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Matchess "Almost Gone (Excerpt)"

Matchess (aka Whitney Johnson) has released the first single, "Almost Gone (Excerpt)", from her forthcoming album, Sonescent, which is due out on February 25th via Drag City.

For this album Johnson enlisted a few of Chicago's best musicians including Haley Fohr (aka Circuit Des Yeux), Tim Kinsella, Rob Frye, Ike Floor, Kalina Malyszko, and Brian J. Sulpizio.

You can catch Matchess at Empty Bottle on November 30th with Olivia Block.

Photo by Marzena Abrahamik

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The Dead Bolts "Sun Comes Back Around"

The Dead Bolts have released the final single, "Sun Comes Back Around", ahead of the release of their debut album, Pretty and Burnt Out, on November 26th.

You can help The Dead Bolts celebrate the release of their album on December 10th at Schubas.

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King of Nowhere go somewhere beautiful with "Real Men"

The song "Real Men" is a powerful coming out narrative that also serves as a sneak peak of King of Nowhere's upcoming album (King of Nowhere) to be released in January 2022. You can listen to the song directly below, just scroll over the graphic, Bandcamp embeds are sneaky that way! Note: their three previous full-to-fullish length records are embedded throughout the rest of this piece, in reverse order of date-of-release, to help you get boned up on King of Nowhere's past repertoire.

"Real Men" opens with a hushed tone and vivid imagery ("remember we were twelve / covered in mud, hopping downed trees") further intensified by the trappings of youth and fragility on display ("I teared up in my room, under blue curtains / with cartoon bugs on them") intensified further by the fear and confusion indirectly incited by the mud-covered childhood friend’s affection for our narrator who "hadn't learned just yet to recognize that kind of smile" even with his friend wearing a t-shirt with the printed slogan "real men wear pink" and all (to be fair, reading social cues isn’t the forte of most 12-year-olds) and if only we were all so lucky to have a precocious gender-norms-and-other-norms-questioning friend at such an impressionable age the world would probably be a better place.

But in "Real Men," composed by King of Nowhere's singer-songwriter-guitairst-producer Jesse French, the protagonist does have such a friend, and it seems to lead to an awakening, even if it didn’t take hold right in the moment because, in a tone tinged with regret, the lyrics describe how the song's 12-year-old-self reacted: "I said ‘it would suck to be gay’ and / welcome to the USA." At this point Jesse's voice falters and practically folds in on itself, with the music following suit, reduced to near total silence. But then, catharsis...



Up to this point the rhythm section of Dylan LaPointe and Vicente Hansen Atria (on bass and drums, respectively, and let's not forget the second guitarist known only as "Porter") have pushed the song along with a writing-in-my-journal-in-the-middle-of-the-night-with-a-flashlight-under-the-covers kind of vibe, with only a slight build in the first chorus to match the shift in perspective to the present day ("I'm sorry I never stood up and told you that you / you were as strong and bright as / I never wanted to be") but it's not until we reach the point where the song bottoms out as described above that it finds the courage to open itself up, and yes I'm describing recorded music as a sentient being and why not, jumping from a whisper to a lighter-waving guitar solo and a final-pent-up-emotional-dam-burst of a chorus, declaring "I'm sorry I never called you up and told you that you / you are an inspiration [...] I am so proud you made it / can't wait to open up like" at which point the song suddenly cuts off--which could be meant to indicate that the future is unwritten, and that the process of "opening up" is ongoing. (or maybe that the band ran out of tape. does anyone still record on tape?)

Final Thoughts: Maybe I'm reading into things here (hey that's what I barely get paid to do!) but one thing I think this song is telling us is that for our "reality" to change we first have to change some of our notions of what's deemed "real" in the first place (e.g. what is a "real man"?) and heck, even if you ignore the lyrics entirely "Real Men" may shake up your reality because between its tender, aching music and equally tender, aching vocals, and its butterfly-emerging-from-its-chrysalis climax, you're likely to find yourself all teary-eyed and gently sobbing under the duvet by the time it's all over. Unless you’re too hung up on masculine archetypes to allow yourself a good cry, that is. (Jason Lee)





Olivia Block "Axiolite"

Experimental composer and multi-media artist Olivia Block has released the opening track, "Axiolite", from her new album, Innocent Passage in the Territorial Sea, which is available today, November 19th, via Room40.

This new album is the product of a pandemic, a vintage Korg synth organ, psychedelic mushrooms, and a highly skilled musician.

You can help Olivia celebrate the release of her new album on November 30th at Empty Bottle with Jon Mueller and Matchess.

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Neal Francis "Problems"

Neal Francis has released the latest single, "Problems", from his recently released sophomore album, In Plain Sight (ATO, 11.5.21).

This single is accompanied by the Alec Basse and Max Moore directed video below.

Francis will be touring from now until the Spring of 2022 and you can find all of his tour dates here.

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