Luca Cimarusti, Reader music listings coordinator
Will Romano, Prog Rock FAQ This new book wound up in the Reader offices a few weeks ago and has kept me entertained ever since. An incredibly in-depth history of progressive rock's beginnings and the many bizarre paths it's followed since, it includes interviews with the movement's key players, insanely detailed accounts of recording sessions, and pretty much everything you could ever care to know about King Crimson.
Minor Threat While I was having dinner at Handlebar recently, all of a sudden Minor Threat came on. I hadn't listened to the band in years, and I was surprised to discover that I still had every bass intro, shout-along chorus, and drum fill memorized—and I enthusiastically air-played all of it over my smoked Gouda mac 'n' cheese. I dug the CD out of my closet afterward, and since then it's been my go-to for driving tunes.
The Brokedowns, Life Is a Breeze When I was in high school, the Brokedowns were the band from my suburb that really got me interested in totally local underground punk rock. These Elgin stalwarts are not only still kicking more than a decade later, but they've also gotten better than ever—and the prove it on this brand-new LP, released by Red Scare Industries. Life Is a Breeze is so energetic, powerful, and catchy that listening to it makes me feel like a kid again.
Luca is curious what's in the rotation of . . .
Ryley Walker, fingerstyle guitar prodigy
Itasca, Unmoored by the Wind When people call a record "fall music" it usually makes my blood boil, but I gotta give it up for Kayla Cohen, aka Itasca. Unmoored by the Wind, which came out in October, is really brilliant music for this time of year. Cohen's heady lyrics and incredible guitar playing make my morning hangover a little brighter. Between her, Jessica Pratt, and Kevin Morby, Los Angeles leads the pack when it comes to modern songwriters.
Van Morrison, Mojo at the Roxy Most Van heads say the 1974 release It's Too Late to Stop Now is peak-era live Van Morrison, but that couldn't be further from the truth. The band on this bootleg recording, originally broadcast live on the radio on November 26, 1978, sounds so stoned and far-out. The set list is perfect, and the great improvised vocals from Van clearly show he's losing his mind. So toss your copy of It's Too Late to Stop Now into the garbage after you get done watching Hulu alone, and then find this document of true genius.
Battle Trance, Palace of Wind This right here. Good God. A saxophone-quartet album released this year on New Amsterdam Records and NNA Tapes. The music picks apart my brain jelly and reassembles it in such a way that I don't remember life before hearing this record. The seamless and powerful tunes, created with nothing but horns, float somewhere between Terry Riley and Pharoah Sanders.
Ryley is curious what's in the rotation of . . .
Colin Cameron, attorney with Chicago Bike Law Firm
Miles Davis, The Original Mono Recordings and Relaxin' With the Miles Davis Quintet It took me almost 35 years to realize it, but I'm a Miles guy. And not even a "70s Miles" guy, into his fusion output—for me, it's gotta be the early stuff. The Original Mono Recordings capture pretty much all of Miles's output from his "cool" era, when his playing was innovative yet soothingly warm, melodic, and bluesy. The other essential Miles era is the late 50s, when he played with John Coltrane and Philly Joe Jones in the first Miles Davis quintet. I dare you to put on Relaxin' and then tell me it's not one of the high points of American music.
Disappears, "Another Thought" The midwest has produced some of the country's most exciting underground experimental music over the past decade, but it's been a minute since I've heard a track from a Chicago band that made me stop and say, "Whoa, who is this?" I'm not too familiar with Disappears' other work, but this song sounds like Einstürzende Neubauten covering Leonard Cohen, as weird as that seems.
Fact DJ mixes I recently dove into the literally hundreds of hour-long DJ mixes on Fact magazine's website. I wasn't aware of many of these DJs and producers when I started, but almost every one I've heard has impressed me. Old-school disco and funk, NYC garage, Chicago, deep house, and even Krautrock all make appearances, often expertly intertwined with one another. The mixes by Seven Davis Jr. and Claude Speeed caught my ear in particular.