DANCE: Cajmere and his Cajual label on a new British comp
On October 30 British label Strut released the double CD Only 4U: The Sound of Cajmere & Cajual Records 1992-2012, which surveys the catalog of the label owned and operated by Chicago house and techno great Curtis A. Jones (aka Cajmere, aka Green Velvet). The span of years in the title is a bit misleading, since 17 of the 22 tracks date from the first five years of Cajual’s existence—its creative heyday—and the rest are scattered across the aughts.
Cajual and its offshoot Relief released records by many Chicago dance-music luminaries—including Glenn Underground, DJ Sneak, and Johnny Fiasco—but the selections on Only 4U zero in on the stripped-down, repetitive sound that Cajmere perfected early on, epitomized by his infectious 1992 classic “Percolator” and its follow-up, “Brighter Days,” which introduced the label’s in-house diva, Dajae. Via e-mail Jones told me, “It’s a real good feeling for me to see how much I’ve contributed to the house scene. I’d like to think I’ve helped out a lot of people with my music, as well as with the music of others I put out.” On Sun 11/18 he’ll DJ a party at Green Dolphin Street celebrating the anthology’s release.
PUNK: Absolutely no twinklecore at the Swerp Records showcase
On Thu 11/15 local DIY label Swerp Records will host its first showcase at Subterranean, “Johnny Foreigner vs. Chicago.” The night’s headliner, Johnny Foreigner, is a UK group with a recent album on Swerp called Vs. Everything; the other bands on the bill are all from Chicago.
Those bands—Water House, Nervous Passenger, and My Dad—have helped Swerp grow since it began six years ago as an informal punk collective putting on shows in the south suburbs. Swerp began releasing music this spring, shortly after moving its headquarters to Chicago in May.
One of the label’s first releases was My Dad’s Stunts, whose aesthetic overlaps a bit with that of the revisionist emo scene. When I previewed a recent My Dad show, I used the word “twinklecore,” which has lately gone from being a scene in-joke to a borderline legit genre name. The folks at Swerp took exception, or pretended to take exception, and issued a tongue-in-cheek press release offering several preferred genre names for their bands—my favorites are “Meatgaze,” “Post-Corpse,” and “Michael Bay Presents: Post-Hardcore.”
In that spirit, I reached out to Swerp cofounder J. Matthew Nix to see what genre names he’d come up with for the bands playing Thursday’s showcase.
MY DAD: Broller-coaster “That comes from the dynamic sound that My Dad creates,” Nix says. The band’s music is indeed something of a wild ride, alternating wild feedback-soaked outbursts with stretches of subdued guitar plucking. Nix describes it as “an enjoyable atmosphere for all bros.”
NERVOUS PASSENGER: Baby Jump Nervous Passenger flirt with hardcore, but Nix says they write “really catchy songs, really bouncy.” Their self-titled EP is the kind of thing you could presumably play for a baby, “if you had a baby into punk music.”
WATER HOUSE: Foamcore “Water House, like a foam squeegee, sucks up influences and puts them out in unique ways,” Nix says. He mentions ambient, folk, metal, and spaghetti-western soundtracks; on the Rosie Guadalupe Wilma Mary Ann EP the band somehow fits that hodgepodge smoothly into complex, mathy arrangements.
JOHNNY FOREIGNER: Post-Polothology ”Johnny Foreigner, despite the fact that they’re from Birmingham, grew up listening to Cap’n Jazz the way a lot of Chicagoans grew up with Cap’n Jazz,” Nix says. There are hints of the entire Kinsella family oeuvre in Johnny Foreigner’s jittery, cerebral sound, but Nix’s made-up genre specifically refers to the posthumous 1998 Cap’n Jazz compilation Analphabetapolothology.
EXPERIMENTAL: The Neon Marshmallow Festival tries getting small
In the postprosperity economy, downsizing is king, and even music that was never commercial to begin with is feeling the pinch. When Matt Kimmel and Daniel Smith convened the first Neon Marshmallow Festival in 2010, they rented out the Viaduct Theatre and invited more than 100 acts. “We just book stuff that we want to see,” says Kimmel. Since then, though, practicality has crept into their calculations. In 2011 they moved to the Empty Bottle and scheduled just 35 acts. The third festival, which runs from Thu 11/15 to Sun 11/18, will host 16. “We noticed that people don’t like being in one place for too long,” Kimmel explains. “It’s overkill. I like long festivals, but it seems like it’s better to have four good sets a night.”
The event has moved again, this time to the Burlington, where Kimmel is now the main booker. Smith is also sitting this one out: “I’m just chilling during this one,” he says. “We’ve put on a lot of events and I just wanna hang with people close to me right now.” Both men insisted that Smith is still part of Neon Marshmallow.
This year the festival has booked relatively few of the kind of noise acts that thronged the first two events, but its reach is still quite broad. Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore will perform a solo set and a duo with drummer John Moloney. Moloney will also play in Hush Arbors, the psych-folk project of singer-songwriter Keith Woods; local acoustic guitarist Ryley Walker and Vermont duo MV & EE will contribute to the rustic vibe as well. Drummer Allison Busch will bring her straight-up rock combo, Call of the Wild; minimalist techno artist Container, electro revivalist Windbreaker, and the DJs of Supreme Cuts will cover the beat spectrum; and Dolores Dewberry will bring her woozy electronic weirdness.