The cover of the Birushanah album Makyo

A Reader staffer shares three musical obsessions, then asks someone (who asks someone else) to take a turn.

Philip Montoro, Reader music editor

Nick Lowe, “I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass” I was reminded of this song from Nick Lowe‘s 1978 LP Jesus of Cool when it played in a goofy video review of Death Wish 3. I like its chattering funk guitar, playful tumbles of piano, and sly dropped beats, but I like what my colleague Monica Kendrick has called Lowe’s “wry, dry-eyed lucidity” even more. “I love the sound of breaking glass,” he sings, his sharp teeth hidden behind a tight smile. “Especially when I’m lonely / I need the noises of destruction / When there’s nothing new.”

YouTube video

Birushanah, Makyo On this 2015 album, Japanese trio Birushanah play fuzzy, sprawling posthardcore inflected with doom, hard rock, folk, and prog, driven by clotted rhythms at a constant rolling boil and topped by the histrionic, hyperventilating holler of front man Iso. But what makes the band distinctive is second percussionist Sano, whose rig includes tuned metal—it clinks and clangs like a junkyard gamelan, its cyclical patterns running parallel to Iso’s riffs in a radically different sonic space.

Various artists, Funeral Dance in the Mountains Speaking of tuned metal percussion, it’s everywhere on this Canary Records collection of southeast Asian rural ethnographic recordings, compiled from LPs released in the 60s and 70s. Low fidelity makes the gongs and bells sound murky and watery, their resonance bleeding at the edges. The competing layers of ritualistic rhythms—sometimes stately and meandering, sometimes frenzied and warlike—divide your mind against itself, suspending it in a trance of blissful forgetfulness.

Philip is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .

A ported 215 bass cabinet from Tyrant
A ported 215 bass cabinet from TyrantCredit: Courtesy Tyrant

Bill Bumgardner, drummer in Lord Mantis and Burning Churches

Meinl cymbals Having the proper tools for the job is a necessity in any musical endeavor. You’re only limiting yourself and fighting an uphill battle when you use garbage gear. Cymbals are definitely one of the most important factors for a drummer. I’ve had several different cymbal setups through the years and have used many different brands. Once I used Meinl, I never looked back. I was instantly satisfied. The cut and response was exactly what I was looking for.

Godflesh, Messiah I have been jamming the shit out of the Messiah EP by Godflesh. My favorite track is “Sungod.” It doesn’t matter what mood I’m in, this record works for me. It’s excellent driving music as well. The songs have great structure, and the record flows from start to finish. The bass propels each song, and the tone is incredible. It’s a unique and creative record, and you should check it out. Not overbearing and too aggressive, but also not your Top Gun soundtrack.

Tyrant cabinets Handmade in Chicago, Tyrant cabinets look amazing, and their tone is even better. The Melvins have consistently been using Tyrant, and for good reason. Extensive testing and development have gone into the speaker configurations, dimensions, port options, and other details to produce the highest-­quality sound a cabinet and amplifier company can provide. I’ve used these cabs in just about every project I’ve been part of, and I can stand behind their excellent craftsmanship and durability.

Bill is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .

Andrew Markuszewski wearing his Heavy Leather guitar strap
Andrew Markuszewski wearing his Heavy Leather guitar strapCredit: Anastasios Ketsos

Andrew Markuszewski, guitarist in Lord Mantis and founder of New Density Records

The Brvtalist Anyone in need of guidance into the dark heart of Los Angeles nightlife and culture should seek out the Brvtalist and the events that the website’s operators produce. They cover the arts, electronic music, fashion, film, and more, and they have a refined taste in the metropolitan experience I appreciate. They also cover events in other cities, including New York, Berlin, San Francisco, London . . . perhaps soon Chicago? At least Chicagoans can hear the electronic mixes they upload to Soundcloud.

Heavy Leather If you’re a guitarist, bassist, photographer, or anyone in need of a killer custom leather (or vegan) strap for your instrument, check out Heavy Leather. I recently got a new custom studded leather strap through them, and it’s the real deal. If you’ve got the vision, chances are they can do it.

Chicago Music Exchange repair shop My customized Russian Sovtek Mig 100H will most likely end up buried with me in my grave. I bought this head with an Emperor flight case almost a decade ago for less than $600 because the previous owner complained that it was too heavy to lug around, and I’ve dumped a few grand into it over the years. I’ve used it on many records by Lord Mantis (it’s the centerpiece ingredient of our tone) and others from Avichi and Nachtmystium. Recently my go-to amp tech left my go-to repair shop to put up drywall (go figure), and since then CME’s shop has been a positive experience for me. One of these days I’ll walk out with an instrument from their showroom.

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.