Music » In Rotation

Shane Merrill of Empire Productions on 2016’s best throwback metal

Plus: John Ugolini of Kickstand Productions on the band he needed when he was 13, the Reader’s Kevin Warwick on the Uranium Club’s cynical postpunk, and more

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A Reader staffer shares three musical obsessions, then asks someone (who asks someone else) to take a turn.

The cover of the Uranium Club’s All of Them Naturals
  • The cover of the Uranium Club’s All of Them Naturals

Kevin Warwick, Reader associate editor

Uranium Club, All of Them Naturals This brief LP belongs on year-end lists, but because it dropped in mid-December, it was too late for most. Its sharp, tightly wound hardcore postpunk is enlivened by finely polished cynicism and satire—the Uranium Club have a blast methodically deconstructing our monotonous existences. Also known as the Minneapolis Uranium Club Band, they don't bother with social media and often headline nameless unlicensed venues—and they're as good a punk group as exists today.

The funkier Bohannon I'm not saying that some of Hamilton Bohannon's popular disco singles from the late 70s and early 80s aren't dance-floor scorchers, but the first couple records that this former leader of Motown backing bands made for Dakar, Stop & Go (1973) and Keep On Dancin' (1974), are funkier jams whose straightforward proto­disco elements don't hit glitz overload. The grooves are deep and never urgent, with plenty of room to get cozy. For the love of all that is holy, dance for Bohannon—it's all he asks.

The Hard Times Though this fake punk-news site has been pushing outside its territory of late with anything-goes Onion-style satire, it's hardly in danger of exhausting its original niche—the Hard Times had some kind of 2016, with headlines such as "Ceremony Thinks You Were Better in 2006, Too" and "Minor Threat Reference Wasted on Chili's Waitress." If you've ever played a power chord or hit your head on the way downstairs to a basement show, you'll approve.

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

striker-stand_in_the_fire-900.jpg

Shane Merrill, owner of Empire Productions

Striker, Stand in the Fire I first heard this record very early in 2016, and I knew it would remain my number one album for the entire year. Edmonton's Striker are the real deal, and after putting out some promising metal over the past decade, they've finally realized their potential with Stand in the Fire. It's just perfect traditional heavy metal—equal parts Maiden and Anthrax, with a little Dokken tossed in. There are lots of throwback metal records these days, but none of them has this much precision, heart, and fun!

Boss Keloid, Herb Your Enthusiasm Like Striker, Boss Keloid deal in a kind of music that's attracting a lot of bands these days. Their crowded subgenre is doom metal. This band is from England, and this record is absolutely crushing, with an interesting, distinctive guitar tone and a good soulful singer—both of which help separate them from the pack. Herb Your Enthusiasm is one of those records where you need to listen to the whole thing in one sitting in order to fully digest its beauty.

MeTV 87.7 FM This station is everything that's right with Chicago FM radio, aside from NPR and college operations. You can hear every single song from the 70s that you're embarrassed to admit you like—plus glorious yacht-rock one-hit wonders that you didn't even know existed, jammers from the 50s and 60s, and the occasional blip of 80s tunes. The absurd amount of variety on this station is enough to keep me coming back. I rarely hear the same song more than once or twice in a month. Get your cheese on.

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

Viv Albertine of the Slits in 2009 - SAMMICH/FLICKR
  • sammich/Flickr
  • Viv Albertine of the Slits in 2009

John Ugolini, owner of Kickstand Productions

The Slits Recently I read Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys., a memoir by Slits guitarist Viv Albertine. The goddamn book drove me to an unhealthy obsession with the band. Even today the Slits' music sounds as progressive, honest, and empowering as it must have in the late 70s. I find something new to take away from each listen. I wish I'd discovered them when I was 13, instead of Blink-182. Don't get me wrong, I like Blink-182 well enough, but the Slits would've inspired me to do more with my life. Blink-182 inspired me to frost my tips.

Tony Molina Bay Area hardcore stalwart Tony Molina can condense the nuts and bolts of a three-minute pop tune into 60 furious and unrelenting seconds. The songs end on their own terms, leaving you hanging for another chorus, another guitar hook, another solo. His 2014 album Dissed and Dismissed blends the melodicism of Pinkerton-era Weezer with the guitar theatrics of Thin Lizzy, while 2016's Confront the Truth is more understated, with some acoustic balladry. But both of them rip.

The Ghost Planet This wild, crazy, and imaginatively subversive variety show happens the third Saturday of each month at Township. I'd liken my Ghost Planet experience to sleeping with Wayne White while watching a Space Ghost Coast to Coast episode. It was wonderful. Producer and host Frank Okay and his crew deliver a show that maintains its responsibility to entertain while challenging and provoking thought. I left feeling excited to be alive and inspired to create.

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