Phto: Aatish Puniani
Every Sunday, DJs Esteban La Groue and Dave Mata lug a sizable chunk of their record collection, packed in a dozen or so crates and backpacks, to The Owl in Logan Square. They are the Impala Sound Champions, spinning six hours of vinyl, including soul, boogie, rap classics, reggae and rock ‘n’ roll. On a Friday or Saturday night, their selection would have any dance floor packed and sweaty. Sundays bring a more relaxed atmosphere, but not without a healthy dance floor.
Last month marked the first night in a new monthly mixtape series wherein Impala Sound Champions is featuring DJs from other cities. Prior to their guest appearance, each DJ compiles a two-sided mixtape cassette to be duplicated and given away to twenty early attendees. DJ Akalepse made the voyage from Brooklyn for the premiere of his mixtape “Stop the World/Truth and Soul,” which featured cover art by Chicago graffiti artist Slang. While the tape granted some lucky patrons a little piece of DJ Akalepse to keep here in Chicago, they also copped a small original illustration by the artist famed for his El train mural honoring the life of Mayor Harold Washington when he passed back in 1987. Read the rest of this entry »
Photo: Angel Ceballos/Robotangel.com
By Dave Cantor
A few weeks back, Guillermo Scott Herren and Ramble John Krohn played a show in San Francisco after not having performed on the same bill in almost ten years. Hitting the stage, these gentlemen performed as Prefuse 73 and RJD2.
Musically dissimilar, Krohn and Herren have traversed similar paths through adversity, releasing music encompassing an unwieldy range of influence. Herren’s had the good sense to erect various pseudonyms to work under, differentiating his Spanish-language pop constructions under the guise of Savath & Savalas from the production work being released as Prefuse 73. Krohn was simply clobbered after releasing “Third Hand,” a collection of pop songs at odds with his established DJ persona, under the RJD2 banner. Discerning Herren’s various intentions, though, hasn’t insulated the New York-based producer from criticism. But releasing work at the rate he does almost ensures pissing off some of his most dedicated fans.
“Me going down different paths, and maybe alienating my audience, it wasn’t my intention,” Herren says over the phone. “The last record I did [2011’s “The Only She Chapters”], I won’t even call it psychedelic, it’s a palette of sound and frequencies. I flushed it out of my head, and I’ve been reevaluating my own approach to beats.” Read the rest of this entry »
So late in the year, the frequency of quality festivals tapers off. But setting off that autumnal awe is the tenth installment of Adventures in Modern Music, a joint venture between the Empty Bottle and The Wire, to bring together a sizable selection of out-sounds from different genres. One of the better-known acts to be fitted into this sprawling look at contemporary music is R. Stevie Moore, who’s been given credit for presaging the slew of home-recording projects clogging up the internet nowadays. His work’s something like Daniel Johnston’s in that there’re clearly some ghosts being worked out in each affectional composition. He performs Wednesday. To highlight Adventures’ desire to strip genre of meaning, Rob Mazurek’s São Paulo Underground takes a spot on stage during the same evening, raving up experiments that use jazzy frameworks birthed from south of the equator. Read the rest of this entry »
On her debut US release “Fall to Grace” (Epic), British-born singer/actress/songwriter Paloma Faith brings an eclectic mix of songs that show influence from Amy Winehouse and Duffy mixed with her own personality. A handful of songs are clearly meant for the dance floor, such as the neosoul-inspired “Let Me Down Easy” and especially the retro-sounding “Blood Sweat and Tears.” Read the rest of this entry »
With the Pitchfork Festival looking increasingly like a summertime fleecing as opposed to any sort of grand exposure to new and important music and the digital criticism machine moving its headquarters to Brooklyn, who knows how much longer this shindig will (or should) last. More importantly, how many times a year do Chicago audiences need to see Ty Segall? Apparently, at least once more. Granted, digging up acts like Olivia Tremor Control, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and exposing concert-goers to Olympia’s Milk Music is a worthwhile endeavor, but apart from those folks and A$AP Rocky, standing around hoping not to pass out from a booze-induced coma or heat exhaustion doesn’t seem like a good way to spend a day. Read the rest of this entry »
One of the Pitchfork Festival’s best features is its ability to create ancillary events in the community. Of course, all these resulting shows and parties are just as packed as the festival, so hitting up any sort of entertainment can be burdensome. Pairing once-local comedian Hannibal Buress—yes, his parents named him that—with some of underground hip-hop’s most innovative producers rivals any grouping of performers at this year’s proper festivities. After a day filled with A$AP Rocky and BIG K.R.I.T., an instrumental interlude from the fingertips of former Chicagoan Jel should come in handy. Read the rest of this entry »
As Tycho, Bay Area designer Scott Hansen expands his digital purview from visual patterns to the auditory type. There’s an unsurprising confluence behind his work: Tycho’s IDM summoning calm colors and rounded-off shapes are detailed in Hansen’s visual work. And over three full-length albums, the producer has mellowed, leaving some of the most overt references to hip-hop behind, even if a few still crop up. Turning in 2004’s “Sunrise Projector,” Hansen crafted a few tunes he’d revisit—the title track and “Past is Prologue,” the latter serving as the eponymous composition for a 2006 project. It’s here that some of that rap backbeat gets traded in for production most would connect with Euro-laptopers and Stateside acts like Daedelus. Read the rest of this entry »
There was a moment in the late nineties, heading into the aughties, when Pharoahe Monch was featured on major-motion-picture soundtracks. Jurassic 5 was in the charts, and a generation of MCs weaned on The Pharcyde and A Tribe Called Quest landed major-label record deals. It’s not only because of these cultural occurrences that SoCal’s DJ Babu has been able to hit the road with nothing more than a few crates of records and two turntables, but it obviously didn’t hurt. Read the rest of this entry »
Electronic/Dance, Funk, Latin, New Music, Pop, Psychedelic, R&B, Rock, Samba, Singer-Songwriter, Soul, World Music
Céu/Photo: Renan Costa Lima
Throughout her career, São Paulo-born Céu (pronounced SEH-uh) has been inspired by electronica and American soul music, but on her recent release “Caravana Sereia Bloom” (loosely translates as “Mermaid Bloom Caravan”) she goes into a different direction. The music is influenced by various elements of Brazilian regional music. An example is the lead single “Retrovisor” (“Rear View Mirror”), a tune whose main rhythm is reminiscent of the sounds commonly heard in countryside nightclubs around the country’s southeastern region. Read the rest of this entry »
photo: John von Pamer
Although originally hailing from San Francisco, Lemonade bears little more than a passing resemblance to fellow Bay Area act The Limousines, avoiding the blood and glitter dirty electropop for a sound that is more indolent. Much ado is made about the band’s eclectic sound, a picking and choosing of numerous subgenres and sub-sub genres that leads to Billy Ocean drums and chillwave vocal lines meshing seamlessly with shoegaze misty drones and luxe synthesizer lines on one track, while another can boast Caribbean rhythms and manic percussion; Lemonade is more chimera than chameleon. The overarching vibe that holds most of the pieces together is that somnambulistic sensibility, the relaxed timbre that even their most manic tracks seem to carry. Read the rest of this entry »