Philip Montoro, Reader music editor, is obsessed with …

Abou El Leef, Super Leefa Egyptian singer Abou El Leef, born in 1968, released his first album in 2010 and Super Leefa last year. His music partakes of the populism of shaabi but not the aggressively cheap futuristic production of youthful subgenres such as mahragan. The playfully postmodern arrangements on Super Leefa collide decades of Arabic and Western pop: Auto-Tuned vocals overlap with raggedly soulful traditional singing, nasal folkloric reeds give way to sassy muted trumpet, and the rhythm tracks hop from jaunty hand drums to decadent dance beats to funky 80s synth bass. Thanks to Bodega Pop for the tip!

Usssy, Karpet Birch On this 2012 album, Moscow noise-rock outfit Usssy adapts folk songs from Ukraine, Yemen, Tuva, Cambodia, Iran, and elsewhere. I suspect the vocals are sampled, given the range of styles and the vast number of singers (in “Sacral War” I hear a Russian military choir), but the acoustic skeletons of the tracks wear musculatures that sound like an alternate-universe Lightning Bolt: headache-inducing kaleidoscopes of strings and synths, frenzied trap-set drumming, and blown-out, churning electric bass.

Ævangelist, De Masticatione Mortuorum in Tumulis This mysterious band—split between Portland, Oregon, and Arlington Heights, Illinois—belongs to the “crawling chaos” school of death metal. Like a plague of insects, its formless dark is incalculably huge but moves with terrifying speed: layers of keening and buzzing converge like swarming wings, and guitars flash like faceted eyes from a murk of cavernous growling and serpentine bass.

He asks …

Erin Page, Guitarist and front woman of Alma Negra, what she’s obsessed with. Her answers are …

Neurosis Their 1996 show at the Peoria Civic Center changed my path in music forever. I had never heard or seen anything like Neurosis before—the intense, pummeling sound and video made a startling connection. Sixteen years later, at the Metro on December 30, they proved they’re still one of the heaviest, most innovative modern bands—no one can touch their synchronicity, and the dramatic impact they’ve made is immense. I eagerly await Corrections House, a new project involving vocalist-guitarist Scott Kelly.

King Dude
King DudeCredit: John Watson

King Dude A solitary car drives in the moonlight, turning from a lonely desert road into a desolate, forgotten cemetery. The driver lights a cigarette and the dreams and tears of the dead fill his vision and heart. That’s how I’d describe King Dude, one of my current favorite bands. Haunting vocals spin beautiful, unsettling tales of forbidden love and biblical analogies that remind me of a more countrified Nick Cave. Bleak guitar twang and dark melodies evoke visions that Poe might have had if he’d lived in the era of early rock ‘n’ roll.

Thin Lizzy, “Wild One One of my favorites—the main harmonizing guitar line is so simply powerful, the essence of what makes an amazing hook. Maybe it wasn’t Phil Lynott’s intent, but for me everything about this song speaks to the piercing, endless longing of an aching heart—the paradox that the things that bring the most joy often bring the most pain.

King Dude opens for Chelsea Wolfe on Sat 1/19 at Schubas.

She asks …

Mark Solotroff, Front man of Anatomy of Habit and Bloodyminded, what he’s obsessed with. His answers are …

Sisters of Mercy I’m no MP3 fan, but I recently bought a 160GB iPod for travel. Audiophile? No. Hearing loss? Yes. One personal key for listening this way: choose lo-fi recordings. I’ve long championed early Sisters singles and EPs, and unlike purist friends, I love their debut album. Aside from everything legit from 1980 to ’85, I loaded tons of demos, alternate takes, instrumentals, radio sessions, and concerts. Catchy songs with minimalist Boss DR-55 drum patterns. Start here: Before the Flood, The Darks Were in Milan, Disguised in Black, Heartland, Kenny Giles Walks on Water, Psychedelic Sessions, Wide Receiver. Joy Division and early Einstürzende Neubauten bootlegs work equally well.

A Beautiful Machine I’ve been captivated by this Australian one-man band since a 1999 discovery. Three albums (A Beautiful Machine; Solar Winds, White Noise, Antigravity; and Home), a remix disc (Solar Variants), and an EP (Another Time) blend dark, romantic shoegaze, doom, and psychedelia to create what is for me the most perfect oeuvre from any band in many years.

El Chopo Fresh from another amazing Mexico City trip. Made it back to El Chopo, with Pieter from Bloodyminded, Sergio from Los Heraldos Negros, and our three better halves. First went in 2007 with Sergio, plus Isidro and Heber from Bloodyminded and some cool DF noise guys. This massive, long-running, revolutionary street market is dedicated to metal, punk, goth, classic rock, et cetera. Need a Discharge DVD? Check. Specimen T-shirt? Yep. Obscure black-metal demos? Si. Beatles memorabilia? Of course! Bizarre bondage zipper mask with Pinocchio nose?

Philip Montoro has been an editorial employee of the Reader since 1996 and its music editor since 2004. Pieces he has edited have appeared in Da Capo’s annual Best Music Writing anthologies in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011. He shared two Lisagor Awards in 2019 for a story on gospel pioneer Lou Della Evans-Reid and another in 2021 for Leor Galil's history of Neo, and he’s also split three national awards from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia: one for multimedia in 2019 for his work on the TRiiBE collaboration the Block Beat, and two (in 2020 and 2022) for editing the music writing of Reader staffer Leor Galil. You can also follow him on Twitter.