The six members of the band Cordoba pose against a white wall among vividly green tropical plants in pots, some of them hanging from above.
Cordoba, clockwise from upper left: Brianna Tong, Zach Bain-Selbo, Khalyle Hagood, Zach Upton-Davis, Eric Novak, and Cam Cunningham Credit: Courtesy the artist

The members of Chicago jazz-fusion sextet Cordoba drive an inventive creative community with their many overlapping projects. Vocalist Brianna Tong, for instance, also sings in funky experimental ensemble Je’raf and punky trio Bussy Kween Power Trip, both of which also feature prolific Cordoba bassist Khalyle Hagood. Hagood, meanwhile, also plays in soul outfit the Devonns and synth-pop duo Gilt Drip. Vocalist and saxophonist Eric Novak makes rambunctious records under the name Dissonant Dessert, and they appear on the forthcoming debut EP from Karma Fête—a project whose core members include Cordoba keyboardist Zach Bain-Selbo. Anyway, on Wednesday, April 19, Cordoba drop their accomplished second album, In Hell, whose sumptuous textures, proggy shifts in mood and arrangement, and artsy, reflective lyrics make it one of the best Chicago albums of the year. On Friday, April 21, Cordoba headline a record-release show at Constellation.

The title track of Cordoba’s new album, In Hell

In 2021, Gossip Wolf praised local singer-songwriter Hannah Sandoz for a series of handmade, self-released cassettes whose “hushed and atmospheric folk” deftly deployed “rustic charm and sweeping feelings of melancholy.” In late March, Sandoz released their first full-length, a cassette called Leaving the Party Early, which they describe as “a coming-of-age story about graduating college in 2021 and moving here to build a life in the city.” The tape’s 12 songs surround their glorious melodies with found sounds that impart a specific sense of place: jostling along in a seat on the CTA on “Miss My Train,” for instance, or being stuck in the late dregs of a bogus party on “I Wanna Go.” Sandoz already has songwriting chops and command of some compelling production techniques, and now they’ve clearly mastered the art of tapping into universally relatable emotions—they’ve got a bright future ahead of them.

The cover painting for Leaving the Party Early is by Syd Horn.

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