Book & Record Pairing

Book & Record Pairing

Mammother by Zachary Schomburg & Dracula by Nurses

While reading Zachary Schomburg’s debut novel, Mammother and listening to album Dracula from Nurses on the Blue Line, a group of French-speaking nuns in gray habits sat around me just as I was reading about Pie Time’s neighboring town, Nun’s Hat. If this doesn’t make complete sense, that’s okay. It doesn’t need to be clear for something to be beautiful. The general feeling of this moment was both grounded and ethereal.


In Mammother, the people of Pie Time are suffering from God’s Finger, a mysterious plague that leaves its victims dead with a big hole through their chests, and in each hole is a random consumer product. Mano Medium is a sensitive, young cigarette-factory worker in love, and he does his part by quitting the factory to work double-time as Pie Time’s replacement barber and butcher, and by holding the things found in the holes of the newly dead. However, the more people die, the bigger Mano becomes.

With a large cast of unusual characters, each struggling with their own complex and tangled relationships to death, money, and love, Mammother is a fabulist's tale of how we hold on and how we let go in a rapidly growing world.

When creating Dracula, Nurses were completely immersed in the recording process, the three members of the band (Aaron Chapman, James Mitchell, John Bowers) deep in collaboration. They did not embrace typical roles - no guitarist, no keyboardist - instead collaborating as a trio of producers, adding one idea on top of another until the sounds became songs. This isolation, the early winter darkness, the misty, moody walks on rocky beaches all creep into Dracula.

The band avoided society and focused on making the record, and managing to shut out most outside influences. Except for Prince. The band embraces hooks and melodies - yes, they turn them upside down and inside out--but at their core, the band (and Dracula) are defined by pop songwriting.

Want strange, but tender? Want to be bemused, but aware? Want to have an experience that made Kirkus reviews say “What the hell did I just read?” You probably do, which is why you’ll want to check out these works.

Mammother is officially released on 09/23, but you can get it at Curbside Books & Records and through Featherproof.

The Sarah Book

The Sarah Book

Every once in a while, a book comes along that makes you want to give a customer a sweaty bear hug and whisper creepily in their ear,

"please read this... it hurts so good..."



When was the last time you read something that made you laugh?

Like really laugh. Like made noises out of your mouth and nose. Think about that for a second.

Ghost County

Ghost County

John McCarthy’s “Ghost County” is a book of poems with a focus on life and death in the Midwest. His poems are about desperate situations and places we know. Verbal fights in pick-up trucks, a high school homecoming, and an alcoholic preacher all populate this memorable book from Midwestern Gothic Press.


The author examines sights that are uncomfortable and does not look away. The poems named “Pickup Truck” deliver quatrain after quatrain of the ebbs and flows of a relationship. Late nights. Fights. Stress about work. Memories from the truck the pair spend so much time together in. As with any summary, one doesn’t get a true sense of the rhythm of the author’s words, which is as important as anything. So here is a taste:


In order to say the word love,
the tongue must pass between
your teeth, and I will say it
with so much force when I bite

my body right out of my body.
I will stand under hot water
until all my skin dries out
but I cannot help any of it.

I will tell everyone, except us,
what to do with their lives,
those final years cracking open
until time is a pair of lungs


To borrow some of the author’s language, “Ghost County” throbs with anger. What these poems reveal is the beauty of those things we might find commonplace now. McCarthy shines a spotlight on the familiar and glossed over. Check out this collection today.

Book & Record Pairing

Book & Record Pairing

The Dead Wrestler Elegies by W. Todd Kaneko and Beat the Champ by the Mountain Goats

Wrestling is more than just wrestling. For some it's an escape, an outlet, and for these artists, it's a way to cope.

The Dead Wrestler Elegies covers themes of loss, love, regret, redemption, and remorse. Kaneko's poems and illustrations blend Charles Bukowski's raw-boned verse and Randy "Macho Man" Savage's devastating elbow drop to mine the history of professional wrestling and examine complex relationships between fathers and sons.

Of his songs, John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats writes, "Beat the Champ is about professional wrestling, which was an avenue of escape for me when I was a kid. Wrestling was low-budget working class entertainment back then, strictly UHF material. It was cheap theater. You had to bring your imagination to the proceedings and you got paid back double. I wrote these songs to re-immerse myself in the blood and fire of the visions that spoke to me as a child, and to see what more there might be in them now that I'm grown."

