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David Grubbs, Rob Mazurek, and Mats Gustafsson take a musical road trip as the Underflow

The Underflow take their name from the Greek record store where guitarist David Grubbs, cornetist Rob Mazurek, and saxophonist Mats Gustafsson played their first trio gig in May 2019. But the connections joining the three musicians were forged in the 1990s, when Grubbs and Mazurek were associated with Chicago’s postrock scene and the Sweden-born Gustafsson […]

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Chicago-born feminist punk duo the Ovens overcome separation and isolation on Distance

Chicago feminist punk two-piece the Ovens debuted a decade ago with a charming, rowdy self-titled album that put heteronormativity in its crosshairs. In 2012 they released a second full-length (Settings) and an EP (Try), but since then they’ve been fairly quiet—probably because guitarist-vocalist Heather now lives in Brooklyn, while drummer-vocalist LB remains in Chicago. This […]

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Gabriel Garzón-Montano concocts a soulful pop melange with Spanglish flair

The first time I saw Gabriel Garzón-Montano in concert was at South by Southwest in 2017. His appearance had generated a lot of buzz; a song from his 2014 EP, Bishoune: Alma del Huila, had been sampled for Drake’s 2015 track “Jungle,” and the multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter had recently released his debut full-length, Jardin. Partway […]

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On Introduction, Presence Nation of Language make earnest synth-pop for the modern condition

When the present is a slog at best and the future seems aimed off the edge of a cliff, a pair of rose-colored glasses turned toward the past can be irresistible—at any rate, that’s how Brooklyn trio Nation of Language approached their debut album, Introduction, Presence. Powered by chockablock synths, hypnotic bass grooves, and the […]

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Texan interdisciplinary artist and guitarist Sandy Ewen releases her first solo LP

Sandy Ewen’s music is a constant series of negotiations. She’s constantly seeing what new sounds she can get out of her guitar, using found objects such as steel-wool scrubbing pads, dowels, bolts, cat-grooming brushes, and lengths of chalk. She’s also an inveterate collaborator who relishes chances to test her compatibility with new acquaintances or to […]

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Brooklyn-based saxophone and drum duo meld composition and improvisation seamlessly

Saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock and drummer Tom Rainey have been married to each other since 2010 and playing together since 2007, working as a duo as well as within larger ensembles, where they’ve collaborated with avant-garde jazz musicians such as Tim Berne and Mary Halvorson. Though the duo initially focused on improvisational music, a 2016 tour […]

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JPEGMafia offers an escape from single-genre monotony on the eclectic All My Heroes Are Cornballs

On his new third studio album, All My Heroes Are Cornballs, Brooklyn-born, Baltimore-based hip-hop artist Barrington Devaughn Hendricks, aka JPEGmafia (Peggy for short), offers an escape from the monotony of music that’s restricted by genre. Hendricks dives headfirst into his attention-deficit-fueled opener, “Jesus Forgive Me, I Am a Thot,” which is the album’s most concise […]