The Pleiades Series celebrates its first year of elevating women and nonbinary improvisers

Last October, musician and curator Emily Beisel began booking the monthly Pleiades Series at Elastic Arts, which centers femme and nonbinary performers—and they follow their sets with improvised jam sessions that can include members of the audience, a practice intended to “build community and connection between womxn improvisors from diverse backgrounds.” Over the past year, notable bookings have included noise band Bimbo Rococo, Casa Al-Fatiha cofounder Lyn Rye, a duet by saxophonist Molly Jones and new-music pianist Mabel Kwan, and a pairing of poet and sound artist Annie Grizzle and violinist Johanna Brock. On Friday, October 28, the series celebrates its first anniversary with a set from Nashville-based oboist and installation artist Robbie Lynn Hunsinger (a former full-time Chicagoan) and the debut duo of local multi-instrumentalist and singer Macie Stewart and Los Angeles saxophonist and composer Patrick Shiroishi. Femme and nonbinary musicians who’d like to jam in the second set are encouraged to email [email protected] in advance—space is limited.

Jenna Lyle and Mieko Vasilou perform as the duo Throne of Lies as part of the March 2022 Pleiades concert. Credit: Ricardo E. Adame

Last week, Cincinnati DIY label Feel It Records dropped “Irene” b/w “Trees & Flowers,” the debut two-song cassette single from psych-rock group Pleasant Mob, the brainchild of singer-guitarist Raidy Hodges from local postpunk band Spread Joy. Regular Gossip Wolf readers will recognize some of the other folks involved too: they include Spread Joy drummer Tyler Bixby, several members of Tobacco City (guitarist-vocalists Lexi Goddard and Chris Coleslaw and bassist Eliza Weber, also of Glyders), and Fran’s Maria Jacobson on flute.

The B side of Pleasant Mob’s first single is a cover of 1980s Scottish duo Strawberry Switchblade.

Chicago singer-songwriter Matthew McGarry first made an impression on this wolf with the unfussy, big-hearted indie rock he released as Upholstery & Carpet Cleaning, but for the past seven years, he’s made music as Bossa IV. He moved to the suburbs after the pandemic hit, so that the power-pop hooks on the new Greatest Chicago Hits balance the city’s place in his heart with the serenity he’s found in the natural spaces of his new home turf.

Greatest Chicago Hits was recorded and mixed in Antioch, Illinois—practically in Wisconsin.

Last week, Chicago indie rocker Pete Cautious dropped Garden of the Gods, his third full-length since 2019. Cautious has an ear for chill vibes, and his relaxed, breezy guitars might persuade you it’s still summer. His aspirations clearly exceed making music for poolside listening, though—the sinewy bass line and wide-screen synths of “Sundrops” sound like the music of someone who wants to headline festivals.

Pete Cautious tends to record solo, but he plays with a three-piece backing band live.

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