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Bnny make David Lynch-ian pop music for mourning

From its first reverb-laden guitar notes, Bnny’s new Everything (Fire Talk) makes me wonder whether the Chicago band have logged some hours watching Twin Peaks. The hushed, ethereal whisper of vocalist and songwriter Jess Viscius channels dream-pop singer Julee Cruise (who sings on the show’s soundtrack), while guitarists Adam Schubert and Timothy Makowski lean into […]

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Mexican Institute of Sound electrifies traditional Latin rhythms

Camilo Lara, who makes music as Mexican Institute of Sound, is hardly the only Latinx artist to meld traditional rhythms with contemporary electronic dance genres (Colombian group Bomba Estéreo, Ecuador-based producer Nicola Cruz, and fellow Ruido Festers Los Amigos Invisibles immediately come to mind). Lara is one of the most high-profile, though; he’s done production […]

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Chicago comp says we’re still in the same Situation, still caring for one another

Last July, local arts and music nonprofit Quiet Pterodactyl put together a sprawling compilation called Situation Chicago to support local music venues struggling during the pandemic. Almost a year later, with another few hundred thousand Americans dead and live music as we once knew it still mostly impossible, the organization has put together a sequel—this […]

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Valerie June leaves her roots for the stars

Valerie June’s best-known album, 2013’s Dan Auerbach-produced Pushin’ Against a Stone (Sunday Best), is a raw, playful mix of blues and country. Eclectic and ambitious as that effort is, though, it doesn’t capture June’s full range. On the cover of her new fifth album, The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers (Fantasy), June wears a […]

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Patricia Brennan makes delicate music for mallets

When used in the improvisatory style pioneered by performers such as Lionel Hampton, the vibraphone is traditionally a clanging, percussive, hard-charging instrument. The marimba is arguably best known for providing the hip-shaking backbone for many traditional Latin musics. New York composer Patricia Brennan takes both instruments in more delicate and less sweaty directions. Her debut […]

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Jesu seduces you with melodic bleakness

UK guitarist and composer Justin Broadrick is best known as a founding member of the industrial metal assault that is Godflesh. But capturing purely annihilatory noise in that pounding maelstrom is not his only musical interest. He formed Jesu in 2003 to focus on postpunk, goth, and the bleaker, lonelier shores of shoegaze, and characteristically, […]

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Eartheater creates fey folk for lush and terrifying rituals

As a genre designation, “folk music” can mean a wide variety of things, including early rural Americana, politicized revival strumming, and weird psychedelia. Alexandra Drewchin, who makes music as Eartheater, doesn’t really fit in any of those categories. Instead she approaches folk as chthonic, atavistic druid witchery, making gentle music for sacrificing goats—complete with buzzing […]