Magic Ian of Maximum Pelt on mixtape releases that feel like personal gifts | In Rotation | Chicago Reader

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Magic Ian of Maximum Pelt on mixtape releases that feel like personal gifts

Plus: Adam Schubert of Cafe Racer on a band that’s honest about the messiness of recovery, Reader staff writer Leor Galil on the song the Frogs gave to Billy Corgan, and more


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

The Frogs: the late Dennis Flemion and his brother, front man Jimmy Flemion - COURTESY THE ARTIST
  • Courtesy the artist
  • The Frogs: the late Dennis Flemion and his brother, front man Jimmy Flemion

Leor Galil, Reader staff writer

A YouTube post of the unreleased Frogs song "Pleasure" I hadn't given much time to this oddball Milwaukee alt-rock duo, despite their massive cult following, but I went down a rabbit hole after indie label the End of All Music reissued their notorious second album, 1989's It's Only Right and Natural, in July. My journey included some YouTube digging, during which I found what seems to be a live recording of front man Jimmy Flemion performing an acoustic version of an unreleased Frogs song called "Pleasure." He introduces it with an anecdote about including the song on a cassette the band gave to Billy Corgan in 1993, and the main guitar melody in "Pleasure" sounds a lot like the one in Smashing Pumpkins' hit "1979," from 1995's Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. "Watch the papers for the lawsuit," Flemion says. The Frogs are well-known as provocateurs and trolls, but their relationship with Corgan is actually cordial—he wrote their bio for the new reissue. Which makes me even more curious to know what happened when Corgan first heard "Pleasure."

Champion Sound Band, "Whatever" Lord, Anastasia Antoinette's diaphanous, subtly earthy vocals bring this nimble 2018 neosoul single by D.C.'s Champion Sound Band to another level.

Flesh of the Stars, Mercy Chicago's Flesh of the Stars released this sweeping, super-clean doom album in June, but its elegant melodies and sense of old-world decay make Mercy feel like it was meant for fall all along.

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

Several cassettes from the Mississippi Records tape series - MAGIC IAN
  • Magic Ian
  • Several cassettes from the Mississippi Records tape series

Magic Ian, musician and owner of Maximum Pelt Records

Mississippi Records' tape series I've been a fan of oddball archivists Mississippi Records for a long time now, largely due to their work with Dead Moon. I checked out their shop in Portland a few years ago and discovered their cassette mixtape series. There are more than 100 titles, with very basic hand-drawn, photocopied artwork. Apparently hastily cut and folded by hand, the J-cards give these tapes the look and feel of mixes you'd make for a friend. The content on each tape is as varied as Mississippi's catalog, including deep cuts of roots music from all over the world. The mixes' short runs and DIY look lets me imagine they were gifts just for me.

  • This Mississippi Records mixtape focuses on 1950s and '60s gospel that shares turf with soul, R&B, and blues.

Rocking out on wheels We're a few months into the great e-scooter experiment in Chicago, and I've made up my mind. I don't like them. I like the concept, but in practice they've been an unmitigated nightmare. Not only are most people completely unqualified to ride e-scooters, but when you go to use one, most of the time it doesn't work for one of a variety of reasons. That being said, the Wheels e-scooters have Bluetooth speakers on them, and flying up Milwaukee Avenue blasting the new King Gizzard while staring down all the stroller pushers has been one of the greatest joys of my summer.

Negative Scanner and Oozing Wound at Bricktown on August 30 Seeing two of Chicago's most-hyped acts playing a sweaty warehouse flashed me back to 2012. Any kids reading this should drop out of SAIC and start a DIY space. It worked for me, kinda.

Magic Ian is curious what's in the rotation of . . .

  • Alexa Viscius
  • Ohtis

Adam Schubert, musician in Cafe Racer, Ruins, and Husk

Ohtis I first heard the Ohtis song "Pervert Blood" through my girlfriend Alexa. The initial feeling I had was, "Wow, they have a crazy voice." Once I listened to the lyrics more closely, I realized that the band's latest record, this spring's Curve of Earth, is all about the process of recovery—something I can relate to personally. It captures the messy details that come back to you the longer you stay clean, and how staying clean can even become messy in itself.

Crack Cloud I like English postpunk band Wire, like everyone else does. For a while, I was very into their album Chairs Missing. I was desperate to find something that gave me that same feeling, and a friend mentioned Canadian group Crack Cloud to me. When I first listened to their debut record, I knew it was exactly what I was looking for. They call themselves a "mixed-media collective" rather than a band, and I really like that idea as well as that pretension. I also discovered that they are . . . sober, so naturally they became my new favorites.

Bunny My first show in Chicago, I shared a bill with a band called Bunny. I was struck by the honesty of singer Jessica Viscius, the pluck and sass of bassist Alexa Viscius, and the ripping solos of guitarist/comedian Tim Makowski. After getting to know them and falling in love with Alexa, I've been able to see more of their shows. I've discovered that Jessica writes the most beautiful, honest, raw songs I have ever heard from anyone, anywhere, the end.  v

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