In Rotation: Robbie Fulks on one of the greatest soul singers alive | In Rotation | Chicago Reader

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In Rotation: Robbie Fulks on one of the greatest soul singers alive

Plus: Show taper Aadam Jacobs on 2014's best record to date, Reader music editor Philip Montoro on the funniest four syllables in doom metal, and more

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Tune-Yards at Pitchfork - LUCY HEWETT
  • Lucy Hewett
  • Tune-Yards at Pitchfork

Philip Montoro, Reader music editor

Electric Wizard, "Satanic Rites of Drugula" I've loved UK drug-doom maniacs Electric Wizard for years, but I only just figured out the goofy horror-pulp lyrics to this slow-motion caldera collapse from 2007's Witchcult Today. (A new album, Time to Die, drops September 30.) They're about a vampire who gets blazed by feeding on druggies: "Your dope-laced blood shows me new highs / Bloodlust, druglust, Count Drugula arise." Also, they include the funniest four syllables in doom: "So high / So dead."

Senyawa The Indonesian duo of Rully Shabara and Wukir Suryadi, formed in Yogyakarta in 2010 after they were dared to do an impromptu improvisation, combines the ancient gravity of a firelit ritual and the electric futurism of the avant-garde. Shabara sings, chants, howls, pleads, shrieks, and gargles, while Suryadi hammers, twangs, and saws on his homemade Bambu Wukir—a thick bamboo stem outfitted with strings, its skin carved into strips that he can pluck percussively. Sometimes he plays tense, buzzing drones, and sometimes his instrument sounds more like a crude xylophone. Occasionally Senyawa add traditional hand drums, gongs, and cymbals, grafting an almost rocklike drive onto their music's manic, self-­immolating urgency.

Tune-Yards at Pitchfork It took a live set to bump me from "intrigued" to "definitely a fan." Tune-Yards performed their exuberant, acrobatic playground pop without a net, building percussion and vocal loops on the fly rather than using canned tracks. I wished I'd been able to get closer to the stage, up where people were dancing. I also wished I could be in a band with Merrill Garbus.

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

Robbie Fulks - DINO STAMATOPOULOS
  • Dino Stamatopoulos
  • Robbie Fulks

Aadam Jacobs, live music archivist

Hushdrops, Tomorrow! The wait has been excessively long—more than ten years—but in June the Hushdrops finally released the second LP in their 20-plus-year history. Tomorrow! isn't a departure from their first full-length, Volume One: it has all the goodness that the band's small legion of fans has come to know and love. Think the Beatles, the Who, and the Beach Boys filtered through My Bloody Valentine. This will likely end up my favorite record of 2014.

Boredoms The extra listening time on a recent road trip gave me the opportunity to revisit brilliant Japanese collective Boredoms, particularly their 2007 release Super Roots 9—a loud, unrelenting, and absolutely gorgeous documentation of a 2004 concert. Over the course of 40 minutes, Boredoms wrap a "24 choir" (according to the liner notes) in washes of keyboards and ambient sounds, then bombard it with a most incredible display of intense pummeling by three drummers. Several years later, the band mounted a similar show in Chicago, and it was transcendent.

Robbie Fulks For about five years Robbie Fulks has graced the Hideout with a different show just about every Monday, and I go see him just about every Monday. If he's not brilliantly revisiting vintage bluegrass and country repertoire (usually in a duo or with a small collection of talented friends), he's paying a one-night tribute to Liz Phair, Bob Dylan, or Lou Reed. Sometimes his homages are mixed, such as the brilliant Monk vs. Monkees program. Whatever he does, I guarantee it will entertain and delight—do not take for granted one of the most talented men in Chicago.

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

Paul Carrack, Rain or Shine
  • Paul Carrack, Rain or Shine

Robbie Fulks, singer-songwriter and guitarist

Nervous Norvus A hipster undergoes a series of blood transfusions following many gruesome wipeouts. Teenagers are exhorted to "stick your head in a garbage can" and holler till they black out. Packs of dogs kill coons at night in Kentucky. In the 1950s and '60s, California truck driver Jimmy Drake home-recorded dozens of novelty songs as Nervous Norvus, and he never ran dry of vivid scenarios. The 2004 Norton compilation Stone Age Woo will meet all your Norvus needs: plenty of rustic ineptitude, conceptual wrongheadedness, fame-whore flair, and puzzling flashes of real talent.

Paul Carrack, Rain or Shine More than three decades ago, Paul Carrack (Ace, Nick Lowe, Squeeze, Roxy Music, Mike + the Mechanics—wow!) made a record, Suburban Voodoo, that could've been named "Robbie's Summer of 1982." Over the years he faded from my mind, but having decided to catch up with him, I bought last year's Rain or Shine—and I love it. Carrack plays most of the instruments, naturally and well, and he's still one of the best soul singers alive. Oddly, his own lightweight songs easily stand out above the classics he covers. "If Loving You Is Wrong" will never be wrested away from Millie Jackson, but Carrack's scratchy-pajamas voice and easy­going spins on old compositional cliches lift his work into a unique zone.

Fruitful Dave The teenage jam band tragically yclept "Fruitful Dave" is awfully exciting. I saw them at Bottom Lounge in July. They played original freak-outs such as "I Wish I Had the Power of Invisibility (But I Don't)," and the explosive drumming by one Preston Fulks was objectively noteworthy.

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