Ben Astrachan Credit: Courtesy of Sub Rosa PR

Chicago multi-instrumentalist Ben Astrachan was born nearly two generations after 1967’s famous Summer of Love, but he understands the whimsy, grace, and joy of that era’s music so well you’d think he helped make it happen. He impressed me with his contributions to a rough-around-the-edges 2020 album by freak-folk duo Berta Bigtoe (where he plays with Austin Koenigstein), and he’s now branched out into further flower-power experiments as a solo artist. He’s performing and recording under his last name, and he’s just self-released his self-titled debut as Astrachan (he’s also crowdfunding a vinyl version via Qrates). The album spins youthful reveries into Technicolor chamber-pop songs that feel designed for summer—though Astrachan’s multitracked vocal harmonies and perfectly placed flourishes might convince you that warm weather was actually made for these songs. The carefree “Scandal” drifts along at a leisurely pace, its tiptoeing bass line, relaxed percussion, and layers of gentle, sun-dazed guitar resolutely unperturbed by the latest wave of bad news roiling our world. Listening to Astrachan won’t magically improve your life, but it’ll give you the equanimity to deal with the problems it can’t fix.   v