Posted inThe Secret History of Chicago Music

The late great Joe Cassidy links music scenes across the Atlantic

Last month I traveled to Belfast to attend the Northern Ireland Music Prize, because this year’s ceremony included the debut of the Joe Cassidy Chrysalis Award—named for the late Belfast-born artist who’d become one of Chicago’s most important and beloved musical transplants. Cassidy, who led the group Butterfly Child, was an old friend of mine […]

Posted inGossip Wolf

Partywatcher honors his Dominican roots with his first all-Spanish release

For seven years, Chicago musician Jochy Saldivar has been releasing suave R&B-inflected pop as Partywatcher, and this Friday he drops the EP El Tipo, his first release sung entirely in Spanish. The new EP also breaks stylistically from Partywatcher’s 2022 EP, Moreno, which leans heavily on 80s synth pop dosed with reggaeton; by contrast, El […]

Posted inGossip Wolf

The inimitable but intermittent Roctober roars back with a hefty double issue

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 […]

Posted inConcert Preview

Will Miller’s Resavoir makes a serene return with a new self-titled album

Resavoir, the experimental jazz project of Chicago multi-instrumentalist and producer Will Miller, returned this month with a new self-titled album on local label International Anthem. As with Resavoir’s 2019 debut, Miller conceived and largely produced the material alone in his home, and the recordings feature contributions from friends and fellow Chicago musicians—among them guitarist and […]

Posted inMusic

Reflection, resilience, and now remembrance in Crossing Borders Music’s focus on Arab string quartets

In 2020, Toronto-based Palestinian-Jordanian composer Shireen Abu Khader founded Dozan World—an offshoot of Dozan wa Awtar Music Establishment, the celebrated choir she established in 2002—as a hub for Levantine composers to share their music. Local chamber-music nonprofit Crossing Borders Music, which specializes in Western classical works by non-Western composers, most recently visited the Dozan catalog […]

Posted inMusic

Improvised music co-op Catalytic Sound holds its fourth annual festival in five cities, including Chicago

For nearly as long as free improvisation has been a musical practice, improvising artists have engaged in collective action to build outlets for their creative expression. Catalytic Sound was formed in 2012 by 30 musicians from Europe and the United States who recognized the necessity to have a shared platform for disseminating information and selling […]

Posted inMusic

Mandy, Indiana conjure the punk-rock city we’d be thrilled to live in

The art-rock of Mandy, Indiana conjures the spirit of May 1968, when French students and workers spent seven weeks in an orgiastic, decentralized uprising against capitalism and state violence. That’s partly because vocalist Valentine Caulfield uses French lyrics to deliver brutal indictments of patriarchy, imperialism, and white supremacy. But it also comes from the unmistakable […]

Posted inMusic

Multidisciplinary artist Eartheater explores rebirth and transformation on Powders

When Eartheater sings, her voice carries like pollen and decaying floral tendrils adrift in a rush of hot wind. The New York-based multidisciplinary artist debuted in 2015 with two releases (Metalepsis and RIP Chrysalis) on local avant-garde electronic label Hausu Mountain. She’s gone on to become one of the biggest names in art-pop, and in […]

Posted inMusic

OutPastMidnight and Doso show Chicago hip-hop’s newest dimensions at Gman

Chicago rapper Doso caught my attention four years ago by tinkering confidently and smoothly with a variety of instrumental styles, and he plays up that skill on October’s Safe Travels (A Rugged Interest, Inc.). He raps over minimal nu-funk (“Holding on Loosely”), sleek and frictionless pop punk (“Upside Down”), and a sentimental ballad built atop […]