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Chicago indie duo Orisun draw power from lo-fi rock on their debut EP

Chicago indie-rock duo Orisun indulge in their lo-fi proclivities without ever giving in to slacker entropy. On their self-released debut EP, May’s This Is Orisun, multi-instrumentalist Kai Black and front person Asha Adisa artfully employ gossamer guitars, sophisticated keys, precisely programmed percussion with dampened drums, and relaxed, alluring vocals to calibrate moods that test the […]

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Dinosaur Jr. kick out epic melodies, hooks, and noise on their best postreunion album

Dinosaur Jr.’s second act is a feel-good gift that keeps on giving. These unwavering indie-rock lifers seem to have access to a bottomless well of arena-ready solos and riffs, brain-sticking melodies, and hurricane-force noise. In the late 1980s, the powerhouse trio—guitarist and singer J Mascis, bassist and singer Lou Barlow, and drummer Murph—became a revolutionary […]

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Heartbreak, melodic intricacy, and lush arrangements shape Owen’s tenth album, The Avalanche

Few indie-rock artists are more prolific than singer-songwriter Mike Kinsella, who’s been playing in Illinois bands since the late 80s, including Cap’n Jazz, Joan of Arc, and American Football. The latter band reunited in 2014 following a 14-year break and subsequently released two acclaimed albums, 2016’s American Football (or LP2) and last year’s American Football […]

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Singer-songwriter Gia Margaret shifts focus to instrumental ambient for Mia Gargaret

Chicago singer-songwriter Gia Margaret makes what she calls “sleep rock.” Its mellow vibes make it well-suited for early-morning or late-night listening, while its catchy melodies and driving beats can get heads nodding—albeit gently. Margaret’s 2018 debut full-length, There’s Always Glimmer, creates inviting atmospheres with crisp production and varied instrumentation: Margaret’s double-tracked vocals glow amid a […]

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Chicago indie rockers Cafe Racer meld psych, shoegaze, and Krautrock to summon hypnotic bliss

Psychedelic Chicago indie rockers Cafe Racer emerged from a young north-side scene obsessed with garage; in fact, guitarist-vocalist Michael Santana previously played rugged, bratty garage pop in the three-piece Grosse Pointe. When he burned out on that band’s sound in 2015, he started working with guitarist-vocalist Adam Schubert—a prolific musician with a lo-fi solo project […]

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Philadelphia indie rocker (Sandy) Alex G closes a prolific decade with the stunning House of Sugar

Philadelphia indie-rock alchemist Alexander Giannascoli understands better than most musicians who’ve emerged in the past decade how to convey the slipperiness and complexity of emotion in song. The 27-year-old kicked off his career in the early 2010s with a streak of albums he self-released or put out through small cassette labels, and they all wound […]

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After a critical breakthrough, two members of Florida emo mathletes Pool Kids decamp to Chicago

In April 2019, Paramore front woman Hayley Williams posted an Instagram story about Pool Kids, a largely unknown emo band from Tallahassee, Florida: “This is what Pmore WISHED we sounded like in the early 2000’s.” About two hours earlier, Bandcamp editor Zoe Camp had tweeted a link to Pool Kids’ 2018 self-released debut, Music to […]

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Chicago’s Ratboys become the toast of the national indie scene with Printer’s Devil

Guitarist-vocalist Julia Steiner and guitarist David Sagan met as first-year students at the University of Notre Dame in 2010, and they’ve since become ingrained in Chicago underground rock. Under the name Ratboys, they made themselves a home in the emo scene in the mid-2010s, playing country-flecked indie songs and drawing in a couple prolific collaborators […]