Posts Tagged ‘Chicago’

Lucille Furs

Chicago’s beat/psych revivalists Lucille Furs send their ’60-dripped pop on export for their latest album, getting a release from French Magazine and boutique label Requiem Pour Un Twister. The pairing seems like a perfect fit. While Chicago’s got a thriving garage scene, there’s something about their lush, starry-eyed pop that seems like it must come from somewhere other than the heartland. The exact mix here shifts like a kaleidoscope and remains a bit hard to pin, but it seems like they might have tripped through London on their way to meet up label heads in Paris. Other than the strong twinge of British Invasion kicking through, the band rifles through a half-stack of your favorite psych-pop touchpoints – swooning over Blossom Toes, Billy Nicholls, and The Pretty Things with some more high-minded harmonies that dip into Nuggets fodder like The World of Oz, Mortimer, and anything connected to Curt Boettcher.

Yet the strongest wafts seem to come from their penchant for dragging all these bits through the silken brambles of Jacques Dutronc and Serge Gainsbourg. These overtones make the Francophile connection all the more understandable. They share both artists’ love for the deeper blades of grass, wrapping their pop in swirls of sound that envelop in verdant tones. That doesn’t leave them swimming in symphonics though, like Dutronc, they know when to swing and when to swoon and they tend towards the former over the bulk of Another Land. The band’s definitely grinding up the past to mix their paint, but rather than recontextualizing it like Temples or Morgan Delt, they’re often painting masters in shifted hues. That’s not to say that their referential tendencies haven’t produced an album that’s a fun ride all the way through. There’s a lot of tip-of-the-tongue, back-of-the-mind moments but the band’s accomplished enough to make their pastiche play perfectly.




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Lucille Furs – “Paint Euphrosyne Blue”

Chicago’s Lucille Furs trade in a meticulous vision of psych-pop, tied up in twills and doused in Marcus Keef’s saturated colors. Like many before them, they hold a reverent flame for the ‘60s, but they’re taking a lusher approach than many, as evidenced by the title track from their upcoming album Another Land, a ringing swinger that’s a testament to how they ended up with the equally psychedelic French label Requiem Pour Un Twister. For the album’s second single they continue their trip back through the ether, this time peeking out of the haze just a bit for a hip-slung shaker that’s basking in the sunshine with a carefree shuffle and a handful of tangerine harmonies and helium hung organ lines. The band’s been echoing The Black Hollies, Allah-Las and The Soundcarriers in the past, but here they add a touch of The Strange Boys and The Weakends to the mix. If its dreary where you’re hunkered, this little blast from Lucille Furs ought to brighten your day.



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Glad Rags – “Alamo”

Chicago chamber-psych orchestra Glad Rags shove the disjointed post-punk of The Talking Heads through a cosmic wormhole, chugging with sweat-stained rhythms and horns one minute and spreading the spacey synths like butter the next. “Alamo’s” not a lyrical wunderkind but it rides repetition without hammering their hooks to death. The song is snaking with a neon and rubber weirdness that makes it hard to get a hand around, but they’re definitely onto something. The backup vocals shift from flashes of ’70 Who to Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson vamping up the parties down Athens’ way. The band are throwing a lot in the pan with this one but its all coming out of the oven just fine in the end.



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Ryley Walker

The curse of making an album that’s hailed as great is that it haunts your career, rearing its head wherever you go, always an accolade and an albatross at the same time. In the wake of Primrose Green Ryley Walker was lofted up as the heir to knotted folk’s throne, though it always seemed that he had no interest in resting there for any length of time. That album’s follow-up, Golden Sings That Have Been Sung, was a looser bar-rock exploration that was summarily panned for not sounding enough like its predecessor, for not settling onto the throne. It was an unfair assessment met with some frustration by the artist, and rightfully so. With Deafman Glance Walker firmly asserts that genre is an exercise and not a defining characteristic of an artist. He shirks once and for all the shadow of Primrose and leaves us with his darkest, most complex and delicately shaded album yet.