Announcing Our Online Book & Record Store

Announcing Our Online Book & Record Store

Hey Book & Record Lovers,

Not in Chicago? Can’t make it down to the Loop? Don’t want to leave the house because you’re too busy reading? We’ve got some exciting news for you: You can now get selected items from our online store

Though we hate to limit these works to categories, we’ve narrowed them down so you can browse between fiction, nonfiction, poetry, art books, and of course, records.

From now until the end of May, use the discount code “ONLINE20” for 20% off all orders from the online store. As always, the store is open Monday through Friday from 11 am to 7 pm, but now you can grab indie books and records all the time at the online store from Curbside Books & Records!

May 17 Mix

May 17 Mix

There's something in Arthur Russell's sentiment "You Can Make Me Feel Bad" with the follow-up "if you want to." He's allowing his subject the option to make him feel bad.

This isn't the happiest mix, I realize. "The Ocean" by The Dodos includes the line "I want you to be/where I want you to be," written after the death of guitarist, Christopher Reimer. In "Sisters," Chicago boys, Ne-Hi sing, "You know its okay/ if I’m leaving and you don’t stay."  But, it all comes down to "You & Me," in the Penny & the Quarters single, Penny let's you know, "If I never see the setting sun again/ you won't hear me cry," leaving you in a wake of relief, in the end. 

So, that being said, I'm not sorry for bumming you out.

Curbside Writers Club

Curbside Writers Club

Hey Chicago writers!
Need time to write?
Don't worry, we got you. 

Come to the Curbside Writers Club May 15th for a lax environment conducive to helping you get some writing done. From 5-7 PM, we're reserving tables and playing soothing tunes in Revival Food Hall to help you sculpt your manuscript. 

Because reading is a big part of writing, everything from Curbside Books & Records will be 20% off. Afterwards, grab a drink from the bar and talk with your fellow writers. The Revival Cafe Bar will be offering a beer & a shot combo for $6.

All writers and readers are welcome to attend!

Book & Record Pairing

Book & Record Pairing

Body Horror: Capitalism, Fear, Misogyny, Jokes by Anne Elizabeth Moore and Haxel Princess by Cherry Glazerr

Anne Elizabeth Moore’s Body Horror: Capitalism, Fear, Misogyny, Jokes released on Tuesday. Every day, heinous acts are perpetrated on women's bodies in this political economy—whether for entertainment, in the guise of medicine, or due to the conditions of labor that propel consumerism. In Body Horror: Capitalism, Fear, Misogyny, Jokes, award-winning journalist and Fulbright scholar Anne Elizabeth Moore explores the global toll of capitalism on women with thorough research and surprising humor. The essays range from probing journalistic investigations, such as Moore’s reporting on the labor conditions of the Cambodian garment industry, to the uncomfortably personal, as when Moore, who suffers from several autoimmune disorders, examines her experiences seeking care and community in the increasingly complicated (and problematic) American healthcare system. Featuring illustrations by Xander Marro, Body Horror is a fascinating and revealing portrait of the gore of contemporary American culture and politics.

Clementine Creevy, musician and Transparent actor, created Cherry Glazerr when she was 14. Back in 2014, much-loved Cali imprint Burger Records released Cherry Glazerr’s intoxicating debut Haxel Princess. The New York Times called ‘Grilled Cheese’ one of their Top Songs of 2014. Haxel Princess is back in print thanks to Secretly Canadian Records.

April 17 Mixtape

April 17 Mixtape

The sun's out in Chicago, which means it's time to grab a book and head to your favorite outdoor reading spot, because literature needs fresh air, too! We've got a playlist of tunes to accompany on your walk.

Since it's National Poetry Month, we're offering 20% off all Artifice and Curbside Splendor Poetry titles throughout April! Get titles such as Barry Giffard's New York, 1960 and Daniela Olszewska's Citizen J

For those auditory readers, we've got fonograf editions albums in! Check out these unique readings from esteemed poets Eileen Myles and Rae Armantrout. 

We aren't open for the official Record Store Day, but we are taking 10% off ALL records Friday April 21st! Get albums from JagjaguwarHoZac RecordsThrill Jockey RecordsMaximum PELTNumero GroupDrag City Records, and many more!

