Five albums to grab now: Palehound, Radioactivity, Heaters, Painted Palms, Expert Alterations

In this installment of Five Albums, I look at some of the year’s releases that I feel are flying too far below the radar.

Palehound – Dry Food

Ellen Kempner, who performs as Palehound, is probably the best known of this group. A singer-songwriter worthy of comparisons to Waxahatchee and Speedy Ortiz (led by Kempner’s friend Sadie Dupuis), Dry Food should be in conversations about best album.

Radioactivity – Silent Kill

This is a really great overlooked album — very cool garage punk from Texas.

Heaters – Holy Water Pool

Closer to home here in Chicago, Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Heaters makes cool throwback psychedelic rock on this debut.

Painted Palms – Horizons

San Francisco’s Painted Palms makes infectious synth-pop (’80s style).

Expert Alterations – Expert Alterations EP

Another very catchy release — this one channeling early ’80s alternative. A five-song EP that makes you want to hear more from this Baltimore trio.

Grimes, Neon Indian, Deerhunter, Kurt Vile, New Order: Five albums that live up to hype

No matter how big, credible or hot the star, there’s, of course, no guarantee any amount of massive hype will result in a good album. But the well-established artists often surprise us with a change in direction or a particularly interesting new take on a signature sound.

I try to devote a lot of time covering up-and-coming bands but I never want to overlook other good music.

Here are five recent releases deserving a listen that happen to be from some of the most talked about, most hyped or otherwise big-name artists.

Grimes – Art Angels

Neon Indian – VEGA INTL. Night School

Deerhunter – Fading Frontier

Kurt Vile – B’lieve I’m Going Down

New Order – Music Complete

Together Pangea plays Chicago’s Subterranean

Together Pangea followed its excellent 2014 album Badillac with the recently released six-song The Phage EP, which is produced by former Replacement Tommy Stinson.

The band doesn’t really plow new ground on the EP but it’s a solid record. The opening track, Looked In Too, is a standout.

Together Pangea plays Subterranean Saturday. I’ve seen these guys a couple of times and they’re a lot of fun live.

As a bonus, the awesome White Reaper opens.

Essential listening: Ork Records New York, New York


New York record producer Terry Ork isn’t well known, even among music nerds. But hopefully that changes once more people listen to Ork Records: New York, New York. The collection is released by Chicago archivists Numero Group.

Ork died in 2004 but his New York-based label is remembered on this phenomenal compilation. The almost 50-track set brings together songs from some of the most interesting punk, post-punk, pop and new wave artists of the mid- to late 1970s (Television, Feelies, Alex Chilton, Richard Hell, Cheetah Chrome, Richard Lloyd, Chris Stamey and Peter Holsapple are among the many represented).

In addition to the well known bands and individuals on this collection, there are long-forgotten or entirely unknown acts like Prix, a Big Star replica.

Ork’s singles introduced landmark bands such as Television with the early single Little Johnny Jewel. Also included here are bands that should probably have received greater notice (the Revelors, Erasers, the Idols). Even legendary rock critic Lester Bangs is represented with a couple of songs.

This is great music that still sounds fresh and innovative today. This is not only one of the best reissues of 2015, it’s one of the year’s best releases.

Among the many highlights:

The collection includes Richard Hell’s classic Blank Generation.

Here’s Prix’s Girl:

Television’s Little Johnny Jewel:

Here’s former Dead Boy Cheetah Chrome:

Here are a pair of trailers for the collection:

The art of noise: Wolf Eyes, Oneohtrix Point Never

Wolf Eyes

Wolf Eyes

While the musical styles certainly go in different directions, the new albums from Wolf Eyes and Oneohtrix Point Never have plenty in common.

Oneohtrix Point Never, the project of producer Daniel Lopatin, just released Garden of Delete, which is probably best described as an experimental electronic album. I Am a Problem: Mind in Pieces is the latest album from Detroit noise rock band Wolf Eyes.

Both albums challenge our notion of what constitutes music or song. The influence of industrial music is present on both releases. Largely made up of textures of layered sounds both albums still dabble in melody. To be sure, there are far more confrontational examples of experimental music being made today.

But Lopatin and Wolf Eyes may hold slightly more revered positions at the moment as they happen to bring noise and experimentation into the forefront of the mainstream. Both albums are getting positive critical notice (and for good reason). And each act is getting a nod from superstar admirers. Lopatin opened concerts for Nine Inch Nails and Soungarden last year while Wolf Eyes’ new LP is on Jack White’s record label.

On Garden of Delete, Lopatin uses synthesizer, rapid-fire percussion, auto-tune and many other electronic sound effects to create an often disturbing, sometimes uncomfortable feeling that’s also just as likely to draw the listener in.

This is old hat for Wolf Eyes, which has been harshing peoples’ mellow since the late ’90s. On I Am a Problem, the intensity continues though there’s something ever so accessible compared with the band’s earlier work.

Oneohtrix Point Never:


Five albums to grab now: Fuzz, Power, Timmy’s Organism, Negative Scanner, Wand


Here’s a short list of new albums for hard rock, garage, punk and psychedelic fans.

Fuzz – II

Ty Segall’s side project dives further into the early origins of metal (Black Sabbath, Deep Purple) and pays homage to the forebearers of heavy psychedelic (Blue Cheer). If you’re a fan of these 1960s and ’70s gods of thunder, you’ll want to snag this album. It’s more than an hour of vintage-style heavy metal heaven.

Catch Fuzz at Thalia Hall Friday (Nov. 20).

Power – Electric Glitter Boogie

Australia-based Power’s album is a sludgy, bluesy, anthemic head rush. If you love down and dirty, head-jerking garage punk, this is one of the best records you’ll hear all year.

Timmy’s Organism – Heartless Heathen

Timmy Vulgar has been cranking out hard rock from Detroit since the late ’90s. On his latest album, Timmy’s Organism’s Heartless Heathen, he does the Michigan garage legacy (Stooges, MC5) proud.

UPDATE: Timmy’s Organism plays a FREE in-store performance at Reckless Records in Wicker Park Monday (Nov. 23). Reckless tweeted that it will be at 6 p.m.

Negative Scanner – Negative Scanner

I’ve already sung the praises of Negative Scanner’s self-titled debut but why not give it another plug? The Chicago band channels classic punk that’s very immediate.

Wand – 1000 Days

Wand has been an ATYP favorite from day one (way back in 2014). On the band’s third album, Wand continues its great psych-rock ways.

Ty Segall to release new album in January

Ty Emotional Mugger

Ty Segall plans to release a new album, Emotional Mugger, in January.

There’s no music to share at this point but you can go to a website for the album for updates. Right now it contains a spoof ad on the medical condition “emotional mugging” featuring Ty. There’s also an 800 number you can call.

Also, look for a tour beginning in January, which includes two nights in Chicago (March 7-8) at Thalia Hall.

In the meantime, you can listen to Ty covering Echo and the Bunnymen.

And here’s his version of Roy Orbison’s Pretty Woman.