There’s hardly a trace of folk proper on Deafman, though it perhaps shows up most prominently in Telluride Speed with its woven plucks and autumnal flute. As with the majority of Walker’s works on the album, though, the simple bliss is shot through with bent jazz markers and frustrated electric runs. As the album progresses, Walker pushes a notion of texture over melody and the album begins to color in like an abstract painting with dark, furious patches in one corner and gorgeous, light swipes on the opposite edge. Don’t let that imply that the record has an improvisational nature, far from it. Like the best abstracts the seemingly jarred elements are planned and structured to look haphazard, but without the forethought the juxtapositions would never land.

Walker recorded the album in Chicago and has referenced the city’s sounds as an influence, one that can indeed be felt in the margins of Deafman Glance – the soul of a poet squeezed through the equations of Tortoise or Gastr del Sol. Lyrically, Walker’s still sitting in the corner of the bar, though this time there’s more whiskey and solitude than good laughs and cheap beer. The album is certainly ruminating in its heart, absorbed in itself for better or worse. With Deafman Glance, however, Walker has knocked out an album that’s as visceral and tactile as his early works are ephemeral and airy. This is a true step forward, and while there are certainly no hooks that are going to keep nudging you back, the innate desire to stare at Walker’s void and discern the depths is rather addictive.




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Matchess – “Of Freedom”

Whitney Johnson has been carving out niche for Matchess over the last few years with stints on Trouble in Mind, Digitalis and Monofonous Press. Her works are dark, meditative, and shielded from the outside world with a protective barrier of noise and a haunted hum. As might befit her collaborative work on albums for Circuit des Yeux, Bitchin Bajas and Plastic Crimewave Sound she’s not afraid to push herself to the edges of accessibility for sounds that reverberate through the mind and body on a tuning frequency set to shudder. Though Grouper comparisons might come fast and easy with Johnson’s work – the two artists both share a delicate core surrounded by an intricate storm of sound – on “Of Freedom” there’s more than just haze and haunt. The song clips along on a compressed air beat buoyed the sighs of strings, leaving Johnson’s voice to ricochet around the speakers in a delicately disorienting fashion. The track closes out her engrossing new album Sacracorpa which is due out July 27th on her old stomping ground at Trouble in Mind. If you’ve been missing Matchess up to this point then this might be a good time to start paying attention.



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The Sueves

Still plenty to love in the Chicago punk scene these days and the sophomore LP from The Sueves proves it. There’s a slight bump up the clarity counter from their debut, and yet this new record is still torn and tattered and ripped to shreds in all the right places. The band’s core is a visceral gut punch, relying less on hooks than on the lock top drumming of Tim Thomas (formerly of Heavy Times) and a few chemical burn guitars to get the point across. That’s not to say there aren’t any riffs slicing through R.I.P. Clearance Event, there are plenty, but the band utilizes them like a saw blade, tearing at the listener with their insistent teeth.

The Sueves have studied up on their Stooges, their Hot Snakes and their Seeds catalogs, borrowing heavily from the wild man aesthetic and turning sweat into joy over the course of these some sixteen tracks. Songs swerve and duck and shimmy as the album works its course, fighting not to be pinned down. They relent the hammer down determination a few times and let through a smirk on “Slammer” and rope in the barroom crowd for “What They Did,”- sounding not unlike The Strange Boys for a bit – but otherwise this is a breathless buncha bashers. Good for what ails ya, and ready to rumble when you are, R.I.P. Clearance Event leaves a few turf marks on the turntable to be sure.




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Ganser

Up to this point, Chicago post-punks Ganser have been building up a reputation on the strength of a steady stream of short format singles and EPs. Now, with an album on the way from No Trend, they’re proving that it’s not just a scattershot bit of luck that’s pulled them through. Odd Talk is a caustic record wrapped tight in barbed and rusted guitars, driven hard by a rhythm section that knows how to turn anxious intent into breathless reality. Vocalist Nadia Garafolo whips hard between impassioned shouts, chopped spoken word and slinking coos that fill up the speakers with her lures and attacks in equal measure.

