Noteworthy’s Best Albums of 2017 Show

Ivan of Noteworthy back here again. If you haven’t already heard the news, I’ll be counting down my top albums of 2017 on tonight’s show (6PM-8PM at uicradio.org  and on the Radio FX app). Assuming that you’ve been a steady listener of the show, you should be able to guess a few of the albums that’ll make an appearance, but there will be some surprises in there as well. This is usually one of the best shows of the year, and even if you haven’t been following Noteworthy, this is the perfect time to jump in.

While I won’t reveal what my picks are until tonight’s show, here’s what placed at #1 for me over the previous five years: Continue reading “Noteworthy’s Best Albums of 2017 Show”

Advertisements

Anatomy of a Playlist : 10-30-2017

Ivan from Noteworthy here again (Mondays, 6PM-8PM) to break down another recent edition of the show. Since I cover a lot of genres, I try to make sure that each song flows well into the next one so that the switch from sound to sound doesn’t come as a shock to the system for the listener. Here’s another look at how I go about it.

Drake featuring Jorja Smith and Black Coffee- Get It Together
Amber Mark – Lose My Cool
Deee-Lite – Smile On

I started off the show talking about Drake not submitting More Life for Grammy consideration, which is why I went with “Get It Together” in the leadoff spot. There were a few other tracks I had in mind to follow it up with that had a similar ’90s house feel to it, but they were songs I’d played on the show before and I wanted to go with something newer. That brought me to including Amber Mark’s “Lose My Cool” to help me keep things contemporary while still adhering to a throwback sound.

 

Ryan Leslie – Diamond Girl
Aminé – Blinds
Kendrick Lamar – good kid
Joey Bada$$ featuring ScHoolboy Q – Rockabye Baby

For the past month or so, Aminé’s “Blinds” has been one of my most played tracks. I had a few special themed shows where I played 2007 songs and live recordings that delayed the inevitable, but I’m glad (and relieved) that it finally made it to air for this edition. Part of why I’m drawn to it so much is because the keyboards remind me a lot of early 2000s Neptunes, which I’m a huge mark for. I put it in between Ryan Leslie’s “Diamond Girl”, a song that’s always reminded of the Neptunes, and an actual Pharrell production by way of Kendrick Lamar’s “good kid.”

Leikeli47 – Braids Tuh’da Flo(w)
Erykah Badu – Turn Me Away (Get MuNNy)
Nai Palm – Crossfire/So Into You
Kehlani – Honey
Bobbie Gentry – Courtyard

I also debuted a new segment on Noteworthy called Flowers, which takes its inspiration from the phrase “give me my flowers while I’m still living.” It’s simply just another way of saying honor those that are still alive instead of waiting until they pass away. It’s a powerful sentiment that’s been following me around all this year and I naturally thought it would make a good segment. I knew that I wanted to put the spotlight on country music legend Bobbie Gentry, but I had to slow things down significantly in order to get there and make it feel natural. I had been struggling with this for a few weeks, but luckily, one of my current favorite songs, “Honey” by Kehlani, features a simple acoustic guitar, which fit perfectly before a segment focused on Gentry.

Continue reading “Anatomy of a Playlist : 10-30-2017”

Fast Romantics Interview with Noteworthy

fast romantics
Photo credit: Jen Squires

Ivan of Noteworthy here again (Mondays, 6PM-8PM at uicradio.org). Make sure to mark your calendar for this Wednesday, June 28. Fast Romantics, an indie rock band out of Toronto with a flair for big Springsteen-style hooks, will be performing at Township (2200 N. California Ave.) in support of their latest album, American Love. I spoke with lead singer/guitarist Matthew Angus through e-mail (pictured 3rd from right) about love in times of political turmoil and rebuilding the band.

Noteworthy: For folks who may be hearing about you for the first time, tell us the origin of the name Fast Romantics.

The name Fast Romantics precedes this band.  It was the result of a brainstorming session we had in the very first version of the [group] many years ago. We just locked ourselves in a room and came out with those words. There’s no meaning behind it really. But when we reformed Fast Romantics a couple of years ago with all these new members, we decided to keep the moniker, and now it’s just one of those meaningless names you give to anybody. Like “The Beatles” or … “Fred.”

NW: The band got its start in Calgary and you recently filmed the video for “Alberta” there during a tour off day spent visiting family and friends. What is one surprising thing about the town that most people wouldn’t know about it?

