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Cimafunk brings his uplifting Afro-Cuban funk fusions to Chicago in advance of El Alimento

Erik Alejandro Rodriguez, who performs as Cimafunk, is a prominent figure in a rising generation of Cuban artists, and his fusions of Afro-Cuban musical traditions with funk, hip-hop, and African rhythms have a fresh and uplifting vibe. Rodriguez’s stage name comes from the Spanish word cimarrón, which translates to “wild” or “untamed” and in the […]

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The Body and Big|Brave draw on the Band and Appalachia for Leaving None but Small Birds

The Body and Big|Brave are both known for their takes on pulverizing, minimalist postmetal, but their new collaborative album, Leaving None but Small Birds (Thrill Jockey), gazes at the infinite possibilities of traditional folk music through a warped and weathered all-seeing eye. Crafted in the studio with engineer-producer Seth Manchester (a frequent collaborator of the […]

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Byron Westbrook blurs the boundaries between natural and man-made environments on Mirror Views

There’s more than one way to immerse yourself in sound, and electronic musician Byron Westbrook seems to be working his way through as many options as he can. He’s run the soundboard for Phill Niblock, the loudest man in minimalism; under the name Corridors, he’s conducted concerts for absent instruments that involved audience members passing […]

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Former Oshwa bandleader Alicia Walter makes a grand entrance as a solo artist

In the 2010s, Alicia Walter led criminally underappreciated Chicago band Oshwa, who played dizzying, dramatic math-rock with the finesse of a tween Mensa member simultaneously solving three Rubik’s Cubes. Walter moved to New York in 2016, the same year Oshwa released their final album, I We You Me, but her Chicago connections remain strong: this […]

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Trevor Dunn and Sannety mix and match electronics, experimentation, and rhythm as SpermChurch

Bassist Trevor Dunn has forged relationships with polyglot saxophonist and composer John Zorn, avant-garde reedist Ben Goldberg, and scads of other jazz-world luminaries. He plays on Diatom Ribbons, a career-defining 2019 record by jazz keyboardist Kris Davis, but his contributions have largely gone unheralded, subsumed in the overall greatness of the album. Despite these accomplishments, […]

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Sound artist and onetime Chicagoan Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe adds new layers to the Candyman story

Folklore can be the ultimate game of telephone. As a historical form of collective communication, it brings communities together while expressing what makes them unique, and the content of its stories changes as newer generations tell them from their own perspectives. Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe’s score for Nia DaCosta’s new film, Candyman, exemplifies how distortion—whether […]

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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 […]