Tag: Chicago

As I’ve mentioned on this site a number of times, the Internet really has proven to be a wonderful place to discover both new music and extremely rare, lost music — and with an increasing ease. Just think about it, the technology that brings this site into your home has contributed to a wild proliferation of independent labels across the world, equally competing against the major conglomerates for your ears, attention and money. And interestingly enough, smaller, independent artists have been much more willing (and able) to take the sort of risks that their larger, monied rivals wouldn’t and couldn’t — i.e., attempting to re-introduce artists, whose work was so wildly ahead its time that audiences at the the time just couldn’t accept it — and yet fill in a musical gap, or seem so current that it was impossible to figure how it was missed; attempting to reintroduce regionally favored artists from a time when hit songs in Milwaukee were often different than hit songs in Atlanta, Baltimore, Des Moines, Minneapolis or New York.

Of course, before the Internet, bulletin boards and social media, much of this material was only known to cultish and dedicated insiders, who would spend their time seeking and collecting long-lost and long-forgotten albums, often hoarding them in private collections or selling them at collector’s shows. The Internet and blogosphere have democratized the process, allowing the average listener and fan a chance to listen and to love some of these long-forgotten wonders. Unsurprisingly, there’s money that can be made from discovering long lost material, and it often results in labels and bloggers mining beloved and influential genres to exhaustion through endless compilations of certain genres — in particular psych rock, AM rock, doo wop, singer/songwriter folk, funk, soul and a few others come to mind.

Now, strangely enough up until last year, there hadn’t been many proto-metal, pre-stoner rock compilations when the Chicago, IL and Los Angeles, CA-based distributor Permanent Records released a compilation of incredibly rare singles from the 60s and 70s on Brown Acid: The First Trip. With the help of Daniel Hall of RidingEasy Records, Permanent Records co-owner Lance Barresi spent time not just collecting and compiling the singles on the compilation, they also spent a great deal of time tracking down the songs creators, often bands who haven’t been together in over 30 or 40 years, and encouraging them to take part in the entire process.  As Barresi explained in press notes for the first compilation, “All of (these songs) could’ve been huge given the right circumstances. But for one reason or another most of these songs fell flat and were forgotten. However, time has been kind in my opinion and I think these songs are as good now or better than they ever were.“ And by having the artists participate it can give the songs and the artists a real second chance at success, if not some kind of attention.

Barresi and Hall have complied a second volume of rare proto-metal and pre-stoner rock from the 60s and 70s, Brown Acid: The  Second Trip, which is slated (fittingly enough) for release on April 20. The Second Trip‘s first single, Ash’s “Midnight Witch” manages to sound as though it drew from Mountain‘s “Mississippi Queen,” Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride” and early Black Sabbath as layers of huge, sludgy and bluesy power chords are paired with a driving rhythm and soulful vocals. And while being forceful, the song manages to possess a trippy feel — and in some way the song nods at material that has been released by a number of contemporary bands including Ecstatic Vision and others.

 

 

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Formed back in 2007, Pinkshinyultratablet is a St. Petersburg, Russia-based shoegaze quintet that takes their name from an Astrobrite album, as the project led by Scott Cortez has been a major influence on their songwriting approach and their sound. The St. Petersburg-based quintet’s debut effort Everything Else Matters was released to critical acclaim internationally — and as a result, the band toured across the European Union, received airplay across several radio stations and has seen a growing international profile.

Slated for release on February 26, Pinkshinyultratablet’s sophomore effort Grandfeathered is not only a highly-anticipated album among shoegazer fans, the album is also reportedly a much more experimental effort, as the material reveals a band blurring the lines between visceral noise and restrained subtlety, while adding electronic elements. Grandfeathered’s second single “The Cherry Pit” has the band pairing layers of guitars played through various effect pedals, gently swirling electronics and a driving rhythm section with ethereal vocals bubbling and floating over a shimmering and breezy mix that sonically resembles RIDE and Chicago‘s Lightfoils.

 

 

 

If you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few months, you may recall that I’ve written about San Francisco, CA and Big Sur, CA-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and producer Jenny Gillespie. Gillespie can trace her musical career to he childhood — during drives to and from the Springfield, IL area, where she was born and raised, she spent quite a bit of time harmonizing in the backseat with her sister, who is a gifted and renowned pianist. When the San Francisco and Big Sur-based singer/songwriter was 13, she picked up her mother’s Martin guitar and began putting the poems she had been writing to her own original music. Gillespie’s life was further changed when a local record store clerk gave her album from three of the 90s most renowned singer/songwriters Tori AmosSarah McLachlan and Shawn Colvin — all of whom quickly became major influences on Gillespie’s music and songwriting.

