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Tender Plays The Beat Kitchen 3/14

Hailing from London, England TENDER traveled all the way to Chicago’s Beat Kitchen on Thursday, March 14, 2019 in support of their newest full-length release, Fear Of Falling Asleep. It was released just a couple of months ago on January 18, 2019 and was featured as one of WLUW’s on rotation projects. Fear Of Falling Asleep is an indie electronic/alternative album that echoes the late night thoughts that keep you up at night such as past and present relationships, or existential feelings. The individual tracks of the album seamlessly fall into each other as if it were all one intertwined dream.

TENDER was able to interpret the dreamlike feelings from their album and incorporate it into their live show. Their surreal ambiance resonated in the extra-small space of the Beat Kitchen. What made it even more special was the weather in Chicago that accompanied the live performance. A windy and rainy day is seemingly the perfect and most beautiful weather for TENDER’s music. The members of the live band wore all white outfits, which absorbed the stage lights stunningly. Together, they created the harmonious sounds that reached our ears. The crowd was standing close together, as they swayed in rhythm and unison. It was a flawless set that left the audience craving for more. Once TENDER finished playing their last track, the crowd cheered them back on stage for an encore.

TENDER played one more song, and then humbly walked through the crowd to the merchandise table in the back. They gave out a multitude of high-fives, fist bumps, and ‘thank you’s as they made their way through. At the merch table, they happily signed records and took pictures with fans eager to express their gratitude of an absolutely stellar performance.

They will be on tour in North America until April 11 before heading back to London for a homecoming show on April 25. See if they are making a stop in your city here.

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WLUW Talks To College Party Band Spud Cannon

Spud Cannon hail from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY, and is made up by Meg Matthews (Vocals), Jackson Lewis (Guitar), Lucy Horgan (Bass), Ariana Bowe (Keyboard), and Ben Scharf (Drums). The group formed as complete strangers in 2016 and have since produced two albums, 2017’s Next Time Read the Fine Print and 2018’s Squeeze, which landed at #3 on the North American College Radio top 200. Pulling from a variety of influences and styles, the group just wants to make people dance. We sat down with Spud Cannon before their show Downstairs at Subterranean to talk about their music and life as a touring college band.

 

Jamie: So you’re all students at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY, could you tell me about how you all met?

Jackson Lewis: Well it’s a classic movie meeting story. We’re actually perfect strangers. I met our first drummer in kind of a random way. I walked up to him in the dining hall and then I put a flyer for a bass player -

Lucy Horgan: He put up a flyer, just like a blank sheet of paper that said bass player wanted on it with a phone number, I texted it. I literally didn’t own a bass guitar, but I played upright bass so I bought a bass guitar and started playing with it

Meg Matthews: And then Jackson came to my acapella show - because I’m an acapella girl - yup yup yup yup and yup that’s me! And he saw me soloing so he came up to me and said “Hello! How would you feel about singing in a band?” I thought “Hmmm, that sounds too cool for me,” and that was that.

Ariana Bowe: I had a big crush on our first drummer, and I already knew Lucy so I kind of tagged along with her to hang out with him.

Lucy: And Ben came on this year

Ben Scharf: Meg found me juggling in the quad on my first week of school, and the first thing she asked me before she asked my name was “do you play drums?” And of course the answer was yes.

Meg: Well I asked him “Do you ALSO play drums” because he was juggling and I thought “That’s pretty cool”

Lucy: Coordination!

Jackson: He is truly a renaissance man.

Jamie: How is it being in college and touring at the same time?

Jackson: It’s brutal

Meg: It’s all about stuffing it in the cracks, you know? Summer and Spring break.

Lucy: It’s our Spring break baby!

Jackson: Yeah and it’s a long one, so we’ve got 14 shows in just about two weeks.

Jamie: You’re used to playing at parties and house shows. How do you bring that energy to these bigger concerts?

Lucy: We dance when we play. We’re gonna have fun no matter what happens.

Jackson: It’s a party.

Ben: Once a party band, always a party band.

Jamie: You just did a session at Audiotree Live earlier today. It seemed like you all had a lot of fun, and it really did feel like a party. Between that and your two upcoming showcases at SXSW, how does it feel to be featured on this bigger national platforms for music?

Lucy: Our set was a ton of fun! We were all really nervous, but being featured like that feels really good.

Jackson: We are not worthy! We’re walking into Audiotree and they say “Hey, thank you so much for being here,” and I’m like “Thank US?” They took such good care of us, and it was just a dream come true.

