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WLUW Presents Jerry Paper, Healing Potpourri, & Sarah Squirm at the Empty Bottle

For his new synthpop, lo-fi release, the prolific Jerry Paper enlisted the help of many of his friends. Namely Badbadnotgood, Weyes Blood, Charlotte Day Wilson, and Mild High Club. The collaboration makes Jerry Paper’s 13-track "Like A Baby " his most refined album to date. Jerry Paper takes influences from many different places, but this album tells the story of a dystopian shopping mall. Each song bops from one funky tune to the next. It’s impossible to listen to this album without grooving.

Make sure to grab tickets to the show on March 23rd at the Empty Bottle

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J Dilla Celebrated at Thalia Hall

One of hip-hop’s most legendary artists is Detroit's J Dilla.  The underground producer was a pioneer of modern sampling techniques, a master of grooves, and is synonymous with the soul and funk sounds of hip hop of the past and of today.

Born February 7, 1974, Dilla tragically passed away at the age of thirty-two from lupus, and while in the hospital, he crafted his magnum opus; “Donuts,” a forty-three minute thirty-one track instrumental hip hop album that is revered today for its sampling dexterity, variety, groove, and attitude. The album was released on his birthday, only 3 days before his death.  

Charlie Coffeen is a Chicago pianist, composer, and producer who has worked with local hip hop acts such as Sidewalk Chalk.  Coffeen has spent the past several years building a recreation of Dilla’s “Donuts” album.  Coffeen assembled a full horn section, 8 piece string section, two guitarists, a bass, and three stellar vocalists. Coffeen and his ensemble performed at Thalia Hall February 9th, in wake of Dilla’s birthday along with special guests New York saxophonist & vocalist Braxton Cook, Vocalist Chris Turner, and Chicago’s own ‘beat scientist’ Makaya McCraven on drums. The result was pretty damn great.

Starting with the quiet and subdued album intro “Donuts” (Outro), the band proceeded to run through “Donuts” in its entirety.  They stayed relatively close to the source material, but also added lots of embellishments to certain songs.  The thirty-five second fourth cut on the album “Light My Fire” was extended into an all-out jam featuring Jonathan Horde, one of the three singers on stage. When they got to “Donuts”’ tenth track, “Time: The Donut of the Heart”, the band featured young local Chicago guitarist Jackson Shepard, who opened the tune with an extended solo, and the moment the whole band came in and dug into the groove of the song was pure musical bliss.  

This was one of many moments throughout the show where just the groves alone were enough to make anyone move.  In many spots on “Donuts”—a hallmark of J Dilla’s production style—the grooves switch rapidly and the tempos change with little warning.  Coffeen, McCraven and company consistently nailed these tempo changes, never missing any of the subtleties that make Dilla’s music as iconic as it is.

Having the full live horn and string sections on stage also added greatly to the performance.  While the horns and strings on “Donuts” are sampled, having live arrangements brought a lot of life to the songs.  The strings swelled and crescendoed in songs like “Stop” and “Don’t Cry,” adding dramatic tension, while the live horns popped on “The Diff’rence” and “Geek Down.”  

The last cut from “Donuts”, “Welcome to the Show”, samples Motherlode’s song “When I die”. The mantra of the song being “When I die I hope I will be a better man than you thought I would be”.  Seeing J Dilla’s music reimagined and performed so captivatingly by such a strong group of musicians served as a beautiful and bittersweet celebration life.  A sold-out crowd at Thalia hall would most definitely agree that Dilla’s influence is vast, long lasting, and will continue to be an inspiration for generations to come.

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Cousin Simple Rocks Reggie's and Drops New Single "Honeybee"

Cousin Simple is a band hailing from Columbus, Ohio made up of Mitch (bass/piano), Joel (drums), Ryan (lead guitar), Harsh (lead vocal), and Luke (Guitar). With several family members in Chicago and dreams of touring, Reggie's Rock Club was a perfect place for them to combine the two to showcase their latest single "Honeybee"

Produced by LA producer David Kershenbaum (at Sonic and Oranjudio) and mastered by Brian Lucey / Magic Garden Mastering in LA, the single "Honeybee" is now available on Spotify as well as their previous album "And We Would Never End."

