Review: Pan-American – “A Son”

A Son is the name of Chicagoan Mark Nelson’s latest release as Pan-American, out last week via Kranky. And, even by Pan-American standards, it is a startlingly human and naked thing. Nelson’s outside-Labradford project often has come loaded with the lynchpins of glitch and dub: the careful arrangements, even – sometimes especially – of arguably…

Concert Review: Tool (2019)

The prog-metal quartet Tool exudes context, from its rich LPs, full of epic songs and epic phrasings, to its historiography as a band, which is ripe, unfortunately, with legal headaches and more than its share of silence. (More than a decade passed between the band’s last and newest LPs.) But the group largely avoided the…

Review: Fox Medicine – “Procedures Mystique”

No less an authority on sludge and the seedy intersection of punk and metal than Melvins/Tool board-helmer Toshi Kasai recently described Portland duo Fox Medicine as an amalgamation of “Black Sabbath with J-Pop vocals.” And, yeah, that sounds about right. (The band offers up a description of a fictional noise-genre: “bubblegum doom.) The nascent band’s…

Review: Pray For Sound – “Waves”

Sorry, I don’t dig on proselytizing. So, okay I’m biased. And when I heard, via advance PR notes, that the quartet Pray For Sound was out to preach (connotation intended) a little bit of happiness and hope with its brand of instrumental post-rock, contrary to many of the genre’s sometimes-sullen standard bearers, I was pretty…

Review: Catholic Action – “One of Us”

50 words on Catholic Action’s one-song drop, minus those words, smartass. Talking Heads meet Franz Ferdinand in this herky-jerky amble from Glasgow. Guitars skitter skatter across the landscape, with bass and drum syncopating, as the band’s frontman blasts out Freaks-appropriate lines like “Chemical walk through the family home/ Destroyed his nerves for the sovereign bones.”…

Video Premiere: The Venus Flytraps – “Ghost on the Phone”

Just when you thought Halloween couldn’t get any stranger, Cleveland band The Venus Flytraps is releasing a visual single featuring two tracks from its debut album Night of The Venus Flytraps. The video premieres today on MusicTAP. Both tracks were recorded straight to 1/4 inch tape in a Cleveland living room through a haze of VHS sleaze and…

Profile: The Commonheart (2019)

Pittsburgh’s The Commonheart doesn’t sound like it belongs in 2019. There are the surefire signs, of course – the reverby chikka-chikka of Stax-style soul guitar, yes, as well as bobbing bass scales that hint at Chicago’s electric blues and the nostalgic trill of Hammond organs. Then, there’s the man at the center of the nine-person…

Review: BATTLES – “Juice B Crypts”

BATTLES’ syncopated loops may circle triumphantly around the drains of the mind but its lineup has not fared as well. Vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Tyondai Braxton exited after 2007’s Mirrored, leaving the group with guest vocalists for 2011’s Gloss Drop, and then bassist/guitarist Dave Konopka departed last year. But, as much as the Pitchforks and taste-makers of the…

Review: Tomeka Reid Quartet – “Old New”

Most of us know or associate with the cello as a staple of the classical and post-classical world, an instrument whose deeper breaths can elicit comparisons to the bowels of sadness. (Jazz polls, for example, list it under “Miscellaneous.”) In Queens-by-way-of-Chicago musician Tomeka Reid’s hands though, the thing swings. Reid recently released the second outing…