National Poetry Month

National Poetry Month

We're so excited about National Poetry Month, that we are offering 20% off all Curbside Splendor poetry titles, including Artifice Books for the entire month of April. 

That means you can pick up Sara Woods's Wolf Doctors, and write your own poetry thanks to her writing prompts like:

Write a poem on paper made of someone else's hair. Become a nobel-man. Get real good at hopscotch.


A teen romance about a love triangle between Lake Superior and two of Jupiter's moons. Feel free to pick any two moons you like! My favorite are Callisto and and Ganymede.

So get in here and celebrate reading and writing poetry!

Book & Record Pairing

Book & Record Pairing

See You In the Morning by Mairead Case and Lemon Cotton Candy Sunset by Richard Edwards

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been busy lately. I haven’t had time to sit down and enjoy anything for a while, so I read lit mags on the ‘L’ and listen to music on my phone. When I’m in transit, I don’t always get the chance to process every crafted detail of media I’m ingesting. With these pieces, I had no choice but to put everything on hold and focus on the art.

When Richard Edwards makes an album, he always advises you to “listen to it loud.” When Lemon Cotton Candy Sunset arrived on Tuesday, I ran home to play it and it hasn’t been off my record player since. The Margot and the Nuclear So & So’s frontman’s first solo album is the result of the aftermath of his divorce and a stomach ailment that caused the cancellation of a sold-out Margot tour. Richards doesn’t deviate from his past work, but this album is solo; it’s truly his creation. His instrumentals are more orchestral than his previous work, but his lyrics are tight as ever, yet abstract. I sat down and binged on lines like:

Come to see me here in Chicago

I’ll pick you up from Logan Square station

Come to see me down in the ghetto

And I’ll break my brain all over you again.

- from “Lemon”

See You In the Morning by Mairead Case is a lucid dream in the real world. Case’s unnamed narrator doesn’t hold back in the way she sees the world. The story is simple; the ambiguous narrator describes the world around her as she navigates school, work, her friends, and her own sexuality. The prose manages to be free and ambient without coming off as twee or sentimental. As I sat down to read, I was in the narrator’s view of the world, and happily forced to accept it.

These are works that demand your attention. You have no choice but to sit down and take in the entirety of the artists’ work.

LEMON COTTON CANDY SUNSET is out 3/31 from Joyful Noise Records.

Book & Record Pairing

Book & Record Pairing

Poem Strip by Dino Buzzati and The Flying Club Cup by Beirut

For this week’s book & record pairing, we’re taking you around the Adriatic Sea. 

When Beirut’s Zach Condon left his New Mexico home at seventeen to travel Europe, he came back with a new appreciation for Balkan folk music that help shaped Beirut’s signature sound. Condon’s second full length album, The Flying Club Cup, hones in tighter than his debut with a brass heavy sound.

Watch Beirut play through The Flying Club Cup in the feature length film by La Blogotheque sessions. As Condon proclaims “All I want is the best for our lives my dear / And you know my wishes are sincere,” you can tell that he means it.

Follow Orfi through the levels of the afterworld in search of his love, Eura in this pop-culture heavy graphic novel. Dino Buzzati was the Italian master of the avant garde. With Poem Strip, Buzzati rewrites the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, but in his contemporary setting, Milan in the1960s. Poem Strip reads both nostalgic and current thanks to Marina Harss’s 2009 translation from the Italian. It’s easy to get caught up in the story, but you’ll want to read again and again for Buzzati’s art.

Springtime Carnivore Record Curation

Springtime Carnivore Record Curation

Springtime Carnivore's Greta Morgan picked out a round of records she wanted to share with you. If you missed Springtime Carnivore's performance at Thalia Hall with Jenny Lewis, don't worry! You can catch them June 6 at The Empty Bottle with Lavern (Springtime Carnivore / Laverne). Grab tickets for the show and Greta's picks at our store. 

Check out a selection of her picks from La Sera, Kevin Morby, and more!

Book & Record Pairing

Book & Record Pairing

Binary Star by Sarah Gerard and My Woman by Angel Olsen

Sarah Gerard’s debut novel, Binary Star, is for hopeless romantics. Her prose is brief. Events are factually recalled. The effect is a rapid and harsh, resulting in an honest evaluation of mental illness and the pitfalls of intimacy.

