Local rap site and scene booster Ruby Hornet is expanding beyond the Web and into the music biz! On March 15 the site's label, Closed Sessions, will drop its first commercial release, the cleverly titled Closed Sessions: ATX, with help from Decon Records. Recorded in a mansion in Austin during last year's SXSW and for sale as a CD or download, it pairs local hip-hop talent with outtatown MCs in a one-off extension of Hornet's Closed Sessions series (which usually happens at Chicago's SoundScape Recording). "I would come downstairs from my room and Rakaa and Babu of Dilated Peoples would be working with someone like Fashawn, GLC, or Curtains," says Ruby Hornet editor in chief Alex Fruchter. "I came back from one run to the store and Paul Wall was just hanging out." Closed Sessions celebrates the album's release March 17 in Austin with an unofficial SXSW showcase, and Beauty Bar throws a local release party Saturday, March 12—for $5 you can see Walter J. Liveharder, Tennille, and the Cool Kids' Sir Michael Rocks. Plus if you camp out in the bathrooms until 3 PM Sunday you can dance with children and puppets at a special Chic-a-Go-Go taping. That episode's guests: Hollows, Chips for the Poor, and beloved punk icon to little brats e'rywhere Steve Ignorant of Crass!
Late last week, Pitchfork announced that its annual music festival will run July 15-17 this year. Gossip Wolf sources confirm that Superchunk will be among the headliners. Also heavily tipped: TV On The Radio, Odd Future, the Dismemberment Plan, and Atmosphere. This Wolf also heard from a little bird in Zubaz pants that the Friday-night Don't Look Back series will be back with a vengeance and rocking it 90s style—Queensryche and a reunited That Dog, anyone?
Chicagoan Chris "Professor" Black is a metal superman: he works behind the scenes with Nachtmystium, plays bass and sings in Superchrist, and releases records as High Spirits. Oh, and he also runs Planet Metal, a label that produces and distributes some heavy tunes. Lately it's his band Dawnbringer that's getting the accolades. In September the group released its fourth album, Nucleus (Profound Lore), and its lean, harmonically taut classic-metal sound earned a spate of hot reviews. On March 26 at Red Line Tap, Black will convene a live band to play the first Dawnbringer show in 13 years—it's part of the monthly "Metal Up Your Tap" showcase booked by music writer Trevor Fisher.
How many tapes would a tape label tape if a tape label could tape tapes? Last Friday local noisenik Dan Smith, who coorganized the Neon Marshmallow Fest and runs Neon Blossom Records, launched a new—you guessed it!—cassette label. Hyperdelic Records is already six tapes deep, including an effort by Ohio drone specialist Mike Shiflet, an experimental collection from endlessly touring pop act Netherfriends, and a release from Smith's own Red Electric Rainbow. Smith tells Gossip Wolf that his mission is to focus on synth music, starting out with ambient psychedelic and moving on to ambient techno; eventually he plans to drop some 12-inch releases. Vinyl—how retro!
This Wolf is sad to report that singer-songwriter and former Chicagoan Diane Izzo died Friday in Albuquerque; she'd been battling brain cancer for several years. Though Izzo released only one album—her 1999 debut, One, produced by Brad Wood—she was beloved by local critics and fellow musicians. Speaking to Gossip Wolf, Tim Rutili of Califone remembers Izzo as an inspiration: "Diane was rare magic. She was dark and hilarious and truly a beautiful spirit. She could bend a lyric when she sang in a way that brought out the physical and the inexplicable feeling that can only be expressed with music. I haven't heard many people that can do that. That feeling poured out of her." Her partner, Marco Zas, is planning a memorial concert in Chicago. At the time of her death, she was working on a film with Zas and Reader contributor Jim Newberry and planning a reissue of One.
Like instant gratification? Well, local poppers Kleenex Girl Wonder have just released their 11th full-length, Secret Thinking, as a digital download. And if you can hold off till Tuesday—and shell out 18 clams—you can get some extra goodies, like a 28-page book and a "lifetime CD replacement guarantee." So if you use Secret Thinking as a frisbee or a cat toy, you can send it back and get a brand-new copy! The record industry should really take heed of this marvelous idea. This Wolf has been using the self-titled Joe Public CD as a beverage coaster since 1992, and it's about time to actually listen to it again. Columbia Records, help a Wolf out!