Calgary is known for the Calgary Stampede and most people in America picture it as full of cowboy hats and boots and rodeos and farms but really it’s nothing like that at all. It’s become a pretty cosmopolitan town with a lot of amazing subcultures and a thriving music scene.

NW: Another American Love track, “Why We Fight” was recently played during a broadcast of this year’s NHL playoffs. What was that moment like and do you have any all-time favorite players from the Calgary Flames?

It did, that was a trip. As Canadians, having your song open up a hockey playoff game is kinda like playing the Grammys, it’s a big deal y’know. You’re talking to a band of mostly Toronto Maple Leafs fans, believe it or not, but Jeff’s still holding out for the Flames. Me personally, even though I’m a Leafs fan, you gotta love former Flame Lanny McDonald. Not only was he a badass hockey player but I went to school with his daughter and met him a bunch, and he’s just a super nice guy. Continue reading “Fast Romantics Interview with Noteworthy”

Anatomy of a Playlist (Noteworthy 2-27-2017)

 

2-27-1

Ivan here from Noteworthy (Mondays, 6PM-8PM). I’m back again to give you some insight into how the show gets made and what goes into some of the decision making.

Juggling multiple genres is an essential part of Noteworthy, but in order to make the leap from one sound to the next, I try to make sure that it feels seamless when you’re listening. Think of it in the same way you would a mix CD from back in the day. It’s a key part of what makes the show fun to do and a challenge every week. This dissection will show you how my brain works.

2-27-2

I wanted to start the show off talking about the BRITs and how it’s always more fun than the Grammys. Skepta’s performance of “Shutdown” gave me the perfect excuse to play a track from one of my favorite 2016 albums and provided plenty for me talk about at the top of the show. The Grammys are afraid of any kind of aggression in hip hop and here is Skepta, lording over England’s biggest music stage in a hoodie with a song that partially mocks those uncomfortable with seeing aggression from hip hop (re: Kanye’s 2015 BRIT performance). Score one for the BRITs. From there, I went to another grime song in the Lady Leshurr track and an old Neptunes track, which has sort of bouncy grime feel if you pair it with the right song.

 

2-27-3

I knew at this point I wanted to make the transition to mellowing things down (you’ll see why soon enough), so the new Jidenna single was a way to make that bridge since it has enough bottom to it to not be too jarring of a switch-up. Honestly, my main priority was to finally play Gallant’s  “Skipping Stones.” Adrian Younge, Jhene Aiko and a falsetto with classic flair? I do this for the people.

Continue reading “Anatomy of a Playlist (Noteworthy 2-27-2017)”

Kandace Springs on Noteworthy

KS_PressPhoto_2

Ivan of Noteworthy here again (Mondays, 6PM-8PM at uicradio.org). I’m back to share an interview with Kandace Springs that I aired on this week’s show. She’s a jazz singer/pianist from Nashville who just released her debut album, Soul Eyes on Blue Note Records and has even shared the stage with Prince. The album features production work from Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers (the guys who discovered Rihanna) and Grammy-winner Larry Klein (Joni Mitchell, Herbie Hancock). We talked about why she decided to go in the direction of jazz for her first album after working mostly in R&B and hip hop before and watching movies with Prince. Listen to the interview below and keep up with Kandace at kandacesprings.com and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

Open Mike Eagle, Saba & Air Credits at Double Door – 7/7/2016

ome
Open Mike Eagle (Photo credit: Red Bull Sound Select)

Tune in to Noteworthy with Ivan every Monday night from 6:00-8:00 at uicradio.org. Also, like the Facebook page and check out past interviews and segments on Soundcloud

It’s no longer a secret that Chicago boasts a very vibrant hip hop scene, with top quality projects getting national attention seemingly every year. The latest Red Bull Sound Select show curated by Consequence of Sound at Double Door only further cemented what a good thing we’ve got going on here. With performances by Air Credits (a collaboration between ShowYouSuck and The Hood Internet), Saba, fresh off an appearance on Chance The Rapper’s Coloring Book and headliner Open Mike Eagle, who has his roots here in the city, the night served as a reminder of how spoiled with riches we’ve become in recent years.

