Leor Galil, Reader staff writer
Cross Record, Be Good Once the snow finally started falling this winter, I had the sudden desire to throw on this LP by former Chicagoan Emily Cross. These enchanting, occasionally foreboding folk and drone tracks evoke what’s magical about a cold winter night, and since the season has only just started, I figure they’ll be a good way to keep my spirits high through the low temperatures.
Amanda Petrusich, Do Not Sell at Any Price The holiday downtime gave me the opportunity to catch up on reading, and in no time I’d finished Petrusich’s book on the eccentrics and obsessives who collect rare 78 RPM records. It gave me the itch to pick up some 78s myself, which may or may not be a good thing . . .
Washed Up Emo Podcast, Episode 34: Chris Carrabba If you’d told high school me that I’d spend one of the first days of 2015 either riding a hoverboard or listening to an hour-long interview with Dashboard Confessional‘s front man, I would’ve thought the first option more likely. I couldn’t stand Dashboard in high school, for admittedly closed-minded reasons—the fans of Carrabba’s heart-on-sleeve catharsis all seemed to be jock types, who didn’t appear to have their own issues but certainly caused lots of pain for other kids. Over time some of those songs grew on me, and so did Carrabba. So this month I couldn’t pass up Tom Mullen’s personable conversation with Carrabba about his career, emo, and the genre’s fourth wave.
Leor is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Jaime Black, Dynasty Podcasts founder and host
Wrongchilde, Gold Blooded Last fall, Kill Hannah front man Mat Devine released his solo debut as Wrongchilde. For longtime fans who miss the shoegaze-infused days of early Kill Hannah, Gold Blooded is a welcome return to the dramatic singer’s atmospheric and synth-driven sensibilities. Gone are the muscular modern-rock riffs of latter-day KH, replaced by a desperate, despairing cover of “Love Is a Battlefield” and a sensitive duet with Gerard Way. Early track “Call Me Crash” offers a bit of life, while closing cut “Slow” is a hopeless story about freezing, drowning, and dying in the road. So basically, it’s Mat Devine at his most Mat Devine. Gold Blooded is the album equivalent of hoodie weather.
ILoveMakonnen & Mike Will Made-It, “Wishin You Well” This postbreakup document of reluctant acceptance combines a sparse, hypnotic melody and starkly confessional, stream-of-consciousness lyrics (“You wanna come on back / My heart ain’t having that”). Somber in tone but strangely addictive, it’s easy to keep on repeat, especially in the dead of Chicago winter.
Xoe Wise, “(Electronic) Cigarette Break” Local singer-songwriter Xoe Wise is gaining attention in Chicago for her synth-pop outfit Kinky Love, but her material under her own name also deserves consideration. This version of “Cigarette Break” is more dream-pop than the stripped-down version that closes her 2013 EP Breakfast (which is easily my favorite song from that effort). Disarmingly hopeful and welcomingly warm.
Jaime is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Lili K., singer-songwriter
D’Angelo & the Vanguard, Black Messiah D’Angelo’s 2000 album Voodoo raised me. Its thick harmonies, raw soul, and buttery guitar grooves . . . it’s too good. Since Black Messiah‘s release last month, it’s the only thing my ears have touched. Its mood ranges from warm vibrations to dark feelings of fear and desperation. What’s beautiful about D’Angelo (well, many things are beautiful about D’Angelo) is his maturation from Brown Sugar to Voodoo to Black Messiah. His sound is always fervent and recognizable, but it’s been awe-inspiring to witness him evolve, learn, and prevail. Black Messiah blessed us at the perfect time; music and society both needed this album.
Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Naturally I was 14 and in Brooklyn for the summer when I heard about a Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings concert happening in a nearby park. It remains the best live show I’ve ever seen. Their entire discography is in my regular rotation, but the 2005 full-length Naturally is what I’ve been jamming to lately. “How Do I Let a Good Man Down” is my go-to sing-along.
Bill Evans Trio, The Complete Village Vanguard Recordings, 1961 Calming yet impassioned, this collection of live recordings by the legendary pianist’s most revered trio is a standout for me. The interplay between the players is effortless as they sail through masterpieces. I have an infatuation with mishaps in vintage recordings, and in this set, the first take of “Gloria’s Step” is incomplete due to a power failure. Cool, right?