Leor Galil, Reader staff writer
Doleful Lions, Song Cyclops Volume One I ran into 1980 Records honcho Bill Tucker at the CHIRP Record Fair, and he couldn’t wait to tell me about his label’s recent cassette reissue of Song Cyclops Volume One, a lo-fi pop album originally released in 2000 by Doleful Lions, aka singer-songwriter Jonathan Scott. (Scott was living in Chapel Hill when it first came out, but he’s a Chicagoan now.) The worn-in intimacy and warmth of the blissful, mostly acoustic tunes on Song Cyclops suit the slightly fuzzy, muffled sound of the tape format.
Eat the Life’s Modern Warfare T-shirt North-side microlabel Eat the Life plans to release a 12-inch retrospective of early-80s Long Beach punk group Modern Warfare later this year. To help raise the money to make this happen sooner, Eat the Life has printed a run of comfortable, killer T-shirts that bear the cover art from Modern Warfare’s self-titled debut seven-inch from 1980—a menacing, sketchy black figure chasing a smaller somebody into a towering, lurid red fire that’s four times their height. It looks great on an off-white shirt.
John Jeremiah Sullivan, “The Ballad of Geeshie and Elvie” Ever since I finished reading this brilliant, expansive New York Times Magazine piece, I’ve had trouble thinking of anything else. It details the decades-long search for two 1930s blueswomen who’ve become almost mythical characters thanks to their beautiful but minuscule catalog and the almost complete absence of biographical information about them. I have a lot of thoughts about “The Ballad of Geeshie and Elvie,” but for now I’ll just say it’s inspiring me to think bigger.
Leor is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Alicia Walter, guitarist and vocalist in Oshwa
Son Lux at Schubas on March 25 I’ve known Son Lux’s music—something like minimal, orchestral electro-pop—for a few years. This was my first live experience, though, and jeez, did they deliver. Onstage they’re only a three-piece, but they made the sounds of living giants. Ryan Lott’s voice, dipping from angelic choirboy to whiskey rasp, led an insane barrage of orchestral samples and sub-bass thuds; weird-jazzy guitarist Rafiq Bhatia wailed the gnarliest, and unstoppable drummer Ian Chang played punchy and lush, like some brilliant caveman.
Birthmark’s video for “Big Man” Birthmark is the solo project of Nate Kinsella (yep, he’s one of those Kinsellas). The music video for “Big Man” is really a video within a video—a stoic, serene Kinsella, dressed in black and singing his personal credo, is surrounded by a rowdy rock band in white, filming their own clip for a raucous song we can’t hear. The juxtaposition is just right, and Kinsella sounds like the most natural man alive when he finishes the lines “Your thoughts aren’t real things, and neither are your feelings / There is no God, and the only thing real to me” with a contented, eyes-shut hum.
Son Step, Here Comes Dreamboat This genre-blurring Philadelphia four-piece pairs jazzy, angular guitars with surprising melodies, throws in some off-kilter harmonies, and somehow makes it all sound effortless. Think Lenny Breau meets Deerhoof meets Chris Bear. And, like, maybe Chris Martin. This might be a weird reaction to have, but I always come away from Son Step with the thought, “These guys must make their mommas proud.”
Alicia is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Gretta Rochelle, drummer and singer in My Gold Mask
Mogwai’s soundtrack to Les Revenants While watching the French TV series Les Revenants recently, I came across Mogwai’s 2013 soundtrack album and found myself obsessing over the music, replaying certain scenes simply to hear the compositions underneath the French dialogue. It’s beautiful and hits that sweet spot sonically that I seem to be drawn to unconditionally. This score has a menacing delicacy, guided by a sense of nostalgia that I willingly follow.
Omar Souleyman, Wenu Wenu I’m completely obsessed with this man. I was introduced to him only a few months back and started listening with his live bootleg stuff. When I found this record, produced by Kieran Hebden (aka Four Tet), I was super excited. It never lets his frenetic energy lose immediacy, nor does it iron out his emotive delivery—it merely gives all the reed instruments and synths more of a space to live harmoniously next to one another. Wenu Wenu feels like an intense cocaine psycho percussive festivity.
The Luna jingle It’s not quite the Empire Carpet song, but you probably know this one too: 773-202-[beep beep beep beep]-Luna. What an effective jingle! It gets stuck annoyingly in any Chicagoan’s brain at one point or another—all it might take is the sight of a Luna bar, even if it’s been years since you’ve seen one of the ads. A friend mentioned the jingle to me the other day, and even though I hadn’t heard it in, like, forever, its earworm keeps taunting me with that locally famous phone number. At the moment I’m obsessed with getting it out of my head.