Jayaire Woods Credit: Photo by Alex Zandro

A Reader staffer shares three musical obsessions, then asks someone (who asks someone else) to take a turn.

Leor Galil, Reader staff writer

Valley of the Sun audio rips Shout-out to the intrepid superfan behind Hidden Valley (of the Sun Publishing), a blog dedicated to the music of southwestern new age entertainment company Valley of the Sun—which in the 1980s released a boatload of beautiful, gauzy cassette recordings. Though some titles sold tens of thousands of copies, they’re now hard to find. In 2016 founder Dick Sutphen told the Wire that his fourth wife licensed the company’s catalog to third parties, and I imagine the resulting bitter legal battle might explain why the music hasn’t been reissued. Good thing “Serveaux,” identified via Blogger profile as a 23-year-old Jamaican telecom employee, continues to scour the Web for these releases.

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Jayaire Woods, “Impatient” Given what a big year it’s been for emo rap, I can’t understand why Jayaire Woods‘s April single hasn’t invaded corporate streaming playlists and radio airwaves. Woods is an intuitive performer and contemplative lyricist, and he marinates in the melancholy instrumental of “Impatient”—he makes songs that sound sad feel good.

Thunder Rock, “Don’t Go Away” I found this charmingly inept 1984 pop-metal single by the amazingly obscure Thunder Rock while browsing the world’s greatest digital repository of private-press records, eBay. “Don’t Go Away” is its B side, a cockeyed ballad that sounds ready to fall off the wax at any moment, then miraculously arrives at its triumphant finale nearly intact. The singer’s timorous, tuneless falsetto convinced me to put in a bid, but somebody else won the auction for $113.61.

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Leor is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .

The cover of Haram’s بس ربحت ,خسرت <i>When You Have Won, You Have Lost</i>
The cover of Haram’s بس ربحت ,خسرت When You Have Won, You Have Lost

Lucas Reif, editor and photographer of the zine Disruptor

Hogg, Self-Extinguishing Emission I just finished the Samuel R. Delany novel Hogg, from which this Chicago duo take their name, so I felt the timing was perfect for them to release a new album of what they call “ritualistic anarcho death-dance.” Self-Extinguishing Emission, out on local label Scrapes Recordings (brainchild of the inimitable Alex Barnett), is a full-scale plunge into cruelty and intimacy via the magical interplay of rhythm and droning noise. “I’m good because I listen,” they chant, in suppressed whispers or ferocious screams. “I’m good because I hate.” The mesmerizing cover and insert artwork is by drawing team Rebecca Walz and Ryan Pfeiffer.

Gun Outfit, Out of Range Los Angeles-based group Gun Outfit pairs intricate, delicate psychedelic western melodies with curious, mythological lyrics: “There’s a cause for celebration I don’t suppose we understand / I don’t worry about the reason until I hold it in my hand.” I’ve had this gorgeous record on repeat ever since its release last November.

Haram, بس ربحت ,خسرت When You Have Won, You Have Lost This record doesn’t just have one of the most beautiful cover designs of the past year (and some of the hardest riffs), it’s also the most culturally and politically relevant hardcore release of 2017. Haram’s debut full-length is a powerful condemnation of the Trump administration’s violent anti-Muslim policies (“Your President, Not a President”) and an inspiring cry for liberation. Front man Nader Habibi sings entirely in Arabic—a passionate refusal—atop booming drums and melodic guitars.

Lucas is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .

Eliza Weber
Eliza WeberCredit: Photo by Ashleigh Dye

Alexa Viscius, bassist in Bunny, photographer, designer

Eliza Weber Not only is Eliza my bass-playing hero, she’s also my favorite self-taught poster designer in Chicago. When she’s not playing bass in Glyders, she’s designing and printing flyers for local shows. The flyers, which she started making out of necessity to promote her own concerts, combine a handmade DIY punk feel with qualities you find in old psychedelic and Krautrock aesthetics. Add to that her playful use of color and total disregard for the strict Swiss typography I studied in school, and what comes out are perfect show posters.

Sike Rock Laughing and listening to music are my favorite things to do. Local comedian and musician Tim Makowski feels the same way, so he started a bimonthly variety show that features sets by local bands and sketch comedy in between. Sike Rock has found a home at Schubas, where it’s billed as “a night of music and comedy,” but I see it more as “a night of not being able to take a cigarette break for fear of missing something.” Tim’s comedic collaborators include Sarah Jane Quillin, Ashley Ray, and Zach Hebert.

Ruins I’m seeing a bit of a pattern here . . . all the people who inspire me in the Chicago scene are multitalented overachieving maniacs. Adam Schubert is no exception. He plays in the band Cafe Racer, and his solo project, Ruins, just released its self-titled debut EP on Dumpster Tapes. It’s such a beautiful tape, with thick layers of sound that envelop you—it’s reminiscent of Deerhunter, with a sad-pop sensibility similar to that of Elliott Smith.  v