The new album by Ryley Walker, Primrose Green, out Tuesday on Dead Oceans, ebbs and flows effortlessly in all the right ways. It’s an album that’s easy to lose yourself in, one that helps you travel through time as it streams through your speakers. As a newcomer to the music of Ryley Walker, I was instantly captivated by his unique blend of jazz and folk. Learning that he had his hands involved in the noise and punk scene as a precursor to his current sound came as no surprise. His acoustic influences, paired with an affinity for improvisation make for an album that builds into a wonderful sonic landscape that is well beyond his 25 years and his songs have found their way on my playlist more times than I’d like to admit.
If you’ve have the pleasure to see him IRL (“in real life” grandpa!) you know that Walker’s live show is like a graceful, audio-enigma. No two shows are the same and you often times leave having bore witness to a genesis of new songs, songs in progress, and favorites that have been re-worked, stretching and expanding beautifully before your very ears. Walker plays alongside a rotating cast of some of the most talented Chicago jazz musicians, a collection of friends and colleagues developed over years of involvement in the underground Chicago music scene. From the first recordings to the photos on the covers, everything is Chicago-centric, showcasing the beauty of a city that collaborates and grows together.
I was fortunate enough to exchange some quick words with Ryley the day after his Chopin Theatre record release (and the day of his solo show at Permanent Records). When talking with Walker his intentions are unspoken but clear, and he intends on continuing to make music he likes, with people he likes. Lucky for us, the product of these collaborations continue to be damn good.
Though you may not assume it when listening to their music, YAWN are DIY renegades. The phrase DIY usually doesn’t bring the type of immaculate production style that YAWN’s recordings feature. They represent a sort of hybrid animal within current music that reflects aspects of both recent DIY and archaic pop aspects of music. On one side, they are self-producing and recording. On the other, they have quality sounding recordings with an acute attention to detail. They have the assets of time and artistic control on their side and it has shown ever since their first EP in 2010.
OSHWA is the musical brain child of Alicia Walter, starting as a solo piece, growing into the wondrously chaotic four-piece it is today. OSHWA’s sound is a sonic landscape, bursting at the seams with Walter’s exuberant and romantic vocals and dynamic instrumentals, all set to an array of erratic and complex time tempos. I talked with Walter about learning to appreciate the more rigid parts of music and OSHWA’s journey to a truer, more stripped down sound.
I was first introduced to Mutual Benefit in late 2009 through some mutual friends Jordan Lee and I shared in a small town in Ohio – the cassette I bought that year has played constantly throughout my life during the last five years. The songs act as a time machine, slowly whisking me away, taking me on a winding voyage back in time to hiking trails and rooftop beers with large groups of friends.
For anyone who’s listened to Mutual Benefit it’s easy to see that it’s not the just musical mind space of the prolific Jordan Lee, but a living, breathing musical entity that grows and evolves with each new experience. What started as a group of recordings done in a spider-filled basement, has blossomed into a full-blown lazer-folk dreamscape. With wondrous cameos of both people and instruments sprinkled throughout each song, the discography acts as a map of Mutual Benefit’s past and future, tiny clues that shed some light on the journey that Lee has embarked on as Mutual Benefit. I caught up with Jordan before his show at the Bottle to talk about how Mutual Benefit has grown, sources of inspiration, and what being on a larger label means to him. Read More »
If you ever want to feel like there are rays of sunshine bursting through your eyeballs and have a smile so wide it hurts, than look no further, because The Lemons are here for you. The bubblegum pop sensation is just over a year old, but has quickly become a Chicago staple. Armed with some of the catchiest songs ever written and a carefree attitude, The Lemons are always a good time. I caught up with three out of six Lemons and talked about the secret to Lemon success, the song they can never play again, and even gave them a little lesson on ICP culture. Plus, after the interview get a sneak peak at a never-heard-before-brand-spanking-new Lemon’s song!
