A Reader staffer shares three musical obsessions, then asks someone (who asks someone else) to take a turn.
Leor Galil, Reader music critic
Jace Clayton, Uproot: Travels in 21st-Century Music and Digital Culture I knew I’d like this book of essays by Jace Clayton, better known as DJ/Rupture, but I didn’t know just how much. His writing, which threads regional voices from far-flung locales together with Western musical narratives already well-documented elsewhere, has allowed me to rethink the way I experience music. Clayton is an expert who’s aware of his blind spots, and that helps him introduce readers to foreign worlds—his enthusiasm for the unfamiliar is contagious, and he leaves his audience room to establish their own relationships with the scenes in which he immerses himself.
D.R.A.M. featuring Lil Yachty, “Broccoli” D.R.A.M.‘s playful hook can transform the energy of a room in seconds. This summer anthem continues to smolder months later.
Library Excavations #2: The ABCs of the Chicago Reader Touring Musicians Publicity Photos Collection Marc Fischer, founder of Public Collectors, spent the summer and early fall digging through niche collections in the Harold Washington Library’s vast archives, and he recently emerged with four “Library Excavations” zines focused on (among other things) business periodicals and ads aimed at prison administrators. I picked up the one assembled from the Reader‘s old collection of music-publicity photos, because if anyone was its target audience, it had to be me. Fischer’s explorations of forgotten marginalia—and the collections he’s assembled while pursuing them—are worthy of their own examination.
Leor is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Shannon Shreibak, publicist for Metro and Smart Bar
Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt’s Oblique Strategies If shattering your worldview one sentence at a time tickles your fancy, then I highly recommend finding a deck of these creative prompts. Subtitled “Over one hundred worthwhile dilemmas” by its creators (Eno and British artist Peter Schmidt), Oblique Strategies is a deck of cards whose one-liners pack a philosophical sucker punch (example: “Trust in the you of now”) designed to defeat creative blocks and encourage lateral thinking. Thanks to these babies, I’m now indebted to Eno for more than teaching me how to feel one Roxy Music song at a time.
Grazhdanskaya Oborona (“Civil Defense”) I recently visited the Art Institute’s Humanism + Dynamite exhibit of Aleksandr Zhitomirsky’s photomontages, and I’ve been falling down a rabbit hole of Soviet culture ever since. It’s plunged me into the folk-inflected punk of Grazhdanskaya Oborona (“Civil Defense”), who persevered through KGB persecution, mental institutionalization, and compulsory military service to forge a fierce legacy that’s as much a lesson in Soviet politics as it is a hook-laden protest of power.
Lala Lala, “Anyway” This local trio dominated the soundtrack to my summer with their bleary-eyed grunge lean, and this slow jam is a standout. Lillie West’s rasp mows through a rockabye riff, delivering an apology that sounds better suited to a whiskey-wetted twilight than a basement-show stage. This song makes me spout off wistful bullshit like that last sentence, and that’s perfectly all right.
Shannon is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Steve Reidell, producer in the Hood Internet and Air Credits
Kashif, Kashif In the (mini-)van on the first run of Air Credits shows, Showyousuck played Whitney Houston’s “Thinking About You,” which is a great song—an incredible-sounding jam. We looked up the producer on Spotify, and it’s this dude Kashif. We didn’t know! He just died in September—RIP. Kashif had been in B.T. Express and worked with the likes of Whitney, George Benson, and Al Jarreau. He was a total one-man band, playing every instrument, engineering, and superproducing. His self-titled 1983 debut is the one that’s been on repeat—expert-level pop/funk songs.
Beyond Yacht Rock podcast The main guys from the Yacht Rock webseries invent a new subgenre every week, then count down the top ten of whatever fits into it. They don’t restrict themselves to smooth jams, though they do dip into them for episodes such as “Women of Yacht” or “Yacht or Nyacht” (and for one “bone throw” each week to the genre they made famous). The dudes are super funny and super informative about the music on their lists. Standout themes: “Camaro Summer,” “Divorcecore,” and “Cookout Jazz.”
Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared Each episode in this series of short films by UK artists Becky Sloan and Joseph Pelling contains a would-be educational song dripping with varying levels of satire, performed mostly by puppets. The songwriting and production are so good that we jam these in the van at least once per run of shows. And Sloan and Pelling’s visual approach (or “digital style,” if you will) is astounding. So beautifully done.