Tag Archives: Artist of the Week

Synthpop Crooner Warm Human Finds Clarity In Sobriety (and Canned Chicken)

Warm Human

“‘It’s canned chicken, ma!’”

That’s Meredith Johnston, aka Chicago synthpop songstress Warm Human, recalling a moment she witnessed at a diner in rural Wisconsin. After filming for a music video, she went to grab some food, and had been watching a family with grandkids, a cousin, parents, and a grandmother trade gifts out of the corner of her eye. At some point, one of the daughters slid a present wrapped in tissue paper across the table to the grandmother, who pulled out a mason jar. Inside the jar were what appeared to be guts, but was actually, well, canned chicken. Continue reading

How Alien Encounters and Vivid Dreams Inspired Spellling’s Stunning “Mazy Fly”

Spellling“I’m always looking up in the sky for my big moment to get abducted by aliens,” says Chrystia Cabral, aka Spellling. “I’m seriously always searching the sky. I feel like a lot of friends of mine have seen UFOs or seen something they couldn’t explain, and I’m always like, ‘When’s it my turn?’” There’s a parallel between the Oakland artist’s search for alien life and her creative endeavors; in both, she looks for the unexpected, the novel, and the otherworldly. Luckily for listeners, she’s got the songwriting toolkit to meld the strange, the synthetic, and the soulful. Continue reading

Artist of the Week: On “Universal Beings,” Makaya McCraven Broadens His Jazz Appeal

AOTW-MakayaMcCraven-1244The history of Chicago jazz can be divided into two eras: before and after the establishment of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). Founded in 1965 by artists Muhal Richard Abrams, Jodie Christian, Steve McCall, and Phil Cohran, the collective quickly set an identity for Chicago’s most ambitious musicians, fostering a home for multi-instrumentalists Anthony Braxton and Henry Threadgill, and The Art Ensemble of Chicago.

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Artist of the Week: Gaye Su Akyol Puts a Psychedelic Spin on Turkish Pop

Gaye Su Akyol

Photos by Aylin Gungor

The cover of the new album from Istanbul pop singer Gaye Su Akyol feels like a snapshot of an art installation. Akyol, clad in an iridescent green romper, stands in front of a spindly, three-eyed mannequin that’s wrapped in a flowing gold robe. The mannequin’s face is glowing, and the landscape photo behind it looks deliberately blurred and psychedelic—like watching a 3D movie without glasses. The album’s title, Istikrarlı Hayal Hakikattir, translates to mean “consistent fantasy is reality,” and the fantastical cover makes it clear that Akyol is tapping into some utopian ideals.

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Artist of the Week: Rabit Uses Bleak Electronics to Explore a Brave New World

Rabit

Photos by Lane Stewart

In the six years since he first began making churning, expansive electronic music as Rabit, Eric Burton has collaborated with Björk, Chino Amobi, and London grime master Riko Dan; he’s played shows on three continents and has netted critical acclaim for his harrowing take on the genre. His three proper albums—Communion, Les Fleurs Du Mal, and now Life After Death—have been defined by pummeling rhythms, eclectic sampling, uneasy synth melodies, and a collage-like feel.

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Artist of the Week: “Eternal Return” is Windhand’s Most Gripping Record to Date

Windhand

Photos by Joey Wharton

In the opening moments of the fourth full-length from the Virgina doom band Windhand, just before the molten riffs kick in, comes a sound that’s familiar, but difficult to immediately identify—percussive, pitch-shifted, but unquestionably human.

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Artist of the Week: Lala Lala’s “The Lamb” is About “Learning and Unlearning”

lala lala

Photos by Sarah Joyce

Despite the confidence she exudes in the music she makes as Lala Lala, in person, Lillie West is a bundle of nerves. Speaking before her show in Cleveland last month, at a venue that doubles as a bowling alley, her eyes darted around the bustling lobby as if she were expecting to see someone she didn’t want to see. Her pink hair, sharp sense of humor, and amenable chattiness make her a disarming conversationalist—and yet, the jittery look in her eyes suggests otherwise.

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Artist of the Week: Lonnie Holley Sees Treasure Where Others See Trash

Lonnie Holley

Inset photo by Lonnie Holley

Artist-musician Lonnie Holley has a knack for finding art in literal garbage. He’s spent the better part of 40 years sifting through discarded objects in an endless search for material to reshape and reconfigure for sculptures and collages. Speaking by phone from a tour stop in Chicago, where he’s opening for Animal Collective, Holley pauses to explore a trash-filled alley.

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