Chicago pianist Mabel Kwan Credit: Kelly Weime

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

Philip Montoro, Reader music editor

Early Bauhaus Last month at Rockefeller Chapel, Bauhaus founders Peter Murphy and David J played the band’s 1980 debut LP, In the Flat Field, which is almost as great as 1982’s The Sky’s Gone Out. This could be creeping fogeyism talking, but I miss when goth music was histrionic, grotesque, campy, and bonkers.

Barkmarket My favorite 90s power trio split in ’97 after three albums (five if you count early nontrio lineups), and each one wrapped its insidious rock hooks in ugly noise, perverse arrangements, and prickly, often blackly funny lyrics—a layer of off-putting avant-garde fuckery that made it seem like they were daring you to love their songs. Guitarist and front man Dave Sardy, who produced most of the band’s output, has since worked with System of a Down, Marilyn Manson, and Oasis, and his soon-to-be-expensive expertise made every Barkmarket record sound more beautifully, elaborately gnarly than the one before.

Mabel Kwan performing two of Georg Friedrich Haas’s Trois Hommages In February at the Frequency Festival, Chicago pianist Mabel Kwan played Haas’s early-80s homages to György Ligeti and Steve Reich. The pieces consist of simple, rapidly repeated figures, shifting slowly in pitch and shape, played in sync on two pianos tuned a quarter step apart. This dense, steady barrage of notes at microtonal intervals produces an expansive halo of overtones and psychoacoustic effects—I sometimes heard disembodied choral voices or even a third piano that seemed to be floating invisibly near the ceiling.

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

The Gerogerigegege’s 1993 EP Yellow Trash Bazooka

Keith Herzik, poster artist and guitarist in Wet Wallet

The Gerogerigegege My favorite letter is “G.” Japanese band the Gerogerigegege released an EP in 1993 titled Yellow Trash Bazooka featuring a call and response between someone reciting from a list of words beginning with the seventh letter of the alphabet (many of which are deviant in nature) and bursts of screaming noise introduced by a Joey Ramone-style “One-two-three-four!” “Gadget,” “Go commando,” “Gräfenberg spot,” “Greek culture,” and the giggling after “Go straight” make me crave more than the 13 minutes I found on YouTube.

Alien Sex Fiend UK freaks Alien Sex Fiend always give me a great trip. A shirtless maniac screaming silliness while his rad wife makes crazy gothic-horror death rock with buzz-saw rockabilly guitars, drum machines, and sci-fi movie samples is the peak of modern music by my standards. In high shool decades ago I was turned on, and now I am indeed living in a “Nightmare Zone”! Overall I can’t pick a favorite cut, but my cassette of the 1988 album Another Planet has been the soundtrack for many long showers.

The end credits music of The Jeffersons This TV show’s closing theme mellows me out, man. Singing along with the amazing Ja’Net DuBois at the show’s beginning is uplifting, but for me the soothing humming and tender piano of the ending give me my personal mantra—when I hear “The Jeffersons was recorded on tape in front of a studio audience,” I usually return close to my baseline coolness. Hmm mmm mmm. . . . Mmm hmmyeahh. . . .

Wet Wallet plays at Reed’s Local on Wednesday, April 3.

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

Chicago band Pledge DriveCredit: Ashleigh Dye

Gina Herzik, bassist and singer in Wet Wallet

Pledge Drive The first time I saw this Chicago band, the guitarist pulled out a Flying V, and I thought, “Whoa! This is gonna be great!” Almost all their songs tell relatable stories—about having only one nice shirt to wear, or not having enough money for a $5 Hamm’s. Several allude to professional wrestling, and “Empire” reminds me of Weird Al’s “Mr. Popeil,” with words lifted from the Empire Carpet commercial: “Free Michael Jordan basketball!” “Halloween deals so good, they’re scary!” They’re so much fun!

Talent shows on sitcoms In the 70s, 80s, and 90s, no matter how much TV neighbors, kids, parents, and school faculty hated one another, they could always organize a talent show or concert where they’d all perform together. And there was always an emcee and a packed house! This seemed to happen often on Good Times, and someone was guaranteed to impersonate Wolfman Jack. I wonder how many kids of my generation thought throwing a talent show was part of adulthood.

Sammy Hagar Ever since I was old enough to pick the radio station, Sammy Hagar has been a presence. The first song where I remember my brother and me changing the words to make it funnier was “Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy”—we probably did something like “Your Gloves Are Making Me Lazy.” I started following Sammy on Instagram after seeing him in the crowd on a PBS awards show, singing along to a Neil Diamond performance. His feed is mostly sweet pics of two or three generations of his family on vacation, doing shots.  v

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.