Indign “Exile”

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Thrash metal group Indign recently released their sophomore album, Retribution, via GreatApe Records. Now they have released a video for the album’s latest single "Exile".

This is the work of Constantin Iliescu (Vocals), Manny Canchola (Vocals, Guitar), Mike Pantano (Guitar), Sean Langworthy (Bass), and Jason Equi (Drums).

You can catch Indign at The WC Social Club in West Chicago on May 27th and at Northern Illinois Metal Fest on June 17th.


EXCLUSIVE: The artist known as LEONE brings on the heartbreak with “Talk To Me”

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Okay, it’s the middle of the night as I’m writing this and I’ve had a few glasses of cheap Malbec from a bottle acquired at my local hooch hut with the double-paned glass and I’m just trying to figure out what to say about this extremely intense, emotionally unprotected song by LEONE, and its accompanying video slated to debut on the Deli today (here it is! directed by Rosie Soko!) and for starters I’m gonna say first of all that you should probably help yourself to a glass or three of cheap wine (except for recovering alcoholics, we respect you!) to get in a fitting mindspace for “Talk To Me” because it’s not a sober song at all and I don’t even mean this in the alcohol-imbibing sense but rather in the sense of being “muted, sensible, or solemn” because as a musical artist LEONE is none of these things (and thank goodness for that!) being very much willing to “lay it on the line” to the extent that you’ll be “laying it on the line” just by listening and viewing the video below that is if you’re fearless and foolhardy enough to check out this EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE not available to the general public until tomorrow (those clueless suckas!) and I’m just warning you that you’ll soon be huddled in your shower in the fetal position just like LEONE is in the music video because there’s no double-paned glass to protect you when it comes to “Talk To Me.”

With assistance by Peter Savad (co-production, mixing and mastering) “Talk to Me” is the second single and second music video from LEONE’s upcoming solo EP slated to be released in early summer (title TBD) and according to LEONE—formerly knows as Richie Bee and formerly known as frontman for the queer glam (redundant, I know!) band DEITRE for those keeping score at home—“I made a choice to get very personal and literal with this upcoming EP both lyrically as well as visually. I really wanted to paint the picture of the actual events that took place." And personally I love it when glamsters and punk rockers write power ballads because power ballads are supposed to have power goddammit, not to mention serious drama, and this one certainly ticks off both boxes.

And if you’re going to go out on a confessional limb and write a song about “the feeling of desperation after experiencing a lost connection” and a “song [that] personifies the loneliness that can live within a relationship” then it helps if you already understand battling-demons-thru-disclosure, not to mention transcendence-thru-transgression and ecstasy-thru-abjection, like any good glammy-punky rocker should and seriously just go watch Phantom of the Paradise or Velvet Goldmine if you don’t believe me. 

And here’s one cool thing that LEONE does musically to capture this state of agonized longing and vulnerability, a state that would lead someone to declare “you’re giving me the same ol’ silly lies / wrap my arms around you tight / so you know that I’m here” and that’s having the confidence to spend three-plus minutes slowly-but-surely ratcheting up the tension starting with delicate acoustic guitar and gradually adding new musical layers before finally bursting open like an overripe plum and it’s certainly fulfilling when it happens.

And so it’s extra gutting when the song recedes back into itself in its final moments and you realize (as made even clearer by the music video) that this damn-bursting explosion of emotional release was only in LEONE’s head and that in reality he’s still trapped in a heartbreaking “lonely together” co-dependent relationship mired in a state of communication breakdown and I hope you’ll excuse me while I go and curl up in the shower.

But lest I end this review on a downer note, based on these two songs by LEONE, here’s a new musical artist who knows how to write shattering, ravishing songs which, let’s face it, play an important role in this world because who amongst us hasn’t suffered the loss of a loved one, whether on the physical plane (see “Monochrome Colors” above) or on the emotional plane. And how better to begin healing than with music that confronts trauma head on and turns it into something exquisite. (Jason Lee)


Spread Joy “Repetition”

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Spread Joy has released the lead single, "Repetition", from their forthcoming sophomore album, II, which is due out on May 13th via Feel It.

The single is accompanied by the Bárbara Baron directed video below.

You can catch Spread Joy at the Hideout on May 11th with Spllit and Floatie.


Dear Life Records “You Were Alone”

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The Philly based label Dear Life Records recently released a beautifully curated tribute album to one of the finest songwriter’s that has ever called Chicago home, Owen Ashworth (Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, Advance Base), callled "You Were Alone: An Owen Ashworth Almanac".

