High Spirits make radiant trad metal for dark times | Gossip Wolf | Chicago Reader

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High Spirits make radiant trad metal for dark times

Plus: Square Roots moves its music festival online, and Why? Records rapper Davis drops the densely detailed Ebony Maw.

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High Spirits - COURTESY THE ARTIST
  • Courtesy the artist
  • High Spirits

If months of dire news, pandemic-related social isolation, and deepening national trauma have thrown you into a tailspin of ill will and lethargy, then Gossip Wolf has just the musical antidote. The upbeat, exuberantly riff-packed trad metal of local jammers High Spirits has appeared in this column before, but their latest album, Hard to Stop (out July 31 via German label High Roller), has arrived with exquisite anti-apocalyptic timing. Though High Spirits perform live with a five-piece band, Hard to Stop was entirely written, performed, and recorded by front man Chris Black, the local metal lifer who's also the heart of long-running units Dawnbringer and Superchrist. The album blazes like a thousand floodlights at an arena show—and the triumphant energy of its tight, supercharged tracks insists that better days will come, no matter how hard it is to imagine. Here's to hoping!

This is usually the time of year when Gossip Wolf gets serious street-fest fatigue—but right now, mingling with neighborhood hosers and eating funnel cake sounds weirdly ideal. Go figure! Lincoln Square festival Square Roots is sensibly moving online—on Saturday, August 29, it hosts a livestream with a top-notch lineup that includes postpunky garage-folk trio Dehd, soulful combo the O'My's, rapper Frank Waln, Bomba con Buya, and Andrew Sa & the Cosmic Country Showcase Band. The stream is free, but donations benefit neighborhood small businesses, including the Old Town School of Folk Music's financial aid programs.

On Friday, Chicago rapper Davis dropped the EP Ebony Maw, the follow-up to his 2019 debut album, Green Parakeet Suite. Cofounder of Why? Records and half of label-affiliated duo Udababy, he specializes in free-associative raps that magnify the surreal qualities of ordinary life and throw a piercing light on its pervasive injustices. On Ebony Maw he delivers his verses so fast you'll be tempted to ride the rewind button so you can steep in each line—even though the EP is barely 12 minutes long, it's dense enough with detail that you can wade in it!  v

Got a tip? Tweet @Gossip_Wolf or e-mail gossipwolf@chicagoreader.com.

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