MEDUSA’S CHICAGO

Editor’s Note – the links in the text aren’t advertisements, but rather links to media related to the text. Click through as you go! Also, thanks to the Medusa’s Group on Facebook for keeping me nostalgically entertained for the last several years.

“They were already stars, I simply provided a place for them to shine.”
– Dave “Medusa” Shelton

A couple weeks ago, Dave Medusa, Chicago club luminary and founder of the historic Chicago juice bar –Medusa’s died. It’s taken me some time to really put together a lot of my feelings on the matter, because I spent a good amount of time in my youth at his venue and it helped me really become who I am today. I didn’t know Dave and I can neither confirm nor deny ever meeting him, because that was a very long time ago and I was an extremely awkward, shy kid. Instead of focusing on the man himself, because I feel that would be disingenuous, I can talk about my experience at his club, the music I discovered, the friends I made and how my mind was opened to different people and their lifestyles.

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Black Dresses

Back in April, Black Dresses dropped their new record and I’m sadly just getting around to listening now. Despite quarantine having me at home a whole lot, I’ve been busy. Plus the pile of records I’ve needed to get around to listening to seems to only be growing and not shrinking. I think I share Henry Rollins’ fear that I won’t listen to all my records before I die. Maybe I should stop trying to make Led Zeppelin happen? I’m never going to like them, so why do I keep going back to them when I could be listening to BLACK DRESSES instead?

Anyway, the point is, this record is really god damned good and it’s infinitely more interesting than Led Zeppelin. Why am I even making this comparison? It’s apples and oranges.

Black Dresses borrow little bits of 90’s electro and industrial as well as spinning in hints of early 2000’s electroclash. I hear just as much Nine Inch Nails in their music as I do Peaches or LeTigre. The thing is, they don’t necessarily sound like either of these comparisons. Influence is funny like that — sometimes it manifests itself as this sort of nostalgia and at other times it looks more like inventiveness. Black Dresses really lean hard on the latter than the former. I dig this stuff a lot as does my two year old (she’s very advanced in that way ;p).

Don’t take my word for it — listen for yourself.

Olivia Tremor Control

One of my favorite Elephant 6 bands — so much so that I named my daughter after the band.  People find it odd that her name is Tremor and keep thinking I said “Trevor.”  Whatever.  I kid.  I did however name my daughter Olivia.

This is probably their best output and I’m not really taking any chances or throwing any hot takes out there in saying that.  It’s a magical combination of psych era Beatles, “Pet Sounds” Beach Boys and the kind of music you’d imagine board acid eaters in rural communities would make.  It’s wild shit, but still totally accessible and familiar.  It challenges you and comforts you at the same time.

For those unacquainted, Olivia Tremor Control was one of the original three Elephant 6 bands — the other two being Apples in Stereo and Neutral Milk Hotel, both of which feature former and current members of OTC.  Members are also in the Sunshine Fix, Circulatory System, Frosted Ambassador and a whole lot of other projects.

Anyway, give ’em a listen.

New Release! Moor Mother

Moor Mother is probably the most interesting psych/experimental artist on my radar right now.  Mix of noise, lofi and hip hop that just gets the blood pumping.

There’s a lot I want to say about this record, but fuck it — go listen to it and make up your own mind.

“You Want a Big Box of Records?”

Was the question a friend asked as he was delivering several cases of toilet paper to my garage — don’t ask, because I won’t tell you.

My answer was obviously “uh, always. Yes.”

In that box was a ton of records that I’ve always wanted to own, or own on vinyl, including a bunch of 70’s Herbie Hancock.  The other day while working from home, I was spinning Headhunters, being reminded just how awesome this album is.

I originally bought this on cassette along with several other jazz cassettes from the long defunct Record Surplus out in Niles Il. (I really should do a post on Record Surplus sometime, because that place was magical.)

Also in this box were two Miles Davis albums I didn’t own as well as Marvin Gay, Aretha Franklin, the entire Jimi Hendrix discography (unplayed), the Cream discography (unplayed) and Revolver and Abbey Road by the Beatles, also unplayed.  Whomever originally owned this box of records was a hero for having the restraint to not play these albums, but a idiot for not selling them.  Either way, they’re in the hands of a person who is going to play the shit out of them.

There were also a lot of other albums in there, including NM+ versions of several Grateful Dead albums, which I’m in the market to sell and some smooth jazz stuff I’m not interested in.

