Long before drummer Warren G. “Trae” Crudup III and bassist Luke Stewart launched noisy free-jazz duo Blacks’ Myths in 2018, they backed celebrated saxophonist James Brandon Lewis as the rhythm section in his trio. They’ve also enmeshed themselves in D.C.’s jazz scene individually: Crudup performs with a slew of scene fixtures, including saxophonist Brian Settles and poet Thomas Sayers Ellis, while Stewart plays in Afrofuturist crossover group Irreversible Entanglements and works for jazz nonprofit and editorial site CapitalBop as “director of presenting and avant music editor.” Blacks’ Myths 2018 self-titled debut showcases Crudup and Stewart’s preternatural musical connection: on “Upper South,” Stewart weaves together lightly pinging foreground notes with a hypnotic, relentlessly propulsive riff, which Crudup girds with cool, in-the-pocket percussion whose brisk snap he can intensify at a moment’s notice. On their follow-up, last year’s Blacks’ Myths II (Atlantic Rhythms), they tack toward discord; Stewart’s bass takes on a blistering metallic throb, and Crudup fights off the feedback with cascading drum fills that blow open pockets of space in the noise. Though Blacks’ Myths II can be intensely discombobulating, its most irascible passages make it even sweeter when Crudup and Stewart relax into a linear melody. And when shrieking patches of noise erupt from the sluggish but triumphant “Free Land,” they feel like sunlight on the horizon. v
Irreversible Entanglements will leave you shaken. The group make tight, synergistic free jazz anchored by the dynamic spoken-word declarations of poet Moor Mother, aka Camae Ayewa. Their music sometimes sounds chaotic and freewheeling, but it ensnares listeners with arrangements carefully considered to help deliver fiery political messages. The five-piece ensemble–the lineup also includes saxophonist Keir Neuringer, trumpeter Aquiles Navarro, bassist Luke Stewart, and drummer Tcheser Holmes–originally performed as two different groups at a 2015 New York benefit show called Musicians Against Police Brutality. They create art with a purpose, and on their new album, Who Sent You? (International Anthem/Don Giovanni), they sound more potent than any other act out there. The title track surrounds you with a vortex of barreling drums as Moor Mother evokes the terrors of living in a police state. She sounds assured and calm, firing off words that indict the futility, ineptitude, and foolishness of cops and their failure as civil servants. “Blues Ideology” rallies against harmful religious ideologies that powerful leaders feed the masses, and the stumbling, anguished instrumentation bolsters the anger in Moor Mother’s voice (“Pope must be drunk,” she exclaims). No track feels frivolous, and that’s Irreversible Entanglements’ greatest feat: they instill a desire to think, act, and live more purposefully. v
Philadelphia indie-rock alchemist Alexander Giannascoli understands better than most musicians who’ve emerged in the past decade how to convey the slipperiness and complexity of emotion in song. The 27-year-old kicked off his career in the early 2010s with a streak of albums he self-released or put out through small cassette labels, and they all wound up on the Bandcamp page he ran as Alex G. By the time he added “(Sandy)” to his stage name in 2017, his blossoming cult status had gotten a major boost from his contributions to Frank Ocean’s two 2016 albums, Endless and Blonde. Giannascoli’s second album for big-time indie Domino, Rocket, brought him to his own crossover moment that same year. On his follow-up, September’s House of Sugar, he’s refined his experimental, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to indie rock without losing the emotional ambiguity that makes his music magnetic. The radically processed vocals on “Gretel” give way to a Lynchian melody, hinting at the odd range of feelings that anyone going through major life changes faces, regardless of age. Giannascoli’s calming vocals on the chorus act as a balm against dark moods, and he performs with a resilience that suggests moving forward won’t be as bad as we fear. v
This Portland-based progressive sludge-metal band returned from a lull last year with two new members, bassist-vocalist Alyssa Maucere (formerly of Eight Bells) and drummer Kevin Swartz (of Bottom and Forgotten Gods), and their third full-length, Mysterium Tremendum (eOne). It’s beautiful, but it’s a concept album about death–which makes it either the best thing or the worst thing to listen to while staring down the barrel of a pandemic. The band’s cofounders, guitarist-vocalist Erik Olsen and guitarist Chris Evans (not the Captain America guy), have both faced sorrow and tragedy in recent years–Evans’s sister suddenly passed away, and both of Olsen’s parents were diagnosed with cancer–and they channeled their grief into music. Lord Dying’s previous two albums may have felt heavier in a musical sense, but Mysterium Tremendum (which translates to “terrible mystery”) is heavier psychologically: the band use a diverse array of techniques from the prog-metal toolbox to meditate on death, spirituality, and the afterlife. The result is not just awe-inspiring but also surprisingly tender and kind. Olsen relies mostly on clean vocals, and on thoughtful tracks such as “The End of Experience” he sounds vulnerable and plaintive in the face of the inevitable–emotions that are cushioned by the ghostly instrumental buildup of the following track, “Exploring Inward.” That song winds up in shreking defiance, but the high, clear melodic notes of the ballad “Even the Darkness Went Away” strike a tone of elegiac acceptance. Maucere uses her striking singing to great effect, and its presence is evidence of Lord Dying’s willingness to shake up their already powerful sound in order to explore a greater emotional range. Though death is a staple subject in metal lyrics, it’s rarely explored with as much grace and depth. v
