Dark Fog Credit: Dan Jarvis

Ray Donato of Local psych juggernaut Dark Fog is a paragon of relentless musical activity. After a burst of releases in early 2019, Reader critic Monica Kendrick gently joked that his band makes “every other band on the planet look like slackers” by comparison. She wasn’t wrong! Gossip Wolf recently checked Dark Fog’s Bandcamp page, and sure enough, Donato is once again cranking out jams at a feverish pace, and every new track seems more delightfully weird than the one before. (He’s now recording and performing all the instruments and vocals himself, which has probably helped his strikingly singular vision more fully emerge.) On November’s self-released limited-edition colored vinyl LP Trap Psych, Donato bridges a deeply uncanny valley between trap music’s thudding beats and Auto-Tuned vocal stylings and epic Les Rallizes Dénudés splatter-psych meltdowns. This week he released the digital album 7734 NI, which often relies on a more diffuse and ambient sound palette and occasionally coalesces into slightly menacing, kick-drum assisted tracks, including “Kill Me With Nostalgia.”

Year-in-review listicles may have you believe no one puts out music in December. But Gossip Wolf can’t overlook the rad debut Chicago two-piece Anita Hart dropped this month. On Black Lava Blood Floor, they use hardcore might to launch free-range postpunk toward the stars.

James Porter is a longtime Reader contributor who has freelanced for Downbeat and Roctober. He’s also a helluva harmonica player and vocalist. Porter fronts the James Dean Joint, a rootsy, soul inflected garage fivesome that debuted onstage 11 months ago and dropped a rough-and-tumble EP in July called CabinBuzz—the honeyed vocal harmonies and Kevin Lee Redlin’s glowing keys on “Chatham Ain’t Chatham” are a knockout! On Wednesday, December 28, the James Dean Joint open for the Waco Brothers at Schubas; the show starts at 8 PM, and tickets are $20.

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