Music » In Rotation

In Rotation: Chicago Singles Club founder Jeff Kelley on the city's best experimental-pop band

Plus: Songwriter and producer KSRA on Kiesza's infinitely danceable "Hideaway," the Reader's Kevin Warwick on Kraftwerk in 3-D, and more


Kraftwerk performs a 3-D concert in the Dutch city of Eindhoven in 2013. - PAUL BERGEN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
  • Paul Bergen/AFP/Getty Images
  • Kraftwerk performs a 3-D concert in the Dutch city of Eindhoven in 2013.

Kevin Warwick, Reader associate editor

Kraftwerk in 3-D I was one of the privileged few who got to witness—through 3-D glasses—the forefathers of minimalist avant-garde electro awe a sold-out crowd at the Riv. The band keyed through Kraftwerk cuts at their trademark glowing podiums, which was great enough even without the supernatural visuals. Sometimes menacing ("The Robots"), sometimes colorful ("Autobahn"), the projections provided mind-bending accompaniment, as well as a fun excuse for the crowd to collectively gasp as a satellite propelled itself from the screen.

Perfect Pussy chatter Ever since this DIY-focused Syracuse noise-punk band formed in 2012—front woman Meredith Graves previously sang for the abrasive Shoppers—it's been the topic of much discussion. (At least around these parts, their 11-minute headlining set at Schubas in January set some of it in motion.) Is the blogosphere chatter and word-of-mouth hype warranted? Yes, mostly. The modest four-song demo I Have Lost All Desire for Feeling and debut full-length Say Yes to Love are both solid, but it's Graves's dynamic onstage flair that will make the band a must-see come Pitchfork.

Showcase Showdown, Appetite of Kings Gotta love it when someone sells an entire 80s/90s hardcore-punk collection to a record store and you get to cherry-pick your favorites. This vintage Boston pogo-punk band—"vintage" in that their mailing address is on the insert—only released two albums and a handful of seven-­inches before splitting in 2000. But front man Albert "Ping Pong" Genna still sounds biting and snotty, loyal to the Sex Pistols way.

Kevin is curious what's in the rotation of . . .

Shannon Matesky in the 2012 production of the Inconvenience's Hit the Wall - RYAN BOURQUE
  • Ryan Bourque
  • Shannon Matesky in the 2012 production of the Inconvenience's Hit the Wall

Jeff Kelley, founder of Chicago Singles Club, guitarist in Vaya

Oshwa, Chamomile Crush I first heard Oshwa when one of the band's songwriters, Alicia Walter, got in touch with CSC last year about a possible feature. Before I'd even finished listening to the title track of this LP, they were one of my favorite Chicago bands. They're weird and cerebral but still accessible, and their arrangements are intricate, multidimensional, and dynamic. I don't know anyone who's doing experimental pop today as well as they are.

The Inconvenience's upcoming remount of Hit the Wall I was totally blown away by the original production in 2012—the show was visceral, highly stylized, and deliberately theatrical. One of the defining moments for me was when the powder keg of the riot goes off—an actor creates cacophony by running behind the audience dragging a crash cymbal across the backs of the seats, while intensely choreographed movement sequences freeze and highlight different characters' perspectives. I'm happy to see the Vamos dudes are returning as the house band.

Exploding in Sound Records This relatively new east-coast-based label is putting out some killer music, some by old friends of ours (Geronimo!, My Dad) and some by new favorites (Porches, Pile). Their focus is guitar-oriented rock that's somewhat on the heavy side. It's the kind of label that keeps you on your toes; you don't know exactly what each release will sound like, but you know it will be rad.

Jeff is curious what's in the rotation of . . .

Kiesza, "Hideaway"
  • Kiesza, "Hideaway"

Rachel Sarah Thomas, aka songwriter and producer KSRA

Kiesza, "Hideaway" The track is simple and executed perfectly, just like the video—a single shot that meanders through Brooklyn streets rife with 90s fashion and dance. The bright, agile vocals contain no trace of the heavy tone and lush layered harmonies that have dominated airwaves for the past decade. The production is sparse and fun—and a great addition to the recent house-music resurgence. It makes me want to dance every single moment.

The partnership of Arca, FKA Twigs, and Jesse Kanda Brooklyn-based producer Arca and London-based singersongwriter and producer FKA Twigs have a brilliant partnership—his lush, twisted musical scenery and her vocal musings create a sonic landscape unlike anything I've heard. Arca's drum programming is nuanced and sensual, skittering across and under, while his synth pads moan softly like alien creatures. The production is so expertly layered that you can't tell if an ooh is part of the vocals. Arca and FKA Twigs collaborate with Jesse Kanda, who creates surreal, hypnotizing images to accompany the music.

Natalie Grace Alford singles on Soundcloud You can't shower her in money yet, but be prepared. Chicago-based Natalie Grace Alford performs a one-woman show, looping vocals and keys through lively Motown-inspired songs. She works with Gabe Liebowitz (front man for Dastardly), who's spent the past two years honing his production and songwriting skills. Along with the meticulous Jon Alvin (Chrome Attic Studios), they've created a sound that's intelligent, raucous, and damn fun.

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