Anyway, Herbie Hancock is a damn talented person — who’d of thought that one of the people who signed the Constitution would also be a jazz-funk pioneer. 😉 😉

So Lets Talk About Kit Records

Through a series of clicks on Bandcamp, I stumbled upon Kit Records out of London, UK.  They deliver a variety of experimental electronic releases, but the one that initially grabbed me was Object Agency, who deliver slightly more accessibly glitchy  experimental drum n bass ala Aphex Twin, Authechre and Squarepusher.  Maybe a less accessible Mouse on Mars?  Who cares.  This shit rules and you can either chill out to it, or toss it on at a party and you’re gonna have a good time.

I ordered this record and while I was bummed that it was coming from the UK, which meant a bit of transit time, the wait was worth it, because along with this album, Kit included a free Dromloch LP.

Dromloch is a collaboration between producer Antidröm and pianist Devon Loch.  The A Side is basically a collection of live improvisations on a Hohner church organ breathing its last dying breaths.  The B Side is a collection of contact mic field recordings.

I was listening to this the other morning while making breakfast.  The A Side got my kid super stoked and the B Side made a great Saturday morning breakfast soundtrack.  Drop this into a playlist at your local hipster brunch dive to watch a bunch of assholes trip over themselves to claim to know who it is or to clear out the after church crowd from the neighborhood diner.  While this sounds like an insult, it isn’t meant to be.  I’m a firm believer in weaponizing music and this stuff is begging to nuke someone’s consciousness.  Five stars, multiple A+’s.

I’m looking forward to checking out rest of Kit Records discography, because any label that has a fuckin’ church organ in their headquarters is a label I want to give my money to.

Buy this stuff on Bandcamp.  Follow the links in the text ya jerks.

Ibibio Sound Machine

Hey ya’ll.  It warms the cockles that even at my age there are still records that make me say “holy shit.”  Ibibio Sound Machine is one of those bands.  There’s a lot going on here and there’s elements of Afrobeat, 80’s electro-pop, West African folk music and some other elements I can’t quite put my finger on.  This some beautiful, powerful music that makes you want to dance.  Get into it! Send them all your money!

The GTO’s

A friend of mine shared this article on Facebook and it reminded me about the Big Red Ball compilation, which inspired me to do a bunch of posts about the Zappa protege’s.  My previous post was on Wild Man Fischer and this one’s on the GTO’s.  Read the article and then go listen to the music.

The first time I heard them was on the previously mentioned Warner “Loss Leaders” compilation, which were only available through mail order.  My best friend’s dad had all of those compilations and I would search those out specifically for the GTO’s and Ed Sanders/Fugs tracks.  Super solid, weird as shit art rock.  Spin it loud, freak out your neighbors.

Wild Man Fischer

Wild Man Fischer – An Evening With Wild Man Fischer – 

Equal parts Dr Demento regular and one of Zappa’s many protege’s, Wild Man Fischer speaks to a very specific weirdo bone and I love ’em for it.  I plan on playing this for my daughter when she’s a little older — probably when she’s four.  I feel like this can speak equally to children, drug users and multi-purpose weirdos.  Enjoy!

GFG Book Post: Kaleidoscope Eyes / Turn on Your Mind – Jim Derogatis

This was a book that I read originally in the mid/late 90’s, around the time it came out.  Overall it’s a really great read and anyone familiar with Derogatis’ column in Sun-Times or his time at Rolling Stone magazine, you know what to expect.  There are a lot of facts and that makes it a great text book on psychedelic music, but it also contains a lot of opinions which makes it an interesting read.  While he treads on some personal sacred cows (Sonic Youth, The Who), it’s hard to argue with the artists he praises.  While I don’t necessarily agree with him on his position on some bands, I respect that opinion as he does a great job backing it up.

The book was originally called Kaleidoscope Eyes: Psychedelic Rock From the 60’s to the 90’s, but in true Dero fashion, he changed the title at some point to Turn on Your Mind: Four Decades of Great Psychedelic Rock, because it references a better Beatles song.  I can’t argue with that.

I re-read my copy of the book a year or so ago and it inspired me to write up something about it, because honestly, it was the inspiration for this blog*!

Other stuff worth checking out by Jim Derogatis is his absolutely excellent and essential book on Lester Bangs, Let It Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs, America’s Greatest Rock Critic and his series on the 50 Chicago Artists Who Changed Popular Music, as well as tons of other great content to be found on his WBEZ page.

You can pick up Kaleidoscope Eyes or Turn on Your Mind at Indie Bound, Powell’s or The Strand (my favorite bookstore in the world). Don’t give your money to Amazon.  Support independent book sellers and record stores.

 

*I mean, actually it was my wife who was like “why don’t you just write a blog on the weird music you like, but really it was the depth and passion in this book that inspired how I curate this web site.

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