A Reader staffer shares three musical obsessions, then asks someone (who asks someone else) to take a turn.
Leor Galil, Reader staff writer
Wool & the Pants Within a few seconds of my first listen, this Tokyo trio’s shambolic mix of postpunk and boogie had hit all the right spots in my brain. They have only a few songs on the Internet (plus a compilation of clips from a forthcoming Peoples Potential Unlimited release), but they all employ the same irresistible and perplexing mix of hushed vocal melodies and lean funk licks. Occasionally it sounds like the drummer is struggling to stay in time, but if anything that crude playing just makes this stuff even more charming.
Jarada’s self-titled debut A leftist Israeli hardcore band that sounds like its members were raised on midwestern punk? Yes please! The only way Jarada’s self-titled album could be more up my alley would be if it included a song about hanging out at the Freeze. I barely understand Hebrew anymore (my family left Israel when I was two), but judging by Jarada’s Bandcamp page, some of the group’s songs take aim at their country’s oppressive, militaristic government—and I am definitely here for amplifying the voices of Israelis who oppose that deeply fucked-up system.
Rico Nasty’s appearance on Warhol.SS’s
I’ve only listened to part of Chest Pains, the new debut album from local rapper Warhol.SS, and that’s mostly because I keep returning to “Keep Heat” to hear the monster guest verse from Maryland rapper Rico Nasty. Washington Post music critic Chris Richards called her a star last year, and she’s spent all of this one proving him right.
Leor is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Tim Crisp, host of the podcast Better Yet and cohost of the podcast As You Were
C.H.E.W., Feeding Frenzy C.H.E.W. are hands-down one of the best bands in Chicago. See them live once, and you’ll have no choice but to agree. Feeding Frenzy, their debut LP, was highly anticipated, and still the band surpassed all expectations. The first side blows by at a blistering pace, but on the second side, C.H.E.W. expand outward, shattering the mold. Guitarist Ben Rudolph came over for a Better Yet interview just after Feeding Frenzy came out in September, and it was one of my favorites in recent memory.
John Brown Battery David Anthony and I made a list of our top ten Chicago punk records of all time for the Patreon supporting our podcast, As You Were: A Podcast About Alkaline Trio. John Brown Battery’s 2001 album Is Jinxed was a sentimental pick for me. This record has nearly been lost to time, in part because it was pressed only on CD, but John Brown Battery are such a great summation of punk at that time: three singers, quiet pretty parts, and monumental shout-along parts. For me, they out-Hot Water Music-ed Hot Water Music.
Ryan H. Walsh, Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968 In this book Walsh, who also leads the underappreciated indie-rock band Hallelujah the Hills, uses Van Morrison’s brief time in Boston just prior to recording the seminal Astral Weeks as a launching point for exploring the city’s late-60s counterculture. This is my favorite type of cultural history—the kind that links from one small thing to everything surrounding it.
Tim is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Avery Springer, front woman of Retirement Party
Another Michael, “About” This song by Philadelphia band Another Michael builds itself up from its swelling two-chord opening, then relaxes into a soft and graceful closure. The lyrics are quick and clever but also have a down-to-earth sweetness and vulnerability. After I heard “About” for the first time, I immediately wrote out the words so I could play it over and over again myself—it’s got one of my favorite combinations of lyrics and melody. It’s the lead track of the recent EP Land, another incredible release from Topshelf Records.
The Dismemberment Plan, “Gyroscope” I’m not a music-theory or time-signature snob, but this song’s chaotic leaps among what the Internet says are 7/8, 15/8, and 4/4 (paired with its choruses’ infectious vocal melody) make it one of my favorites. “Gyroscope” is bookended on the album Emergency & I by the much tamer “You Are Invited” and “The City,” which leaves it room to punch through. Now I’m just patiently waiting to be in a band willing to cover this.
The Olympians, The Olympians I forget how, but the self-titled debut record from the Olympians weaseled its way into being one of my recent favorites. This record falls in line with Daptone’s other instrumental soul/funk releases, but there’s a thematic flow that sets it apart. The musicians have a lot of character, and the choices they make about instrumentation are great too—I especially love the harp, which makes me feel like I’m transcending into the sky above Mount Olympus to meet with the gods themselves. v