There something incredible in the simplicity of a beautiful voice imparting a story through a song. It may seem like an obvious observation, but when this deed is accomplished with as much passion and sincerity as José González and Ólöf Arnalds did this past Wednesday, it becomes a revelation. These two musicians craft their infinitely loving songs with full regard of their emotions; wearing them right on their sleeves and letting the listener take them in. They had a two sold out nights at Lincoln Hall and I was lucky enough see one of their performances that were completely filled with grace and life.
As hip-hop is the most adaptable genre, the sounds between the MCs' words are what induce the lyrics, pulling the listener to a different type of high.
This being said, the sounds of Motown crooner BJ The Chicago Kid — equal parts silky neo-soul, babymaking R&B and confessional hip-hop — offer an introspective depth and inherent Chicago color to any of his hip-hop features. Especially those with West Coast hip-hop collective Black Hippy, which includes Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Jay Rock and Ab-Sol: BJ The Chicago Kid is consistently their music's outstanding dark horse.
The remix of BJ's hood tale-telling track "It's True" dropped April 13, taking a reflective look into the hardships of life on the streets. In addition to the original Schoolboy Q verse and smooth hook from BJ's latest mixtape The M.A.F.E. Project, the remix features a brand-new verse from Punch, president of indie label Top Dawg Entertainment, and the following bone-chilling bars from Kendrick Lamar:
"California economics, killer assignments
School test scores drop, murder rates climbin'
Scarface where you watch, try to reenact
And launched over the balcony, buck shots in our backs
Every day casualties got me losin' my sanity
Can this be within arm reach? I'm all panicky"
BJ has had an extensive career, mostly from behind the spotlight of major artists: penning songs for the likes of Mary J. Blige and Jill Scott and singing backup for artists such as Mary Mary, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Diddy-Dirty Money, Kanye West, Chance the Rapper, Kendrick Lamar and that Tupac hologram at Coachella. His debut album, Pineapple Now-Laters, is heavily influenced by his Chicago roots, complete with his trademark sensual R&B grooves.
Check out the remix, below, or the the original music video, created by local production crew Verluxe:
When this show was first announced it was only the pairing of Collen Green and Upset, who had just released I Want to Grow Up and '76 EP respectively. The lineup for this show at Beat Kitchen slowly grew larger as the date crept up. Two local acts, Sam Vicari and Impulsive Hearts, were added to the already worthwhile show. Little did I know that I would walk away from this show with a couple new bands to follow and a greater appreciation of the ones I already loved.
Once more into the breach, dear friends, as Record Store Day is here again! Perhaps the biggest day of the year for audiophiles and vinyl hoarders, it's also a time to show local shops some love, and maybe discover a new place you've never shopped before.
As always, check out the special Record Store Day releases in PDF or web form, then make a plan to hit your local Chicago store on Saturday! Most shops not only offer what limited edition RSD items they were able to get in stock, but also discounts, and a general atmosphere of celebration.
All kinds of crossover this month as ancient to contemporary music blurs together and crosses boundaries, and the apparent lines between classical and pop disintegrate. Go hear it!
Fifth House Ensemble and Baladino: Nedudim
Fifth House's season blazes ahead with Nedudim, a collaborative program with Israeli folk band Baladino that explores Middle Eastern, European, and American cultures through ancient and contemporary sounds. The program includes updated arrangements of Ladino and Israeli folk melodies, as well as contemporary pieces by Americans Robert Beaser and Dan Visconti that feature Baladino soloists. In their mission and approach to music, both ensembles emphasize creativity through collaboration, and Nedudim illustrates the fluid and shared nature of music through diasporic cultures. You won't hear anything else like this concert on the calendar the rest of the year. Tickets are $20/general, $15/students. Friday, April 17, 7pm. Instituto Cervantes, 31 W. Ohio St., Chicago. Monday, April 20, 7pm. Mayne Stage, 1328 W. Morse Ave.
Dan Snaith just seems like a nice guy. It might be his low-key stage presence. It might be all the smiling he does onstage. It might be his innate Canadian-ness. Whatever it is, it immediately imbues whatever venue he's playing at with a comfortable, laid back, 'happy-to-be-here' vibe.
Experiencing Dr. Dog live is a lot of things all at once. It's a blast of color. It's an inundation of lights. It's a dance party. It's a total treat for the mind, the ear and the eye. It's a completely communal and completely solitary experience all at once. It's a heck of a lot of fun.
The east coast psych rockers graced Chicago with three shows this weekend -- one at Thalia Hall, one at House of Blues, and one at Lincoln Hall -- and they kicked the weekend off right at Thalia Hall last night. Playing to a packed, super excitable, dance ready, sold-out crowd, the Pennsylvania natives brought their A-game and the material from their newest album Live From A Flamingo Hotel which they dropped at the beginning of this year.