While the members of Cousin Simple were in town, WLUW had the chance to talk to them about touring, school, and recording the single. Read the interview conducted by Jake Levy below.

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Jake: What’s going on guys? So you’re on a small tour right now?

Ryan: We started in Columbus a couple days ago playing Space Bar. Then we’re doing here then we’re going to be in Cleveland coming up for a couple shows but this is our first out of state show which is pretty cool for us.  My brother’s friend’s friend is the manager for the dead licks and my brother was like hey I can give you is number and we can set something up and we just set this up and then we’re doing a show with them in Columbus in may at the basement.

Harsh: We’re from Columbus. We’re doing a show swap.  A home and home show.

Ryan: We’re going back to Columbus tomorrow and then we’re going back to Cleveland in a couple weeks.

Luke: We have some Columbus shows this weekend and some Cleveland shows the weekend after.

Jake: How’s the experience been traveling out of state? You’re traveling with your folks?

Harsh: Right now we are yes but that’s not always how it goes.  They wanted to make a weekend out of it. Who wouldn’t want to come to Chicago? We have a lot of families here for this show. It’ll be fun.  And we have some friends that go to college here.

Jake: Are you guys in school?

Mitch: Me, Ryan, Will, and Luke go to Ohio State and Joel is still in high school.  We’re all freshmen there and Luke’s a sophomore.

Jake: Are you majoring in music?

All: No, we’re all majoring in different things.

Mitch: I’m trying to do neuroscience,

Ryan: I’m in engineering

Harsh: General Business

Luke: Psychology

Harsh: We’re all over the map

Jake: Music seems like it’s really taking off. Do you have any leeway with your parents on taking some time off from school?

Ryan: There’s definitely a lot of support from our parents on doing this.  They understand that this is a once in a lifetime thing and we’re going after it.  If you don’t take it now it might not be there in a couple of years.

Mitch: You only get one shot to do something like this and while your this young its a perfect time to pursue that dream and then you can always go back to school if it doesn’t work out.  

Harsh: At least that’s the way we’re looking at it.

Jake: [to Joel] So do you get to skip some school to play?

Joel: Yeah I do actually a lot.  Which is really bad. I’m on that verge, if I miss a little more I might be gone.

Jake: Can you talk about the music scene where you grew up within Columbus? Were there a lot of other bands happening and house shows? What kind of scene were you guys playing in?

Harsh: So when we started the first show we ever played was actually a battle of the bands in Columbus Ohio. We bought a ton of our friends and our high school was really supportive and that kind of launched us and we were like s**t we can actually do this.  We have a good following in Cleveland now. We have a very good following in Columbus. We had been playing a ton of shows and we recorded an album right out of the gate because we just wanted people to be able to listen to us on Spotify and that sort of thing. We did that when we were juniors in high school.  No, we’re in college and we’re looking back like ehhh… We feel like it’s a bit elementary now but we still like it a lot—people love it—and this new single that we just released, we like it a lot.

 

 

Jake: You guys worked with producer David Kershenbaum on this record.  Do you want to talk a little bit about what it was like working with a producer like him?

Ryan: It was cool. We flew him in from LA.  He’s a multi-platinum producer he worked with artists like Duran Duran, Tracy Chapman, The Jackson 5, The Police, and Supertramp. He was a sweet guy.  He was just really easy to work with and he really helped us sort of know what recording with a producer is like. It was a way different process than doing it on our own.  

Harsh: He as 75 multi-platinum records and just to have the first producer that you work with be that successful.

Luke: That experience seems like it will get us some recognition.

Jake: Is he going to be on some new material that you guys are working on, following the single?

