A Reader staffer shares three musical obsessions, then asks someone (who asks someone else) to take a turn.
Jamie Ludwig, Reader associate editor
Deafkids, Metaprogramação There’s been no shortage of killer new releases this year, and the brain-altering third album from this Brazilian trio is my favorite so far. On Metaprogramação, the group imagines a world where people can truly think for themselves and calls for unity against violence, tyranny, and repression. With a combination of all-encompassing psych, scuzzed-out punk, effects-ridden chants, and hypnotic polyrhythmic percussion, Deafkids expand the language of heavy music—and do justice to their mission.
Adia Victoria, Silences Adia Victoria is often compared to enigmatic artists such as Nina Simone and Beth Gibbons, and like them this Nashville singer-songwriter is in a class of her own. Her no-filler new full-length, Silences, draws from blues and southern gothic literature for its vivid narratives about overcoming oppression. In a climate where stylized “gothic” darkness pervades music culture, it’s refreshing to hear the real deal.
ReMastered: The Two Killings of Sam Cooke How can any lover of Chicago music not be in awe of Sam Cooke? This documentary explores the artistry of the Bronzeville-raised, golden-throated, boundary-breaking soul icon, as well as his evolving social consciousness in the civil rights era, his commitment to empowering the black community, and most important, the aftermath of his 1964 murder—many believe that racism and white supremacy denied him and his loved ones a proper investigation. It’s a powerful tribute to an extraordinary talent.
Jamie is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Julia Dratel, photographer, video artist, and show producer
Liz Pelly’s writing about Spotify Liz Pelly has been doing deep dives on Spotify’s work to become our corporate cultural overlord, one “chill” playlist at a time, most recently in a series for the Baffler. She provides insight into how Spotify exerts increasing control over music consumers and our data, so that independent artists are backed into a shrinking corner. Her most recent, “Streambait Pop,” covers Spotify’s branded content and how it’s birthed formulaic genres that lend themselves to passive streaming. Spotify presents itself as neutral, but we should consider what it means for huge corporations to hold such power over how we make meaning in our lives.
Norman W. Long I was introduced to Chicago musician Norman W. Long and his work through Angel Bat Dawid: with synths, electronics, and field recordings attuned to local ecology, he makes soundscapes that I find surreal and grounding at the same time, a dichotomy I’m drawn to in experimental music and sound art. He always adds a special dimension to improvising groups, so I recommend seeing him live—and his tape Electro-Acoustic Dubcology I-IV is also well worth your time.
Labelle, Moon Shadow Labelle’s 1972 sophomore album is the first where the group (specifically Nona Hendryx) wrote most of its own songs—which was pretty groundbreaking at the time. I’ve listened to it all winter, and “Sunday’s News” is the song I come back to again and again, with its gut-punch intro and outro. Of course, the ten-minute cover of Cat Stevens’s “Moonshadow” is pretty awesome too.
Julia is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Ariel Zetina, producer and Smart Bar resident DJ
Odete, Matrafona The new EP from Portuguese producer Odete, her first on amazing Lisbon label Naivety (an imprint of Naive), is a meditation on club music filled with melodies and polyrhythms that bleed in and out of each other at will. Odete talks about the EP as a texture “to fit the shattered flatness” of her day to day. Buy this EP! Part of the proceeds go to Stop Despejos, who fight evictions due to gentrification in Lisbon.
Central Air Radio on WHPK Chicago artist Jared Brown runs this weekly radio show on WHPK 88.5 FM, broadcast every Tuesday at 11 AM from the south side (Woodlawn, Hyde Park, Kenwood). It features mixes by local underground DJs as well as Jared’s impeccable selections, but what really makes it stand out are the interviews with artists, political thinkers, and bringers of change. The moment that really gagged me was Futurehood’s guest show, which starts with Jared receiving an anonymous package and ends in a semireality filled with throbbing dance tracks.
Nymphowars Macy Rodman and Theda Hammel’s podcast is part talk show, part gossip column, part radio play, and part improvised musical. The gag is that Macy and Theda are both dope electronic musicians (Macy as Macy Rodman, Theda as Hamm), so while the tracks they feature are based on random jokes, they’re also fully realized. Highlights include a Lady Gaga tribute track about arms, a woman the size of a fly singing about jerking off people on the street, and lots and lots of Macy’s impersonation of Caitlyn Jenner. v