Chicago drums & guitar duo Imelda Marcos have created something truly captivating & complex with their newest album. Guitarist Dave Cosejo blends together the aggressive, yet melodic guitar work of math-rock inflected bands like Don Caballero & Hella but puts his own spin on the caterwauling chaos, utilizing a guitar slide & an arsenal of palm-muted arpeggios to perk up all ears! On tracks like “moth-->eye of god”, he uses these techniques to create such a disorienting fugue that it almost hypnotizes the listener before splintering off into the song’s groove and release. Drummer Matt Durso is the perfect foil for this excellent guitar shredding. On tracks like “Prism Unabridged” he surges forward with impressive fills and intricate leads, pushing all the action, while simultaneously anchoring the track. This album of high-energy instrumentals ends with a blissed out minimalist number featuring the faint vocals of Lauren Davis (aka Mildred).
OK, a folky acoustic guitar EP. Got it. Tell me more. Well, for starters, the young Chicago songwriter, also a member of the band Distant Brothers, describes his own work as "genre-bending Americana songs on his banjo and guitar," and according to his bio, he was an ethnomusicology major, pulling subtle influences from Mande drumming, and traditional Irish music. Track 1 sounds like it might be a cross between something off the Llewyn Davis soundtrack and from the Michigan singer-songwriter Matthew Shelton. Track 2 starts with a banjo that grabs you immediately. An aspect of this release that makes it hyper-local is that each track was inspired by a different work at the Art Institute of Chicago, where the EP gets its name from.
Imagine a resurgence in your musical past after your one and only hit made it on American Bandstand in the '80s. This is what Julian Leal from Romeoville, IL experienced when he was approached from HoZac Records to re-release an archive of his songs after a group of avid record collectors dug deep into record bins looking for his debut material or any 45s of his made available in store or online. Julian Leal self-titled debut album came out in 1985 and quivers with the kind of power pop craze that followed the height of new wave.This archive features his debut album and rarities that focuses on the teenage crush vibe with songs as “Catch Her Trill”, “ Roller Skates” and “ Mad About You.” Taking a listen to this album will have you reminiscing of carefree and wholesome times.
The Alibis (local Chicago folk-duo of singer/songwriters Eric Quigley and Daniel Robbins) offer their debut album Bloom with eleven tracks of upbeat, poppy folk to accompany a mid-afternoon hike or drive on a warm day with a cool breeze. Definitely an Iron & Wine/Calexico vibe throughout the record, with arrangements including acoustic guitars, banjo, harmonica, maracas, piano, violin (not fiddle), and often-harmonic vocals.
"Bittersweet" is anchored by a hypnotic guitar line that's accompanied by vocals that are grounded during the verses but soar into the choruses. "The Mournful Sound" includes claps and a subtle slide guitar to build a droning rhythm over which the two singers harmonize. Every aspect comes together most hauntingly and beautifully on "City Lights" which is anchored by a pretty, finger-picked guitar. Thematically, just about every song seems to balance a failed relationship with what is perhaps a one-night stand (possibly with the ex-love). Every track coheres to the overall sound but the varied instrumentation throughout allows each song its unique feel.
Chicago post-metallers Pelican return with their sixth album, following up 2013’s Forever Becoming. The band continues to do with they do best - pump out high-quality atmospheric post-metal that experiments with a wide variety of sounds and textures. The closest sonic comparison I can make is to fellow Chicagoans Russian Circles. However, Pelican’s music is generally heavier and takes less influence from shoegaze and lighter post-rock acts such as Explosions in the Sky than the latter.
Nighttime Stories opens with the folk-tinged “WST” that laments the death of friend and Tusk bandmate Jody Minnoch. The album starts getting heavier on “Midnight and Mescaline,” which is primarily dominated by prog influences sounding similar to Animals as Leaders but with some darker undertones. “Cold Hope” is a thick, heavy, atmospheric track that incorporates doom influences. Finally, the closer “Full Moon Black Water” incorporates many influences from the previous tracks and melds them all into one.