Jake Austen stands in front of a wall tiled with autographed album covers and holds a copy of the zine Roctober up in front of his face, so that only his eyes and forehead can be seen
Roctober creator Jake Austen with a copy of the new double issue of the zine Credit: Zikiya Ngubani

When Gossip Wolf checked in a few years back with Reader contributor, Chic-a-Go-Go cofounder, and Promontory talent buyer Jake Austen, he’d just rebooted his wide-ranging, infectiously enthusiastic, and absurdly thorough music and culture zine, Roctober, originally launched more than 30 years ago. Issue 52 arrived in fall 2020 after a seven-year hiatus, but the wait for this fall’s double issue was less than half as long! On Wednesday, December 6, the Promontory hosts a release party for the new Roctober, which combines issues 53 and 54 and includes conversations with the likes of Mavis Staples, Yoko Ono, Bootsy Collins, and ? & the Mysterians, plus an interview with Prince conducted via email in 2012. 

Roctober usually corrals all sorts of contributors, but music historian and one-man band John Battles wrote almost all of issue 54—including dozens of illustrated obituaries for beloved artists collected under the rubric “The Final Curtain.” Battles will perform at Wednesday night’s all-ages release party, along with several DJs spinning appropriately esoteric vinyl. Admission is free with RSVP or with a discounted $5 advance copy of the new Roctober. If you don’t RSVP, day-of-show admission is $10—but that also includes a copy of Roctober. You can also have the new issue shipped to you by making a donation to Austen’s Indiegogo supporting the zine.

In case you’re somehow new to Roctober, Austen has uploaded scans of every issue to the Internet Archive. This wolf recommends the very first issue, from way back in 1992, if only for its essay about a White Sox pitcher who’d fronted California hardcore band Scared Straight!

Gossip Wolf has heard good things about the Fallen Log, a music venue that debuted in March near Ravinia Brewing on the border of Avondale and Logan Square. The Fallen Log shares a building at 2554 W. Diversey with Kitchen 17, a restaurant specializing in vegan deep-dish pizza. This wolf can’t comment on the pizza, but the Fallen Log’s bookings are well worth keeping an eye on. The venue hosted Greek postpunks Chain Cult in September and booked Philadelphia power-pop group Radiator Hospital for an October show that unfortunately got canceled.

The Fallen Log presents music from all over the genre map, but it’s taken a particular interest in Chicago’s young indie scene—it’s booked Twin Coast, Friko front man Niko Kapetan, and Sharp Pins, among others. Venue talent buyer Cole Hunt plays guitar and sings in TV Buddha, an experimental indie-rock duo he formed with a workhorse of the all-ages scene, Eli Schmitt. They dropped a loose, noisy full-length called Simple Bodies in March, while Hunt finished his final semester at the University of Texas at Austin.

TV Buddha recorded this release mostly in December 2022, before Cole Hunt moved to Chicago.

On Thursday, November 30, TV Buddha headline the Fallen Log as part of the first installment of Hunt’s series Nitroglycerine. Laurie and Soil 77 open. The show starts at 7 PM, and it’s 17 and up; tickets cost $10.

Jake Hawrylak of Maiden King looks directly into the camera, haloed by purple light and mist
Jake Hawrylak of Maiden King Credit: Cory DeWald

On Friday, December 1, Chicago multi-instrumentalist Jake Hawrylak drops the debut album from his Americana-inflected solo project, Maiden King. Hawrylak detailed his lush and lovingly layered LP,  Who Else Were We Supposed to Become?, with help from ten other musicians, including Gossip Wolf favorite Reno Cruz (playing banjo), Half Gringa collaborator Ivan Pyzow (trumpet), and Molly Rife (cello). Hawrylak headlines Schubas that same Friday, with openers Astrachan and Lane Beckstrom (who dropped his debut solo album, Looking Out, in September).

Jake Hawrylak made his full-length debut as Maiden King with the help of ten other musicians.

When local footwork producer DJ Manny, aka Manuel Gaines, released his killer new EP, Control, on Planet Mu in August, he was already teasing a new full-length album due in November—dude is well-known for his industriousness! That album, Hypnotized, arrived on the 17th, and it’s full of sumptuous sounds and dance-floor bangers. Gossip Wolf especially digs the title track, which alternates between slinky R&B vocals and fusillades of booming beat drops, and the archival track “Ooh Baby,” whose contributions from late genre pioneer DJ Rashad wouldn’t have sounded out of place on the master’s canonical album Double Cup. Last month, Manny also released a supremely tasty hour-long mix via the website for UK magazine Crack, combining a slew of his classic jams with unreleased tracks from across his storied career.

DJ Manny’s new album is one of three substantial pieces of music he’s released since August.

Got a tip? Tweet @Gossip_Wolf or email gossipwolf@chicagoreader.com.