The story follows an unnamed astronomy student as she travels the United States with her long-distance boyfriend, John. The couple embarks on their trip from Chicago around the Pacific coast “to find something new.” The goal is uncertain to the characters, but it becomes apparent they are attempting “to escape their problems—her anorexia and his alcoholism” as Gerard describes.  

Gerard does not hesitate to reveal the narrator’s feelings for her partner, saying:

Belief is brittle. My skin is dry and brittle and cracks. I am always bleeding, especially from the fingers. I do not believe John loves me. There.

I believe that John used to love me.

I do without my body: I am you, I am me, I am you, I am me: I always end with you.

Angel Olsen’s latest album, My Woman, speaks these same truths. Asheville resident by way of Chicago, Olsen more than proved her prowess as a songwriter with the release of her third full-length album. Pitchfork claimed, “it’s tough and tender at once, a bold rumination on how love and autonomy require one another.”  

These artists don’t shy away from the burdens of love, but aren’t afraid to find the beauty in it either.

March 17 Mixtape

March 17 Mixtape

It’s been fifty years since Lou Reed and co released their debut album. Yes, The Velvet Underground & Nico has been in the world for fifty years.

When I was in high school I went through a slight Andy Warhol obsession, as teenagers are prone to do. I’m on a snowboarding trip in Colorado; I come across an unmarked, two-story record shop in Boulder. I sift through racks and racks of crates searching for nothing in particular. I already have a smallish record collection of Bright Eyes and Spoon albums I bought at their shows, some hand-me-downs from my uncles, some 45s from an estate auction, but when I approach the Vs, I pull that banana-clad white sleeve up and examine Andy’s signature.

Velvet Underground. I have heard of this one. This was the album where you can peel the banana. This is the album where Andy made them work with some model they didn’t like. This is the album that brought avant garde to the people, though I don’t know what the term means at the time and am even more unsure, as I write this, but I know it’s something different. So, I buy the album, even though I’ll have to protect it on the plane. The shop employee simply says, “Classic,” as he rings me up. Every night I get home from the slopes, I pull the album out and admire the cover again. On the back, portraits of the band, layered with projected colors. They are “cool,” there’s no other word for it.

I arrive at the airport and get home sometime between 3 and 4 in the morning. I tear the shrink-wrap from the album and hold the album up, inspecting the grooves, and finally place the album down and set the needle. Even through my sleep-deprived state, I know I’ve found something in that will stick with me from “Sunday Morning” alone.

And it does. Years later, this album is still on heavy rotation on my record player. I could tell you about how they got on Verve Records, which was primarily a jazz label. I could tell you how they claimed the album was recorded live, but you can tell guitar tracks overlap through “Venus in Furs.” I could tell you about Nico’s bizarre death by bicycle or Doug Yule being forced to call Squeeze a Velvets album, even though no original members remained in the band. I found all these stories about the album later, but at the time I just grabbed something that interested me.

As much as I love the music, there was something about picking this album out in an unorthodox place. Sometimes music calls out to us and we have to listen, because you never know how it will stick with you. 

Book & Record Pairing

Book & Record Pairing

The BreakBeat Poets and Moh Lhean by WHY?

Yoni Wolf and WHY? have done it again. With the new album, Moh Lhean, Yoni brings back his classic world play combined with the band’s progressive instrumentals, circa their Alopecia era. In “This Ole King,” Wolf lays out lines like, “When I expire/Down dirtward all my hunger/In fire burn my anger/And collapse my stature,” in the vein of WHY? classics, such as “The Hallows” or “Strawberries.”

The evident passion put into the production of Moh Lhean is sure to come through in their live performance. WHY? is not to be missed at their Thalia Hall performance March 17th. Come grab tickets at the store’s box office and get 20% off everything, including the new album.

The BreakBeat Poets is the first poetry anthology by and for the Hip-Hop generation. Edited by Kevin Coval, Quraysh Ali Lansana, and Nate Marshall, this anthology redefines what it means to create poetry in the age of Hip-Hop, and how the style has symbiotically influences modern poetry. Chance the Rapper says it’s, “A cool & diversified version of a mix tape.” Includes pieces from Douglas Kearney, Ocean Vuong, francine j. harris, and many more.

