Here we go, the top 20. These are the first ten albums of 20 records that got the most spins, raised my heart beat most often, or calmed me down enough to actually sleep once in a while. (more…)


I didn’t realize how good music was in 2011 until I started making my year-end lists. Though I had trouble deciding just what would make the awards podium, the wealth of remarkable material is, well, remarkable. You’ll probably notice, when it’s all said and done, there are a number of high profile omissions, that says more about the quality of music this year than what may have been “lacking” in those releases–also, I didn’t want to have 30 or 40 honorable mentions in addition to a top 20. Without further ado, let’s open the flood gates with a list of EPs, splits, and LPs that were great but didn’t quite fit in my top 20. In other words, I really enjoyed these and got tired of trying to assign numbers, but felt these in need of a spotlight. (Don’t read anything into the order, it’s all alphabetical, folks.) (more…)

Mt. Trashmore
Clown Ethics Recordings

Chicago math rockers T’bone make complex grooves for the kids who just barely passed Algebra II. Mt. Trashmore tracks tend to fall into one of two categories: pulsating jams with fairly conventional structures and completely or largely instrumental exercises punctuated with bellowed non-sequiturs.  The trio–Ed Bornstein on drums, Pat McPartland on guitar, and Leland Meiners on bass–pack a lot of ideas into a song, time signature and key changes abound, but they went for the populist jugular on the lyrics. (more…)

I took this one, okay.

Iowa City ambient duo, Cocoon, has a few dates scattered across the Midwest in the coming weeks including a set tomorrow night at Panchos Bar, here in Chicago.
Since I last blogged about Ian MacMillian and Zach “Avery” Dowling (a/k/a Goldwater Marmalaid), they’ve finally played more shows than Cocoon has releases. And they have a few with Zodiac and Hugs Unlimited over the next few days. If you’re in the Midwest, all the shows are pretty inexpensive, so if you’re feeling like getting some fine Iowa ambiant, this should be your jam. (more…)

It’s only March, but we’re getting ready for the invasion of many of the country’s finest comedic minds upon the Windy City in mid June for the Just for Laughs festival.
Well before all the greats descend upon Chicago, some of the emerging local talent (and a few gents from Minneapolis) are going to test their skills to see if they can’t net a slot in one of the festival’s many showcases. Thursday night, at The Red Bar Comedy Club, 15 comics will take the stage for that very honor.
You can order tickets here (just five bones!) or if you need more convincing, I’ve posted a video and link to each comics webpage below. (more…)

(Photo nabbed from artist’s Myspace page)

Chicago’s BIGCOLOUR is prepping a new album. But while we await, what appears to be a self-titled, full-length opus, we have the album’s lead single, “Playing Puzzles,” up on bandcamp. (more…)

Illustration by Johnnie Cluney of Daytrotter

Chicago’s Pillars and Tongues just saw their sophomore session with the fine folks at Daytrotter hit the Internet. P&T are a unique trio, traversing terain as diverse and folk, drone, and acoustic balladry without breaking a sweat. And they’re pretty much perfectly suited to Daytrotter’s (still) acoustic and rustic(ish) vibe.
This latest session from Pillars and Tongues is a convincing argument for seeing them live. Though their recorded material is wonderful, the way this trio fills a room with sound or embraces the silent edges of a space is haunting. That expansiveness and meditative wonder is fully intact on this session.
Do yourself a favor and experience it here.


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