The record’s secret weapon lies in Charlie Landsman’s guitars though, scratching glass one minute, tearing through bone the next. Post-punk lives and dies by the rhythm, but it shines when there’s a guitarist that can draw a bit of blood. The record isn’t looking for pop purchases in any sense, but the brooding songs get under the skin just as easily as if they were bouncing on sing-a-long choruses. Churning anxiety into chewed tin, then polishing the shards to a bitter brilliance, the record stands to raise the band’s profile from Chicago stalwarts to national attention. For those still pulling the velvet curtains hung by Siouxsie or 13th Chime tight, this is a perfect companion to drown out the coming clarity of summer.




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Mac Blackout Band

Mac Blackout (aka Marc McKenzie) has been a fixture here for a while, running a vein through Chicago’s garage rock underground for a good solid clip at this point. As leader of RSTB faves Mickey, McKenzie will always have a soft spot in my heart for creating one of the last ten years’ most fun power pop records. As the Mac Blackout Band though, the pop side has melted away a bit and the full on garage-punk assault is in total swing with just a whiff of metal floating on the air. Burning Alive is a raw nerve of pent up aggression and full bore rock shot out of the barrel wild and loose. The album is practically shaking with beads of sweat, tumbling and scuffing its way through the speakers looking to get into a fight as soon as possible.

The record blasts out of the start with the fiery anthem “Rise Up” and that pretty much sets the tone for the record to come. Once Blackout has you on your feet and ready for a rumble he just stokes the blaze of fight burning in your core and lets the furious riffs and tornado of toms do the rest. The album isn’t remapping the garage rock landscape, but as I’ve said countless times, that’s not always the point. It’s a fun record that’s unhinged at its best, bringing to mind fellow Midwestern legends Timmy’s Organism. At its worst, its still a damn fun ride, that begs for volume, lowered windows and blank stares from the passersby.




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Vices

Chicago’s Vices lean hard into their love of a brand of distorted, shag thick rock that could have only been served up under the Alternative banner were it being made in the shadow of Y2K. They’ve found a way to take the signifiers of grunge’s fallout and make them fun for a new generation just finding their flannel. The album, recorded by the band’s own Shawn Wilson sounds like they studied up on everything from guitar tones and favored pedals to the era’s thick walled assault of sound that shot singles like cannonballs of cathartic youth. The best bits of American Consciousness feel so familiar that there’s almost a tendency to double check the name scrolling across the screen, confirming that indeed this isn’t a b-side dropped out of Interscope’s late ’90s library.

That’s not to say they lean completely into the “radio ready” pile, the band have a professed love for Shellac and the indie legends’ sinewy strand of riff finds its way in among the fuzz-pummeled hooks. I guess that’s what’s so endearing about the record, it got grunge-metal’s stomp and math rock’s self-serious technical twists, but the boys in Vices also seem like they had a collection that toppled into pop-punk, despite themselves. They know when to sound like playing in a band is a good time, and more importantly, how to convey it to the listener. There is a definite groundswell of grunge revival happening lately, and the younger generation is glomming onto my high school memories like, I suppose, we pillaged our own parents’ perception of the ’70s. Any revival bears hallmarks of retread, but when bands start cherry picking the best bits, it feels fun regardless of how much you’ve heard it all before.



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Hair – Hair

More fuzzed goodness from Chicago. Heavy vibes and psych fallout are wafting our way from the windy city trio Hair, coming forth via 7″ on Tall Pat records. The single wraps up three tracks that bash deep into territory that should be familiar to fans of Ty Segall, Wand, Mind Meld, Orb and others finding solace between the proto metal double kick, grunge-punk hammer headlock and psychedelic ripple riot that we all love so well. Sure, its territory that’s been carved out and covered, but as I’ll always be the first to admit, if you’re doing it right, then I’m not going to bust any balls nagging that someone laid the road first. Hair are slowly but steadily melting the paint in any room playing this single. In fact its hard to pick out a standout here, its a triple-A rocker that’s perking plenty of interest as to where they’re headed next (they have but one other, lone Bowie tribute up on their Bandcamp). Hopefully they’ll stretch things out to a proper long player and let the pavement crack under its weight. For now, these three are more than enough to tide me over.




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