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WLUW sits down with Van Goose (Drummer of Marcy Playground)

Shlomi Lavie, lead singer and drummer of Van Goose, carved out time while at Reggie’s Chicago on Thursday, March 14th for a brief interview. 

One of our very own DJ's hosting "Velvet Fever" led the conversation. Read what they bantered about below


Ella Fraunhofer: Okay first off, how are you? How are you feeling about the show tonight?

Van Goose: I’m good. Things have been pretty intense because all the preparations for the tour, and the album just never stops, and a lot of it is on my back, so it’s a lot of running around all of the time. But it’s super exciting, and so far, it’s been awesome.


EF: Awesome, and when did you start the tour?

VG: So it started on March 7th, a week ago. 


EF: Have you ever played in Chicago before?

VG: I have, but not with this band. I played drums for Marcy Playground, so mainly with them.


EF: And what venue did you play at?

VG: I remember Double Door, but I think they closed, right?


EF: Oh yeah. They did close actually. 

VG: Such a cool venue.


EF: Very cool venue! I’m so bummed about it. I used to go there all the time.

VG: Yeah, we played there a bunch of times.


EF: So my understanding is that this is your solo project. How are you feeling about, I’m assuming, having all or most creative control?  

VG: It’s something I wanted to do for such a long time. You know, my mind was full of noise, and it was like, you’ve got to do it. Sit down, and make this record already. So for me, it’s such an exciting moment to finally finish an album, since I’ve been working on it for probably four years or so. I feel fulfilled. 


EF: Oh wow. What lead you to start this solo project?

VG: It was mainly the understanding that I would not be able to rest until that thing comes out. It was almost like stronger than me. Before that, I was messing around with writing music, and prior to this, I had another project that was my solo project, but it was… it was a very theatrical show when I was hiding behind a voice, kind of making this raspy voice and wearing masks and all that. At some point, it felt like it’s not as honest as I’d like it to be, so I stopped doing that, and felt like alright, now no masks and just be honest. 


EF: So it sounds like it’s been a long process… four years. Can you tell me a little bit about the process.. inspirations, feelings, thoughts?

VG: There’s so many influences and because it’s been such a long process, the way that I imagine the album when I just started and the way it ended up are completely different. In between, things change, and my taste changed. There’s a huge early underground 70’s disco influence on the album. That’s kind of one of the things I had in mind for this project, combining more aggressive punk elements with that kind of stuff, dancy stuff. That was kind of the core idea behind the album, and I built it from there.


EFAnd you think it’s different from your past work?

VG: I think it’s different. It’s definitely more honest and less jokey. There’s still a lot of humor involved, but it’s much more honest, and yeah.


EF: Yeah. And you were born in Tel Aviv?

VG: I was born in Haifa and lived in Tel Aviv for a good 10 years. I moved there when I was 18 because when you’re a musician, Tel Aviv is pretty much the place.


EF: Definitely. And you lived in NYC at some point as well?

VG: Yes, so from Tel Aviv, I moved to Brooklyn, and I’ve been there for the last 11 years. 


EF: In considering both environments, do you feel that those places have any influences on your music or the sound that you are drawn to?

VG: For sure, for sure, for sure. I mean with Israel and the scene… I mean, that’s where I come from, so growing up as a musician in Israel, it’s inevitable not to have any influence. Very much New York has an influence as well because our sound and the concept of disco started in New York state, and then the concept of combining those elements with punk is also something that was kind of invented in New York. This is the city to be in as far as the music I do. Most of the bands that influenced the album are mostly NYC-based bands and labels. 


EF: What would be your “favorite” song off of the album?

VG: Oh, that’s tough, and it’s kind of strange because there’s only one song that is kind of on the mellow side and is very different from the rest of the album. For some reason, that song kind of like still hits me the most, possibly because it’s a song that I did not mess around with long enough to get tired of it, possibly for that reason. 

EF: And what’s the name of the song?

VG: It’s called “Wildstar.”


EF: What do you hope to convey to the listeners of Habitual Eater?

