Reader associate editor
Thee Oops, Happy Charlie (Slovenly) Two 45s, ten tracks—be ready to flip a record every three minutes. These dudes from Sardinia (the big Italian island that’s not Sicily) play breakneck punk whose filthy, snarling guitar licks don’t add flair so much as hard-nosed attitude. A cover of “Egg Raid on Mojo” from Some Old Bullshit does more than hint at the band’s ultimate respect for the Beastie Boys’ hardcore-punk genes (and reminds me that I should unearth my copy of Aglio e Olio).
Speedy Ortiz, “No Below“ I’m hooked on this single by Speedy Ortiz, a 90s-leaning indie-rock quartet from Northampton, Massachusetts, fronted by Sadie Dupuis. Not only is it the linchpin of Major Arcana—the band’s recent full-length for Carpark, which has earned its share of hype—but it also shows off Dupuis’s knack for conveying vulnerability without a whiff of helplessness or loss of control. Its thick, fuzzy, ascending-and-descending guitar hook—with Dupuis’s stark lyrics right in step—is one of the catchiest solemn musical moments of 2013.
Kluster, Eruption (Bureau B) Though previously released as a Conrad Schnitzler solo album, this 1971 recording is in fact the final Kluster LP—fellow core Kluster members Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius are among the key players. Mostly taken from the group’s last performance, the bare-bones music consists of a swelling mass of sound created by interlayered electronics—sometimes you’ll hear a squawking so faint it borders on dead air, or maybe a high-pitched hum that sticks in the back of your brain like a migraine.
Kevin is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Rebecca Valeriano-Flores, vocalist-guitarist, Negative Scanner
Video, “(Join the) Hate Wave” b/w “Captivity” (Total Punk) This band sounds very mean. It helps that front man Daniel Fried (aka TV’s Daniel) berates the audience whenever he’s onstage—the last time Video played the Empty Bottle, he dissed the entire Chicago scene. I’ve been a huge fan of these guys and their various other Texas projects (Bad Sports, High Tension Wires, Wax Museums, Wiccans, Mind Spiders) ever since HoZac put out a Wax Museums seven-inch back in 2007. But they’re not really mean: we’re friends now, and they’re actually very nice.
The Fall as time travel Sometimes I listen to “Wings” by the Fall on repeat. The repetitive guitar melody and strange time-travel lyrics make me feel like I’m locked in an infinite loop. In a good way. It works best when I’m on a treadmill, running nowhere. Or when I’m taking a brisk walk around the same block a few times.
Prokofiev sonatas I never listened to classical music until I started piano lessons last fall (I dropped out halfway through the quarter). I thought I’d take it one composer at a time, and I’m still on my first one. Prokofiev’s Piano Sonata No. 2 and Sonata No. 1 for Violin and Piano are pretty cool.
Rebecca is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Estlin Usher, composer and sound designer, WFMT station relations coordinator
Spektral Quartet Where do I even start with these guys? In my eyes, they’re leading the charge toward progressive, high-caliber contemporary classical, reinventing the concept of chamber music and taking programs fit for Symphony Center to the Empty Bottle and beyond. One particularly groundbreaking project is their new release, Chambers, which features composers solely from the burgeoning Chicago contemporary-classical scene and came out on Parlour Tapes. Yep, that’s right—a new classical-music release on a cassette label.
Constellation Right under a ramp off Western, Mike Reed’s bar and venue dedicated to jazz, improvised music, and contemporary classical looks unassuming on the outside, but the diverse and high-quality lineup inside has done much to enrich the Chicago scene. Classical music in particular has been in a difficult position, caught between an aging patronage and stuffy venues—and Constellation provides an opportunity for contemporary classical to flourish. The venue gives you great opportunities to support the artists you like . . . and great drinks for the music that’s hard to swallow.
John Zorn Zorn, who turned 60 this past year, has maintained an incredibly diverse and creative musical output throughout his career. The work that’s struck and stuck with me the most has been the album Nani Nani, a collaboration (under the pseudonym Dekoboko Hajime) with Yamantaka Eye of the Boredoms—by turns chaotic, playful, and strangely blissful, it captures Zorn’s profound musical mind . . . and he shows no signs of stopping.