Artist Of The Week: Blaqrock Reigns In A New Era With Their New Single Mass Appeal

Ever since releasing their hit EP NO LOVE FOR BLAQKID back in 2018, Chicago rap-rock band Blaqrock have established themselves as a force to be reckoned with on the local scene. Having performed at some of the biggest indie venues in the city, Metro and Cubby Bear just to name a couple, this band has garnered as much clout as anyone. And what is even more impressive is how they have done it in such a short time span.

Back on August 2 Blaqrock closed the door on the NO LOVE FOR BLAQKID era with the release of their new single MASS APPEAL. This gem of a track possesses the same passion and energy as the material on their debut EP, except here everything is turned up a notch. In between the explosive cohesiveness of the rhythm section and lead singer, Gardner McFadden‘s feverishly intense vocal performance, Blaqrock has shown a great deal of growth and progression.

The passion and energy I spoke on before translated into an unbelievable live set at the MASS APPEAL single release party back on August 1 at HVAC Pub. Though it was a Thursday night and they did not go on until almost midnight, the venue was packed full of Blaqrock enthusiasts anxiously awaiting the arrival of their new single. There was a certain energy in the air and they tapped into it from the very beginning of their set.

Right around midnight with the crowd standing shoulder to shoulder in eager anticipation, drummer Danny Delgado let it rip on the opening drum hits to MASS APPEAL. What took place over the next four-plus minutes can only be described as magical. Every drum hit from Danny Delgado‘s kit was jaw-crushing. Every note from Myles Bacon‘s guitar was a searing streak of light penetrating your soul. Austen Goebel‘s poignant bass playing was a gentle staccato hum you can feel at the bottom of your feet. And of course, Gardner McFadden’s frenetic vocals strike you to the core to the point of numbness.

Between the intensity of Blaqrock’s performance and how the crowd reacted, the noise levels at HVAC bordered on deafening. There are not too many artists who can accomplish that on a random after hours show on a hot, muggy August night but Blaqrock showed that they are more than capable. For this reason, if you follow the Chicago scene, then I can guarantee you that Blaqrock is an artist you most certainly will not want to sleep on.

“Mass Appeal” is now available on all platforms.

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Woman Crush Wednesday: Nicole Amine

AJ Abelman Photography

Detroit and Chicago have a lot in common when it comes to music, most significantly through techno and house music origins. Today we recognize our connection through the talents of an ambitious blues player residing in Chicago. Coming from our neighbors across Lake Michigan, Nicole Amine establishes her sound in Chicago after growing up on the sounds of Motown, Soul and Rock and Roll music. Originally studying at Columbia College to earn a degree in vocal performance, like the Rolling Stones, she began to explore her love for Chicago Blues music, which turns out to become a heavy influence in her own.

Starting out releasing cover tracks from artists like the Temptations and Amy Winehouse especially, giving justice to a very talented voice; Nicole’s voice is just as strong. Following up with a couple of demos, shortly after as she gets more comfortable as an artist. Working her way through solo performances Nicole organizes a band and really gets the fire starting, performing in random venues in Chicago. In a short period of time this student & listener of music establishes a foundation and presence in Chicago’s local music scene.

After finding her band and perfecting her sound she debuts with her single WINE SONG, giving us a real glimpse of Nicole’s creativity. Following WING SONG she comes up with NEED THAT SOUND and TRAPPED, both can stand on their own as well. Reaching further Nicole pursues bigger spotlights from the stage and enters in NPR Tiny Desk contest and had a performance on Sofar Chicago. Her ambition to be her best self through vocal education, challenging herself onto bigger stages with original singing, songwriting and guitar playing lands her at this weeks spotlight for Woman Crush Wednesday. You can expect more new music from her in 2020 so follow her progress in the links below!

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Header Photo AJ Abelman Photography

Throwback Thursday: Happy Birthday to Verdine White; Long Time Bassist of Earth, Wind and Fire.

The year is 1951 on the 25th of July. The bassist Verdine White, who is most known for playing with Earth, Wind, and Fire, was born in Chicago Illinois. Verdine White is ranked as being the no. 27th all time bass player by Bass Player’s List of the 100 Greatest Bass Players of All Time. He started playing with Earth, Wind, and Fire at the age of seventeen due to his older brother Maurice White being the founder, main record producer, and co-lead singer. Today his net worth is over 10 million dollars. These are the types of success stories that define Chicago music and culture in history.