After stints living in Virginia, Paris and Texas, Gillespie relocated to Chicago, where she self-produced and then released her sophomore album, Light Year, a folk and alt-country album that received quite a bit of praise. And as a result the attention Light Year received, Gillespie met Darwin Smith, an Austin, TX-based multi-instrumentalist, with whom she wrote her third full-length effort, Kindred, a sparse, experimental, electronica-based effort recorded in an old house in Wilmette, IL with contributions from Steve Moore, who has worked with Tift Merritt and Laura Veirs and Dony Wynn, who has worked with the legendary Robert Plant.

Inspired by a volunteer trip to Kenya that led her to an African fingerpicking class at the Old Town School of Folk Music and studying for an MFA in Poetry at North Carolina’s Warren Wilson College, Gillespie found her sound and songwriting approach expanding and becoming more refined. By the fall of 2011, she traveled to NYC to record the EP Belita with Shazard Ismaily, a multi-instrumentalist who has worked with Lou ReedBonnie Prince Billy, and St. Vincent. Interestingly, that effort possesses elements of pop, folk music, African and Asian rhythms and tones.

Featuring contributions from Emmett Kelly (Bonnie Prince Billy) on guitar and Joe Adamik (CalifoneIron and Wine) on drums, her last full-length effort Chamma was released to critical praise, including landing on Billboard Magazines Top 25 Albums of 2014 List. Naturally, that has seen Gillespie’s profile grow nationally — and continuing on that buzz, the singer/songwriter is set to release Chamma‘s follow-up, Cure for Dreaming through Narooma Records at the end of the month.  Recorded over the past couple of months and featuring contributions from Paul Bryan (Aimee Mann), drummer Jay Bellerose (Robert Plant and Allison Krauss’ Raising Sand), guitarist Chris Bruce (Meshell Ndgeocello), guitarist Gerry Leonard (David Bowie), and pedal steel player Greg Leisz (Lucinda WilliamsBon Iver), the album  reportedly possesses elements of folk, progressive jazz, and 60s and 70s AM pop.

The album’s first single “No Stone” paired Gillespie’s unhurried and husky vocals with a spacious and subtly jazz-like arrangement of keys, guitar, bass, gently buzzing electronics and hushed drumming in a song that felt as intimate as a lover whispering sweet nothings in your ear. And at the song’s core was a conversational lyricism that possessed a novelist’s attention to detail — both physical and psychological — as you can picture a woman who hides her face by the ocean, cherry blossoms in bloom, and someone peering through a keyhole to see a depressed woman struggling to just start her day. And as a result the song’s narrator feels like a fully-fleshed out person, desperately struggling to push forward.
The album’s second and latest single “Part Potawatomi” pairs Gillespie’s unhurried and ethereal vocals with a hummable melody, a deceptively simple arrangement of guitar, drums, bass and ambient electronics that sonically bears a resemblance to Junip — and their frontman, Jose Gonzalez‘s solo work.  And much like much like the album’s first single “No Stone,” “Part Potawatomi” reveals a Gillespie’s remarkable attention to detail, as the song frankly discusses the slow and seemingly inevitable dissolution of a romantic relationship metaphorically described as a storm brewing over the shore. The song’s narrator seems to evoke the sensation of being trapped in a relationship that’s going nowhere out of familial and moral obligation — and as a result, the song possesses a subtle yet increasing feeling of frustration and regret, while being one of the more beautiful songs I’ve heard in the past 10 days.

 

Blaccout Garrison is a Minnesota based singer/songwriter and emcee, who has started to receive attention on this site and across the blogosphere for his Hungry Soulful EP, which has the Minnesotan artist collaboration with the likes of Jackson, WY-based emcee Abstract and Chicago-based R&B vocalist and singer/songwriter The Elle. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few months, you may recall that I wrote about “Strawberry Cheesecake Dessert.” Produced by Dthr33, the song featured the use of a familiar and beloved sample to real hip-hop heads — the soulful and jazzy sample that comprises A Tribe Called Quest‘s “Bonita Applebum paired with The Elle’s soulful and seductive hook, as Garrison and Abstract trade old-school inspired verses about the women they love. And fittingly, much like the old school hip-hop sample, the emcees rhyme about their loves in charmingly old school terms as they describe how strong, stunning and smart their loves are, and how they both want to treat their loves as the queens and goddesses that the emcees know their ladies are.