File this post under ‘people to remember.’ I’m sitting in the dimly lit store front of Shake Shop, drummer Tom Cassling’s guitar/amp repair shop and I don’t know if it’s the fact that it feels like October in July, or the giant, docile rottweiler named Gucci Mane we’ve just befriended outside, but being with the humans that comprise NEGATIVE SCANNER give me a pleasant sense of calm. The group emanates a refreshing sense of ease being together, and their talk of collaborative song writing tells me they work remarkably well together, a trait that’s not always easy to come by in bands.
The conversation flows seamlessly between us as we talk of the wonder of Athens, Ohio and local music communities, and how NEGATIVE SCANNER has been going so far. From the looks of it, things have been going pretty well. The quartet has been taking Chicago by storm. With it’s compelling lyricism paired with dark, haunting vocals, and throbbing beats laced with fierce, fast guitar lines, it’s no wonder people are paying attention. Read on to catch up on the deep origins of NEGATIVE SCANNER, what’s important to them while on tour, and underage drinkers.
It’s no secret that the members of CIRCLES have been around the Chicago music block a few times. Featuring members of THE PONYS, FOOTBALL, RADAR EYES, THE HOLY GHOSTS, and and even one of our own talent buyers, the band just released their first LP, Shadowgraph, out on the band’s own label, Diminished Arc. The group has all but perfected that careless, jangly power-pop sound. With upbeat anthems about dead friends, sweet lullabies to newborns, and a report on Marcus Gravey, Shadowgraph takes the listener on a roller coaster ride through self-aware ironies and tender moments, threading them with foot tappin’, hip shakin’ guitar and organ-driven pop, complete with vocal harmonies. Tomorrow CIRCLES will be celebrating their release that was three years in the making, alongside BARE MUTANTS and OUTER MINDS.
In a land deep below the Earth’s core, where homes are built from the bones of your enemies and acid drips from cave ceilings, where the Bog of Eternal Stench is a reality and The Humungus reigns, there exists RABBLE RABBLE. The quartet emerged from the slime of the underworld to join me in an exchange of words over the obnoxious hum of a home tattoo gun and a lot of laughter. Read on and find out whose farts belong to who, why you should definitely get in a van with a stranger who’s just shit on the street, and what the more mature Rabble Rabble has to say about life in the internet age. Do your research now and prepare yourselves, for RABBLE RABBLE will be summoning a vortex of demons, farts, and out of this world sonic creations that will tear through the Empty Bottle and all of our souls on the eve of Friday the 13th. It’s all in celebration of the release of their new album, BRAIN HOLE, and to start their tour of the underworld off right. RSVP here for free entrance to that live music engagement.
Good Vybes Fest is in full force at the Bottle this weekend. On Friday, March 21st, we started the night off right with the dreamtastic pop rock stylings of Today’s Hits, then continued to have our faces melted with sets by Rabble Rabble, Outer Minds and Useless Eaters. Before the madness I met the mastermind behind Eye Vybe Records and Good Vybes Fest, Karissa Talanian, at Margie’s Candies for a banana split. We spent some time talking about the frustrating limitations of life in the lower tax bracket, the gift of hindsight, and what Eye Vybe means to her. Check it out below.
Jeffrey Novak has been perpetually recording, creating, and producing music since the tender age of 14 when he bought his first 4-track. It’s over a decade later and he shows no signs of slowing down. With Cheap Time in it’s 8th year and it’s 4th LP, the group is still going strong. Despite being on tour for Exit Smiles, Cheap Time’s next album has already been written and sequenced proving again that just how little time Novak wastes.
I got to chat with Jeffrey and Jessica of Cheap Time before their electrifying and impressive no pause set here at the Empty Bottle. Read on and find out the best kind of friend to have, the most unifying bonds between the trio, and what he loves most about being in Cheap Time. Proving yet again that Jeffrey’s passion for analogue is only surpassed by his wild amount of musical energy.