Happy holiday weekend, NoiseTraders! (At least for our North American/Canadian contingent, that is). With Labor Day summoning the official stick-a-fork-in-summer death knell, I can only assume that this weekend will be filled with last-minute sun-soaked festivities, back-to-school final preparation, and the employees of Cracker Barrel and Hobby Lobby decking their halls with months-early Christmas decorations. I kid, I kid… kinda. Here’s to my first Chicago summer: you treated me well and I might just be willing to take back some of the nasty things I say about summer every year. Maybe. Now guys, it’s time to please put away your sandals (or just burn them) and let’s get back to the civilized, hoof-covering footwear that we all appreciate. Oh yeah, as always, I’ve got some more sweet music and book recommendations for you this weekend as well. Alrighty, get into all the things!
Gospel Lee is a Phoenix-by-way-of-OKC rapper that mixes high-energy linguistics with clean, crisp beats to produce his singular strain of heart-piercing, thought-provoking hip-hop. Brilliant is Lee’s newest EP that was just released in August and he simply describes it as a “5-track album dedicated to the single idea that you are brilliant.” “Far Away” and “Okies” are my current favorites, but all five tracks are strong enough to hold their own against each other. Snap this one up!
Call me geographically biased, but Chicago’s own Static in Verona just released Odd Anthem and I think it’s a straight-up stunner. Static in Verona is the solo project of Rob Merz and Odd Anthem is his third album under the moniker. Cleverly mixing indie-pop aesthetics with experimental electronic elements and a seemingly ceaseless commitment to upbeat grooves, Merz has concentrated his newfound alchemic approach to songwriting into a punchy, cohesive sonic thrill ride.
Sheldon Clark released Word & Sound this year and this 3-song sampler nicely captures the sonic spirit of the Nashville, TN-based singer-songwriter’s album. While I really enjoy “By the Radio” and “Our Last Morning,” the sampler’s shining moment is “Americana City Band,” a song that straddles the line between irony and honesty (in both lyrics and delivery) with a wonderfully earnest tongue-in-cheek look at the up-and-downs of the mythical overnight success.
Bon Voyage! is an incredibly enjoyable read of extracts from French travel author Susie Kelly’s five books (Travels with Tinkerbelle, Best Foot Forward, The Valley of Heaven and Hell, Shadows & Robins, and I Wish I Could Say I Was Sorry…). Kelly’s writing style captures her adventurous spirit, her razor-sharp wit, her insightful observations, and her uncanny ability to perfectly paint each scene of her travelogues.
When writer Will Hodge (@will_hodge) isn’t staying up ‘til 10 o’clock (tell me more, tell me more), you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack