The artwork for Batushka’s sole album to date, Litourgiya

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

Philip Montoro, Reader music editor

Batushka, Litourgiya The sole album from this new Polish band augments lush black metal and its traditional sand-blasting shrieks with beautifully austere liturgical chants that seem to belong to a different kind of orthodoxy. The stately melodies move like interlocking celestial spheres, while the rhythms crank up their mechanical gnashing, stomping, and chattering to inhuman speeds. This music asks us to imagine what monastic self-denial can produce when animated by furious intensity—terrifying holy warriors who don’t seem to feel the forest of bloodied arrows bristling from their torsos.

Not caring about Kanye West Kanye has made some brilliant records, but when a star learns how to game the media, it’s time for the media to cut the puppet strings. Given how many great music stories never get told, it’s depressing to watch journalists scrambling to be the first to cover Kanye’s every blurt.

Nonsun, Black Snow Desert Ukrainian duo Nonsun made their full-length debut in January with an arid sprawl of hypnotizing instrumental doom. This stark, pitch-black music drapes crawling drones atop distorted chords as huge as hills, while icy arpeggiated guitars meander in and out of phase with tolling bass and tumbling drums. Fried desert-­rock riffs and clip-­clopping percussion give the darkness a vaguely rustic flavor, but the album’s eerie ambient passages and eruptions of distant thunder mostly bring to mind vast un­­inhabited spaces—the kind that make you think about how far away the wind comes from.

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

Canadian singer Alessia CaraCredit: Getty

Lorena Cupcake, social media at Do312 and cofounder of Store Brand Soda

The Madcaps, “Taco Truck” I’m a little obsessed with French label Howlin’ Banana Records. Brainless garage pop about stoner snacks is practically a genre unto itself, but the Madcaps’ ode to thwarted taco desire (from their 2016 full-length Hot Sauce) includes a rare touch of funky bass and saxophone. If only Darkside Taco, the late-night Logan Square taco purveyor, operated across the Atlantic.

Alessia Cara, “Here” I share an office at Do312, and we all try to stay on top of trends in music. So I was probably playing some “Teen Chill It’s Lit” playlist when I was surprised to hear a robust, sultry voice sing a song that perfectly describes the experience of having an anxiety attack at a party.

Ribbon Around a Bomb podcast Erin Eyesore’s show on Radio Valencia digs up incredibly obscure female-fronted punk and postpunk from the 70s and 80s. You could spend a hundred hours listening to the archives and hundreds more researching all the artists you’ve never heard of. It’s where I found out about the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black and countless other dark, abrasive, and confrontational bands.

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

The second issue of Chicago-based zine No Friends

Tom Puschautz, guitarist in Dumpster Babies and Jollys

Terry Malts, Killing Time I imagine this album to be the perfect soundtrack for cynical, miscreant outsiders and angsty teenage skater punks alike. Bay Area three-piece Terry Malts makes catchy, fuzzed-out pop songs with plenty of sarcastic satire to sink your teeth into. Lead singer and bassist Phil Benson belts out the lyrics of a man disenchanted with the human race, tackling issues like consumerist mall culture, hating your day job, and emotional inadequacies. While songs such as “Nauseous” (as in “Your love makes me . . . “) take a darker outlook on typical pop affairs like relationships and girls, others create a melodic and melancholic sense of hope.

No Friends, issue number two I once tried to make a zine but was discouraged by a malfunctioning glue stick. The feel of newsprint and black ink in No Friends immediately made me nostalgic for opening up my first issue of Maximum Rocknroll, and the layout is rather similar as well. This ambitious second issue features interviews with Australian rockers Royal Headache and a founding a member of the Cure, and it’s jam-packed full of reviews—plus it comes with a rad flexi disc.

The Sueves, “Liquid Hounds” b/w “Bricks ‘n’ Bones” This sounds like a 60s psych record tossed into a blender and sped up into a punk frenzy. Local rockers the Sueves have been ripping it up live for years, so it’s nice to have them recorded on a piece of wax. Released on Chicago imprint HoZac, this seven-inch meanders and grooves, driving the echoey, frantic vocals.

Philip Montoro

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. Philip has played scrap metal in Lozenge, drummed with the Disasters, the Afflictions, and Brilliant Pebbles, and sung for the White Outs. He wrote the column Beer and Metal from 2012 till 2015, and hopes to do so again one day. You can also follow him on Twitter.