Best Chicago albums | 2011 in review
1. Chris Connelly
The Reckless Records manager channels the rage of his Wax Trax! days with this ass-kicking indictment of iCulture, with some of Chicago's hardest hitters helping to hammer home the message.
2. Dead Rider
The Raw Dents
Warped art-rock from Todd Rittman's band of merry funksters, by turns creepy and catchy.
3. Daniel Knox
Evryman for Himself
A trip back in time to an era that never existed. The outsider pianist humors himself with absurdist waltzes and an acerbic wit.
Members of the Exploding Star Orchestra bring you that outfit's ambitious space-jazz in concentrated form, a cosmic swirl of punchy horns, glowing vibes and untamed drums that swing and skitter.
5. Bruce Lamont
Feral Songs For The Epic Decline
The Yakuza/Bloodiest/Led Zeppelin II singer's long awaited solo debut doesn't disappoint. Seven solitary meditations showcase Lamont's vocal overtones, acoustic guitar drones and cascading sheets of saxophone.
Disturbing the Air
Fragile and exposed, the former Scissor Girl's newest album is her most intimate yet. Stately piano chords frame a profound sense of loss.
7. Matt Ulery's Loom
Flora. Fauna. Fervor.
The second full-length from a chamber-jazz combo that lives up to its name. Ornate, instrumental tapestries are woven around bassist Ulery's handsome compositions.
Unsettling pop with just the right balance of sweet and sour that begs another listen before the needle's barely lifted.
9. The Singleman Affair
Silhouettes at Dawn
Clearly smitten with that bygone British acid-folk sound, Dan Schneider's lovely, sepia-toned song cycle bears the careful imprint of ex-Chicagoan Graeme Gibson.
Mesmerizing motorik jams that won't quit from a combo that continues to hone its craft. This is perfect driving music, especially if you can fit the band on the back of your flatbed truck.