Reno Cruz Credit: Jacob King

Since moving to Chicago from his native California in 2017, singer-songwriter Reno Cruz has made an indelible mark on the city’s indie-rock and soul-music scenes, spending the past few years playing guitar in the Lala Lala live band and collaborating with Gossip Wolf faves such as Wyatt Waddell, Sen Morimoto, and Shawnee Dez (who also works for the Reader). After the pandemic hit in March 2020, Cruz began occasionally dropping lush, lovingly orchestrated solo tracks that display an easy candor about feelings of isolation and solitude. Two of those songs, “Your Love” and “F.I.L.I.N.T.H.,” reappear as standouts on Cruz’s debut solo album, Falling in Love Is Not That Hard, which arrives digitally on Friday, January 21, via his Bandcamp. That night he’ll celebrate with a set at Lincoln Park venue Golden Dagger, which was just rehabbed after a fire; Macie Stewart of Ohmme headlines. 

Boo Williams is a legendary figure in Chicago house, and as a DJ and producer he began releasing music in the 90s on classic dance labels such as Relief, Farris Wheel Limited, and Cajual. (According to reports from heads brave enough to keep partying during the pandemic, his DJ set at Podlasie Club in Avondale last month proved that his skills on the decks remain absolutely incendiary.) On his Bandcamp page last week, Williams released The Best of Boo Williams, which collects ten of the master’s crisp and ebullient productions, many of which have become difficult to find. To this wolf, it seems impossible that the relentlessly grooving “Feeling Good” dropped more than 20 years ago!

Chicagoland heavy-prog group Mechina celebrated New Year’s Day by dropping the hyperclean symphonic-metal album Venator, which continues the story of a vast intergalactic war that the band have been telling for more than 15 years.  Whether you’ve been following along or not, the blockbuster thrust of opener “Suffer” should sweep you into the record.


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