Certainly, in an age in which contemporary mainstream artists have openly referred to women in disparaging and ugly terms, hearing such old-school sentiment is not just much-needed it’s refreshingly sweet.

Produced by P-Soul, Garrison’s latest single “Wishing On A Star” pairs a subtly chopped up old-timey, twinkling piano sample, boom-bap drum programming with The Elle’s effortlessly soulful vocals singing the song’s introductory verses and hook as Garrison rhymes about overcoming life’s frustrations and obstacles while being focused on one’s dreams. It’s positive, thoughtful and deeply soulful music — and in an age of soulless, cynically calculated, prepackaged music such thoughtful and earnest music is needed now more than ever before.

 

 

 

 

Over the past two years or so, Vancouver, BC-based producer, electronic music artist, Pat Lok has quickly built an international profile. Lok’s 2013 remixes of Cashmere Cat and Justin Timberlake, along with his own original single “Remember” received BBC Radio One airplay – and an AlunaGeorge bootleg, which was praised by the renowned electronic act received over 300,000 plays. Original singles like “Move Slow” and “Same Hearts” were released to critical praise from the likes of Vice’s THUMP and iTunes — and at at one point, the Canadian electronic music artist received over 1 million Soundcloud plays. Adding to a growing international profile, Lok has played clubs across Canada, Western Europe, Mexico, Columbia and the US.

Lok has been rather prolific this year, releasing a number of high profile singles that have captured the attention of this site and other blogs — and he ends the year with the release of “Your Lips” feat. Dirty Radio, a single that has seen airplay from BBC Radio 1Xtra, as well as spins by a number of renowned DJs including Tensnake, Moon Boots, Goldroom, Just Kiddin, Nick Catchdubs and others. And when you hear the song, you’ll see why it’s received such attention early on as the song pairs layers of cascading synths and skittering drum programming with Dirty Radio’s sultry vocals to create a song that possesses a seductive and dance-floor ready groove — while nodding to synth pop and R&B. Sonically, the song reminds me a little bit of a house music-version of Michael Jackson‘s “I Can’t Let Her Get Away.

The Vancouver, BC-based producer and electronic music artist recently announced the release of the “Your Lips” remix package, which features remixes from Dutch producer Tony Tritone, Leeds, UK-based artist Crvvcks and renowned Chicago-based duo Christian Rich.  The Tony Tritone remix (below) retains the soulful vocals but pairs them with hard hitting drum and bass and atmospheric synths to give the song an airy and  funky soul-leaning feel that makes the song sound as though it were drawing from Dam-Funk and 80s synth R&B — all while remaining dance-floor friendly.

 

Frequently compared to RIDE, Smashing Pumpkins, Dinosaur, Jr. and Deerhunter, the critically praised Chicago, IL-based quartet Pink Frost originally formed under the name Apteka — and as Apteka, the quartet recorded their debut effort Gargoyle Days on analog tape before releasing the album back in 2011 to critical praise; the album landed on Time Out Chicago‘s Best of 2011 List, as well as several others. After changing their name to Pink Frost, the quartet’s 2014 sophomore effort, Sundowning was released to critical praise from nationally renowned media outlets including Pitchfork, SPIN Magazine, Noisey, Magnet Magazine, and Chicago Reader. And adding to a growing national profile, material from Sundowning appeared in The Lookalike and TV series such as The Vampire Diaries and CSI: Miami, among others.

The Chicago-based quartet will be releasing a painstakingly remixed and remastered update of the original analog masters, which reportedly will not only pack much more punch, but will also be representative of the band’s live sound. Of course, with new artwork reflecting the band’s change of name, the band intends for the re-release of their debut to be a metaphorical and literal rebirth. (Interestingly, the members of Pink Frost have been incredibly busy of late as they’ve also been busily recording the follow-up to Sundowning and Traitors EP with Gregoire Yeche at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio Studios.)

The re-released album’s second and latest single “Where Days Go” is an power-chord based song with enormous, anthemic hooks that sounds as though it were inspired by 90s alt rock and shoegaze. I’m reminded quite a bit of The Posies‘ “Ontario,” Foo FightersThis Is A Call” and The Black Angels‘ “Telephone” as “Where Days Go” possesses a similar forcefulness and mosh-pit ready feel while being incredibly radio friendly.

 

New Video: Check Out the Roll Bounce-Inspired Video for Chicago-based Soul act The Main Squeeze’s New Single “Angelus”

Over the past couple of years, the Chicago-based neo-soul and funk quintet The Main Squeeze have become something got a mainstay act on this site as I’ve written about them on a handful of occasions. The quintet originally […]