The album features contributions for local musicians Tenci, Serengeti, and Gordon Ashworth, along side an array of musicians like Karl Blau, Pedro the Lion, Dear Nora, and more.

All money from this release will be donated to Beyond Hunger in Oak Park.


Liner notes for a virtual world: Bunny X goes back to the retro-future on remix album

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Readers note: If you wanna go straight to Bunny X’s very own song-by-song liner notes for their new album that’s under discussion here, please feel free to skip the think-piece-cum-rant and scroll down to near the end (below the jump) and hey I seriously won’t hold it against you but I am watching, always watching…

If you wanna believe in something / then let be this one thing / Paradise
We could make it last forever / as long as we’re together / Paradise” — “Perfect Paradise”

“Young and in love / fast-forward to the past” — “Young & In Love”

Bunny X is a musical duo made up of Abigail “Abbi” Gordon and Mary "Mary" Hanley who self-identify as an “Italo disco/retrowave duo with influences ranging from early Madonna to FM Attack.” But I hope they’ll forgive me if I use the term “synthwave” rather than “retrowave” seeing as most people prone to discussing such things consider the terms interchangeable and also I’d venture that many punk rock bands, for instance, are “retrowave” just as much as any synthspop act, so let’s go with synthwave for clarity’s sake and if you disagree you can write an angry letter to the editor. 

The duo’s latest album is what’s known as a “remix album”, a term I unpacked in some detail a few weeks ago so I won’t repeat myself here. On their Bandcamp page they explain that “after releasing the hit album Young & In Love last year, New Yorkers Bunny X asked some of the hottest names in the international electronic scene to reimagine some of the highlights of the album and were truly thrilled with the response they received” and ergo the new album. (see below for one of the unremixed songs off from Young & In Love, and see above for the entire “remix album” and the original album and please try to keep up with me here!)

Listening to Bunny X’s Young & In Love (The Remixes) (Aztec Records) has been a learning experience for me because for one thing I’ve learnt is that the album’s 80s-throwback mix of percolating synths, gated drums, robo-funk baselines, Super Mario 64 worthy DX7’s, etherial and even vocoderized vocals, and omnipresent washes of airy ambient sound is virtually guaranteed to turn you into Molly Ringwald for at least long enough to dance frantically on a balcony for your new reprobate friends during detention.

What’s more, I’ve also learnt about the existence of a bunch of cool remixers and producers I’d never heard of before. (more on them below in the “liner notes” portion of this article!) And I’ve also learnt that I enjoy Bunny X’s music very much having not had much exposure to their music before, that is until I saw them perform live opening for Fuck You, Tammy a couple weeks ago, and subsequently getting lost in their hypnotic synthpop sorcery. And finally, I’ve also learnt and come to appreciate that Kim Wilde was one of the key architects of the genre today known as synthwave. Allow me to explain. (Warning: digressions ahead!)

The first track on Y&IL(TR) is a remix of the Bunny X song “Perfect Paradise” and the remix was made by Ricky Wilde with additional vocals contributed by Kim Wilde. And in case that latter sounds familiar it’s probably because she recorded two now-iconic hit singles in the ‘80s (actually 17 hit singles in her native UK, but only two that made the US Top 40) both of which are “80s Night” DJ staples to this day—namely “Kids In America” (1981) and her Hi-NRG style cover of the Supremes’ “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” in 1986.

And it turns out that Ricky Wilde is Kim’s brother (surprise!) and that the two Irish twins (“Irish twins” are siblings born less than a year apart and thanks to Wikipedia for perpetuating this ugly slander upon my ancestors) co-wrote many of Kim’s early hit singles together with their father Marty (an early UK rock ’n’ roller) and let’s hear it for family values. But here’s the kicker, I’m gonna go out on a limb and claim that the Wilde family basically invented synthwave (or at least helped!) decades before that term even existed, and well before “retro” even entered the picture, with Kim’s debut single “Kids In America.”

How, and why, you ask? Because “Kids” combines the musical DNA of Kraftwerk’s avant-artpop-techno (check out that single-note drone and weird atonality in the intro) with the electrified postpunk of Gary Numan, OMD, Ultravox, Thomas Dolby, et al., all topped off by the poppiest of pop tropes like Kim’s girl-group-esque vocal harmonies and the la-la-la bubblegum hook sung by Ricky I presume. 

