- James K. Lowe
Leor Galil, Reader staff writer
East of the Rock I recently fell into a K-hole of early-90s Chicago rap and landed on East of the Rock, whose easygoing, jazz-sampling boom-bap sits well alongside music from, say, the Native Tongues collective. The group never put out a proper release during its lifespan; the closest it got was a 50-copy white-label run of an EP called Galaxy Rays in the mid-90s. Local label Black Pegasus reissued it a couple years ago, and Minneapolis rap-retail outlet Fifth Element has posted it on Soundcloud.
Lorde, "Million Dollar Bills" (Universal) Everyone's favorite new pop star built this song's killer stuttering hook from processed and edited samples of her rich voice, but her confident, direct singing commands the spotlight even when the two overlap. Toss in a dainty, vaguely flutelike synth line and a gaseous beat that morphs into something like reggaeton, and you've got pop bliss.
TV Nicks, Eulogy (self-released) Tinychat-based Internet concert series SPF420 has grown since it helped incubate (and kill off) electro-pop microgenre vaporwave; in the past couple months SPF420 shows and afterparties have featured Mister Lies, Black Moth Super Rainbow mastermind Tobacco, footwork beat makers DJ Earl and Traxman, and Internet "it" producer Ryan Hemsworth. The most recent event was a release party for TV Nicks's Eulogy, a pay-what-you-want Bandcamp download by a producer who claims to live in Dubai. I got hooked when I heard "Identity," with its hodgepodge of dry trap beats, glittery synths, moody atmospherics, and luxuriously warped vocal samples.
Leor is curious what's in the rotation of …
- Lucille Cataldo performing her song "Hairdresser" on Stairway to Stardom
Matt Clark, half of White/Light
Nashville This is one of two TV shows that I watch (also: Top Chef). Once upon a time, I was in a rock band that was signed to Capitol and Astralwerks; while Nashville is pretty absurd and Country Music™ is just the MacGuffin that moves the soap opera along, there are moments in every episode that remind me of the biz. Sadly, not the private-jets part, but here we are. Scene alert: also a favorite of LA pals Lucky Dragons, Nashville is edited by my former Reckless Records coworker Lizzy Calhoun.
Nile Rodgers's Twitter feed I love Nile Rodgers, and his guitar playing, and his autobiography, and how successful he is. But as far as celebrity goes, nothing says "jumping the shark" like an Instagram of a private dock in Connecticut captioned "Rise & Shine—next time I'm home all the boats will be winterized" and tweets to customer service about how business class to Abu Dhabi used to mean something. Scene alert: my three-year-old, William Wyatt, loves to sing along with "Chic Cheer" on the way to preschool.
Stairway to Stardom Raw enthusiasm, 1980s edition. A variety show in a basement in Staten Island. Mostly musicians, with some comedy (Wayne Rubin, anybody?). The performers on the show all poured their hearts out, and I hope every one of them was the coolest person on the block for a week. Some favorites: "Hairdresser" (a fiasco about . . . hairdressing); "Crackhead" (lip-synched cautionary rap); the show's theme song; all of the jazz jams. Scene alert: host Frank Masi died in March at age 88.
Matt is curious what's in the rotation of …
- Courtesy the artist
- "Hank Finds an Egg," from Rebecca Dudley's Storywoods
Mark Greenberg, composer, owner of the Mayfair Workshop
Raymond Scott, Manhattan Research Inc. (Basta) Though he started his career composing cartoonish novelty jazz in the 30s and 40s, Raymond Scott went on to become an early pioneer of electronic music, composing and recording as well as inventing the instruments themselves. Their otherworldly new sounds were only outdone by his evocative melodies and arrangements. This set shows the work-for-hire side of his electronic output in the 50s and 60s—often minimal, sometimes over-the-top, but always thrilling, puzzling, and fulfilling.
Rebecca Dudley, Storywoods Storywoods is an ongoing story/photo series. In it, Dudley creates a world with its own feel, speed, scale, and internal logic. We're allowed to peek in on this handmade setting, rich with detail and care, without disturbing . . . it's familiar but also new and explorable. The stories contain joy and melancholy, all within very quiet and minimal micro plots. Time and action can be slowed to a stop and sway in the breeze a bit without breaking the spell Dudley creates.
Lucius, Wildewoman (Mom + Pop) This Brooklyn band centers on the tight, beautiful vocal harmonies of singers Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig. Their pop is equal parts classic 60s girl group and catchy indie. The two sound so locked in when they sing, you'd swear they were blood kin. Rarely these days does such raw talent combine with such great songwriting in a presentation so well considered. The best part is that I can enjoy and love them alongside my 16-year-old daughter, Georgia.