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Ensemble dal Niente and Ken Vandermark explore the ties between chamber music and jazz

Ensemble dal Niente commissions and selects new music that earns the designation “new” not just because it’s freshly composed; it also challenges both players and audiences to experience performance in new ways. This program, jointly presented by Ear Taxi and the Hyde Park Jazz Festival, draws on the resources of Chicago in two ways. First, […]

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Melvia “Chick” Rodgers-Williams brings her big voice to the 15th annual Chi-town Blues Festival

Melvia “Chick” Rodgers-Williams is a dynamic, versatile blues and soul vocalist with a pretty sparse recorded legacy (mostly under her maiden name, Melvia “Chick” Rodgers). She’s deft and audacious enough to take on warhorses such as “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and Aretha Franklin’s “Dr. Feelgood,” retaining the power and feel of the originals while making […]

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Chicago indie-rock mainstays Eleventh Dream Day celebrate their 14th album, Since Grazed

When Chicago indie-rock stalwarts Eleventh Dream Day released their 14th album (and first in five years), Since Grazed, in April 2021, the pandemic prevented them from having a proper release party. The group, formed in 1983, are creeping up on their 40th anniversary, and though they didn’t hold together this long by being impatient, they […]

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On their debut album, Central Heat Exchange envision a new indie-rock utopia

Throughout the pandemic I’ve noticed an uptick in long-distance musical collaborations, and the new self-titled debut from dyed-in-the-wool indie rockers Central Heat Exchange (Sunroom/Citrus City/Birthday Cake) is among the best. Chicago provides an anchor for the four-piece group, since more of the members live here than anywhere else: brothers Jake and Paul Stolz of local […]

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Chicago’s Wingtips bring a little light to the dark synth-pop of Cutting Room Floor

In 2021, the idea of editing yourself can sound cynical—it’s been tainted by social-media influencers who manufacture images and videos of a blemish-free life of luxury while struggling to make ends meet offline. But on their brand-new second album, Cutting Room Floor, dark Chicago synth-pop duo Wingtips suggest that self-editing can be part of a […]

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Joshua Abrams and Chad Taylor concentrate their shared history in Mind Maintenance

Mind Maintenance is Joshua Abrams and Chad Taylor, two musicians whose concord transcends time, distance, genre, and instrumentation. They’ve been playing together since the 1990s, when they both lived in Chicago, and their collaborative relationship has endured since Taylor headed east 20 years ago. They’ve jointly backed the likes of singer Sam Prekop and cosmic […]

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Fotocrime and the Austerity Program explore two points on the electronic-music-meets-rock spectrum

On the Jesus Lizard’s 1989 debut EP, Pure, the noise-rock institution were still figuring things out. Working as a trio, the band hadn’t yet discovered their distinctive mutant swing, instead suspending the metallic scrape and twang of their guitars in the flat, mechanical rhythms of a primitive drum machine. But drummer Mac McNeilly joined the […]

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On their debut album, Chicago’s Tobacco City get to the roots of their wistful country

Chicago country five-piece Tobacco City formed to cover Neil Young songs for a Halloween show, but thankfully they’ve since developed their own sound. Like Young, they have a way with plaintive melodies, but their music is rooted in bluesy honky-tonk and earthy, wistful country, with supple, pop-driven harmony vocals. Tobacco City’s surefire rhythm section—drummer Josh […]

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Bnny make David Lynch-ian pop music for mourning

From its first reverb-laden guitar notes, Bnny’s new Everything (Fire Talk) makes me wonder whether the Chicago band have logged some hours watching Twin Peaks. The hushed, ethereal whisper of vocalist and songwriter Jess Viscius channels dream-pop singer Julee Cruise (who sings on the show’s soundtrack), while guitarists Adam Schubert and Timothy Makowski lean into […]