When: Thu., Jan. 10, 9 p.m. 2013
Marie-Claire Balabanian and Karl Briedrick, the core duo of Speck Mountian, have described themselves as "musical soul mates," but their kinship isn’t the sort that doesn’t leave room for anybody else: for the upcoming Badwater, out 1/22 via Carrot Top, they've recruited drummer Chris Dye (Chin Up Chin Up) and organist Linda Malonis. Like their previous full-length, Some Sweet Relief—where Balabania'’s vocals and Briedrick’s instruments weave together into a hypnotic blanket of dreamy, ambient pop that goes great with naps and warm mugs—Badwater is built around delay-treated guitar, airy singing, reverb, and more reverb. But it's also much more of a "rock" record than its two predecessors, mostly on account of the up-front songwriting style and production that comes with a full band. It's less bedroom and more studio, particularly due to Dye's sparse but consistent rhythms. The stellar title track, for instance, devolves for its last two minutes into a jam that’s more melodically textured, heavy on the licks, and just plain rock ’n’ roll than anything I’ve heard from Speck Mountain. And they’re better off for it. —Kevin Warwick
This fall Haley Fohr, who makes music under the name Circuit des Yeux, moved to Chicago from Bloomington, Indiana, where she’d made three haunting albums of spectral psych-folk as a solo artist. The most recent, last year’s spooky Portrait (De Stijl), is both primal and refined, piling up strummed acoustic guitar, elegant piano, bloopy analog synth, and billowing, reverb-heavy clouds of noise around her mannered singing, which imbues the songs’ stormy melodies with gothic darkness and operatic grandeur. Later this winter Fohr will release a new three-song ten-inch EP called CDY3 (Magnetic South), which she made with a band—the addition of live drums ratchets up the rhythmic intensity, and more players means more layers. On “Helen, You Bitch” Fohr’s voice is entirely absent, leaving the stage to processional drumming and churning, noisy psychedelic guitars. On “Lithonia” her icy, Nico-esque voice leaps into a piercing upper-register swoop, and the searing slow build of “I’m on Fire II” brings a magisterial air to a White Light/White Heat-style conflagration. For this show she’s backed by Joe Wetteroth on guitar and Ben Billington on drums and electronics. —Peter Margasak Radar Eyes headline; Speck Mountain and Circuit des Yeux open.