VG: I guess, I like to confuse people. I like to be able to be not definable in a way, and kind of like break the boundaries of this is this genre and that is that genre. I like people to respond from more of a physical place. You know, we play these shows, and they are very rhythmic. We have five people in the band, playing different instruments. It always feels almost like we have five drummers in the band. They are all playing very rhythmic patterns. I’d like to get people to respond physically to the music if that makes sense. 


EF: Yeah, absolutely.  Last question, fun one. What are you listening to right now?

VG: Oof, uh, how about I look at my Spotify playlist of things that I’m discovering. So let’s see what I’ve got… (looking through phone). There’s a band called NOV3L. It’s N-O-V-the number 3- L. They are from the northwest or British Columbia, and they have a little bit of the same energy as us. I bumped into a video and loved the sound, so I bought the record, and it sounds incredible. It’s very post-punky, Talking Heads. Also, Moonduo. They’re so good, so good. It’s a duo, I believe. It’s also the combination between synths and live instruments. Very much dancey but also rocky. Helena Hauff, who I believe is a German producer. That’s full on like electronic, experimental, disco, house stuff. That’s like really, really cool. Oh! There’s this band, Kruangbin. 


EF: Oh, I know exactly who you’re talking about! Kruangbin. 

VG: So good, soo good.


EF: So good! Well, good stuff that you’re listening to. Any last remarks?

VG: I guess my message is to stay in school!


Shlomi’s calm yet passionate attitude made sitting down with him a very comforting and humble experience.

In a way, it juxtaposed Van Goose’s following performance, which was energetic and at sometimes, unpredictable and confusing, just as Shlomi had hoped to portray. Confusing and unpredictable are being used as positive terms in this case, as the performance simulated a roller coaster experience.

Moments of a steady house, disco beat urging me to get up and dance (as this was a sit-down show) sank into moments of experimental synth takeover, causing me to stop, stare, and try and understand what my body was experiencing and feeling. Van Goose officially succeeded in causing not just a mental and emotional reaction but a physical response as well. In conclusion, recorded Van Goose, although favorable in its own ways, does not do live Van Goose nearly enough justice.

Nonetheless, Van Goose’s new album Habitual Eater can now be streamed on all music streaming platforms. 

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Smino to play back to back shows at House of Blues March 23/24

Smino reps Chicago so hard you would think that he’s from the city of Chicago. But alas, he is not. Smino, a St. Louis native, is making a splash in the local Chicago scene alongside exciting talent such as Ravyn Lenae and Monte Booker, who is Smino’s main collaborator. On November 8, 2018, Smino released his highly-anticipated album, NOIR, as a follow up to his debut album blkswn. He will be in Chicago on March 23 and 24 at the House of Blues kicking off the U.S. leg his Hoopti Tour in support of NOIR. 


When listening to Smino’s music, it is abundantly clear that he has been influenced by a variety of genres including hip-hop, R&B, and funk. He can blend elements from all of these genres effortlessly to create an exceptional sound that makes listening to each song of his a new experience. Smino also boasts one of the most unique voices in hip-hop and is constantly experimenting with new flows and vocal ranges to further set himself apart from his peers. On "NOIR," Smino creates a mix of boastful, heavy-hitting songs like “KLINK” and smooth, R&B laden jams like “MF GROOVE.” On the album, he gets help from Chicago artists Ravyn Lenae, Valee, Dreezy, and Monte Booker who all successfully showoff what they bring to the Chicago music scene. The eclectic features and production from Booker and Sango along with Smino’s developing versatility make NOIR a great sophomore album and an even better stepping stone in his young career. 


Smino’s Hoopti Tour features EarthGang and Chicago artist Pheolix. In a live setting, Smino has support from Monte Booker as his DJ and from a live band. Him and his band will make his live show a special experience by bringing his music to life and incorporating new elements that do not appear on his albums. His show on the 23rd is sold out, but tickets are still available for his show on the 24th

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This Week at Rotation on WLUW

Every week WLUW’s lovely music staff picks the best new music releases to add to our rotation. Check out what we’ll be spinning this week and into the future!

