Chicago has long been a bedrock of musical talent and 2019 can’t escape us without some great Windy City recommendations. If you’re looking for something different, something indie, and something off the beaten path, there’s something here for you. If you’re looking for ear candy that will also feed your mind, or you just want to rock out, get pumped, and start a revolution, there’s something here for you as well! Or, if you just want to relax, chill, and just let the sonic waves carry you, again, there’s something here for you. Enjoy!
THE BRAIDED JANES
Post-punk, alternative rock wrapped in a dark fringe… that is The Braided Janes, and so much more! Theirs is a music of revolution and celebration. Their fans come from all walks of life because that’s what the Janes are all about. The trio of Jessica, Juny, and Andy play with big hearts and released their LP Despierta earlier this year. But, no recording can do them justice. And, I say this without hesitation, after you buy the album you must see them live! The raw energy and passion of The Braided Janes simply cannot be contained on any LP or in any video. Highly recommended tracks on Despierta are Ruleta (mean bass at the hands of Andy), Alien, and War! But, these tracks are so much better when you see them performed on stage. Also, pay special attention to the emotional track Mama, which pays tribute to Jessica’s mother as another chapter written in the never-ending story of gun violence.
I genuinely get excited when I listen to a kick ass indie rock band for the first time and this Fall 2019, that band is definitely Blood People! They’ve been around for just under a minute but their sound is killer and fresh. It’s punk flavored rock ’n’ roll led by powerful vocals at the command of Aly Jados. Rounded out with bandmates, Jeff, Mickey, and Norm, Blood People had a recent milestone performance at Riot Fest, and now I’m even more sad I didn’t go this year! But, all jibber jabber aside, Blood People really are dope and I highly recommend them. Favorite tracks so far are Liar’s Club, Mirror Mirror, Great Reactor, Last One Standing, and Recluse. If that sounds like a lot it’s because they have a lot of great tracks and it really, really, is very difficult to narrow it down to just a few.
BEATS Y BATERIA
Beat-driven, eclectic, nouveau, traditional music smothered in melodic, genre bending vocals. The self-titled Beats y Bateria EP is a journey unlike any other on this list. With roots extending from Havana and Maldova to Chicago, the group formed by AfroQbano, Ana Everling, and Daniel Crane combine their musical influences and talent under the moniker of “global dance music.” Every song carries a personal appeal. One track may feel more rhumba, another more folk, yet another transmits a gypsy vibe. The song Saraiman is a an ear-catching tune and, as the group explained, it is a genre called Lautareasca. If you’ve ever enjoyed anything like Funkadesi, Red Barat, or Bajofondo then you will highly appreciate Beats y Bateria; their musical style carries a similar appeal but with a standing all of its own. Of the five tracks on the EP, my personal favorites are El Pueblo, Bride’s Song and, the aforementioned, Saraiman.
This indie artist with a vintage, tropical, Latin, psychedelic sound that might be nipping on the heels of light surf rock, is Gabacho. Steadily releasing single after single in preparation of his EP, Gabacho has given us the tracks Sweet & Sour and El Recuerdo plus a cover of Mon Laferte’s Si Alguna Vez; the latter only found in video format on Facebook. Unfortunately the track may not make it into the next album but these songs give a preview of what’s to come, including a psychedelic bolero titled Corazoncito de Melon and a remix of El Recuerdo. But, if this doesn’t hold you over, Gabacho’s continued work with Chicago’s Los Gold Fires may do the trick. More not hem below!
When stoner metal meets rock and then they hang out with blues you get a road less travelled upon; a Black Road. And that road is governed by Suzi Uzi, Tim M., Casey Papp, and Robert Gonzalez. Oh! And that’s also a road where you can get good music, no not good, GREAT music on cassettes and vinyl! Watch out for that this October 31, 2019 when Black Road drops their new album Witch of the Future, which includes a reworked version of the previously released title track. Suzi and company consider themselves “late bloomers”, emerging on the scene in 2015, but you wouldn’t know it by listening to their EP dropped in 2017 with hits From Hell and Bloody Mary (insane guitar btw) and a 10 minute trip on the track Black Rose. In a world today where the average song is barely three minutes long, a short rock odyssey like this is a welcomed departure from the norm!
When he’s not playing percussion for Niña Dioz, talented Latin soul artist Lester Rey is working on his own material. His new EP titled Epifania is a testament to some of his musical influences, ranging from chill wave to hip hop, bomba to reggaeton, and more. The production features rhymes from Niña Dioz on the track Tambien, as well as guest artists Mila La Morena, Roy McGrath, and Nino Austine. Receommended “listen to’s” are the Niña Dioz track Tambien and Pegate A Mi, but honestly the whole production is the perfect soundtrack to chill out to.
Rooted in the old school influences of bands like 2 Minutos, Black Flag, modern day punk heroes NOFX, and perhaps even a little Tijuana NO, Conciencia Total released their EP Otro Dia just a few short weeks ago. It’s five tracks of pure punk rock en Español, an often overlooked but vital genre in the “Latin Alternative” scene. If ever there were a time in need of more music of rebellion it is modern day America. And, considering the current political climate we live in, this EP speaks to that environment in ways that apply to both sides of the current administration’s constantly pushed border wall. One such track is Mexico Despierta! And, in true punk rock, in-your-face, bursts of musical energy, tracks like Masacre and Otro Dia barely topple the one minute mark; ironically that’s ampletime to get the band’s point across.
LOS GOLD FIRES
If you’ve listened to these cats before and the above Gabacho, then you will immediately identify their music as distant cousins. The relationship may sound obvious but the two are different enough to merit their own spot in the world’s music scene. I myself have always wanted to hear more Latino bands experimenting with psychedelic rock of the 60’s and 70’s and Los Gold Fires readily fits the bill. It could even said that take that sound and give it a B-movie western flair and I could easily imagine them not he soundtrack of the next Quentin Tarantino film. Or, sharing the stage with veteran bands with names like The Aqua Velvets, Wavves, Lost Acapulco and The Ventures, but with a cross generational appeal. Los Gold Fires new LP, Renegade, was released just under a month ago and features a healthy dose of 10 tracks which are gathering more and plays on Spotify. They are definitely some of the best that the Midwest has to offer and so worth checking out.