Posted inConcert Preview, Music, Music Review

Smushie’s psych-pop will make you believe in endless summers

Smushie main man Austin Koenigstein (also half of Chicago duo Berta Bigtoe) plays psych-leaning indie rock whose relaxed, sun-dappled melodies will convince you he’s figured out the secret to an unbothered life. Radiant keys, limber bass, loose and understated guitars, and cool, in-the-pocket drums float through Smushie’s latest album, June’s self-released Doofus Casanova, and Koenigstein […]

Posted inMusic

Local noise rockers Something Is Waiting take a left turn into 90s metal swagger on the brand-new Absolutely

When Something Is Waiting formed in 2016, the band consisted of five dudes whose stacked resumés included stints in several Chicago heavy favorites, and on their first few releases they focused on big, mean, chaos-bringing noise rock a la Unsane. Over the past few years, though, they’ve charted a new direction, trading in nihilistic bludgeoning […]

Posted inMusic

Chicago singer-songwriter Claude makes dream pop for the youth, young and old

“I’m a twentysomething / Don’t you think it’s about time?” Chicago singer-songwriter Claudia Ferme, aka Claude, sighs on “Twenty Something,” which opens her debut full-length, A Lot’s Gonna Change (American Dreams). The track breathes and pulses through dream-pop heaven with swirling, chiming guitars and distant, mellow horns. It’s meant to be redolent of a certain […]

Posted inBook Review

The extraordinary tragedy of daily life

Wolfgang Amadeus Aleksandr “Aleks” Fa has a lot of baggage. The protagonist of Joe Meno’s new novel Book of Extraordinary Tragedies has that name, after all—which also serves as a clue about what burdens the young man.  Born into a perfectionist but impoverished Bosnian/Croat/Polish family in Evergreen Park on the border with Chicago’s south side, […]

Posted inMusic

Drummer Susie Ibarra and guitarist Tashi Dorji subdivide sound and silence on Master of Time

In 2019, the Tang Museum at Skidmore College presented The Second Buddha: Master of Time, an exhibition concerning Padmasambhava, the guru credited with bringing Buddhism to Tibet during the eighth century. Along with lectures and exhibits both visual and virtual, the museum commissioned a concert—conceived as a “musical bardo exploration”—by Susie Ibarra, a Philippine American […]

Posted inMusic

Chicago duo Conjunto Primitivo concoct an irresistible blend of reggaeton and industrial

In March 2020, when I wrote about underground industrial label Chicago Research and the tight-knit community that surrounded it, I heard that local duo Conjunto Primitivo planned to release their debut full-length through the label. Considering how that month ended, I’m not surprised to see that album coming out only now—and I can’t argue with […]

Posted inStreet View

Nothing to hide

Clothing reseller Sasha Smith, 20, claims to dress like a “pink 2000s bimbo Harajuku ballerina.” She’s inspired by dolls, the Playboy universe, and the now-defunct Japanese street style magazine FRUiTS.  The day she was photographed, Smith was headed to a hangout with a friend. She was covered head to toe in her favorite rosy hue, […]