Meg: At the same time it feels so good and just right. It’s not like we’re walking away thinking “well s--t we f-----d that up,” we did really good with it!

Jamie: I was reading some of the comments on the Audiotree stream on Youtube, so we’re gonna do a quick lightning round with your first impressions on each one. First one: “This is what I live for.”

Jackson: This is what we live for!

Jamie: “Top hat emoji show 1000% music three eighths notes emoji perfect”

Spud Cannon: [In unision] Wow!

Lucy: More eighths than I would have thought.

Jamie: “I love the bass on this one.”

Lucy: Spank you!

Ariana: What a tone queen!

Jamie: Just a quick reminder that these are Youtube comments. This one is “Female vocals suck [sic]”

[Talking over one another]

Jackson: You know what? Screw you, go home! Just sexist.

Meg: Sexist hater.

Lucy: There’s something wrong with your ears. He’s just f-----g jealous that he’s not a f-----g cool woman in a great band!

Jackson: [Fart Noises]

Lucy: Yeah, we’re gonna fart on you!

Jamie: “This band rips.”

Lucy: Rips farts!

Jackson: This person knows what they’re talking about.

Jamie: “Why’s everyone look like they were dressed in the 1970’s?”

Jackson: Because people should dress up and not look like sad boys!

Lucy: It’s cool!

Jamie: Finally, “Groovy.”

Spud Cannon: [In unison] Yeah!

Jackson: That was a good average of good comments, I’m surprised.

Jamie: Could each of you tell me your biggest musical inspiration?

Lucy: The Strokes

Jackson: Andy Gill from Gang of Four

Ben: Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers

Ariana: I would definitely say Blondie in terms of stage presence.

Meg: I truly don’t have one, but we were just listening to Paramore so Hayley Williams is definitely up there.

[The first act goes on in the next room]

Jackson: We can go to the hallway downstairs so we can hear each other

[It’s still too loud]

Lucy: Should we go into the men’s room?

[The interview continues in the men’s bathroom]

Jamie: Your second record had a pretty intense production cycle, could you tell me about it?

Jackson: It kind of happened out of necessity, we had to all be in the same place to record it and that’s a rarity. We cut a couple of the tracks at the end of spring.

Meg: And then we cut most of it in just two days in a studio in LA. That was really intense, we were writing lyrics in the studio before recording.

Jamie: Are there any benefits to making an album in such a short period of time?

Meg: The energy is up!

Jackson: And it forces you to make quick decisions. There’s no dilly-dallying and you just sort of have to put it down.

Jamie: What are your favorite Spud Cannon songs?

Lucy: I like “Shadows You Turn To,” it’s a banger and we don’t play it enough.

Ariana: I like “Lucky Ones”

Jackson: I’m a big fan of “Tag”

Meg: And “February” is good and it really means something.

Jamie: I really like “Midnight.”

Jackson: That’s actually the first one we ever wrote.

Meg: I showed up to the first practice which was simply described to me as “jamming” and Jackson is playing the riff that turned into the intro

Ariana: I walked into that practice and Jackson tells me “Play this chord real quick” and then we wrote the song right there.

Jackson: It’s very in the moment like that. Usually we have a little bit going into a song, bare bones. And then we feel it out together. It’s definitely a collaborative process.

Jamie: If you could accomplish just one thing with the music of Spud Cannon, what would it be?

Meg: Dance in your pants!

Jackson: Get us to Japan!

Lucy: We’re gonna be so famous in Japan

Meg: I just want to make people dance.

Ben: We just gotta get the hips moving.

Jackson: In Japan.

Ariana: Strictly Japan.

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Vince Staples Debuts FM! in Chicago at The Riv

Vince Staples released his fifth masterpiece, FM!, on November 2, 2018, just under two months after the death of his friend and collaborator, Mac Miller. FM! is an 11 track, 22-minute length project that is constructed as if it were a radio show. It features narration from radio legend, Big Boy, and inspiration from Mac Miller’s love for music and radio.

Vince Staples has been a part of many tours before that have made stops in Chicago. Most recently, he stopped at the Aragon Ballroom in early 2018 for two nights in support of Tyler, The Creator. The tour for this album, FM!, is entitled, “Smile, You’re On Camera.” The tour kicked off on February 1 in Tucson, Arizona and will end April 3 in Pomona, California. Vince Staples brought the tour to the Riviera Theatre on Tuesday night, March 13, 2019, along with guests JPEGMAFIA and Trill Sammy. Trill Sammy began the night before the official show starting time and gave our eardrums a nice little warm up. The speakers were significantly quieter than normal, so the artists on stage had to perform exceptionally to make up for the lack of bass. Fortunately for ticket-buyers, that is exactly what happened.

