Drummer and soul artist Marcus Anthony Johnson, aka Marcus Atom
Marcus Anthony Johnson, aka Marcus Atom Credit: Courtesy the artist

Gossip Wolf is hardly a conspiracy theorist, but if you draw bulletin-board maps of Chicago’s disparate music scenes with string and thumbtacks, you’ll see drummer and soul man Marcus Anthony Johnson popping up everywhere! As a session musician, Johnson has worked at Gravity Studios and Electrical Audio, collaborated with drummer Matt Walker (who’s played with Morrissey and Smashing Pumpkins), and added backing vocals to the 2017 Gorillaz single “Ascension” (which also featured Vince Staples). As Marcus Atom, he’s caught this wolf’s ear over the past few years with catchy soul and R&B tracks, and on Tuesday, September 21, he released his debut LP, Love vs. War. Highlights among the album’s 13 radio-ready tracks include “Aye There,” which features rapper-singer Rich Jones, and the off-kilter electro-grunge stomper “Real Ones,” which includes dizzying verses by the Cool Kids. Love vs. War is available on most streaming platforms.

Marcus Atom performs material from Love vs. War in July 2021. 

Even among self-professed metalheads, few folks love goregrind, but this wolf can’t get enough of its furious blastbeats, savage guitar murk, and disgusting vocals, which sound like the championship round of a belching contest. Luckily, Aurora trio Melting Rot blend all these qualities on their terrifyingly bleak new album, Blood Delusions, which they dropped digitally on Bandcamp in August (and then on CD and blood-red cassette via Headsplit Records). On December 1, Polish label Behind the Mountain will release a 12-inch LP bundle that includes a T-shirt of the album’s warped artwork.

Earlier this year, Chicago Latinx rock experimentalists Allá founded the label No Sé Discos to showcase Black and Brown musicians. On Friday, October 1, the label debuts on vinyl with the compilation You Are Essential, featuring musicians who’ve worked high-risk jobs during the pandemic: Allá, Chicago rapper Chebaka, and London pop maestro Nayfo.

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