of attrition, here’s good news for you. In the eight years since AZITA’s last long-player her fevered brain has barely rested and the proof is a new album of unbounded physical and mental activity, music and entertainment, entitled ‘Glen Echo’. The worlds of the previous Azita’s have left their unmistakable essence. Her singular conception of pop music – the idiosyncratic songs, singing and playing that have graced seven acclaimed releases – is in verdant recurrence on ‘Glen Echo’, blossoming a new, cutting sharply in the spirit and image of her ever evolving, always questioning style.

Writing and arranging on keyboards since the time of her solo debut, Azita focused on guitars for this set of songs. Not simply for swagger or a fresh approach to soloing but as part of a way to elide expected singer-songwriter tropes, to democratically populate the sound-stage in equal partnership instead. This is a key aspect of the ‘Glen Echo’ sound, one that determined another new choice.

Previous long-players ‘Enantiodromia’, ‘Life On the Fly’ and ‘How Will You?’ were achieved via close work with players and engineers who took the compositions from the demo to a finished form. Invariably though, something would get lost in the transmigration somewhere. With ‘Glen Echo’, Azita comes through fully, jaggedly, most vividly, owning her intention entirely in the dialogue of singing and playing her rock and rhythm and blues.

The lyric sheet is riddled with language that circles, through the many moments of life, aspects of the passage of time, the pre-empted dreams and strangeness of the present and the way we invent an idealized past in response to the changes, guiding the narrative… where? It’s all banded together by AZITA’s wit, equal parts droll and dire, her dispassionate view of fates and outcomes for all of us here together on the planet, textured with unique, cinematic details and sudden dives into a deeply felt, utterly OG sense of soul.


In ‘Glen Echo’ are a multitude of sounds – all the moments in a life: the good time grooves, acerbic exchanges in the street, shifts in community and generosity, moments of loss you know you will carry forever, reflection upon unknown futures and pasts, the dark recesses late at night that echo with a wonder you’ve never felt before. You name it, AZITA’s got some sweet and sour theme music for it.

Released March 5th, 2021

Written, performed, and recorded by Azita Youssefi

2021 Drag City Records.

I just felt like sharing a song. I’ve been missing the spontaneity of releasing music on a whim. During these slow winter months and after such a slow (and rough) year for everyone– I thought it would give me (and maybe you) something nice to start 2021 with. It is my offering.  Beautiful and honest, wisely minimal lyrics without trying too hard but also still being confidently vulnerable enough to be honest, definitely uniquely ethereal and with delicate yet quietly powerful and raw vocals. The chorus section is perfectly executed artistic beauty…such delicate and feminine vocals with a really unique twist of sound that more than satisfies the intrigue built up by the rest of the song. Beautiful. Glad to stumble upon this gem.


Released January 12th, 2021
Produced by Gia Margaret

The plans for, and the realities of, 2020 were so very different things for Chicago band Fauvely Indie rock with a dose of dream-pop, folk, and shoegaze for their upcoming album, “Beautiful Places”. The quartet, who split their time between Chicago and their home-town of Savannah, Georgia, A slot at an official SXSW Austin Showcase didnt go ahead. Like so many bands though, plans were dashed, the band instead turned their attention to the studio. The result is their upcoming debut album, “Beautiful Places”, a reflection on when things go awry and maintaining hope in the face of adversity. What makes anything beautiful? This collection of songs is about finding beauty where it might not traditionally exist. It’s about duality: light and dark, memory and haze, being stuck and running away. It’s about wanting more and needing less. Some of it autobiographical and some of it is not. This is a hopeful album about small moments of beauty and joy. We hope it brings you some sort of light in a world that can, at times, feel very dark.

Having previously supported the likes of Stella Donnelly and Hand Habits, Fauvely’s sound walks the line between the driving and the dreamy; at times drums clatter, bristling with intensity, at the other moments guitars seem to spiral off in almost directionless beauty. At the core throughout is songwriter and vocalist, Sophie Brochu, seems to be able to find a pocket of space in all the noise, With a presence demanding your focus, even as the backing gets chaotic and noisy, swirling around her. t arrives later in the Spring, “Beautiful Places” lives up to its name, it might just be the sort of destination you will want to head too this summer.


All songs written by Sophie Brochu except “Run Run” (by Dale Price and Sophie Brochu) and “In the Dark” which is a cover of “Fishin’ in the Dark” (by Wendy Waldman and Jim Photogo).
The Band:
Sophie Brochu: guitar, vocals, lyrics
Dale Price: lead guitar, backing vocals, keys
Dave Piscotti: drums, backing vocals
Phil Conklin: bass

Featuring Mike Altergott on additional keys/synth

“Beautiful Places” is out April 2nd.