  1. The Coathangers - The Devil You Know - Suicide Squeeze Records

  2. Durand Jones & The Indications - American Love Call - Dead Oceans

  3. Girl in Red - we fell in love in october sampler - Self-released

  4. Justus Proffit - L.A.’s Got Me Down - Bar/None Records

  5. Kiwi Jr. - Football Money - Mint Records

  6. SASAMI - SASAMI - Domino Recording Company

  7. Stella Donnelly - Beware of the Dogs - Secretly Canadian


The Coathangers - The Devil You Know - Suicide Squeeze Records

Since forming in 2006 The Coathangers have stayed true to their garage roots. Their energetic brand of punk is loud and raucous, and with each consecutive release they further hone their songwriting skills and musicianship. Members Julia Kugel (guitar), Meredith Franco (bass), and Stephanie Luke (drums) have a overwhelming sense of confidence on their 6th studio album, The Devil You Know, something reflected in their vocal performances, which range from coy and singsong to angry and animalistic. Each member of the trio has a distinct voice and writing style, and it leads to a varied and balanced record. What each member shares in their writing is a keen sense of humor and political wit, something best seen in tracks “Bimbo”, which includes the lyrics “It’s not easy for a heart that’s stuck in limbo / It’s okay ‘cause you’re a thumb and I’m a bimbo” and “F the NRA,” the title of which leaves little to the imagination. It’s clear that even after 13 years of working together the group is a more cohesive unit than they’ve ever been, and there’s plenty of life and new ideas left in their music.

Favorite Track: Bimbo

Listen if you like: Sleater-Kinney, Shannon and the Clams, Cage the Elephant



Durand Jones & The Indicators - American Love Call - Dead Oceans

It remains to be an impressive feat when a modern group is able to produce an album that sounds like it was recorded in an entirely different era. Between the pretty string arrangements and the warm quality to the recording, American Love Call, The sophomore project from Durand Jones & The Indicators, could easily sneak into a playlist of soul music from the early 70’s. Despite this musical costume design, the lyrics on American Love Call reflect the seriousness of the current political landscape in the United States. Even on the deceptively breezy “Sea Gets Hotter” drummer Aaron Frazer (who shares lead vocal duties with Jones) sings about a “gatherin’ storm” and how “dust hangs on the breeze.” It’s an irresponsible tune about a couple driving down the highway and trying to forget about the specter of climate change. Whether you’ve been intrigued by the recent soul revival or enjoy soul in general, Durand Jones & The Indicators have delivered a solid collection of songs with an urgent message on American Love Call.

Favorite Track: Sea Gets Hotter

Listen if you like: Charles Bradley, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Curtis Harding



Girl in Red - we fell in love in october Sampler - self-released

This isn’t so much of a new release (although it does contain a new song!) as it is WLUW playing a collection of songs from across Girl in Red’s (Marie Ulven) singles and EPs which she has been steadily been releasing since late 2017. Her brand of bedroom pop is both soft and warm, candidly covering topics from mental illness to sexuality. “girls,” from her chapter 1 EP, is an unapologetic coming out on which Ulven proclaims, having already stated her affection for women, “No this is not a phase or coming of age / No this will never change.” On “summer depression” characterizes herself as a “pretty face with pretty bad dreams.” Each song has this sort of duplicity: sunny and sad, a cheery melody and sad lyrics, inner desires and outer pressure. Most important of these is that Girl in Red’s music is quiet but her personality is not, and she’s clearly putting in the work in her bedroom studio. WLUW looks forward to an eventual full-length debut from Girl in Red.

