A Reader staffer shares three musical obsessions, then asks someone (who asks someone else) to take a turn.
Luca Cimarusti, Reader music listings coordinator
The Defiant Ones This four-part HBO documentary, originally broadcast in July, traces the paths of music moguls Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine from their humble beginnings to their high-powered music-business partnership—one of the most lucrative in the history of money. Essential viewing not only for musicians and music lovers, but also for anyone interested in American culture of any kind.
Remo Felt Tone drumheads I’m a sucker for all sorts of fancy new drum gadgets. A Remo Felt Tone kick-drum resonator head has a free-floating felt strip attached to the edges of its inside surface (rather than glued down along its length, the way most manufacturers do it), and it makes for a focused, boomy, Bonham-style tone. The one I’ve got on my drum sounds amazing and looks real sharp.
Phil Collins-era Genesis At some point in the past year, I underwent a mysterious transformation: I’ve become less interested in the whimsical, theatrical, Mellotron-fuled prog of Peter Gabriel-era Genesis and way more moved by the dark synth-pop of the Phil Collins days. The band’s 1980 album Duke is like a crushing midlife crisis set to music, something that speaks to me as I get further into my 30s.
Luca is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Jason Balla, guitarist and vocalist for Ne-Hi, Dehd, and Earring
Tim Presley, The Wink (Drag City, 2016) The latest record by California singer-songwriter Tim Presley, better known as White Fence, is adventurously dry. Broken guitar lines seem to vanish and reappear, stumbling over arrhythmic drum patterns, but he pulls it all off with dizzying grace. It seems entirely new, yet simultaneously familiar, I think in part because of Presley’s vocals: they’re sometimes absurd, sometimes sincere, and sometimes both. It seems like he’s singing around the subject, painting a perfect silhouette of loss and return.
Crack Cloud, Anchoring Point (self-released, 2017) Do yourself a favor and watch this band’s music videos! Crack Cloud covers a lot of ground on Anchoring Point: chaotic, moody, cerebral, disciplined, comic (maybe humor is making its way back into music in 2017?). The chorus of “Philosopher’s Calling” is incredibly sing-alongable and a challenge to master. “Swish Swash” is a perfect song, with a droney outro that fills me with pure joy and optimism. Listening to Crack Cloud inspires me to do better and push further.
Sibylle Baier, Colour Green (Orange Twin, 2006) After a couple months on the road this year, I’ve been lucky to have some quiet mornings to myself. This quiet, intimate album, recorded in the early 70s but not released till 2006, is my favorite for drinking coffee, watering the plants, and staring out the living room window.
Jason is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Sullivan Davis, talent buyer for the Hideout
Arto Lindsay, Cuidado Madame (Northern Spy, 2017) This record has been my anthem for the season. At this point Arto Lindsay feels to me like as big a romantic as Jonathan Richman, even though his music is still informed by the skronky, aggressive undertones of his old band DNA. It has such an off-kilter energy and pop familiarity that I wanted to go back to it over and over again. Good-bye summer 2017—at least I’ll have this to remember you by.
Glyders, Lend a Hand (Enchanted Capsule, 2017) What seems to be everyone’s favorite Chicago psych band recently put out this cassette, and though it hardly has the bottled energy of their live shows, it’s great. The tape burns in a completely different way—more like Neil Young & Crazy Horse—and guitarist Josh Condon sings some real heartbreakers, including “Sweet Anymore.” You can still find some heavier psych jams at the end of the tape (though “heavier” is a relative term), but you can’t find the tape itself. It’s sold out. Josh and Eliza, if you have any extras, could you slip me one?
The Corner series at the Promontory When I have a chance to get away from the Hideout on a Monday, this is where I try to go. Sasha Tycko and Sam Brown curate the Corner, a nearly two-year-old multidisciplinary performance night where you can see killer acts such as Mother Nature and Akenya trying things out. The best thing about it, though, is that you’re sharing a room with a thriving progressive community that only Hyde Park in this moment could produce.