Bill Callahan and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy‘s collab-a-thon continues and this week’s cover is Iggy Pop’s “I Want to Go to the Beach.” The original, from Iggy’s 2009 album Preliminaires, was a sombre, piano-led affair, but the Bills make it decidedly more beachy. The musical direction this week comes courtesy of Cooper Crain, who you may know from Cave, Bitchin Bajas and other Chicago groups. The arrangement is reggae / dub, but in an off-kilter, noirish sort of way that fits lyrics like “Waiting, hating the shit life throws my way / Hating, waiting to make my escape.” Listen below.

Who dares to break Iggy’s Jah? Pop’s 2009 cabaret jazz project yielded this perfect song, “I Want To Go To The Beach” a predictably improbable contribution to the beach song oeuvre. The noirish resignation of Iggy’s original modulates bouncily into Cooper Crain’s post-dub version, a beat that draws epic crosstalk out of all the Bill Callahan and Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s (way) out there in space.

Last week was a Drag City all-stars event with the Bills covering Silver Jews’ “The Wild Kindness” with Cassie Berman, David Pajo, Haley Fohr (Circuit des Yeux), Meg Baird, and Matt Sweeney

Minor Moon, the Chicago-based cosmic Americana group led by multi-instrumentalist Sam Cantor, have an upcoming third full length album “Tethers”, out March 26th via Ruination Record Co. & Whatever’s Clever. On his newest song as Minor Moon, Chicago multi-instrumentalist Sam Cantor takes on a feeling that has become all-too-familiar over the past year: a nebulous sense of confusion and loss, most debilitating because of how difficult it is to even recognize, let alone put into words—or music, for that matter. Cantor manages that last bit admirably on “Under an Ocean of Holes,” the second single from—and the creative key to, as he explains—his cosmic country project’s forthcoming third album “Tethers”, out March 26th on Ruination Record Co. and Whatever’s Clever.

Chicago-based multi-instrumentalist Sam Cantor has released the third full-length from his cosmic Americana project Minor Moon, Tethers, via Ruination Record Co. and Whatever’s Clever. Lead single “No Lightning Fix,” which features a pair of Cantor’s Windy City peers in V.V. Lightbody and Ohmme’s Macie Stewart, arrived alongside the album’s announcement in January, while second single “Under an Ocean of Holes” in February and “Hey, Dark Ones” arrived earlier this month. Cantor drew inspiration for Tethers’ 10 tracks from an intense period of personal discovery that began with him being thrown for a loop by the end of a long-term relationship, using his music as an outlet for the powerful feelings entangled with his experiences. “Minor Moon songs have always had this arc of discovery and I’ve always used them as a way to dive into really personal, philosophical, or emotional problems,” says Cantor. “It’s about finding some truth looking inward.” We’ve praised Cantor and his collaborators for making a “sprawling and complexly arranged” album that “imbues warm Americana with an otherworldly hum” while managing to find a deep-seated joy in life’s lack of easy answers.

Having previously shared the unhurried No Lightning Fix, the band have now offered up a second taste from the album in the shape of the simmering Under An Ocean Of Holes.

So, if a healthy amount of Midwestern twang, some engaging Neil Young style grooves, eye-opening atmospherics, and warm psychedelia are up your street you should check out both asap.


Releases March 26th, 2021, All songs written and produced by Sam Cantor 

Sam Cantor – vocals, electric and acoustic guitar (all), synth (3, 5) and upright piano (5)
Nathan Bojko – drum kit (all except track 5)
Michael Downing – electric bass guitar and vocals (all except track 5)
Colin Drozdoff – Wurlitzer electric piano, organ, grand piano and Prophet (all but track 5), additional synths (1, 6)
Konstantine Stebliy – lap steel guitar (all but track 5)

Additional musicians:
V.V. Lightbody – vocals (1, 2, 3, 9), flute (2, 3, 4), piano noise (5)
Macie Stewart – violin (2, 3, 4, 6, 10), vocals (3)
Nora Barton – cello (2, 3, 4, 6, 10)
Sean Mullins – percussion (all except track 8)
Alex Blomarz – tenor and baritone saxophone (2, 3, 4, 6, 9, 10)
Nick Broste – trombone (3, 6)
Dorian Gehring – pedal steel guitar (5)

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

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

Image may contain: drawing

Chicago-based singer-songwriter Gia Margaret released an ambient album, Mia Gargaret, last year, and she’s now followed it with her first new single of 2021, a studio version of a song she’s been known to perform live. “I just felt like sharing a song,” she writes. “I’ve been missing the spontaneity of releasing music on a whim, I suppose. During these slow winter months and after such a slow (and rough) year for everyone– I thought it would give me (and maybe you) something nice to start 2021 with. It is my offering. It also feels like a misfit (production wise) in a body of newer songs and especially with the direction I’m moving into. That’s not to say there might not be another version on a record at some point. I just decided this deserves it’s own celebration.”

I just felt like sharing a song. I’ve been missing the spontaneity of releasing music on a whim. During these slow winter months and after such a slow (and rough) year for everyone– I thought it would give me (and maybe you) something nice to start 2021 with. It is my offering.

Released January 12th, 2021
Produced by Gia Margaret

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 song writing: 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.

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. 

Released November 8th, 2019