A Reader staffer shares three musical obsessions, then asks someone (who asks someone else) to take a turn.
Jamie Ludwig, Reader associate music editor
Uniform, The Long Walk Uniform spent years pummeling listeners with bleak, industrialized fusions of no wave, noise-rock, and metal as a guitar-and-vocals duo before replacing their programmed rhythms with prodigious drummer Greg Fox for The Long Walk (out August 17 via Sacred Bones). Named for a 1979 Stephen King novel in which the U.S. is ruled by a dictator, the album explores authoritarianism, religion, and inner conflict—and demonstrates that adding live drums to Uniform’s mix of blistering guitar, unrelenting electronics, and rage is like trying to put out a fire with gasoline.
Beth Winegarner, Tenacity: Heavy Metal in the Middle East and Africa This collection of essays and interviews by California journalist Beth Winegarner (author of The Columbine Effect) sheds light on how the “satanic panic” that flavored the American discourse surrounding metal in the 80s and 90s has taken on new forms in parts of the world fraught with conflict and religious fundamentalism. Acknowledging her limitations as a white Westerner, she aims to create a platform for these metalheads to tell their own stories, which provide a stark reminder of our collective humanity and the privilege of freedom.
Psychic Lemon, Frequency Rhythm Distortion Delay Sometimes you just want to float away, and UK band Psychic Lemon can help with their pillowy, light-speckled blend of space-rock, psych, and Krautrock. Their new album is too weird and too grimy to be bubblegum, but it’s top-shelf feel-good music—I hope someday I’ll get to see these guys play.
Jamie is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Stephanie Marlow, publicist with Indie Publicity
Golden Dawn Arkestra, Children of the Sun For me, savoring summer in Chicago means sitting on a patio, imbibing, and listening to music. This record has been my go-to for those times: “Wings of Ra” especially is perfect for wearing a caftan and sipping tiki drinks under twinkle lights on a hot summer night. I got into the album through that song’s video—the esoteric visuals drew me in as much as the driving, otherworldly psych punk.
Cave In’s set at A Celebration of the Life & Art of Caleb Scofield Last month I watched the live stream of the Boston benefit concert for the family of recently deceased Cave In/Old Man Gloom/Zozobra bassist Caleb Scofield, and I couldn’t believe how connected I felt from 1,000 miles away. When Cave In went into Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon,” I was floored. I find myself going back to that song in the archived stream often. Stephen Brodsky’s crestfallen vocals coupled with the band’s tender electricity are so affecting you can feel them in your bones. It’s a performance as unforgettable as Caleb.
Baptists, Beacon of Faith Vancouver-based crust/metal/punk band Baptists rip, and their songs are “heavy” in every sense of the word. I’d always liked the group, but after reading an interview in Revolver where they discuss their new album’s lyrics, I think I’m in love. Their front man works in social services, and one song in particular showcases him as a pit-bull advocate and opponent of breed-specific legislation. Anyone who knows me knows that that’s a cause near and dear to my heart.
Stephanie is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Jason Gagovski, drummer in Sweet Cobra and cofounder of Hawthorne Street Records
Longmont Potion Castle If you’ve been in a band at all related to the punk or hardcore scenes in the past 20 years, chances are you’ve heard this on a long van ride to the next show. Since the late 80s, the man who releases prank calls as Longmont Potion Castle has created a DIY surrealist universe, complete with a ludicrous nomenclature all its own, disorienting sound collages, and bizarro instrumental interludes. Throughout his ongoing work (the album 15 came out this year), he’s maintained an unmistakable demeanor that’s earned him a cult following. Dig in.
Facs, Negative Houses I always tell people from out of town that one of the best things about living in Chicago is all the great bands from here—bands that take the idea of whatever genre they’re in and push it into a new place. Facs is a great example: formed after Disappears split, they take dark, heavy, minimalist postpunk to somewhere surprisingly lush, and it’s wonderful.
Cocaine & Rhinestones podcast My parents, having moved to the U.S. from eastern Europe in early adulthood, sought out “American” music. When I was growing up, they played Johnny Cash, Elvis, and Dolly albums alongside folk records from Macedonia. My musical interests followed my big brother’s into metal and eventually punk and hardcore, but I was intrigued by country—though I didn’t dig past Cash and Hank Sr. till later. This podcast is a deep dive into the history of 20th-century country music, and it’s fascinating whether you’re a fan of the genre or not. v