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Book & Record Pairing

Book & Record Pairing

The Meekling Review & IS A CULT by THE FUNS

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Sometimes you have to push boundaries. If you stay in your haven, you can’t test your limits, which is why we’re breaking into new ground for this week’s Book & Record pairing by featuring a literary journal to pair with a brand new album. Not just any lit journal, but our favorite new strange collection, The Meekling Review. It just so happens to fit in the company of the brand new album from former Chicagoans, THE FUNS.

The Meekling Review is the newest project from the folks at Meekling Press, which they deem, “A journal of performative literary nonsense.” This issue, No. SZQ.645π, is the first and the last, the alpha and omega.

The Meekling Review filled with meaty ads and a prose poem about the performances of self, psycomagic-inspired tarot readings, symbolic logic magic, a catalog of opening paragraphs, a series of images and their artistic analysis, studies on rat habitats, and alternative taxonomies of a distinguished literary oeuvre.

"Is A Cult" is the title of the new THE FUNS record, out today on Maximum Pelt. It's also a fact, THE FUNS is a cult. Over the past decade, no band on the underground scene has generated such cult like devotion and worship as they have. THE FUNS make raw, challenging, and emotional music that plays off rapid tempo shifts, booming, tribal rhythms, shimmering guitars, and endless buzz and fuzz. On their latest effort, THE FUNS are subdued, they are calculated, and the results are mesmerizing.

THE FUNS are Phillip Jerome Lesicko and Jessee Rose Crane, who are partners both musically and spiritually. They both play guitar, drums, and sing, trading duties as they go. They reside at Rose Raft, a studio and artist haven in an old home they rehabbed, located 45 minutes outside of St. Louis, and yet a world away from everything.

THE FUNS IS A CULT is our 8/25 from Maximum Pelt.

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.

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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.

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."

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.

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.

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.

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

you

mic check.    mate.

one

two.

1.

2.

“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.

Book & Record Pairing

Book & Record Pairing

I’m Fine, But You Appear to Be Sinking and Wavvves

For this week’s Book & Record Pairing, we reached out to Leyna Krow, author of the forthcoming story collection I’M FINE, BUT YOU APPEAR TO BE SINKING from featherproof books.

Krow browsed our record collection and chose to pair her book with Wavves’s album WAVVVES for the repeated beach imagery in their music and the associative ocean themes in I’M FINE, BUT YOU APPEAR TO BE SINKING. This concept fits particularly well the title story, as told through fictional journal entries of Captain C.J. Wyle.

Of WAVVVES, Krow stated, “The songs themselves seem to speak to a kind of vaguely-defined dissatisfaction/loneliness that a lot of my characters would connect with pretty well.”

There you have it, straight from the source. Come pick up I’M FINE, BUT YOU APPEAR TO BE SINKING before it’s official release date of February 14.

Book & Record Pairing

Book & Record Pairing

Fast Machine and Jackie Lynn

We love gritty and we love real at Curbside, so we’re sending some real, gritty work at you this week. We are pairing Jackie Lynn’s self-titled LP along with Elizabeth Ellen’s FAST MACHINE.

Elizabeth Ellen’s aptly titled short story collection, FAST MACHINE moves at one dominating speed. Her characters are real and relentless and bring the spirit of old west to new America. Roxane Gay writes, “The best thing about Ellen’s writing is that it has big brass balls. There is seemingly nothing she won’t write about but more than the fearlessness is how Ellen writes about anything.”

Jackie Lynn is the new project from Circuit des Yeux’s Haley Fohr, released under the guise of a Tennessee native, transplanted to Chicago, where she runs a multi-million dollar drug trade from a car repair shop on the Southside. When the police raid her apartment, they find this album, which becomes their only lead to her whereabouts. Pitchfork claims “it’s music of many hues, and most of them tend toward darkness.”

So there you have it. We’re getting real and we’re getting bleak, without getting really bleak.

Book & Record Pairing

Book & Record Pairing

You might not have heard of these artists, but it's never too late for a good introduction.

Argentine poet Silvina Ocampo, a contemporary of Jorge Luis Borges, was long appreciated, but generally overlooked. Her work was sparsely translated into English in the seven decades she wrote. Ocampo doesn’t yield to secrecy, instead choosing to approach the darkness in the lyrical. In her epitaphs and sonnets, Ocampo approaches the familiar through the surreal.

Dark Dark Dark’s 2010 EP, BRIGHT BRIGHT BRIGHT has become a stable of dark folk and chamber pop, along the ranks of Timber Timbre and Bowerbirds. They’ve worked on river raft art installations with the street artist Swoon and scored the film Flood Tide. Their music builds and falls and creates dreams within daydreams.

Together these works ruminate the dark parts of one's mind and turn them into something beautiful and gratifying.

“Epitaph for a Shipwrecked Sailor”

This is my first dream of shipwrecks,

I will never have to forget it. Dark

the water is in dreams, cold and hard.

Tomorrow I will be afraid of omens.

Book & Record Pairing: January 20, 2017

Book & Record Pairing: January 20, 2017

Well this one is just common sense. This week, we are pairing Bikini Kill’s debut, self titled EP alongside Jessica Hopper’s THE FIRST COLLECTION OF CRITICISM BY A LIVING FEMALE ROCK CRITIC.

Jessica Hopper was the teenage face of Riot Grrrl, thanks to a 1992 Newsweek article. In her collection, Hopper writes, “I too had a hunger for music that spoke a language I was just starting to decipher . . . I was lucky I was met at the door with things like the Bikini Kill demo . . . It took seeing Babes in Toyland and Bikini Kill to truly throw on the lights, to show me that there was more than one place, one role, for women to occupy, and that our participation was important and vital – it was YOU MATTER writ large.” (19-20).

Known for pioneering the Riot Grrrl movement in the early 1990s Pacific Northwest, Bikini Kill released the Ian MacKaye (of Fugazi and Minor Threat) produced, Bikini Kill EP originally through the Kill Rock Stars label. This 20th anniversary reissue includes new liner notes, photos, excerpts from Bikini Kill’s zines, and more.

With the Riot Grrrl insurgence by artists like Pussy Riot and Lizzo, it is crucial to hear where the movement started and even more so to hear where it goes. Hopper, poignant but encouraging in the future of punk music, reminds readers, “We deserve better songs than any boy will ever write about us” (20).