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German indie veterans the Notwist draw from Chicago’s jazz community for the new Vertigo Days

Long-running German group the Notwist perfected their airy combination of lovelorn indie rock and tender electronic sounds nearly two decades ago, but once they got it just right, they apparently decided never to repeat themselves. They preceded the new Vertigo Days (Morr Music) with an instrumental album steeped in the wallpaper aesthetics of library music […]

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Efterklang’s Casper Clausen steps out on his own on the dreamy Better Way

Danish-born musician Casper Clausen is best known for fronting the long-running Efterklang, which plays exploratory and often ornate electro-infused indie rock, and for performing with that group’s synth-heavy and relatively spontaneous sister project, Liima. This year, for the first time since he began making music as a teen, he’s stepped out from a collaborative setting. […]

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Emerging Chicago band Lifeguard play noisy, retro-leaning rock without getting stuck in the past

Chicago band Lifeguard make the kind of noisy, brooding rock that’s been foundational to generations of punk and indie bands, all the way back to the dawn of hardcore and no wave. On their self-released debut album, Dive, Lifeguard dispense driving bass lines that could enliven even the dreariest postpunk tune, impassioned drumming that ratchets […]

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V.V. Lightbody perfects her hypnotizing ‘nap rock’ on Make a Shrine or Burn It

Songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Vivian McConnell comes from a musical family, and she began enmeshing herself in Chicago’s music scene in the early 2010s, around the time she moved here from Urbana. By then she and her oldest brother, Stan, were playing together in the indie-rock band Santah, and McConnell had also joined indie four-piece Grandkids; […]

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Folk-leaning indie outfit Big Thief close out a banner 2019 with their second album of the year, Two Hands

If Big Thief had only given us May’s U.F.O.F., they already would’ve been one of the most compelling indie bands of 2019. Then in August, the folk-leaning Brooklyn four-piece dropped the feverish, slow-boiling rocker “Not” and announced the release of another full-length, the brand-new Two Hands (4AD). The albums feel tethered together, as if they’re […]