Hip-Hop’s not dead. These artists are here to prove it’s thriving and making its mark in our culture.

MOH LHEAN is our 3/3 from Joyful Noise Records.

my weapon of choice


I chose my voice.

When writing wasn’t enuf

to move


mic check.    mate.





“from mic check, 1 -2.” by jessica Care moore

Book & Record Pairing

Book & Record Pairing

Ghost County by John McCarthy and Supermoon by S. Carey

I watched S. Carey perform a small handful of his songs in a tree house last summer. After live scoring a poetry reading from Honoree Fanonne Jeffers, Sean Carey and his band played their set in the woods, off the path between the two main staging areas at last year’s Eaux Claires Festival. About 75 of us huddled together around the elevated, wooden platform, careful to avoid poison ivy and stepping on each other’s toes. With the first note, everything stilled. His stripped down atmospheric songs cut down to the core.

Carey, perhaps better known as collaborator and band member of Bon Iver, spends most of his time fishing and raising his family in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. He’s as Midwestern as they come. Supermoon provides bare essential versions of his already openly exposed songs. Carey trims down some older songs, covers Radiohead’s “Bullet Proof . . . I Wish I Was,” and gives us the new titular track.

John McCarthy’s debut poetry collection, Ghost County echoes the same strange, sad terrain as S. Carey. McCarthy captures rural Midwest with lines like, “Nothing says forever like covering ink up with a Carhartt” in the section amply titled “Pickup Truck.” His voice is raw and tells the story of the Midwest in a way that seems beyond his own years. Ghost County exposes the bleakness of the land in only as many words McCarthy needs to do so.

Get out of the city and back to the openness of the Midwest with these works.

I will lie about it all

to relieve you the burden,

explaining how we are ghosts

and we want our ghost child

to be the best damn shadow

this side of the light . . . 

- From “Pickup Truck” in Ghost County

Book & Record Pairing

Book & Record Pairing

Joe Meno’s Office Girl and Strand of Oaks’s Hard Love

When it comes down to it, these pieces are about people who need to make art to communicate. Meno’s OFFICE GIRL centers around art-school dropouts, riding around on bikes and recording the sounds they stumble upon. Sounds a bit like Strand of Oaks’s single “Radio Kids” if you ask me.

The Onion’s A.V. Club said OFFICE GIRL is “a charming and unpretentious hipster love story destined to be the next cult classic.” These characters, Odile and Jack take in the Chicago terrain, dealing with love in the best ways they can. Timothy Showalter of Strand of Oaks is someone who knows how difficult that can be. Showalter’s 2013 album HEAL was written to help him deal with his marital infidelities, but with HARD LOVE, he said, “I’m sick of being the sad white guy with an acoustic guitar. We’re done with that shit.” He speaks of love with a crucial simplicity. Showalter, like Meno, knows sometimes the best way to communicate is through what comes simply to you.

HARD LOVE is out 2/17 from Dead Oceans Records.

February 17 Mixtape

February 17 Mixtape

By now you’ve probably come down from your conversation heart sugar overload and realized the commercialism that is Valentine’s Day is passé and you’ve told yourself that next Valentine’s Day you’re not going to fight over elbow room with neighboring couples and dish out too much money for an ounce of beef tartar, especially when the vegetarian options looked immensely better during your eight bites of your eight course meal.

Next year, stay at home, put on a record, crack open a bottle of wine, and cook something special for someone special: a lover, a friend, your dog walker, whoever you care about.

This month we’re sampling the soundtrack for that meal. And we may or may not have thrown in a handful of tunes that aren’t as much on the lovey-dovey side of the spectrum, because what brings people closer than a little emotional teardown? Get swept up in Bon Iver’s new album 22, A Million, or come down with his drummer, S. Carey’s stripped-down EP Supermoon. Put on an upbeat front with La Sera’s Music For Listening To Music To, while basking in their subtly crushing lyrics, a la Morrissey style. Then while you’re contemplating if you cooked the mussels long enough, or you should have skipped the cream in your carbanara so you’re not left with some sort of milk and noodle soup, flip over Dan Rico’s Endless Love to that B-side and let his “Casual Feeling” take those worries away, at least for a little while.