If you have never seen JPEGMAFIA (aka Peggy) in Chicago, put in on your bucket list. The energy that he provides is unmatched. Peggy produces all of his own music and takes on the stage in the same way, with just himself and his laptop. It is a raw performance that invokes blood, sweat, and tears, from the audience. Peggy’s set was riddled with both screaming and moshing as he etched his name deeper and deeper into the performance art history of Chicago. Peggy was the perfect performer to pair up with the already legendary rap artist, Vince Staples.

A massive screen stood atop the stage, with the entire crowd projected onto it, hence the “Smile, You’re On Camera” tour name. Vince Staples opened the show with “Feels Like Summer,” the first track of FM!, and then went right into my personal favorite of FM!, “Don’t Get Chipped.” On the record, Vincent raps, “You ain’t seen me at a show? Oh you missing out / Swear I bring the realest out.” This is true. JPEGMAFIA absolutely killed it as an opener. Not only did Vince bring out JPEGMAFIA, but he also inspired hundreds of fans to purchase tickets to his show. A concert is made great when awesome people surround you. The crowd was eager to get rowdy with friends as well as strangers, and belt lyrics for even people in the balcony to hear. Multiple mosh pits would open for the certified slappers like “Señorita” and “Blue Suede;” as the pits expanded, they would converge with other pits in a chaotic scheme of unity. Due to Vince’s asthma, the live recordings of his songs are spliced in with a couple of words every handful of bars so that he can get a breath in before nailing the next line. With perfect execution, this goes virtually unnoticed. Vince Staples is the only lyricist I have seen use this performance technique live. It is completely unlike the many artists today who rap entire songs over their own vocals or let entire bars go by as they try to catch their breath. The thought and production that goes into Vince’s live performance is one of the reasons why he is the groundbreaking artist that he is today. After an epic conclusion with “Yeah Right” off of his truly mind-blowing album Big Fish Theory, Vincent gave his parting words to the sweaty city and exited.

Before the Riviera lights turned on, however, a video of Mac Miller appeared on the screen. It was his NPR Tiny Desk Performance. I only saw a few people leave during this video, which spans 17 minutes in length. I believe many people were still in disbelief that Mac left us at such a young age. The last song of Miller’s performance was “2009,” an ode about lessons learned and wisdom gained. It brought tears to my eyes and I could feel the emotion filling the theater. It was a beautiful conclusion to another Vince Staples Chicago show.

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on rotation at WLUW

This Week On Rotation At WLUW

Every week WLUW’s 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. Feels - Post Earth

  2. Westkust - Westkust

  3. Hot Flash Heat Wave - Mood Ring EP

  4. Frankie & The Witch Fingers - ZAM

  5. Spelling - Mazy Fly  

  6. Julia Jacklin - Crushing

  7. Faux Ferocious - Pretty Groovy

  8. Helado Negro - This Is How You Smile

Better Oblivion Community Center - Better Oblivion Community Center - Dead Oceans

On first listen, Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst’s collaborative debut, Better Oblivion Community Center, feels pretty nihilistic. Each song sounds like the story of a broken promise; a promise to reach out to an old friend, a promise to be a global citizen, a promise to be a better person. The duo pose the question: do we really ever do anything for anyone else? But behind Bridgers and Oberst’s mournful singing is a more hopeful message. Despite the questioning the genuineness of every act of kindness, there’s a recognition of a very human need to do good. When the duo sing “your black heart is big” on “Big Black Heart,” the listener can imagine somebody who’s been hurt but is clearly still sensitive to others. The world as seen by Bridgers and Oberst is cold, but the people within it are warm.

Favorite track: Service Road

Listen if you like: Bright Eyes or Phoebe Bridgers (duh), Big Thief, Sharon Van Etten

 


 

Faux Ferocious - Pretty Groovy - Burger Records

It’s Pretty Groovy indeed. There’s more to Faux Ferocious’ third album than the title lets on. A blend of garage psych, post-punk and krautrock, it’s certainly got grooves and tight performances. Tackling topics from corruption on “Price of Progress” to financial (and emotional!) insecurity on “Solvency,” the album does a great job at examining the way in which the issues of adult life translate into stress and emotional burdens. The repetitive rhythm the band works with gives the impression of punching a clock, something that is especially salient on the track “Moment of Totality” which is foreboding and shapeless. Most of the tracklist is punchy and energetic, which may prove misleading once the vocals kick in, but the lyrics also have a sarcastic quality to them that makes the often bleak subject matter as fun as the music backing it up.

