Chicago emo duo OK Cool are not OK | The Listener | Chicago Reader

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Chicago emo duo OK Cool are not OK

Bridget Stiebris and Haley Bloomquist write oddly inspiring songs about having a hard time being alive.


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Bridget Stiebris (left) and Haley Bloomquist of OK Cool - NINA GAULIN
  • Nina Gaulin
  • Bridget Stiebris (left) and Haley Bloomquist of OK Cool

I'd made a habit of visiting Bandcamp multiple times per week, if not per day, long before Bandcamp Fridays became a thing. (For those days, the digital-music retailer has been passing along its usual cut of sales to independent musicians and labels struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic.) One of my favorite Bandcamp finds of the past eight months is Anomia by OK Cool, the Chicago duo of Bridget Stiebris and Haley Bloomquist. This EP yokes together understated but sentimental indie-rock singing with guitars that alternate between chilly postpunk riffs and knotty, complex emo melodies—a combination they accomplish with particular precision and force on "I Can't Stand in Ice Skates."

On Friday, OK Cool will drop their next EP, Surrealist, via Stiebris and Bloomquist's label, Take a Hike Records (also home for their other band, the Weekend Run Club). On the second advance single from Surrealist, last week's "Divers," OK Cool stitch lonesome guitars onto a restrained electronic beat, then suddenly erupt into an intense chorus propelled by crashing drums and gleaming with shoegaze tremolo. I know I've said this a lot since the pandemic started, but I can't wait to see the band play this song in a tiny, crowded room.  v

  • "Divers" will appear on the OK Cool EP Surrealist, due this Friday.

The Listener is a weekly sampling of music Reader staffers love. Absolutely anything goes, and you can reach us at

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