Best Chicago albums | 2011 in review
The group’s 2011 debut, Gargoyle Days, storms heaven with superfuzz amps and the stadium shamanism of Perry Ferrell. Yeah, it owes a lot to Smashing Pumpkins and Jane’s Addiction. But have you heard what those dinosaurs have been coughing up lately?
I like when bands are two different beasts on record and onstage. Live, CAVE slays with the locked groove of "OJ," growling towards the horizon like the neverending chase in The Road Warrior. Yet, on the album, the hypnotic drumming steps back to let the organ have some. It's hard jazz.
3. The Eternals
Approaching the Energy Field
A disclaimer: My coworker, Areif, handles drums for the Eternals live. The duo continues to be a one-of-a-kind cocktail of rap, soul and reggae, Dischord punks hijacking the Sun Ra mothership. The space dub brought to mind the eccentric proto-rap of the '70s into, or if Lee Perry was lucid.
4. Tia London and the Legendary Traxster
She's out in L.A. now, but we're counting this local MC. London's no great lyricist, and leans too much on the Auto-Tune button, but her pop songs match braggadocio with breeziness. Traxster crafts impeccable beats. I'll take this homespun mixtape over Nicki Minaj's letdown.
Family & Friends
On his latest, the Chicago native shops at Menards, stubs his toe, deals with allergies, swallows Xanax with Sparks, gets divorced. Hell, his dog dies in “California.” Thank God. Hip-hop has enough nut grabbin’ and bottle poppin’ to go around.