And this combination of sunshine pop with a dark techno and/or postpunk undertow, however subtle, is the very epitome of “synthwave” in may book as are the lyrics, which come off like an A.I. computer-generated description of adolescent suburban longing (got to get a brand new experience, feeling right / outside suburbia’s sprawling everywhere…New York to East California / there’s a new wave coming, I warn ya) in a song written by precisely no one who was an actual kid in America (ergo the puzzling mention of “East California” screw you Angelinos!) in a fantasy-based depiction that’s all the more resonant for it. 

Overall there’s something about all these elements cut-and-pasted together that gives the song a hyperreal quality (in other words, an exaggerated or even simulated reality) which in my mind makes it a harbinger of ‘80s music in general since hyper-reality was super big in the 80s ranging from Top 40 pop to 120 Minutes alternative rock, routinely utilizing everything from drum machines to Neo-psychedelic guitar pedals (whither goth music without the humble flange pedal?) and brand new digital synthesis technology all of which took “natural” sounds and pushed them into hyperreal exaggerations and simulations (I mean clearly the “brass” and “orchestral” sounds on 80s synths can be easily distinguished from what they’re imitating, but in the process they created a cool new retro-futuristic sonic vocabulary).

Synthwave is fixated on just these sorts of blatantly ersatz futuristic-but-now-nostalgic digital sounds which are the sonic equivalent to Patrick Nagel’s extreme ‘80s illustrations—a visual aesthetic that also set the template for synthwave’s own visuals with its own “nostalgic logic” where Nagel took 50s pinup art and 60s/70s Playboy centerfolds and pushed them into pastel-and-neon-hued hyperreality portraits so exaggerated and ultra-vivid that they’re like half photograph and half cartoon. And could it be mere coincidence that both the music video for “Kids in America” and the cover art to Young & In Love (The Remixes) have a strong Nagel vibe (the latter refracted through modern day manga art) I’m thinking not!

The sublime Black Mirror episode “San Junipero” perhaps sums up synthwave aesthetics best (not to mention being a beautiful queer love story) where time-travel back to the 1980s acts as a form of spiritual salvation, with an ending that poses the question of whether living in an idealized and sanitized simulation of existence would be superior to the living in the messy real thing, not to mention the existential quandary of having an actual choice between the two. And come to think of it “Perfect Paradise” sounds like it could’ve been directly inspired by the episode hmmmmmm……

Either way, “San Junipero” has something insightful to say about the nostalgia value of 80s music and synthwave’s ritualistic recreation of such which seems to have a surprisingly cross-generational appeal. And I’m thinking this may have something to do with how a synthesizer is clearly a “synth” i.e. synthetic in this music, while a drum machine is clearly a machine and so on. Because today technology has come to be implanted deep inside of our bodies and our minds, with our phones and other electronic and virtual devices acting as a extension of our physical beings, and a component part of our mental functioning, to where really who can even tell the difference anymore. But synthwave takes our current state of social and physical unreality (alternative facts, anyone?!) rewinding and re-mixing it back into good ol’ fashioned hyperreality…

And on that optimistic note (!) here’s the real star of the show–the song-by-song liner notes provided by Abbi from Bunny X, providing some background and insights on the seven songs remixed on Young & In Love (The Remixes) and their multiple remixed-ified renditions. (Jason Lee

"Perfect Paradise"

Originally released as an instrumental track by Swedish retrowave artist Don Dellpiero in January 2021, Bunny X and Don Dellpiero collaborated and released the track with a vocal arrangement in June 2021 and ended up receiving quite a nice response from the community. Fast forward to 2022 and a true stroke of luck when Bunny X befriended UK music blogger Lee Bennett who happens to be well acquainted with the brother and sister dream team that is Ricky and Kim Wilde. It was a remix match made in heaven when Ricky Wilde offered to take a stab at a remix of "Perfect Paradise" and Kim Wilde ended up gracing the track with her iconic vocals. After so much isolation and separation during the pandemic, "Perfect Paradise" speaks to the simple yet profound joy of just physically being in the same space as your friend or lover. This track was also remixed nu jack swing style by Syst3m Glitch and with Bryan Adams’ “Summer of 69” vibes by GeoVoc.

"Can’t Wait" 

When you’re in the last year, month or week of graduating, quitting your job, moving out, breaking up, etc. The list goes on but this track goes out to all those that are just on the cusp of and getting “so close to the finish line” that they just might burst. This track, written with LA-based artist SelloRekt/LA Dreams, and recently remixed by Italian producer Le Cast, was truly inspired by a Brat Pack type of montage (you can picture it) when you’re studying for that last exam and then you finally make it through to the other side…

"Head Rush"

In keeping with the teen angst theme of Young & In Love, "Head Rush," remixed by Sferro, Fulvio Colasanto and Uncover, is about that pure adrenaline rush that comes with first (real) crushes when you are positively intoxicated by being around that certain someone. When you feel like “there’s just something different” about them because they see you as no one else ever has and “when you’re all alone together” you “can finally” be yourself. 