Although Open Mike Eagle might have seemed an odd fit with the other acts on the bill who still call Chicago their home and embrace the city’s sound in a more traditional manner, there were still a loyal number of fans who found a kinship in his quirky demeanor. The eclectic set found him rapping over an array of samples such as Lenny Kravitz’s “It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over” and Sterolab’s “…Sudden Stars” in truncated bursts that suited his status as an outsider. By programming and queuing up the music himself through drum machines, pedals and a laptop, OME’s performance was more intimate than the artists who took the stage before him and was a natural fit for songs like “Qualifiers” and “Very Much Money (Ice King Dream)” that double down on being social outcasts.   Continue reading “Open Mike Eagle, Saba & Air Credits at Double Door – 7/7/2016”

METZ at Empty Bottle – 06/23/2016

metz
METZ (Photo credit: Red Bull Sound Select)

Tune in to Noteworthy with Ivan every Monday night from 6:00-8:00 at uicradio.org. Also, like the Facebook page and check out past interviews and segments on Soundcloud

Ever since Curbside Publishing released an oral history of the Empty Bottle a few weeks ago, I’ve been itching to catch a show at the legendary venue. Sure, I’ve been there countless times before, but reading about the experiences of so many others had me anticipating the next time I would be there.

With its intimate size and low frills decor, there’s always a high probability of a concert there having a communal experience if the energy is right. Thanks to Red Bull Sound Select, catching METZ, a ferocious Canadian trio signed to Sub Pop, at the Empty Bottle satisfied my itch as they blasted through songs from their first two albums in blistering and abrasive fashion.

“Who’s here to f****** party with us?” lead vocalist and guitarist Alex Edkins questioned a receptive audience near the top of their set before they went full throttle into one of their signature tunes, “Get Off.” The crowd enthusiastically answered the call as they had to be reminded only a few songs later about Empty Bottle’s no crowd-surfing policy, to which the band pleaded for someone to be let back in as they were escorted out for violating the rules. While there were no more incidents or pauses during the rest of the set, there were plenty more opportunities to bounce around with moments like the pounding riff of “Knife In The Water,” the noisy intensity of “Wet Blanket” and the wildly whipping hair of drummer Hayden Menzies sending the crowd into a frenzy.  Continue reading “METZ at Empty Bottle – 06/23/2016”

Frankie Cosmos at Lincoln Hall – 04/27/2016

Greta Kline
Photo Credit: Matthew James Wilson

Tune in to Noteworthy with Ivan every Monday night from 6:00-8:00 at uicradio.org. Also, like the Facebook page and check out past interviews and segments on Soundcloud

Listening to Greta Kline, better known as Frankie Cosmos, through headphones or even speakers, is like eavesdropping on someone in their bedroom. There’s a hushed tone that permeates throughout as Kline wittily observes even the most minute details of her life and the relationships she’s built with others in what feels like a private manner. In front of a sold-out (and very attentive) crowd at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday, the eavesdropping continued on a collectively larger scale as Kline calmly and delicately opened up her world to a bigger room through a bevvy of wispy lo-fi indie pop that rarely clocked in above two minutes. “This is literally the nicest place we could be,” she said of Lincoln Hall and Chicago in general. “This is like the parents’ house of venues.”

That moment of gratitude came early in the set, which for the first half mostly included songs from her latest album, Next Thing, which was just released this month. It was a unique approach since loading up on new songs at the very beginning can sometimes be a tricky ordeal for an artist since the best crowd reaction will usually be for the more familiar songs, which can affect the flow of a concert, but given how receptive the people were to newer tracks like the catchy introspection of “Fool” and the airy yearning of “Too Dark,” it was exactly like being at an house where the utmost respect was shown.

Although brevity and tenderness were on heavy display, there was also time for a little fun as Maryn James of opening act Yowler along with “two Chicago friends” participated in a choreographed dance with keyboardist Gabby Smith and bassist David Maine during “I’m 20.” The slightly Macarena-inspired dance drew the biggest applause of the night and made an already charming band more endearing, especially with lines like “I’m 20, washed up already/I’d sell my soul for a free pen” providing further smiles. Kline even took the time to apologize for swearing at an all ages show after using the word “frickin'”, only to sincerely apologize again immediately when she realized the next song, “Being Alive,” legitimately used an explicit word.