Harsh: So we just had that single come out yesterday.  We’re heading back into the studio to work on another single.  

Ryan: Right now we’re just working on singles.  Singles at a time. No albums in the works.  

Harsh: We were working on an album and then people were like “Don’t. Just do singles.”

Ryan: People’s attention spans are really short, and streaming services are bigger than ever so singles seem like the way to go.  

Jake: If you could share a stage with any one musician, dead or alive, who would it be?

Mitch: I guess my musician… I don’t know man… 21 Pilots would be pretty sick.  

Ryan: I gotta go with The Strokes.  They’re a giant influence to me.  I love their whole aesthetic and it would be dope to play with them.

Joel: I think I would do Green Day.  I’d love to share a stage with Green Day.  I mean I grew up listening to their music and Tre Cool the drummer of Green Day is one of my main inspirations.  

Luke: If I could share a stage it would be with Pavement. 90s indie rockers Pavement.

Harsh: I would probably have to go Rolling Stones for sure.  Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, you can’t mess that up. That’d be amazing, love those guys.

Jake: Let’s talk about your singing.  Are you classically trained? Did you take vocal lessons?

Harsh: No. For a little bit, I saw a vocal coach.  After six months in people were like “you might want to see somebody you’re gonna blow out your voice or whatever” and I was like alright. But no I’m not classically trained or anything like that.

Jake: The reason that I ask is that it seems like you definitely have a distinct sound, I was wondering if that took you a while to hone or something you’ve developed over time?

Harsh: Just me being weird and screaming.  Me being me yellin’ and screamin’ and yeah all of the above.  

Jake: So you guys have been doing all original music for a while?

Harsh: Yeah, after that battle of the bands—we ended up winning—part of winning that was you got to be on a show.  And we had never played for 45 minutes before. We had two songs. Instead of just learning a bunch of covers we made nine more songs or something like that.  I feel like that was where we started writing our own original music and we were like ‘people really like original music’.

Ryan: That’s like what sets us apart from the other local acts. A lot of people play a lot of covers and we thought original music makes us special. We pepper in a few covers a lot of shows to pay homage to some of our favorite bands

Jake: Aside from the battle of the band's show, what would you guys say has been the most impactful show you’ve played on your development as a band?  If not a show, one certain experience that put you guys into another level.

Ryan: I would say A&R Bar was our biggest show.  This was actually our first headlining show so there was a lot of hype built up to that.  And we actually ended up selling that out. It was a 400 capacity venue. So that was pretty big for us and we saw that we can bring a crowd.

Harsh: I would say that and the basement show too.  December 21st we just sold out the basement which is right next to the A&R Bar.  It’s like 300 capacity and preparing coming up to that I feel like we had been trying to do more transitions and things between songs and not just doing the same thing over and over again, like trying to make each show special.  We had a lot of people there like we had one person from OAR. That was cool. Vespertine was there. We had a journalist there who wrote a really good piece about us. We were like s**t maybe this is it, maybe we can do this.

Joel: Just because of the name of it Vans Warped Tour.  

Harsh: We did play on Vans Warped Tour, that’s a good resume booster for sure. We didn’t tour we just did one show in Cleveland.

Joel: But don’t let that undercut the importance. It was great.

Jake: What’s the biggest goal for the future—musically or otherwise?

Mitch: Get signed and get on a tour.

Ryan: Get on a tour. And start opening for some established band on a national tour or something.  

Harsh: We wanna get on the road more.  We wanna get out and keep showing everybody who we are… and record more music, but that’s a given.

Jake: In terms of recording, is there any specific style you’re going after for next songs or records?

Harsh: When we have a live show we’re really energetic and we almost are more pure rock than alternative I would say and we kind of want to convey that energy on our next recording.  We’re hoping we’ll be able to do that with this next single. I feel like this last single we did was very good at that too but I think we want to lean into it even more and maybe get a little rockier and to our alternative roots.