Until COVID-19 laid waste to his and everyone else’s touring schedule, Bill Nace was looking forward to a splendid spring. Not only would the Philadelphia-based guitarist have opened in Chicago for the Gunn-Truscinski Duo and Mdou Moctar; he’d also have joined Gunn, Truscinski, and Kim Gordon (his bandmate in Body/Head) at a couple festivals in other states, where the combo would’ve improvised accompaniment to screenings of Andy Warhol’s 1963 film Kiss. His label, Open Mouth, is still set to go into high gear in the coming months; it plans to release LPs of psychedelic violin solos by Samara Lubelski and electronic drones by Truscinski, as well as an album by a trio of Nace, cellist Leila Bourdreuil, and saxophonist Tamio Shiraishi, which specializes in stacking layers of tissue-thin electric noise. Capping off the season will be the Nace solo record Both, slated for release via Drag City on May 22. It provides an excellent opportunity to experience the range of unguitarlike sounds he can coax out of his instrument using a small collection of files, bows, and plectra. One track (they’re all numbered) sounds like field recordings of Godzilla stumbling home, dead drunk, after a night he won’t remember; another resembles the same monster’s voice being played backward slowly. Only near the end of the record does Nace relent and sound like he’s playing a guitar; “Part 8” thrusts you into a fever dream of Link Wray closing a blues bar on the moon. v
The events of last week were unthinkable until they happened–including the weeks-long closure of Chicago’s beloved live-music venues (along with bars, restaurants, and many other businesses) to slow the spread of COVID-19.
But rather than admit defeat or grind to a halt, the local music community has banded together and risen to the occasion. Venues have launched dozens of fundraisers to support staff who’ve lost most or all of their livelihoods; artists have begun livestreaming concerts, dance parties, and jam sessions. Somebody on Facebook has even called for a Chicago window sing-along, inspired by widely circulated videos of quarantined Italians belting out pop ballads (“My Heart Will Go On”) and metal ragers (“War Pigs”) along with their neighbors. Though the battle against this virus is just beginning, it’s inspiring seeing so many people stepping up to support friends and strangers alike.
Because Chicago’s music venues are shuttered, the Reader has transformed its usual concert previews into album reviews–links to this week’s batch are alphabetized below. We hope this helps boost sales for artists who have temporarily lost the ability to tour. And we’re not about to let a virus stop us from championing great music!
Though the future is uncertain, it seems likely this shutdown could continue for weeks or months. If you have the means, please consider donating to one of the many fundraising campaigns for venue staff or buying albums or merch from musicians. And please e-mail us at [email protected] to tell us about new fundraisers or direct-action campaigns in Chicago’s music community.
There is no doubt that we have endless amounts of time on our hands recently. With limited resources open, we are forced to spend more “me time” than ever before. After watching countless episodes of The Office, you might be feeling a little brain dead. Don’t you worry, there is much more to keep yourself reoccupied during this quarantine!
Do you ever wonder how some users on social media platforms have so many followers and viewers? Believe it or not, it doesn’t have a whole lot to do with how they look, but the way their profile looks! It doesn’t take a lot of time to clean up the old and put out the new. There are just a few simple keys that will ensure your social media gets a fresh, new makeover: color, editing, and planning.
Discover Who You Are
What are some things you are passionate about? And how can you implement those passions to your targeted audience? For one, if you love animals, you can capture candid moments with your pets for easy content everyone will love. On the other hand, if you have more of an artistic vibe, you can share your music, lyrics, poetry, or paintings on your Instagram to break up the selfies. Try to use filters and vocabulary that coincide with how you see the world.
Color of Your Soul
Do you have a common mood? Happy? Lively? Calm & Collected? Colors are a crazy representation of emotions. In the best ways, we can express ourselves through this method that will activate other senses in our bodies. Try creating color schemes on Pinterest, We Heart It, or even DudePins for the men in your life! All sites require a quick registration to a fast and easy platform to save all your favorite designs and ideas.
Edit, Edit, Edit!
Your phone has more editing tools than you know! There are plenty of Apple and Android apps that offer helpful editing tools for photos and videos. Take advantage of them! Digital Trends has lots of tips and tricks on how to use apps that are friendly to Android and iOS users.
There are so many ways you can pass the time as it seems to feel like it’s going slower and slower day by day. Have fun with it, learn something new, and educate others. Spend your time wisely.
At UrbanMatter, U Matter. And we think this matters.
Tell us what you think matters in your neighborhood and what we should write about next in the comments below!
Amazon Prime has more than a few gems you might not have seen yet. Catch on the classics, award-winning films, and what’s trending now on Amazon Prime when you dive into this movie bucket list.
Let’s start with the much-anticipated best movies on Amazon Prime Video. Everyone wants to know what’s trending and what the next topic of conversation can be with your pals via FaceTime, Skype, or Snapchat. In a world that is on lockdown, what else is there to talk about? We’ve got you covered.
