The classic Smoking Popes lineup releases its first full-length in nearly two decades | Gossip Wolf | Chicago Reader

The classic Smoking Popes lineup releases its first full-length in nearly two decades 

Plus: Not-quite-retired Chicago rapper E.C. Illa reissues two old Kanye collabs, and SoFar Sounds celebrates Pivot Gang cofounder John Walt.

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click to enlarge The Smoking Popes lineup on Into the Agony: Matt Caterer, Josh Caterer, Mike Felumlee, and Eli Caterer - JARET FERRATUSCO
  • The Smoking Popes lineup on Into the Agony: Matt Caterer, Josh Caterer, Mike Felumlee, and Eli Caterer
  • Jaret Ferratusco

Nineties Chicago pop-punk favorites the Smoking Popes reunited in 2005, but they haven't made a full-length with their "classic" lineup—brothers Eli, Josh, and Matt Caterer and drummer Mike Felumlee—since the 2001 covers album The Party's Over. On Friday, October 12, though, they release Into the Agony via Asian Man and throw a free meet-and-greet at Bucket O' Blood Books and Records. Guitarist Eli Caterer says, "It's the most natural and inspired album we've made since getting the band back together, which has a lot to do with Mike rejoining on drums." At the party 350 Brewing will give away beer and prizes, and the band will sell the new album and rare Popes records from Eli's stash. On Sunday, November 4, the Popes open for Jawbreaker at the Aragon.

Since leaving the game in 2008, renowned local rapper E.C. Illa has been quiet as a sphinx, releasing only the rare guest verse and a 2017 comp of old material called Seeds, Stems & Gems. But last week he dropped a signed white-vinyl seven-inch of "Strugglin'" b/w "Mask & a Pump," both of which are 2002 collaborations with Kanye West. Available only via his website, the record includes a custom 45 turntable adapter and a cassingle of "Beautiful (I Used to Love H.E.R. Pt. 2)," a new cut from local rapper Griffen with a typically swaggering verse from Illa.

On Friday, October 12, SoFar Sounds Chicago and rapper-singer L.A. VanGogh present a benefit for arts nonprofit the John Walt Foundation, established in memory of Pivot Gang singer-rapper Walter Long Jr. SoFar Sounds' Chicago chapter often works with local hip-hop acts, and Long (aka Dinner With John) was scheduled to make his SoFar debut the day after he was stabbed to death in February 2017. SoFar hosts shows in unconventional spaces, and tells only ticketholders where; to apply for a spot, visit bit.ly/s_walt. The benefit doubles as a release party for VanGogh's Everything Is Subjective: Episode 2.  v

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