by Miles Raymer
Seeing Leonard Cohen perform at the Chicago Theatre in 2009 was one of the best experiences of my entire life. Hearing that voice singing those songs right in front of your eyes and ears is a transcendental experience. According to Ticketmaster the only seats still available are $143.50 apiece, but honestly he's worth it.
Speaking of Leonard Cohen, the iconoclastic genre bender Meshell Ndegeocello covers his classic "Suzanne" on her latest recording, Pour une Ame Souveraine: A Dedication to Nina Simone. "Though Ndegeocello is an expressive vocalist and virtuosic bassist," Peter Margasak explains, "she isn't really a jazz singer. But because Simone herself flouted what was expected of a jazz singer in the 50s and especially the 60s—injecting fierce sociopolitical criticism into her work, ignoring repertory orthodoxy—it hardly matters."
"It's a good time to be young and metal in Chicago," writes Monica Kendrick. "[A]nd thankfully it's also a good time to be old and metal." Cianide's straightforward approach to the business of making metal has maintained an old-metalhead fan base even through the group's frequent periods of hibernation, but as Kendrick points out, thanks to the "the more welcoming atmosphere these days," "'old-school death metal' is actually almost fashionable." The similarly old-school Gates of Slumber open.
Local hip-hop outfit Kids These Days are one of the city's surprise success stories this year. The multi-instrumental collective recently self-released an album, Traphouse Rock, that's earned them praise from both dedicated rap fans and the annoying kind of person who only likes hip-hop performed by "real bands," as well as endorsements from Rolling Stone and Conan. "The record is plenty ambitious, sometimes to a fault," writes Leor Galil. "But there are shining moments on Traphouse Rock [that] prove that Kids These Days can put together a hell of a song when they're not distracted by their own resplendence."