Pure and utter nostalgia. "Diamonds" is about remembering how you felt when you saw your crush in the hallway or watched them from afar wondering if they even knew you were alive. This track, remixed with care by Mike Haunted, is a look back through time, albeit with a much different lens, since “those old high school days are long in the past now” but sometimes it’s okay if you prefer to remember that particular person the same way they were back then. It’s probably – definitely – a suspension of reality but is that such a bad thing? 

"Back to You"

We’ve all been there. The push-pull and the complicated feelings around just not being able to get over someone. About wanting to go back and try again because “there’s such passion every time” you’re together and so you want to just "keep coming back.” Swedish-based artist, The Secret Chord, stays true to the original sentiment of the track while simultaneously breathing new life into it with some excellent Laurie Anderson-esque vocoder effects throughout. 

"Lost Without You" 

UK-based producer Maxx Parker’s remix of "Lost Without You," written by Bunny X and Don Dellpiero, brings a tropical, romantic and even vaporwave twist to the original track. True to the theme of the original album, the track is full-on Sixteen Candles style romantic lust and delusion – “when you called me up I was speechless, why would someone like you talk to me in the first place?” Those same hopes and dreams are quickly dashed because “when the last bell rang” the object of your affection “grabbed their friends” and “just walked away.” Ouch.

"Go Back"

France’s Sight Telma Club gives "Go Back," originally released as an instrumental by SelloRekt/LA Dreams, a darker spin with the vocal pitch bending effect throughout and it works because the theme of Go Back is a somber one – again in keeping with the overall nostalgia wave that is Young & In Love. When you just wish you could go back and do it all over again. Maybe it would be different this time and maybe it would “just turn out to be the same.”


Golden Richards “Shake Your Hair”

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Power Pop group Golden Richards recently released a new single called "Shake Your Hair". The single is accompanied by the video below.

This is the work of Billy Richards (Lead vocals, guitar), Gil Golden (Guitar), Marianne Magic (Vocals, Keyboards), Sonny Dee (Bass), and Henry Western (Drums).

You can catch Golden Richards at Montrose Saloon as part of International Pop Overthrow on Thursday, April 28th. 


Liner notes for the Revolution: Grand Army Reapers EP finds them walking on a wire

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Grand Army Reapers are a five-piece band who make music that weaves and careens like a cheap wobbly spinning top or an extremely revved-up hamster wheel or a tipsy Midwestern sailor on shore leave for the first time in Times Square and you just know there’s going to be trouble but which doesn’t collapse in on itself despite the mix of chaotic energy and woozy insouciance, or maybe exactly because of the mix of chaotic energy and woozy insouciance which produces a sort of centripetal force that keeps the whole contraption from jumping the track. 

It’s a theory anyway. But one based on first-hand observation because a couple weeks ago I got a chance to see the Grand Army Reaper gang play live which inspired the overstimulated mixed metaphors above, although not right there in the moment because the band were too transporting with their blissed out unhinged energy to be verbalized upon first encounter, and plus there were drinks and conversations to be had after.

And here’s another thing. The band recently put out an EP called Alive, Alive (from King Killer) made up of six self-recorded songs laid down over a mere couple days in the band’s own practice space, recorded live in large part ("a semi-live, DIY studio album") with no more than a few takes allowed for any one song, thusly giving the listener a good taste of GAR’s visceral impact in the flesh (reader’s note: you should still see them live) opening with a downright groovy garage rockin’ Strokes-meets-Cramps-meets-Clash singalong (granted one about police brutality) called “Black Tape” and culminating 18 minutes later with a Stoogey sax-assisted howl into the abyss called “Bug Hunt” and yeah Kiss Alive or Alive II this ain’t, it’s more along the lines of Naked Lunch.

Other cited musical influences range from Oingo Boingo to Screamin’ Jay Hawkins to classic surf rock and on GAR’s very own Bandcamp page Ben (sticks and skins), Chuck (strings), Erik (mouth stuff), Krish (strings), and MK (low end) describe their sound as “occult rock inspired by the energy and weirdness of early-70’s NY and warped cassettes found under the passenger seat of your sister’s 1984 Volvo 240 DL” and while I’ve never been in a 1984 Volvo 240 DL before (or had a sister, I think!) the Seventies New York comparison rings true seeing as how when the city was careening out of control and nearing a state of total societal breakdown its inhabitants somehow managed to invent punk, disco, and hip hop.

