by William Kosh
It’s easy for a band like Silversun Pickups to go stale. After producing a couple of radio-friendly hits like “Lazy Eye” and “Panic Switch”, many bands coast through the next decade of their existence on a combination of nostalgia and the occasional boost that comes with being discovered by their original audience’s younger siblings. It is to our benefit that the Silversuns have not chosen this route, but have instead spent their last couple of albums — Neck of the Woods and Better Nature, which drew from horror movies and Spaghetti Westerns, respectively — breaking the archetype and twisting their music into new and unexpected forms. It might seem like faint praise to laud SSPU for still making real albums with atmosphere, ambition, beginnings, middles and ends, but considering the alternative and how fun this band has remained since blowing up as an early 2000s staple, we’ll take what we can get. Thank you, Silversuns.
by E.M. Brenner
Bloc Party’s 2005 debut Silent Alarm rang out as a seminal piece of the emerging dance rock scene which blew a hole through indie music’s staid post-Y2K landscape. Influenced by Mogwai but compared to Gang of Four, the London band’s hard-charging anthem “Banquet” soundtracked raucous basement keggers while more emotional numbers like “Blue Light” had fans questioning their place in the universe. While the band stuck around for several additional albums throughout lineup changes and hiatuses, nothing was able to match the physical and emotional ferocity of their debut. Yet after going on “indefinite hiatus” in 2013, Bloc Party’s founding members and driving songwriters Kele Okereke and Russell Lissack are back and ready to tackle a new era. In many ways, 2016’s Hymns is like a debut album all over again, an introduction back into a musical climate much different than what they experienced when Silent Alarm ruled the 2000s. Watch as they reenter society with the same confident, sensual sound and swagger.
by Justine O’Day
When his career began in 2014, not much was known about mysterious Chinese American producer/singer Zhu. And despite worldwide acclaim two years later, little has changed. Choosing to release his music anonymously so that fans would focus on the music and not the person creating it, Zhu’s sound pulses with electronic grooves, future bass, and etheric vocals compounding most of the production. “Faded” is the Grammy-nominated song he released in February of 2014, while that year also saw the release of debut EP The Nightday with 2015 ushering in his collaborative EP Genesis Series. His most recent release “Generationwhy” is the first single off his upcoming project, which is expected to be released this year. Zhu’s live shows burn holes in your chest with blistering bass, blissful light shows, and deep house vibes that keep the party going ‘till the sun comes up. Or until security evicts you from Grant Park.