Favorite track: Me and Johnny

Listen if you like: Moon Duo, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Ought

 

 

Hand Habits - placeholder - Saddle Creek

2018 and the beginning of 2019 have really proven the strength of the Saddle Creek records lineup. Hand Habits, helmed by Meg Duffy, further exemplifies this strength with their sophomore LP placeholder. Although the folk-rock performances on these tracks are strong, the real highlight is Duffy’s talented songwriting. On the second track “can’t calm down” Duffy expresses their desire for maturity, but the rest of the songs demonstrate that emotional maturity and clarity are things that Duffy definitely has. With “pacify” Duffy sings “I don’t want to pacify you with an excuse,” and we see a moral framework of honesty that holds up the rest of the record. There are plenty of demonstrations of self-honesty too: on “jessica” Duffy details a one-sided relationship where they find themself being wanted, but ultimately they have the clarity to understand the situation and ultimately forgive. The stories they sing always progress in the direction of self-growth, and for all of the apparent heartbreak and uncertainty on display, placeholder is a surprisingly positive and resolved record.

Favorite track: the book on how to change part ii

Listen if you like: Tomberlin, Twain, Big Thief

 


 

Helado Negro - This is How You Smile - RVNG intl.

Typically viewed as an experimental electronic artist, Roberto Carlos Lange takes a more organic approach to his latest record as Helado Negro, This is How You Smile. Sometimes serene, sometimes poppy, sometimes haunting, Lange uses a variety of acoustic and synthetic instruments that lend a balanced palate of sound to the album. Adding to balanced variation is Lange’s use of both English and Spanish, tap into his Ecuadorian heritage which is also seen in the guitar stylings on “Imagining What To Do” and “Sabana de Luz”. Lange sings about curiosity and a grand kind of love that stops anything else from mattering. “Seen My Aura” describes a romance on a hot summer day, played out in the pool and on the searing pavement, Lange doesn’t seem to mind the sunburn he’s getting just to spend time with this person. Despite the ethereal quality to many of the songs and the carefree nature of much of the lyrics, it’s focused, well composed, and a must listen this week.

Favorite track: Pais Nublado

Listen if you like: Panda Bear, Tasha, Amen Dunes

 

 

Lomelda - M for Empathy - Double Double Whammy

Following up on 2017’s magnificent Thx, Lomelda’s M for Empathy is a wonderfully focused collection of songs. Each track, with one exception, comes in under two minutes. Hannah Read writes in a space between her thoughts and her poetry. Each song is an earnest examination of what other people are thinking about her and what she is thinking about other people. Sometimes only a single thought or feeling is touched on, as with “Bust” where the entirety of the lyrics read “I thought of so many things to say to you, but what were they to you?” The arrangements are often sparse, but they’re so meticulously arranged each track has a glittery feel to it. The album has a sense of childlike curiosity and almost urges listeners to care a little more about others (without being that cheesy).

Favorite Track: Bust

Listen if you like: Adrianne Lenker, Mount Eerie, Frankie Cosmos

 


 

Living Hour - Softer Faces - Kanine Records

What’s the longest time you’ve held your head underwater? Unless you’ve taken the proper training, probably not very long. Living Hour can help bump your record to 39 minutes with Softer Faces. The group tightens down their distinctively dreamy sound here, and it really feels likes being submerged in the ocean. Lead vocalist Sam Sarty has a hushed and breathy voice that shines over the plinky guitars and soft organs used in most of the tracks. Each instrument in the quintet weaves together to make a soft sound that has quite a bit of depth. The special touch that sells the dreamlike quality of the music is vocal harmonizing used subtly on tracks like “Bottom Step” and more overtly on the pretty “I Sink I Sink.” The lyrics are emotionally vulnerable, discussing topics like loneliness, uncertainty and emotional distance. There’s an introspective and healing quality to the performances here, and the fuzzy and shapeless closer “Most” serves as fitting ending that gives the listener a moment to reflect.

