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Arc Mountain is the underground-label collaboration you’ve been waiting for

Like doesn’t necessarily breed like—just ask all the friends for whom I’ve tried (and failed) to play cupid. But similarity is bliss for underground labels Deathbomb Arc and Hausu Mountain, which collaborated to release the compilation Arc Mountain on May 7. Based respectively in Los Angeles and Chicago, these eclectic, irreverent labels might be separated […]

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Studio-born midwestern rockers Cumbie introduce their music to the world with their debut EP

Cumbie front man Aaron O’Neill says his three-piece isn’t a “real band”—they’ve only ever performed publicly once—but on their new self-released debut, EP, they rock like road-tested veterans. O’Neill started writing the record’s sleek, rowdy songs a couple years ago, when he lived in Saint Louis (he played in several bands there, including Shady Bug, […]

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Berta Bigtoe multi-instrumentalist Astrachan flies his freak flag higher on his solo debut

Chicago multi-instrumentalist Ben Astrachan was born nearly two generations after 1967’s famous Summer of Love, but he understands the whimsy, grace, and joy of that era’s music so well you’d think he helped make it happen. He impressed me with his contributions to a rough-around-the-edges 2020 album by freak-folk duo Berta Bigtoe (where he plays […]