Ryan: We have a lot of styles.  A few of our songs are poppy.  We’re definitely going for more of that in the future too.  A lot of stuff, just very diverse.

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You can check out the rest of Cousin Simple's discography, tour dates, and social media here.

 

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Mick Jenkins brings "Pieces of a Man" to Thalia Hall

With a silky voice and the swagger to match, Chicago native Mick Jenkins returned to the stage last night at Thalia Hall to perform songs from his latest album, "Pieces of a Man". Opening for him were hip hop artists Stock Marley and Kari Faux, with a surprise appearance by Chicago rapper Jean Deaux. As the three performed one after another, their set's flowed into each other creating the energy for what would be an incredible show.

 

As the lights cascaded over him, the 27-year-old performer opened with songs from "Pieces of a Man", much to the audience’s enjoyment. The almost three-hour long show sailed by like a serene paradise, with the crowd members bouncing and vibing to every verse. Known for his unique flow and love of alliterations, Jenkins certainly delivered when it came to his lyricism in a live setting. Along with tracks including Ghosts and Spread Love, Jenkins also dipped into several past hits, including one of his most famous songs, Jazz, from his 2015 album Water[s]. It was no surprise that the Chicago artist delivered with such high quality, but he performed with a feeling of inviting the audience to join him on the journey that his music has taken him.

 

Overall, Mick Jenkins’ show was one filled with love and energy and community, from the crowd chants to the acapella renditions of some of his personal favorite songs. Not only did Jenkins create a beautiful environment to perform in (and be a part of as an audience member), but he brought true Chicago pride to Thalia Hall.

 

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Cherry Glazerr Releases Third Studio Album, "Stuffed & Ready"

It’s been a little over two years since Cherry Glazerr released their last album, “Apockalipstick” on January 20th, 2017. Clementine Creevy, lead singer and guitarist of the band, was fierce on “Apockalipstick”, yowling the empowering words to the fuzzy indie-rock tracks.

On February 1, Cherry Glazerr treated us with “Stuffed & Ready,” an album well worth the wait. There is a clear sonic and lyrical growth when comparing Cherry Glazerr’s last album to “Stuffed & Ready.” On a track titled “Sip O’ Poison” off of “Apockalipstick,” Creevy shouts “I smell the fear around us/ When I was 80ft tall.” The slamming of drums and frantic guitar strokes make up this fearless and confident track. When listening to “Stuffed & Ready” I can hear that same confidence that Creevy gives off with the strength of her voice, but the lyrics have changed.

The first single released from of the album, “Juicy Socks” starts off with Creevy’s clear and soft voice, delicately crooning “I don’t want nobody hurt/ But I made an exception with him.” After this first line, the soft strumming of the guitar and light tapping of the drums set in. Creevy then yells “Don’t be nervous” and you begin to hear the signature Cherry Glazerr head-bobbing, up-beat riff of the guitar that perfectly pairs with Creevy’s stentorian voice.

Listening through this album, I cannot seem to find a song that I don’t like.


“Stupid Fish” grabs you by the collar, forcefully singing “I’m a stupid fish and so are you/ Maybe I’m mad because I see me in you.” This track has a moody presence, and gives off an eerie vibe, ending with a shrill and powerful line by Creevy. The most popular track on the album, “Daddi” speaks of a lost Creevy, asking where to go and what to do. This track shows an apprehensive side of the artist, and through the blaring of the
guitar and drums, there is a girl who isn’t so confident and is now aware that she doesn’t have all of the answers. “What should I say/ Where should I go/ Is it okay with you?” Creevy repeats throughout this wondering track.


“Stuffed & Ready” brings together killer vocals, uplifting beats, and riffs that contradict the lyrics, and catchy melodies that shape this indie-rock album. I personally think that Cherry Glazerr could not have done better with this third release, and I cannot wait to see them live on February 23 at Bottom Lounge.


Doors open at 8pm, and there is no way I will be missing this show. Grab your tickets here, today.

 

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