And this teetering-on-the-edge-between-chaos-and-control musical quality bleeds over into Grand Army Reapers’ lyrics as well on Alive, Alive overflowing as they are with extreme emotional states, fury at state-sponsored violence, and personal reckonings with addition, disease, and mental health issues, all while managing to be purging and affirming too (that’s the magic of music!) a realization I had thanks to generous track-by-track liner notes provided by GAR’s lead songwriter Erik Reaper who was kind enough to share some revealing insights into both the EP’s lyrics and music and he really laid it all out (respect, sir!) liner notes which can be read in full after the jump… (Jason Lee)


Black Tape

          This is a protest song, written around the anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s murder. Cops are here to maintain the status quo and punch down on behalf of property owners. That’s it. “NYPD, murder with impunity. NYPD, a theater of security. NYPD, white ego, white fragility. NYPD, a menace to communities.”

          Musically it’s very much inspired by The Clash. I wasn’t trying to overthink this one. It snowballed from a riff idea into a fully formed song within one afternoon. I usually torture myself for days to weeks, finalizing the structure and lyrics before committing to a demo that I send to my bandmates. With this song, there was an immediate momentum that I wanted to maintain throughout the process. 

Distraction from Sadness

          This was originally 3 different songs that I kinda forced together: an intro/refrain that was really hooky and angular like a Buzzcocks or Nick Lowe song, a morose chorus that’s basically Johnny Thunders’ “Society Makes Me Sad,” and an outro that veers hard into a Buddy Holly dreamscape. Lyrically, it’s about being paralyzed by self-doubt, so you make excuses and distract yourself with bullshit. There isn’t really a conclusion, it just ends with a complete detour, kind of like the concept behind the lyrics I guess.

Long-Covid Blues

          I actually despise songs that are overtly topical, but I felt like torturing myself a little on this one. This is basically a Richard Hell song about long-hauler covid symptoms, insomnia, delirium, and shapeshifting into some kind of werewolf while exchanging coded messages with some outside entity in the personal ads section of the NY Post.

Screenplay 1979

          Joy Division (referenced at the mid-point of the intro) becomes The Damned covering “Jet Boy, Jet Girl”. This song is about a girl and a boy. Big whoop. While recording this song, I had just learned that my cousin had overdosed on fentanyl, that plays a weirder role in “Snowed Out,” but it definitely affected my mood and vocal delivery in a way that felt pretty terrible. Maybe it wasn’t the best idea to keep recording that day, but I really wanted to push forward. We weren’t necessarily on a tight schedule with this album, but I had a set of rules in mind about maintaining a “live” feel, even if performance get a little weird.

Snowed Out
         I just couldn’t go on with vocals for this one. I had to call it a day after the first take. Lyrically it was too on-the-nose considering the news I got that morning. I called my aunt. I didn’t really have anything to say. She cried a lot. I haven’t seen my family in 3 years. I finished vocals the next day.
        This is a song about substance abuse and functional junky-ism among us over-educated, over-worked, and underpaid. It’s also about poor management of mood disorders, oscillating between depression and grandiosity, with substance abuse and pseudo-spirituality thrown in.

            I’m not sure why I went that route lyrically. I think there’s a sense of get-up and hustle to the verse that pulled me in that direction. The chorus feels like melodic despair.
         I also struggle with mood swings and ADHD to the point that it affects my relationships, my work, and my sense of self. A lot of it is how I manage the content of my thoughts as well.
         There’s a really ugly trend on the internets these days that romanticizes mental health and mood disorders. Maybe it’s not new, but I see content pop up on my feed that makes me cringe. This song is meant to be an indictment of that sort of content.

I should also clarify that I don’t mess around with opioids, and I don’t want this song to be taken as anything less than extremely critical of using drugs as self-medication for self-diagnosed problems, especially when it hurts the people around you and eventually yourself.

Bug Hunt

            This is an east Texas bug-stomper of a song. CCR meets the dropship scene from Aliens. Lots of Captain Beefheart and Willy DeVille inspiration on this one. Not much else to say about it.


The Thin Cherries “Weird World”

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The Thin Cherries have released a new single called "Weird World". This is the group’s second single since the release of their sophomore album, On Moose Island, back in 2018.

This single is a great example of the group’s ability to create jangly Psych Pop and the exact reason they were invited to perform as part of the International Pop Overthrow that took place over this past weekend at Montrose Saloon.