Chicago can so often get lost in the shuffle. Though it may not be as big of a musical market as New York, Los Angeles, or London in terms of the presence of large venues (we’ve resorted to having our football and baseball fields double as those) or major record labels, its spark is forever ignited by the rich presence of fantastic local musicians — and each are incredibly talented in a manner that is distinctively their own. While Chicago boasts an abundance of talent — far too many to name, in fact — the five bands highlighted here are not only wonderful in their own right, but serve as launchpads through which to delve into all the artistry Chicago has to offer. Indulge your ear in their work, but keep exploring, too; Chicago offers such a vibrant sonic landscape to the point where scratching the surface certainly gets one far, but simply isn’t enough.
Capital Soirée has cultivated a distinctive sound that masterfully blurs the line between rock and iridescent pop, resulting in a sense of lightness that is also by no means delicate either. This distinctive sound pairs well with their refreshingly candid lyrics, which results in a combined sense of richness and humanity meeting the ear.
Post Animal’s music is so encompassing because it is effortlessly invigorating. If their music were to take the form of a physical work of art, it would have every hue, tone, and texture present on the canvas – and that’s a testament to how much detail and variation Post Animal is able to fit within a singular track alone. The result of this is a discography in which each track refreshingly diverges from one another, yet is uniform in its resplendent and prolific nature. Post Animal infuses an indescribable spark within the landscape of contemporary rock music, and what results is a sound that is distinctively their own.
The Evening Attraction
The Evening Attraction has a sound that is permeated with a sense of energy and timelessness. Between their inherently impressive vocal work and jaunty guitar riffs, their music becomes an insatiably addictive listen for all who are lucky enough to revel within it. The Evening Attraction’s music is nuanced and bright without removing their pulse on lyrical realism (see “The End Of The World, Again”), and that is precisely what makes them hard to forget.
Grapetooth is a modern relic, and that’s precisely what makes them so much fun. Their sound is peppered with a healthy dose of new wave, yet their own artistic identity is not dissolved within this – rather, it is embellished. This is largely in part due to the fact that one seldom hears a sound – one at such a notable caliber of detail and richness – of this nature come from a duo. Yet, Grapetooth has done as such successfully, and that is precisely what makes their music special.
NE-HI couples powerfully introspective lyrics with delectable guitar hooks, and the result is something that exudes an effortless sense of beauty. The beauty, of course, stems from the fact that the aforementioned combination is refreshingly raw; it wraps around the heart like a boa constructor and squeezes absolutely everything out of it. NE-HI’s music – nearly every track, in fact – splits open the soul in its own distinctive way. It overflows with humanity and heart, which makes their work inherently distinctive.