Post-everything fusion band Je’raf celebrate their debut album | Gossip Wolf | Chicago Reader

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Post-everything fusion band Je’raf celebrate their debut album

Plus: Nicky Flowers resuscitates a Morrissey-tweaking all-synth Smiths cover project, and Automata side project Otherly plays a release party at the Whistler.

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Je'raf - COURTESY THE ARTIST
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Formed in 2017, art-rock ensemble Je'raf arrange bits of hip-hop, jazz, funk, and postpunk into whimsical, progressive jams. All seven members (they're split between New York and Chicago) play in similarly animated, eccentric bands outside the group too—bassist and vocalist PT Bell is in art-punk unit Blacker Face, for instance, and vocalist Brianna Tong fronts jazz-fusion group Cordoba. On Saturday, February 29, local labels Amalgam and No Index release Je'raf's rambunctious and politically charged debut album, Throw Neck. That night they celebrate with a headlining set at Hungry Brain; Udababy opens, and tickets are $10.

Morrissey's swerve into reprehensible political gibberish, mediocre albums, and lackluster live shows over the past 20 years has left many sweet and tender hooligans reaching for their Smiths albums far less often than they used to. Local electronic musician Nicky Flowers has a solution: a covers project called the Smynths, which recently dropped the charming EP The Smynths Return. It seems bound to offend the famously synth-averse Mozzer: Flowers turbocharges Johnny Marr's melodies with a raft of ringing keyboards and glorious vocoder-assisted crooning. Giving offense is the point—the Smynths are "dedicated to psychically destroying Morrissey," Flowers says. "Johnny Marr was the Smiths, 100 percent." Shots fired! Due to prohibitive licensing costs, the Smynths aren't on any streaming services, but the EP (and a 2018 self-titled full-length) are available via Flowers's Bandcamp.

Justin Samuel Martin (of indie-rock group Automata) makes stylistically loose indie-pop as Otherly, with occasional help from his friends—Automata front woman Rachel Sarah Thomas, for example, adds luscious vocals to recent singles "Nadia" and "Leave." Both those tracks appear on Otherly's debut album, Darkling, which drops Friday, February 28. Otherly plays a free release party that night at the Whistler.  v

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