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 […]
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 […]
Brooklyn singer-songwriter Mackenzie Scott, aka Torres, is a master of insular, languid indie pop. But after making it through lockdown and finding inspiration in her partner, visual artist Jenna Gribbon, Scott is in an expansive mood. Her new album, Thirstier (Merge), graced with a glam cock-rock cover painted by Gribbon, features a big, snarling, exuberant […]
Scott Cortez and Melissa Arpin Duimstra have built a cult audience in their 30 years as Lovesliescrushing—and new music and vinyl reissues are on the way.
Brooklyn composer and multi-instrumentalist Taja Cheek, aka L’Rain, has titled her sophomore album Fatigue (Mexican Summer), but she doesn’t sound tired. Her aesthetic is languidly manic, with an eclectic mix of genres and moods bobbing in and out of her layered, psychedelic orchestral pop. Opener “Fly, Die,” kicks off with washes of voices and instrumental […]
“If we stay silent, it will be the end of us,” Mdou Moctar sings in French on the title track of his new album, Afrique Victime (Matador). If there’s one thing you can say for sure about Moctar, it’s that he’s not silent. The Nigerien guitarist keeps one hand on the tradition of Saharan Tuareg […]
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 […]
The Jefferson Park EXP concert series brings a wild diversity of sounds to a neighborhood library—and to the Internet.
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 […]
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 […]
Though it came out in mid-December, too late to make most “best of 2020” lists, Megalophobe’s Music for Resistance Fantasies (Nefarious Industries) deserves to be remembered as one of the most iconic and painfully lovely summations of the year. Megalophobe is the New York-based solo project of Benjamin Levitt, and he recorded the album to […]
When it comes to music, Sweden is perhaps most famous for sweetly catchy pop and brutal death metal. Five-piece Electric Hydra finds the spiritual midpoint between those genres on its self-titled debut album by leaning into another Swedish tradition—retro hard-rock revivalism. The record’s cover art brackets the band’s name with two gaping snake maws that […]
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, […]
Songs don’t so much rise out of Yves Jarvis’s Sundry Rock Song Stock (Anti-) as they swim around, fray, and dissolve. In that sense, the most characteristic track on the Canadian producer and multi-instrumentalist’s new album, the woozily liquid “Ambrosia,” is one of the oddest. Anxiously percolating keyboard and an echoing, violinlike noise wander past […]
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 […]