Lockdown—self-isolating—sheltering in place—goes easier with these outstanding album releases by stellar Chicago artists, available now.
The venerable band’s first EP was recorded after the pandemic broke out—which goes a long way to prove that nothing stops rock ’n’ roll. It also features guest appearances by Ohmme, V.V. Lightbody, Lala Lala and Tom Reeder.
“We’re New Again”
Billed as a reimagining of jazz and funk poet Gil Scott-Heron’s final album, 2009’s “I’m New Here,” this session sees McCraven collaborating with stellar Chicago-formed talent including Jeff Parker, Ben LaMar Gay and Junius Paul.
In his second album, the first-generation Indian-American and Muslim singer lends his stellar R&B sensibility and gorgeous, crooning tenor to original songs with an emphasis on civil rights and gender equality.
The rapper who hit gold with the powerful “Die a Legend” goes for a more reflective vibe on his latest. It’s still an unstinting exploration of life, death and violence, but with a more expansive palette—both sonic and lyric.
Flower of Devotion
The sophomore release from indie-rock trio Emily Kempf, Jason Balla and Eric McGrady finds them riding their neo-surf wave onto unfamiliar shores, with moments ranging from post-punk to torch-and-twang.
Robert Rodi is an author, spoken-word performer and musician who has served as Newcity’s Music Editor since 2014. He’s written more than a dozen books, including the travel memoir “Seven Seasons In Siena.” His jazz quintet recently completed a two-year residency at Uncommon Ground, and he regularly hosts a jazz singers’ jam at Lizard’s Liquid Lounge. His literary and music criticism has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, Salon, The Huffington Post and many other national and regional publications.