A Reader staffer shares three musical obsessions, then asks someone (who asks someone else) to take a turn.
Kevin Warwick, Reader associate editor
Larry Graham funk-bass tutorials Slap-bass innovator Larry Graham—of Sly & the Family Stone and later his own Graham Central Station—began developing his “thumpin’ and pluckin'” technique to make up for the lack of a drummer in his mom’s band. You hear a version of that story in each of his decades-old bass tutorials, now accessible via fuzzy YouTube transfers—but built around that yarn are close-ups of Graham blasting through overdriven funk while providing descriptions of his process midjam. And damn, does he seem to be having a good time.
Cherry Glazerr onstage and not caring Maybe my favorite time at this year’s Pitchfork Music Festival was watching Cherry Glazerr not worry about looking cool. The LA young ‘uns pinballed around the Blue Stage during their Saturday-afternoon set, with front woman and shredder Clementine Creevy occasionally spazzing out between songs, off-the-cuff yelling something like “Fuck you. Fuck you all.” The set itself was excellent, and it was refreshing to see such a wild card at a festival so focused on keeping it chill.
Jim DeRogatis’s dogged reporting on R. Kelly Ever since 2002, when his pursuit of the R. Kelly scandal began with a videotape he received anonymously, Sound Opinions cohost and former Sun-Times pop critic Jim DeRogatis has never flagged. His most recent piece on Kelly, for BuzzFeed News, is about the singer’s manipulation of young women and the “cult” he’s created via promises of fame and notoriety.
Kevin is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Karissa Talanian, founder of Eye Vybe Records
Kikagaku Moyo I caught this newer Japanese group on tour with pals Moss Folk at the Empty Bottle back in October (and then again this past May) and had my mind totally blown open. Dreamy, lush, melodic folk-pop mixed with heavy, mind-melting stoner jams? Yes please. Even better, they run their own label, Guruguru Brain (Krautrock nerds rejoice), which releases music by all their freaky friends back home!
The Velcro Lewis Group These guys have been chooglin’ around Chicago for years, and their upcoming LP, Amnesia Haze, is a psychedelic prog-funk epic that any Sabbath or Funkadelic fan needs to hear at full volume. It’ll be available via LP on Safety Meeting Records later this summer—for now, you can listen to the single the band released to protest Trump’s inauguration. Be sure to see ’em at the Empty Bottle on August 16!
Looking Glass Projects LGP is the new online mecca for Chicago underground music. This website compiles profiles of hundreds of local bands, lists concerts and events, features multiple playlists of local music, and even runs a Facebook group to help reconnect musicians with lost or stolen gear. Anyone looking for something to do on a Friday night, hunting for info on local labels, or trying to find a cool new band to round out a bill should absolutely check this site out.
Karissa is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Drea Smith, singer-songwriter, vibe dealer
Red, “Akoustik (Cellophane)” I saw Red sing for the first time at the last Highness Collective show. She left her usual spot behind the drums and stepped to the mike to do a beautiful rendition of “Soulstar” by Musiq Soulchild. I was blown away and curious to see where she would go as a singer-songwriter. This year she released “Akoustik (Cellophane),” an acoustic slow burner that tugs at the heartstrings. I’m a sucker for minimal production that lets a vocalist shine, melodically and lyrically. My favorite lines: “So I told her that I love her / She said it’s way too soon / So picking up the pieces / Dustpan and the broom.” The backing vocal arrangement is sweet too. Definite headphones masterpiece.
Live footage of Bad Brains in the 80s I rewatch live Bad Brains footage because I don’t have a time machine—it’s the only way for me to experience H.R.’s insane stage presence. My favorite is a CBGB gig they did in 1982. It does something to my spirit to see Dr. Know shredding at the start of “Big Take Over” and H.R. doing the coolest slow-yet-intense skank—not to mention backflipping while screaming psychotically to the crowd.
Sly & the Family Stone, “Just Like a Baby” Childish Gambino’s latest album got me craving the funk I grew up with. I have a thing for funk vocal arrangements and bass lines, and “Just Like a Baby” is a five-minute sweet spot for both. The bass alone is enough to hook you. Sly’s voice is like cognac and sounds lived-in. I love this song because I believe what he’s singing, and I know he believed it too.