A browser digging for gold. Image courtesy of CHIRP
For the inexperienced, hunting for records can make you feel like Indiana Jones trapped in a pit of too-cool snakes. With the CHIRP Record Fair coming up this weekend, we asked their resident vinyl expert Chris Meister for some tips to help you best the traps (hint:kneel) and choose wisely.
Sam France is a maniac. In a good way, that is. If you took the antics of Matthew Shulttz of Cage the Elephant and combined it with a little paisley, you might have something close. Or, even more accurate a Kevin Barnes in the height of Of Montreal's career. At the same time, there are also some heavy glam influences within the set, recalling the unpredictable energy and theatrics of a Rocky Horror Picture Show or Hedwig and the Angry Itch sort of feel with a combined drama and music and choreography from three energetic dancing ladies AKA Star Power.
The four-piece Californian Foxygen is coming back to Chicago this week to play at the Metro! For anyone who has ever witnessed the unpredictable antics of lead singer Sam France live, you'll know that the band is exceptionally intriguing to see live as literally anything can happen. Their melodious poppy psychedelic sounds are always pleasing to the ear and with their stage presence, each live show is definitely memorable!
Foxygen is playing an 18+ show at the Metro this Thursday. Tickets are $17 and you can purchase them here.
Yes, you heard right. This is not a drill. As part of the Red Bull Sound Select Series, you have the opportunity to hear the much-revered hip-hop artist Mystikal perform a set, for merely $3. Through a collaboration with Fake Shore Drive, stellar local acts Martin $ky and Tree Crack (Tree and Chris Crack) will open the show.
Red Bull Sound Select works to engage with local music scenes specifically, in order to bring up-and-coming acts into the public eye. April 16 will feature the legendary sounds that Mystikal has created, from the tune we can all still sing along to, "Shake Ya Ass," (even if you don't want to admit it, I know you're humming it right now) to his newest collaboration with Mark Ronson, "Get Right." You won't want to miss this one.
In order to attend, all you'll need to do is get your name on this RSVP list for $3, and make your way to Reggie's on April 16 for an unparalleled evening of music, but first, WATCH YOURSELF (I had to).
The show begins at 8pm - make sure to get in line early, as this one will surely admit a full house. Tickets cost $3 in advance, and $10 at the door. The show welcomes fans 18+, and Reggie's Rock Club is located at 2015 S. State St.
There is something really special about Ibeyi. Twin sisters Lisa-Kaindé Diaz and Naomi Diaz imbue an abundance of culture into their music, finding just the right words to sing in English, French, and Yoruban. Their self-titled debut is a gorgeous collection of songs that cling to a beautiful and devastating history, looking at personal and universal conditions without ever faltering to platitudes. This past weekend Lincoln Hall was treated to an incredible performance by Ibeyi and Flo Morrissey, a singer-songwriter from the UK. These three performers are wise beyond their years. That seems like an overused descriptor of young and talented artists, but I assure you it applies to these three musicians.
Riding off the explosive release of his dynamic debut album Doris, Odd Future's rambunctious MC Earl Sweatshirt abruptly abandoned his worldwide tour, citing a "lack of self-maintenance" and confessing he wore himself down — physically and mentally — to the end of his rope.
Emerging from the shadows eight months later spiraling in bleak sincerity, Earl launched his introspective sophomore effort I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside on March 23. Now he's embarking on a colossal tour, aptly titled "Not Ready 2 Leave," which stopped at Chicago's Concord Music Hall on March 29.
The crowd received a fervid opening act from Chicago newbie Remy Banks — who proclaimed he was "too high" to perform (an irony not lost on audience members who were unable to sneak a puff of anything unless they wanted to be ejected by beefy security guards). He was followed by West Coast MC Vince Staples, who was unable to keep the energy burning, even in a Metallica T-shirt. That is, until Earl appeared.
"Y'all ready to have some fun?" A bulkier, khakied and afroed Earl invited the audience, "Cuz we 'bout to take it the gangsta route."
After the crowd settled in, Earl began to clear his throat as he hesitated to introduce his new material. As he admitted in recent interviews, I Don't Like Shit is the first album that he feels fully confident in its truthful expression. It's dark stuff, hollowed and empty, slowed flow and scratching self-production, but juxtaposed against his earlier, more commercial tracks, he's beginning to take off the mask and let us in.
Benjamin Booker is both incredibly talented and quite charming in his honesty and sincerity that seems quite evident as he performs. What could be a very simple set up of guitar bass and drums (with occasional mandolin and fiddling from band mates) becomes more complex when you think of all the influences responsible for this greatness. Throughout the hour long set, one could decipher an intriguing mix of garage rock, soul, bluegrass, and blues that seem to all come together, with one or another genre emphasized more in some songs. It's exciting that Booker is so young when you think of what he'll continue to do with all of these genres in a hopefully long career ahead of him.