Miranda Winters Credit: Ashleigh Dye

Last October, when I interviewed the four members of Chicago guitar-rock band Melkbelly for a feature on their then-upcoming LP Nothing Valley, I asked them about their songwriting methods and processes (because what kind of music journo would I be if I avoided such a mundane line of questioning?). Vocalist-guitarist Miranda Winters explained that several of Melkbelly’s tracks begin with what amounts to a stripped-down, minimal guitar-pop song being shot dead upon arrival, dissected limb by limb, and stitched back together into some sort of mutant freak noise-rock supertrack. Or at least that’s how I understood it. So it makes sense that Winters might want to scratch a certain itch and release some of her songs before they undergo mutilation. On the recent Xobeci, What Grows Here? (Sooper) Winters sings and plays guitar and bass on crunchy tracks that are simple in construct, for sure, but not without the eerie charm she’s become so gifted at summoning in her songs. There’s nothing flashy about “Mickey’s Dead Stuff” (which might be my favorite track on the record), but the skill and ease with which Winters layers her singular vocal melodies alongside her straightforward guitar leads and hooks is complicated—and often impossible—for most songwriters to accomplish. Xobeci is a 20-minute-long, cassette-only release with what looks like a photocopied black-and-white insert—and it couldn’t be more perfect.   v