Favorite Track: girls

Listen if you like: Nilufer Yanya, Clairo, Maggie Rogers



Justus Proffit - L.A.’s Got Me Down - Bar/None Records

It’s no secret that artists who live and work in L.A. don’t necessarily do so by choice. A cursory search on any streaming service will reveal dozens of song titles including the city’s name. Some are on the sunnier side, like the Jonas Brother’s “L.A. Baby (Where Dreams Are Made Of,  and some more critical, such as Randy Newman’s deceptive “I Love L.A.” or the more overtly negative “Leaving LA” by Father John Misty. Justus Proffit enters a long tradition of music about the mega city with his debut album L.A.’s Got Me Down, but instead of going over well-tread territory, Proffit pens a very personal set of songs on isolation and misfortune. “Shadow of the Cross” tells of a dreary and lonely apartment, Proffit sings “I’m asleep in the simple solitude / Silhouette in the empty room.” From stories of drug abuse to the deaths of loved ones, we can clearly see the emotional toll that Proffit has suffered through. This is also reflected in the hazy guitar leads that lay over most tracks. It’s a very 90’s sound. Perhaps the track most emblematic of Proffit’s feelings on this album is “Split Into,” on which he sings “You’ll never fit into this place / Keep you afraid and feed you harm / Until you lose your pretty charm.” Though his music will likely never make its way into a California tourism advertisement, it’s an emotionally potent album and one that sets a strong first impression for Justus Proffit.

Favorite Track: Laughing on the Inside

Listen if you like: Spoon, Lala Lala, Kurt Vile



Kiwi Jr. - Football Money - Mint Records

Following the logical thread of the lyrics proves to be a difficult task on Kiwi Jr.’s debut Football Money. The music is a straightforward and catchy blend of garage rock and indie pop. The confounding element to this formula is the absurdist lyrics sang by frontman Jeremy Gaudet. Even on the more clear-cut track “Salaryman” we are left to wonder if the titular businessman is metaphorically a snake or if the line “nobody loves me like you do” is directed at the snake by the salaryman. Snake or not, the song is a cry of boredom, a theme which is apparent even over the labyrinthine structure of the lyrics. On “Nothing Changes” Gaudet sings “This boy knows I hate his band and everybody looks like a lumberjack / Guitars! More Guitars!” which along with the titular refrain indicates that the band’s life is overwhelmingly predictable. The result of all this sameness is explained on the intro track “Murder in the Cathedral,” which details Gaudet’s increasing inability to tell people and places apart from one another because “a million people’s faces is a hard act to follow.” For those willing to take the time to dig into it, the writing on this record is clever and fun, and for those who just want good music the hooks here are irresistable and should keep any listener coming back.

Favorite Track: Murder in the Cathedral

Listen if you Like: Deerhunter, Parquet Courts, Girls



SASAMI - SASAMI - Domino Recording Co

Multi-instrumentalist SASAMI (Sasami Ashworth) already has an impressive resume as a former member of Cherry Glazerr and having collaborated with the likes of Curtis Harding and Hand Habits. SASAMI has spent plenty of time busting her chops in the background, and she finally gets to put the spotlight on her own talents with her self-titled debut. On the intro track “I Was a Window” SASAMI sheds light on her writing process, singing “Words hanging over from yesterday's ending thoughts . . . so I wrote them all out.” Songs like “Not the Time” and “Free” exemplify this stream-of-consciousness approach to writing, as if the lyrics were taken directly from SASAMI’s in-the-moment reactions to her life. On the foreboding and poetic “Jealousy” she explores idea of trading routine and comparisons to others with uniqueness and self-acceptance. (SASAMI poses as a witch in the fantastic music video). SASAMI is an enlightening and introspective album and a strong debut for an artist who is sure to continually stand out in the indie-rock scene.