The 2nd half of the show turned into a mini-sing-a-long for the faithful as Kline delved into older fare like “Birthday Song” and “Korean Food.” “I heard about being young/but I’m not sure how it’s done/Thought I heard a mumble/Something about fun” she sang to an intensely focused crowd during “Young,” who much like her, were probably still learning and absorbing everything life had to offer and found a kindred spirit in her. The muted drum set of Luke Pyenson provided the appropriate backdrop to let Kline’s soft vocals cut clearly and not drown out the crowd either. I’ve always held Lincoln Hall in high esteem in regards to sound and this balance of quiet and loud dynamics made the entire performance more intimate than I had anticipated and further confirmed what I believed about the venue.

In less than an hour, Frankie Cosmos burned through 21 songs without an encore. As quietly as they came on stage, the show concluded just as gently, which is how most discreet conversations involving deep sharing in the bedroom end.

Setlist

Correctly
Floated In
If I Had a Dog
Sinister
Fool
Too Dark
I’m 20
Tour Good
On the Lips
Outside with the Cuties
Is It Possible / Sleep Song
Sappho
What If
Embody
Being Alive
Buses Splash With Rain
Leonie
Birthday Song
Young
Korean Food
O Contest Winner

Next Thing (Bayonet Records) is out now and you can follow Frankie Cosmos on Twitter (@frankiecosmos).

Jessy Lanza on Noteworthy

 

lanza2

Ivan of Noteworthy here (Mondays, 6PM-8PM at uicradio.org). In addition to playing music from all kinds of genre on my show, I also have guests from time to time. On this past Monday’s show, I talked briefly with Canadian electronic artist Jessy Lanza ahead of her show on April 6th at Metro opening for Junior Boys. She co-produced her debut album, Pull My Hair Back, with Jeremy Greenspan of that group and the result was a sensuous slow burn of an effort heavy on midnight synths and classic R&B drum patterns. Her next one, Oh No, will be released May 13th on Hyperdub and promises to pick up the pace on the dance floor if the early songs are any indication. Listen to the interview below and check her out at jessylanza.com and on Twitter and Instagram.

 

Young Buffalo Interview w/ Noteworthy

Young Buffalo Press Photo

 

Ivan of Noteworthy here again (Mondays, 6PM-8PM at uicradio.org) to tell you about a band called Young Buffalo hailing from Oxford, Mississippi. Their debut full-length, House, was released earlier this year and featured a bounty of wonderfully hazy harmonies along with some classic power pop crunch and a few layers of synths. They’ll be in town this Sunday at Township (2200 N. California Ave.) on Nov. 22, which was switched to from the original venue at Abbey Pub. I spoke with band co-founder Jim Barrett (pictured second from right) to find out a little bit more about the band.

Noteworthy: How long has Young Buffalo been around?

Young Buffalo has been a band since the summer of 2009, so a little over six years now.

NW: As I understand, you and Ben Yarbrough (the other co-founder) have been writing together since you were teenagers? 

Yeah, we had some middle school bands and some high school bands where we played some shows and then started Young Buffalo transitioning to college.

NW: In what ways has it been easier having the same writing partner since you started and in what ways have you still been able to learn new things? 

It’s been great that Ben and I have worked together for so long because we get to narrow down the quirks. There’s not much mystery, so you can get things done a bit easier having gone through a lot. As far as learning stuff, that always sort of happens. It moreso happens apart when we work on stuff while playing in different bands and come back with ideas.

NW: How did you guys come up with the title for the latest album, House

It was originally going to be a different title. The middle song, leading off Side B, “My Place,” was originally called “House,” actually. Once we had the track listing in place, we reworked it a little bit and kind of realized it appeared at a certain point of the record and tied together a lot of things. We figured that it represented the album well. Also, whenever we record demos and practice and get ready for shows and stuff for all these other spinning wheels, it’s at Ben and Will’s (keyboardist Will Eubanks), so that fit into the theme as well. Taking in all that, it just felt right to call it House.

NW: What are some of the guitar sounds you’re proud of on the new album? Something that you did in the studio that everyone may not catch the first time around?

There’s this guitar in the first song called, “Man Of Your Dreams” and at the end of it, it kind of breaks out into a a bunch of stuff going on. It was a Danelectro baritone guitar with a really cool Spaghetti Western sort of strum. It’s really subtle, kind of mixed in the background. I’m proud of that. I think it was one of the last things I recorded on the record.

Some other guitar sounds from the album was this really awesome pedal steel sound on the song “Cliff Diver” that Ben got that we went into it not even thinking we would need. I’m sure there’s more, but it’s been a while since we recorded that album so I forget. It’s been a few years.  Continue reading “Young Buffalo Interview w/ Noteworthy”