In Rotation: Notes & Bolts founder Kriss Stress on Japan's kaleidoscopic youth culture

Plus: Lakshmi Ramgopal of Love and Radiation on her favorite echo pedal, the Reader’s Leor Galil on Emily Reo’s gorgeous Olive Juice, and more

| September 16, 2013
Emily Reo, Olive Juice
  • Emily Reo, Olive Juice

Leor Galil, Reader staff writer

Emily Reo, Olive Juice (Elestial Sound) I'm in awe of Boston experimental pop artist Emily Reo, who can make lovely, intimate music by layering what sounds like chintzy toy-keyboard percussion with warm, slightly frazzled synth notes and her gentle multitracked vocals. Her new Olive Juice is glistening, gorgeous, and comforting, and "Wind" and "Happy Birthday" are among my favorite songs of the year.

Lil Wayne featuring Chance the Rapper, "You Song" Apparently this track with Chance isn't the only thing on Lil Wayne's new Dedication 5 mixtape, but because I haven't gotten past "You Song" I can't say for sure. Chance easily outshines Wayne, rapping with manic, goofy energy over a soulful boom-bap cut that producers Peter Cottontale, Nate Fox, and Cam put together just days before Dedication 5 dropped. It's not a Lil Wayne song, and for that matter it's not really a you song—it's all Chance.

The end of festival season I'm sad I'll be packing away my jorts and saying good-bye to summer, but I'll be grateful that I won't be spending another weekend at a music festival this year. After a few months, the crowds, the heat, the revolting porta-­potties, the hustle to catch overlapping sets, the schedules marked up with assignments, the sets spent craning my neck—it's all taken away some of my pleasure in watching live music, and at times made me feel more misanthropic than I actually am. With fall coming, I look forward to looking forward to going to shows again.

Leor is curious what's in the rotation of …

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu - KEN ISHII/GETTY IMAGES
  • Ken Ishii/Getty Images
  • Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

Kriss Stress, founder of Notes & Bolts and the Chicago Underground Music Archive

The World Underground John Yingling has been setting an amazing precedent for all us documentarian types over the past several years. First he was covering all the good stuff going down here in Chicago; then he migrated to Missoula and started pulling the same tricks there. Now he's going to China to launch his World Underground project, documenting the DIY sounds being made in that country's underbelly. I can't wait to see what he captures—and what scene he starts on next!

Japanese youth culture Over the past several years, my fascination with its many aspects has grown into an obsession. I love the bright colors—especially the vividly dyed hair and the outfits that amplify the influence of Western culture and reflect it back onto itself. And of course there's the high-energy pop music, including Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, electro-rappers Halcali, and Capsule, the project of Yasutaka Nakata, the same mastermind behind Perfume and Coltemonikha. Put it all together, and it's a kaleidoscope that I can't tear my eyes and ears away from.

Record-collection reconfiguration Many avid record collectors will admit that tuning up their collections is one of their all-time joys, and I'm no exception to the stereo­type. Granted, I'm not Steve Krakow (I mean, dude's collection has aisles!), but my LP count alone just recently moved past the 3,500 mark, while my seven-inches and 45s have finally creeped into the four digits. I go outdoors sometimes, I promise!

Kriss is curious what's in the rotation of …

Strymon El Capistan dTape Echo pedal
  • Strymon El Capistan dTape Echo pedal

Lakshmi Ramgopal, half of Love and Radiation, records solo as Lykanthea

Strymon El Capistan dTape Echo Earlier this year I got to use this guitar pedal while recording an album with my band. It mimics tape machines to create either a dark sonic palette or glittering, airy sounds for people who want bright atmospherics. After fantasizing about it forever, I finally picked up one of my own from Make'n Music, and I've been filling my apartment with reverberating tones ever since. Next plan: Use it with vocals and nontraditional instruments.

Gazelle Twin, Mammal (Sugarcane) My favorite track is "I Turn My Arm," where Elizabeth Walling's detached vocals celebrate the bodily decay that accompanies aging. I'm drawn to her exploration of complex themes with sparse lyrics and dissonant sounds. The EP includes several remixes—some beat heavy, others ethereal—that thoroughly transform the meaning of the originals.

Color War, The Prismatic Collection (self-released) I love swoony, synth-y music, so Color War provide the perfect fix. This EP kicks off with a rendition of Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra's creepy classic "Some Velvet Morning." Condensing Hazlewood and Sinatra's call-and-response action, Color War's vocalists sing together in rich, solipsistic repetition. "Chromeward Bound," the second track, begins gently before adding layer after layer of beats and cascading vocals. Though it's nearly ten minutes long, it's well arranged—I'm always surprised when it ends.

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