Favorite Track: Before You Leave

Listen if you like: Beach House, The Antlers, DIIV

 


 

Pond - Tasmania - Spinning Top

In the increasingly saturated Australian psychedelic rock landscape, it has become increasingly difficult to create a distinct or memorable sound. This is especially true of bands Tame Impala, GUM, and Pond, all of which have shared members and regularly produce psych rock. Nick Allenbrook, no longer a part of the Tame Impala lineup, continues to differentiate himself from his contemporaries with Pond’s Tasmania, their follow up to 2017’s The Weather. Taking on a less guitar-driven approach, Tasmania relies on synths and punchy basslines to deliver a catchy and danceable set of tunes. It ends up sounding closer to something Neon Indian might produce than any of Pond’s more closely affiliated acts. Allenbrook’s raspy and punctuated vocal deliveries fit right into this groovier instrumentation. The musical approach of the record belies the political skew of the lyrics, which tackle subjects from white privilege and climate change to anxieties over gun violence. It’s a refreshing take on psychedelic and it speaks to the genre’s room for growth.

Favorite track: Daisy

Listen if you like: Tame Impala, Neon Indian, Methyl Ethel

 


 

Yves Jarvis - The Same But By Different Means - Anti-

For The Same But By Different Means, it sounds as if Yves Jarvis (born Jean-Sebastian Audet) has set up a laboratory in a church, or in a field next to a church. Many of the sounds on this record are angelic, and there are a lot of field recordings adding to the natural feel of the record. Audet plays in between the lines of R&B and folk, sometimes bringing in elements of jazz and blues. The album serves as the fruit of a search for a new style for Audet, who previously recorded music under the name Un Blonde. This is reflected in the many ideas and experiments floating around on the record, which is comprised of 22 tracks of greatly varying length. Most of the tracks are carefully layered, something that becomes especially apparent when Audet chooses to sing, leading to some wonderfully warm vocal harmonies. The layering gives each track the feeling of being a different painter’s palette. It’s sometimes a little dizzying, but by the end, it feels as if Audet has a newfound sense of clarity.

Favorite Track: Goodbye Reason, Goodbye Rhyme

Listen if you like: Moses Sumney, Ricky Eat Acid, King Krule

 


 

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Wicca Phase Springs Eternal breaks seasonal barrier at Subterranean

So much heat was brought to a chilly, Chicago winter night at the Subterranean venue on Friday, March 8th. Wicca Phase Springs Eternal was responsible for provoking the buzzing energy of a lively crowd gathered inside this two-floored, small but intimate, distinctive venue.

 

Before Wicca Phase performed, two captivating opening acts Guardin and Angel Du$t took the stage. For most of Guardins’ songs, it was easy to feel the bass vibrating in your chest and running throughout your whole body, revealing the intensity of the live performance. At the same time, the bass frequency rumbling inside the crowds’ chests thrilled them, as they clearly fed off that energy coming from the stage and bounced it back through aggressive dance moves. The crowd was in sync by either throwing fist pumps in the air, head bobbing, or swaying back and forth to the alternative music with rap and punk-rock tinge to it.

 

Hardcore punk rock band Angel Du$t then took the stage with an outstanding stage presence, with Dirk Thurisch making the stage his own. It was not long until the fast-paced music aroused the crowd to form a mosh pit, resulting in people excitedly jumping up and down, screaming song lyrics, and leaping on stage to crowd surf. There were times where Thurisch would direct his microphone towards a fans’ face, and without hesitation, that person would loudly, aggressively, and passionately sing their heart out.

 

However, all of this tension was released when Adam Mcllwee from Wicca Phase came on stage to perform his opening song “Together.” The energy of the venue shifted with the audience now calm, as opposed to their reactions to the opening acts. Evidently, there were two different audiences that night; the contrast of their behavior to that of Guardin and Angel Du$t seemed surreal. Mcllwee’s somber, heartfelt, and ballad-like songs released raw emotion into the atmosphere, and the unity generated through the lyrics felt powerful. Wicca Phase and the crowd had a barrier-breaking, mysterious connection to each other. Mcllwee would either extend his hand to the audience or lock fingers with a fan as if he wanted to show empathy for an unexplained yet shared feeling. This enhanced the intimacy of the show and despite the technical difficulties with the sound, Wicca Phase did not let that interfere with the connection he made with the fans. 

 

One of the most important aspects of the set, however, was the variety of songs Wicca Phase performed. The transition from “High Strangeness” to “Crushed,” for instance, proved that it was important to showcase the diversity of his music. “High Strangeness” is a song composed of what seems to be a mix of electronic music and hip-hop beats, while “Crushed” is purely dependent on acoustic guitar and vocals. This transition represented the night as a whole, a night with an infusion of different genres and variety. The fusion of Guardin, Angel Dust, and Wicca Phase Springs Eternal sought to unite genres which ultimately and successfully created a show that became rich in musical culture and talent. 

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