Today's post casts a spotlight on three outstanding albums from Chicago-based musicians who definitely fall into the "ones to watch" category. There is so much impressive, groundbreaking music coming from The Windy City that's worth sharing. If you're a regular reader, then you might already have become a fan or follower of other Chicago-based artists featured on this blog. The three albums featured here today - all available on vinyl - are ones that have been taking up regular residence on my turntable over the past few months.
Gia Margaret - There's Always Glimmer (Orindal Records)
Ladies first ... we take a look at the debut album from alternative/indie singer-songwriter Gia Margaret. There's Always Glimmer (Orindal Records) is one of those long plays that's introspective, gentle and timeless. In ten years, this extraordinary release will sound as fresh, impressive and original as it does today. I was first introduced to Gia Margaret's music when she recently opened for Adam Torres at Chicago's Schuba's Tavern. Wearing white after Labor Day, it was a magical evening of taking in a series of Gia's authentic, graceful, heartfelt compositions. Beyond standout track "Birthday", There's Always Glimmer is one of the most striking and honest lo-fi acoustic albums I've heard all year - music in which you can get lost and simply chill. Gia Margaret is definitely going places in the indie music scene.
Jess Robbins - Lightfield (self-released)
Lightfield is the beautiful, cinematic new album from indie/dream folk musician Jess Robbins. Packed full of melodic, atmospheric vocals, solid compositions, and spacious, introspective soundscapes, this is one of the most pleasant indie listens I've discovered this year. Standout tracks include the delicate, stripped down "Dream Alone", progressively upbeat "No Shore In Sight" and sweet, acoustic downtempo closing track "Waiting." The impressive Lightfield positions Jess Robbins as a promising, up-and-coming indie musician on which to keep your eyes and ears focused.
In Tall Buildings - Akinetic (Western Vinyl)
In Tall Buildings is the musical project of Michigan-based (formerly Chicago-based) indie musician Erik Hall. What's most impressive to me is the fact that this band is actually a one-man show. The new album, Akinetic (Western Vinyl) and both of In Tall Building's previous albums - Driver (2015), In Tall Buildings (2010) - are written, performed and produced by Erik. I've had a chance to catch two recent In Tall Buildings performances - one in which Erik was accompanied by additional musicians to reproduce the full sound and production as we hear on his albums, and another in which Erik performed solo. Both were equally as impressive! My favorite tracks on Akinetic include "Overconscious", "Curtain", "Days in Clover" and "Akinetic."
And, if you like what you hear on Akinetic, mark your calendar for mid-November when In Tall Buildings releases Akinetic (Altered), comprised of six new renditions of songs from Akinetic which have been reworked by a few of Erik’s closest friends, collaborators, and revered contemporaries.
All three of these albums are available on crisp, heavyweight, hold-it-in-your-hands vinyl. If you're an audiophile with a turntable, I'd definitely recommend picking up the vinyl releases of each of these stunning albums for a complete listening experience.