William Elliott Whitmore, Rachele Eve | Subterranean | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

William Elliott Whitmore, Rachele Eve Recommended 17+ Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard Image

When: Fri., June 19, 10:30 p.m. 2015

William Elliott Whitmore burst onto the scene in the early aughts wielding a mean banjo and belting out powerful compositions with a voice that sounded older than his years. The first few albums from the Iowan country-blues singer-songwriter show off a steady diet of well-digested traditional music, and his 2005 breakthrough Ashes to Dust was one of the best Americana albums of that year. As he’s grown into his sound and shed his lone-wolf demeanor in exchange for a couple of remarkable collaborations, he’s managed to stay the course of making genuinely good records. Radium Death (Anti-) is his first new one since 2011’s Field Songs. Mostly written and recorded during the time he spent caring for his ailing grandmother—she had a stroke and passed away last year at the age of 94—Radium Death deals with frequent themes of loss, history, and memory. And though his roots music has always had a punk-rock feel, this album roars out of the gate. It’s his loudest, most rock ’n’ roll record to date, with sparse, stripped-down songs that are eerily fitting alongside the louder, fiercer ones (and he could easily still play the whole album alone, one man and a banjo). Also, if you want a refresher course on Whitmore’s catalog, The Early Years (Long Play) is a recently released, beautifully arranged box set of his first three albums on vinyl. —Monica Kendrick

Price: $13-$30

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