John Littlejohn’s raw slide-guitar style grew from the same soil that produced Elmore James, but he never became a star outside the Windy City.
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Loading up a Meth. song is a prelude to being viscerally blasted; the local six-piece, which debuted in 2017 with The Children Are Watching, operate at full boil 100 percent of the time as they blend power noise, metal, mathcore, hardcore, and straight-up screaming. In 2018, founder Seb Alvarez (Cadence Fox, Tweak) told the blog […]
Since hip-hop seized control of pop music, artists such as Juice Wrld, Lil Nas X, and Lil Tecca have rocketed to fame with little industry experience. Even among this wave of fast-breaking acts, 22-year-old Cordae Dunston—aka YBN Cordae—has cut a distinctive path. While growing up in Prince George’s County, Maryland, in the mid-2010s, Cordae released […]
São Paulo singer-songwriter and guitarist Sessa called his 2019 debut Grandeza (Boiled), which means “greatness” in Portuguese. The record lives up to its title; Sessa’s stripped-down, minimalist bossa nova is both dreamy and raw. His beguiling combination of amateurishness and suaveness, as well as the juxtaposition of Spanish guitars with female backing vocals and Afro-Brazilian […]
Local label Badluck Records is celebrating its first birthday with a showcase at a Logan Square DIY venue. (Direct message @badluck_records on Instagram for the address.) Badluck, whose garish yet artful sound takes Warped Tour to grad school, has invited the bands Nightfreak, Rapscallion, and Deep Crush to share the bill with Badluck rappers Chuck […]
With his 2014 breakout release, The Water[s], Chicago rapper Mick Jenkins demonstrated that his complex vision and deep lyrics benefit from the large canvas of a full-length record. That said, he cooks on EPs too. At the top of January, he dropped The Circus (Free Nation/Cinematic Music Group), which despite running less than 20 minutes […]
Today’s biggest pop-country stars take lyrical tropes from 80s and 90s hits—drinking cold beer, driving trucks, praying, partying, feeling heartbreak—and bulk them up with hip-hop beats, hyperslick production, and catchy hooks that sound engineered in a lab. Twenty-nine-year-old Mississippi native Hardy (aka Michael Hardy) began his career as one of Nashville’s song scientists; he was […]
Hyperprolific rapper and Culture Power45 label co-owner Marcellous “Infinito 2017” Lovelace and Chicago hip-hop scene player Sterling “Pugs Atomz” Price are both former members of the Nacrobats crew, and when Lovelace asked Pugs last year about releasing a vinyl compilation of old Nacrobats tracks, it kicked off a wave of celebrations that will continue through […]
Chicago has a rich tenor sax tradition—Gene Ammons, Johnny Griffin, Von Freeman, Fred Anderson, and so on. With tradition comes prescription; Chicago tenors, to fit the mold, need to be able to summon a broad tone, a bluesy vibe, and a steady stream of improvisational ideas. Local saxophonist Gerrit Hatcher has no trouble living up […]
Sometimes Lea Bertucci treats architecture as an extension of her instruments. For the 2019 album Resonant Field (NNA Tapes), the composer, sound designer, and instrumentalist brought her alto saxophone into the confines of the Marine A Grain Elevator in Silo City, a collection of three such elevators in Buffalo, New York. The structure’s size—it’s 13 […]
In January 2000, as the likes of Sunny Day Real Estate and the Get Up Kids led emo’s second wave, a group of five young adults from Lawrence, Kansas, calling themselves the Anniversary released a striking debut. Built around the dueling guitars and vocals of Josh Berwanger and Justin Roelofs and backed by the infectious […]