Mute Duo: Sam Wagster and Skyler Rowe Credit: Ashleigh Dye

Since the release of their self-titled debut in 2017, Chicago’s Mute Duo—aka pedal steel guitarist Sam Wagster and drummer Skyler Rowe—have become one of the most versatile live acts in the city, performing and improvising in an array of configurations, including a quintet at the Empty Bottle’s Mirrored Series (curated by Rowe and devoted to improvised jazz and experimental music) and a thunderous quasi-orchestral octet that opened for Grouper at Bohemian National Cemetery. The painterly, panoramic songs on their new Lapse in Passage (which drops on Friday, March 20, via American Dreams Records) could soundtrack a walk through a beautiful but foreboding desert. On Thursday, March 19, they play a double release party at Constellation with Akosuen, aka multi-instrumentalist Billie Howard, who has a new EP called In Flux.

Chicago has no shortage of young bands cribbing from classic-rock albums more than twice their age, but the standouts in this crowded field are emerging six-piece Rookie. They mold earthy 60s roots rock, smoldering 70s power pop, and timeless psych into lean, focused pop-rock songs that impress even their elders—in fact, last month they opened a string of east-coast dates for Cheap Trick! On Friday, March 13, Bloodshot releases Rookie’s self-titled debut album, which they celebrate that night by headlining a sold-out Empty Bottle show.

Gossip Wolf has had a soft spot for Chicago DIY rap label and collective Why? Records ever since covering ebullient duo Free Snacks, aka MCs Joshua Virtue and Ruby Watson, in January 2019. Last week, Watson released his second solo album for the label, Carry Me, which includes appearances from the other rappers in the Why? Records crew (Virtue, Davis, and Malci) as well as Musa Reems of Watson’s other collective, Dumb Intelligence. Watson marks the arrival of Carry Me with a headlining set at Subterranean on Friday, March 13!  v

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