Music » In Rotation

Children's musician Laura Doherty on her amp in an Altoids tin

Plus: Producer Rich Rankin on St. Vincent's epiphanic art-rock, the Reader's Kevin Warwick on an Instagram hashtag for vinyl fans, and more



Kevin Warwick, Reader associate editor

Sly Stone, High on You Beginning with the vibrant patchwork jeans that the shirtless, levitating Sly wears on the cover, this jam of a solo album—missing any call-out to the Family Stone—is yet another lesson in tweaked-out funk from one of its pioneers. Sly's silky vocals (and the funky gospel choir backing him) groove along in a strut that oozes absolute cool, but it's all about the bass, man: the walking slap bass of the title track, the distorted bass twang of "Who Do You Love?," the blown-out bass fuzz of "So Good to Me."

The Vindictives At some junction in the past 15 years, my copy of The Many Moods of the Vindictives vanished into thin air. And I've been itching for the nasty pop-punk snarl of front man Joey Vindictive and the pitch-perfect backing melodies of bassist Johnny Personality. So I've been spinning this old-school Chicago band's "Rocks in My Head" seven-inch, and over Christmas I snatched up a copy of the great and ridiculous "Johnny Where Are You?" b/w "Eating Me Alive" picture disc (the two tracks are identical). Many Moods is currently being shipped to me from Spain.

#vinyligclub Because Instagram totally deserves to know what you're listening to, this hashtag notifies the rest of the vinyl-loving grammin' world that you're spinning the Terminator 2: Judgment Day soundtrack or Anthrax's Spreading the Disease. Definitely a fun place to check out some weird album art too.

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

Laura Doherty's Altoids-tin amplifier - LAURA DOHERTY
  • Laura Doherty
  • Laura Doherty's Altoids-tin amplifier

Laura Doherty, children's musician

Andrew Bird, "Pulaski at Night" I first heard this song, from Bird's 2013 EP I Want to See Pulaski at Night, in Orange Is the New Black, and I've been obsessed with it ever since. It's beautiful, full of his signature woven, swirling string parts. The lyrics resonate with me—especially the lines "Come back to Chicago / City of light" and "We're starting over." After living here 20 years, in 2012 I moved to New York (where I grew up), but I came back to Chicago less than a year later—and it did feel like starting over. I've driven on Pulaski and wondered what part of it Bird was talking about. Was it the view of the skyline from the west?

"Dueling Teles" at Kopi Cafe Every second Monday of the month in Andersonville, Steve Doyle and Brian Wilkie (of honky-tonk band the Hoyle Brothers) play their Fender Telecasters together. I live in the neighborhood, and I'm always delighted to listen to these two monster guitarists. They bounce off each other with instrumentals in all styles. You might hear "Moon River," then a Willie Nelson tune, and then the theme to The Andy Griffith Show in a minor key.

My pocket-size amplifier I got it for Christmas, and it's made out of an Altoids tin! So cool. This battery-operated amp has amazingly good sound for something so small, and it's perfect for getting down song ideas quickly. Next time someone asks for a mint, I'll play them a minty-fresh solo!

Laura Doherty & the Heartbeats play a morning kids' show at Schubas on Sat 2/14.

  • Renata Raksha
  • St. Vincent

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

Rich Rankin, music producer

St. Vincent, St. Vincent After experiencing all that "David Bowie Is" at the MCA's recent mind-altering and inspirational exhibit, I'm especially happy to know that art-rock is still alive and well—and St. Vincent is proof. This 2014 album is chock-full of luscious elements: actual melodies, imaginative arrangements, unusual beats, and smart lyrics that blossom with each listen. No doubt Bowie's work has influenced St. Vincent's music, but it's obviously also colored her sense of fashion and theater.

Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas I discovered Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas at Metro opening for St. Paul & the Broken Bones. Jessica is a force of nature with a powerful voice reminiscent of Amy Winehouse. She's an exciting performer with serious guitar and percussion chops, and her band is rock solid. The songs are an infectious blend of edgy, groovy 60s girl-group pop and percolating, funky rock—check out "Sorry I Stole Your Man" for a taste.

FitzGerald's This roadhouse-style Americana venue is a gem. It offers honest, intimate surroundings and a genuine focus on the music. Over the years I've enjoyed a slew of great acts at FitzGerald's, including Pieta Brown, Dale Watson, John Fullbright, Robbie Fulks, and too many local musicians to count. I've also had the privilege of backing up a few artists there, so I can say from experience that the music-centric approach of the club and its audiences really helps a performer feel like playing the best show possible.

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