Clay Frankel of Twin Peaks on a band that sounds like a wise cosmic organism | In Rotation | Chicago Reader

Clay Frankel of Twin Peaks on a band that sounds like a wise cosmic organism 

Plus: Publicist Jacob Daneman on a rediscovered musician who’s not what he seems, Reader intern Andrea Michelson on a Chicago jazz singer who’ll break your heart, and more

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A Reader staffer shares three musical obsessions, then asks someone (who asks someone else) to take a turn.

click to enlarge Sarah Marie Young - COURTESY THE ARTIST
  • Sarah Marie Young
  • Courtesy the artist

Andrea Michelson, Reader digital reporting intern

Euphoria soundtrack HBO's Euphoria has been keeping me up at night, and I was sad to see the first season end. Its soundtrack has stuck with me ever since the season finale. Maybe it's because "Mount Everest" and "All for Us" (both by Labrinth, with Zendaya featured on the latter) conjure memories of the show's endless drama and trippy visuals. Even if you haven't seen Euphoria, the intensity of these songs sets the perfect backdrop for a tough workout or study session.

Sarah Marie Young I saw Sarah Marie Young at a Sofar Sounds show in Wicker Park last month, and she blew my mind. Young is a jazz singer, and her classical training is evident in her tight runs and impeccable pitch. But what stood out about her then and continues to impress me now is her vulnerability. She bared her heart with "Dream," an original song about a past breakup, and a beautifully angsty rendition of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Have You Ever Seen the Rain."

  • Sarah Marie Young performs "Dream" at a Sofar Sounds show in July.

Still Woozy For months now, Oakland one-man band Sven Gamsky, aka Still Woozy, has been one of my go-to artists to listen to on shuffle. My current earworms are singles "Lucy" and "Wolfcat," but his more recent Lately EP also has some solid jams. The only thing I love more than Gamsky's silky voice is the wonderfully weird art on his albums, which belongs in the MCA.

Andrea is curious what's in the rotation of . . .

click to enlarge An original cassette cover of Hailu Mergia's Wede Harer Guzo
  • An original cassette cover of Hailu Mergia's Wede Harer Guzo

Clay Frankel, singer and guitarist in Twin Peaks

Hailu Mergia & Dahlak Band, Wede Harer Guzo One of the best things I've ever heard. It puts me in a trance. It has that sweaty and cramped but spirit-soaring sound of great music recorded cheap. It sounds less like a band and more like an organism—some wise and peaceful thing, like an orb of light or a colorful slug. There's horns and chants and this incredible organ that sounds like it's falling down a hill on an endless slope, rolling on and on. The title track feels like the explanation to a great cosmic secret that I'll only understand when the time comes.

Various artists, Driftless Dreamers in Cuca Country, Vol. 2 This is the second Numero Group collection of country songs recorded by obscure Wisconsinites in the 60s. Short sincere spells uttered long ago by forgotten singers. Songs about evil hippies, the bottle, the river, the road. Some have no titles. One song has no credit at all, which is exciting. It adds to the ghostlike charm of this album. Who are these people? Who is Nancy Lee Jordan? And how come she makes me cry?

Monsieur Jeffrey Evans & His C.C. Riders, "The Long, Long Ballad of the Red-Headed Girl" Maybe it's just a drunken ramble signifying nothing. Or it could be the ax for the frozen sea within us. It makes me feel like a winged creature, powerful yet outcast. The song's story is murky: a drug addict, a girl, somebody dies, the girl gets older, somebody marries . . . I haven't figured it all out yet. I don't play this a lot because I'm afraid it might burn out, so I pick my moments. Puts me in a hell of a mood.

Clay is curious what's in the rotation of . . .

click to enlarge The album New York musician Jed Smith made as the fictional Mick Trouble
  • The album New York musician Jed Smith made as the fictional Mick Trouble

Jacob Daneman, music publicist at Pitch Perfect PR

Mick Trouble, . . . Here's the Mick Trouble LP Part of me doesn't want to give away this album's secret, but in a way the inside scoop makes it even more impressive. This is a current project by New Yorker Jed Smith, who invented Mick Trouble as a Television Personalities-esque late-70s/early-80s "lost artist." He gave Trouble a backstory, a musical arc, and a clear style. So many reissue labels claim to have discovered amazing overlooked musicians lost to time, but few people can claim to have invented one.

Edu Lôbo, Edu Lôbo Brazilian songwriter and composer Edu Lôbo released this masterpiece (also called Missa Breve) in 1973. It's incredibly eclectic, with soaring choirs, horn sections, and vocal and instrumental experimentation, but it's rooted in his artistic origins in the world of bossa nova. It's a revelation (no pun intended, despite songs called "Kyrie" and "Glória"), and I'd put it up against Sgt. Pepper's any day of the week.

Various artists, AK79 When this compilation was released in 1979, punk had recently made its way to New Zealand (before the Internet, these things sometimes took a minute), inspiring Auckland to present its own version of angry disaffection. It's a snapshot of New Zealand's independent scene, and features (among many amazing forgotten acts) one of the first appearances of Chris Knox's art-punk band Toy Love—along with his previous group, the Enemy, they were like the Sex Pistols or Velvet Underground of NZ, inspiring the formation of a hundred other bands.  v

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