Singer-songwriter Micha on an old song for Puerto Rico’s new struggle | In Rotation | Chicago Reader

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Singer-songwriter Micha on an old song for Puerto Rico’s new struggle

Plus: Izzy Olive of Half Gringa on the Weather Station’s growing pains, the Reader’s Leor Galil on Midwife’s mercurial dream-pop, and more

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

Midwife, aka Madeline Johnston - VINCENT MITCHELL
  • Vincent Mitchell
  • Midwife, aka Madeline Johnston

Leor Galil, Reader staff writer

Midwife, Like Author, Like Daughter I haven't listened to any album this summer as much as I have Like Author, Like Daughter. The Bandcamp page for Midwife, aka Madeline Johnston, says the album reflects on Johnston's final year living in Denver DIY venue Rhinoceropolis, which shut down during a crackdown on underground venues after the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland. Johnston's dream-pop, which can be calming one moment and crushing the next, doesn't make me think of a specific space so much as it lets me reflect on how I feel in the moment. And every time I listen, I hear something new.

Music reading from the Newberry Book Fair Reading is my reprieve from the insanity of festival season, so I bought a few non­fiction books about jazz and classical music last month at the Newberry Library's annual sale. Now I just need to find time to read them all.

The sticker that Reckless Records put on a copy of Iconoclast's Groundlessness of Belief seven-­inch If hardcore label Ebullition released it, chances are I own it or want to. So when I found an inexpensive used copy of this 1994 Ebullition seven-inch by Jersey emo band Iconoclast at Reckless recently, I knew I had to buy it. But the shop employee who wrote the description of the record for the display sticker really sealed the deal for me: "At one show the singer knocked his own teeth out and bled everywhere. Giving the guitarist the opportunity to sing the song 'I like you less than apple pie'. They really where something." I think I'm going to frame it.

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

Tamara Lindeman, who performs as the Weather Station - ALEXANDREA SCOTLAND
  • Alexandrea Scotland
  • Tamara Lindeman, who performs as the Weather Station

Izzy Olive, singer-songwriter and front woman for Half Gringa

The Weather Station, "Thirty" Man, this song messed me right up. I just turned 26, and I feel like I'm at a turning point similar to the one that Tamara Lindeman, who performs as the Weather Station, reflects on in this song. I saw her play the front room at the Hideout in February, and it's still my favorite show of the year. I had a really long conversation with someone I'd recently befriended, and it was one of those moments when you sense that someone is going to be an important part of your life and art. This single brings me back to that night and also makes me contemplate how I'm going to view the growing pains I'm having now by the time I'm 30.

Ratboys, GN If Ratboys guitarist and singer Julia Steiner quietly consoling herself with the words "I just want to love my family / Hold my shelter and lie in the symmetry" doesn't make you want to show your vulnerable, soft belly to the entire world, I can't help you.

Sasha Geffen's investigation into the pop "wet boy" phenomenon First of all, if you don't follow Sasha on Twitter, you should. Their examination of "wet boys"—young men appearing drenched in water in pop-music videos—has been ongoing for months. Here I am, still contemplating Harry Styles's wetness vs. Mark McGrath's. Did Gene Kelly's iconic "Singin' in the Rain" have any influence on these young men? I love getting an in-depth, long-form analysis of music trends, but apparently some people don't!

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

Dida Pelled - PHOTO BY MISHA KAMINSKY
  • Photo by Misha Kaminsky
  • Dida Pelled

Michelle J. Rodriguez, who records and performs as Micha

Dida Pelled I first saw jazz guitarist and vocalist Dida Pelled at Postock, a beautiful festival put together by Sima Cunningham at the Post Farm in Wisconsin. I was completely enchanted by Dida's vocal placement, her disarming lyrics, and her virtuosic guitar playing—she's really the whole pancake. I clutched my friend Ivan Pyzow and said to him, "Me enamoré!"

Marc Anthony singing Rafael Hernández's "Preciosa" "Preciosa" was written in 1937 by Puerto Rican composer Rafael Hernández. I first heard it in a version by Marc Anthony on a VHS tape celebrating Hernández's music. His rendition shifts from a bolero with cuatros to a full-on salsa, complete with impassioned improvisations. Lately the lyrics have been getting to me: "Preciosa serás sin banderas, sin lauros ni gloria / Preciosa, preciosa te llaman los hijos de la libertad." That translates to "You will be beautiful without flags, even without outside recognition, even without glory / The sons of liberty call you beautiful, beautiful." This takes on a whole new meaning now, with students and communities in Puerto Rico fighting against U.S. economic oppression.

Barbra Streisand, "The Way He Makes Me Feel" Barbra Streisand is my vocal icon. The great Alan and Marilyn Bergman wrote the lyrics of this song, and Michel Le­grand composed the music; it appears in Streisand's 1983 film Yentl, for which she served as executive producer, director, and star (playing a young woman who disguises herself as a man so she can study at yeshiva). Oh, and she's the only one who sings in the entire movie. Iconic.

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