Favorite Track: Callous

Listen if you like: Snail Mail, Lucy Dacus, Amen Dunes



Stella Donnelly - Beware of the Dogs - Secretly Canadian

CW: This album directly discusses sexual harassment and abuse

The songwriting talents of Stella Donnelly cannot be understated. On her debut album Beware of the Dogs she weaves stinging social commentary and heartbreaking stories of daily realities in order to paint a bigger picture of patriarchy, toxic masculinity and corruption. Donnelly speaks clearly and directly of systematic male privilege and its effects. Her message is most unmistakable on “Old Man,” where she sings “I’ve worked too hard for this chance to not be biting the hand that feeds the hate.” The stunning title track “Beware of the Dogs” focuses on political corruption and portends of broken promises and environmental destruction. The emotional centerpiece of the album “Boys Will Boys” is a harrowing portrait of victim blaming in the wake of sexual assault. It’s a heavy song fed by a potent mixture sadness and anger, the latter emotion Donnelly channels in the closing lines of the track “Like a mower in the morning / I will never let you rest / you broke all the bonds she gave you / time to pay the f-----g rent.” Beware of the Dogs is both a warning and an urgent plea. Donnelly wants to encourage men to discuss how they explicitly and implicitly uphold these systems and to keep each other in line. Donnelly tells of a bleak reality, but she does d=so with a great sense of humor, and there’s a clear thread of optimism that things can change. Why else would she be poking the beehive?

Favorite Track: Beware of the Dogs

Listen if you like: Julia Jacklin, Vagabon, Father John Misty


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Jesse to Perform at Subterranean on May 3

Otherwise known as front man Jesse Rutherford of The Neighbourhood, Jesse has announced that he’s bringing his infusion of pop, rap, and electronic music to Chicago this May.

His first full length solo album “&” proves clear differences in Jesse’s own artistic vision for himself compared to the alternative rock tone he brings to The Neighbourhood. “&” is almost comparable to The Neighbourhood’s mixtape released in 2014, “#000000 & #FFFFFF” which consisted of a collection of  alternative beats paired with the smooth, melodic rapping of Jesse Rutherford .“&” experiments with combining pop and rap, but eventually an electronic tone is heard in songs like  the stand out track “Born to be Blonde,” a lusty auto-tuned rap song “Barbie & Ken”, and a more poppy track “Blame”. Jesse uses “&” to seemingly express personal thoughts and feelings on love, relationships, drugs, and style.

With the show selling far in advance of its' show date, Jesse will draw a large audience on May 3rdat the Subterranean; and I am sure he will provide an entertaining act to match an energetic up-beat crowd of fans.

For more information on the show visit React Presents.

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Max Frost visits Chicago on his first headlining tour

Posted by: Matea Peric

With a little less than five months since he last played in Chicago, rising pop artist Max Frost visited the Subterranean venue on March 15th. Only, this visit is different. At the Allstate Arena on October 17th, 2018, Frost opened for Twenty One Pilots as part of their Bandito tour. Now, Frost is coming on strong with headlining his own tour for his most recent album Gold Rush.

When listening to Max Frosts’ songs prior to witnessing his live performances, one could easily assume there would be a band supporting him on stage. However, Frost clearly possessed the musical skill set a typical band often needs. Ranging from guitar to drums, to singing, he does it all through live looping or playing over pre-recorded tracks. For the first few minutes of the second song of the set, “$Dreams,” consisted of heavy production. Frost began banging on what seemed to be an electronic drum pad, giving the beat a robotic-like sound. Through live looping, he quickly mixed piano and then guitar into the song which brought a whole other dimension to the music. This way, it was clear that Frost utilized the stage and every aspect of it, considering he was playing just about every single musical instrument himself.

Just before Frost performed “Paranoia,” he was not hesitant in showcasing his drumming skills. His drumming was medium to fast-paced, but the background noise he was playing along with had a peaceful, mysterious aspect to it. This made the solo ambient-like and filled with serenity,
yet also built up anticipation and excitement for the following song. “Paranoia” began with a futuristic, synthesizer sound which ultimately transitioned into a more drum and guitar dominant song when it came to the chorus. Frost was sure to add soulful guitar riffs and solos, which added a rock element to his music. At times, Frost would carry both his electric guitar and bass at the same time, highlighting his ability to transition between instruments efficiently the entire night.

In all honesty, he put on an amazing show that will be unforgettable. From the amazing visuals to the energetic stage presence, I highly recommend catching a show from this multi-instrumentalist, skillful musician. Not only does he have radio potential for all of his songs, but
he puts on a lively, energetic, authentic show that makes it difficult to keep your eyes off him. Without a doubt, I will look to attend to more of Max Frosts’ shows in the future.

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