The Avengers | IMDb 8/10
If you haven’t seen it yet, now is the time. If you’ve already seen it, time to watch it again! This film is action-packed and full of awesome actors. S.H.I.E.L.D., an international peace-keeping agency, breeds the world’s finest superheroes. When global security is under attack, this agency pulls together the Marvel team, maximizing all of their powers to save the world!
We Need To Talk About Kevin | IMDb 7.5/10
Oh boy, this one is great, but it sure packs a punch. At its core, the movie itself tells the honest truth about the importance of parenting, therapy, communication, and coping skills. It’s a movie for those who aren’t easily offended by the rawest of emotions. Now, for an overview… Eva is a mother who can’t provide the proper parenting for her son, Kevin, a troubled child with sociopathic tendencies, to say the least. With a husband who ignores most of the major issues, Eva is in it alone. But don’t let this scare you; it’s a great film and worth a watch.
Logan Lucky | IMDb: 7/10
Even though this one came out in 2017, it took some time to get its well-deserved fame. This movie tells the story of two brothers, Jimmy and Clyde, who attempt to reverse an old family curse. How do they plan to do it? By robbing the Speedway of course! This drama is not to be missed.
You can’t go wrong with a classic film. In times like these, it’s an awesome way to catch up on the oldies that will always be goodies.
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape | IMDb 7.8/10
Ah, the classic! This one will never get old for us. Gilbert Grape is a young man from a podunk town. Despite his young age, he bears much burden, the biggest of which is his mother, who cannot leave the house due to her weight. This, of course, leaves Gilbert with the responsibility of caring for his mentally impaired younger brother. This movie is a realistic feel-good that is sure to leave you better than before you watched it.
Road House | IMDb 6.6/10
Patrick Swayze! Oh boy, what a man. Don’t get us started on those tight denim jeans he wears! Swayze, known as Dalton in the film, plays a bouncer at the Road House. He’s hot, he’s dangerous(ly good looking), and he will rip out throats with his bare hands! This awesome film will keep you on the edge of your seat.
To Catch a Thief | IMDb 7.4/10
Old Hollywood glamour will always excite us. This classic movie tells the tale of John “The Cat” Robie, who finds himself in a long string of crimes in the French Riviera. Attempting to redeem his name, he ends up intertwined with a beautiful socialite, played by Grace Kelly. This movie is classy, elegant, and downright ritzy.
If Amazon Prime Video has taught us anything, it’s that just because something is trending doesn’t mean it’s the best option. Although we’ve shared some awesome movies with you already, here are our thoughts on the latest additions.
Honey Boy | IMDb 7.4/10
Remember Shia LaBeouf from classics such as Even Stevens or Holes? Well, ladies and gentlemen, he’s back, and this time… it’s a little strange. Honey Boy is a project this well-known actor has been working on for quite some time. The movie tells the story of Shia’s childhood from his own eyes. Shia plays the role of his father and depicts him in a not-so-heroic light. This one is certainly a coming of age story that details the strong bond between father and son.
The Report | IMDb 7.2./10
First of all, we just love Adam Driver. The characters he plays are hard to not find intriguing. In this particular film, he plays an FBI agent named Daniel who goes deep into an investigation of the CIA when they adopted new interrogation and torture techniques after 9/11. The cast is amazing, the movie a little lackluster, but if you’re quarantined — why not?
Blow the Man Down | IMDb 6/10
Easter Cove… a small town on the very tip of the coast of Maine. When something fishy happens in this small fisherman’s town, Mary Beth and Priscilla have to do their very best to cover up their actions. These sisters end up deep in the cringe-worthy crime scene of their tiny hometown. In our opinion, the town really isn’t the only thing that stinks…
At UrbanMatter, U Matter. And we think this matters.
Tell us what you think matters in your neighborhood and what we should write about next in the comments below!
The Chicago Bears have not had the quarterback they have needed to get it done in recent memory. They need to keep going until they find their guy.
The Chicago Bears have had a subpar quarterback for a very long time. They have never had a superstar under center and Jay Cutler in his prime was the only one who even came close. He showed flashes of brilliance and there were other times where he was plain awful. Right now, it is pretty clear that Mitchell Trubisky isn’t the answer and won’t be any time soon.
That fact led to the Bears acquiring former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles from the Jacksonville Jaguars. He is likely going to be the starting quarterback in Week 1 unless something crazy happens. They may or may not trade Trubisky but as of right now, they need to be starting the best option to give themselves a chance to win.
Chicago Bears General Manager Ryan Pace has a lot of pressure on him heading into 2020. Can he convince ownership that he is the right man for the long haul?
Chicago Bears General Manager Ryan Pace is moving like a man whose feet are held to the fire. This is even with the limited resources at his disposal. However, that has not stopped Pace from being aggressive so far this offseason (even if some of the moves are head-scratching).
He went with veteran leadership over youth and upside by picking Danny Trevathan over the younger more promising Nick Kwiatkoski. When it came to the tight end position, he went with a familiar face in former New Orleans Saint Jimmy Graham.