In an interview with Microphone Check with Frannie and Ali, Verdine White got to sit down with the platform to give a little insight into the history of himself and the great band that became Earth, Wind, and Fire. His older brother Maurice and Ramsey Lewis originally were going to name the band Salty Peppers (Salt N Peppa ended up being a thing years later ironically enough) until Maurice decided to name the band after his astrological chart which did not contain the element water. It only had earth, air, and fire; Maurice decided to rename air to wind. And thus a legendary band is born.

According to Verdine White his older brother Maurice instilled a foundational sound and musicality in the group through his extensive study of Miles Davis and John Coltrane. He credits Maurice with his and the entire bands legacy and success. Verdine White’s father was a saxophonist and a drummer by passion and a doctor by trade. He instilled an attitude of strict proper musicianship in his sons according to Verdine. Maurice was ten years older than Verdine elder and the two technically did not start playing together till they were out in California.

Verdine says Maurice was always encouraging and always took him seriously although, Verdine was not ready to keep up with his brother for years. One day Maurice told Verdine, “I need you at the studio in case the bass player doesn’t show up“. Even though the bass player did show up that day, the energy that Maurice wanted to give Verdine and uplift his little brother as a musician was definitely there! Even though it took years for Verdine White to end up playing with his beloved brother, that is now past on, from age ten onward Verdine’s life has been nothing but music.

It was interesting to read about his experiences in Chicago through the 60’s, according to him music related things were happening constantly. Whether Verdine was practicing to keep up with his brothers and father, attending shows with his mother, putting on events for Maurice, or just studying and learning from his older contemporaries, Verdine was always entrenched within the culture of Chicago music. And to me the most awesome fact is that, according to Verdine, he was completely sober and focused through his teen years due to what was required of him as a musician. He did not party, he did not do drugs, there was only one thing he had to do back then and that was play music. Happy birthday to a real Chicago legend, Verdine White of Earth, Wind, and Fire!

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Artist Of The Week: The Mild West Band

One of the things find most exciting about being a music fan is continuously discovering brand new artists. The most recent addition to that list is Chicago pop-rock band The Mild West. They just dropped an instant hit with their debut single entitled ORANGE GROVE, which is why they are this week’s Artist of the Week. On ORANGE GROVE The Mild West show a great deal of musical cohesiveness as the instrumentalists move steadily as a unit. The pulse of the song is consistent as it is contagious. This is definitely a song you can get down on the dance floor to. Lyrically The Mild West show a great deal of maturation as well. Despite the carefree, poppy aesthetic, ORANGE GROVE is a poetic tale that paints a vivid portrait of a growing love story. The lines are pensive and contain a logical flow. Though they only have one single out The Mild West is definitely a band to watch on the Chicago scene in the coming years. The Windy City has a rich history of commercial music and The Mild West look like they will surely help carry on that tradition. In a city whose music scene is as crowded as Chicago’s, it is surely exciting that bands such as The Mild West are coming up with their own sound in 2019. “Orange Grove” is now streaming on all platforms.

The Mild West Band | Facebook

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Love Lost and Unlovable

Power metal and Hip Hop cross over? What?! Who would of thought a Chicago based Thrash/Power metal band would be influenced by hip hop? Well let me tell you! Love Lost, a new south side band formed by Bryan Anthony, Alex Corral, Kevin Gecan, Ed Messina, and Damen Lewis. They have a sound specifically targeted for Hip Hop, Hardcore, and Thrash listeners. The Hip Hop and Metal sound has been relatively outcasted due to its sub genre flex but been part of the best for three decades now, even if the resulting collision between the genres have not always been spectacular.

Only time can tell though the quick response Love Lost has been getting is crazy. Lead vocalist Bryan Anthony says “I feel like the when you cross Hip-Hop over to any music it makes it more interesting. Its something that you have to really dig into the culture to understand and feel apart from the music. You could always tell when someone knows their roots and been around it all their life. When it’s genuine it is one of the most powerful styles of music if not the most“. Anthony has also stated that his huge influences stem from Triple 6 Mafia, Method Man, Onyx, Dr. Dre and a lot of other heavy hitting rappers and emcees from back in the day.

Love Lost is a band about a heartbreak for the listeners to relate and connect to and stand for being yourself yet having a passion for the music. Respectively they generate a new wave of fans from all over because some of the members have had the privilege to tour all the US and other countries including Belgium, Germany, Austria, Denmark through former bands. Anthony says,”One of the most rewarding parts of touring the world have been seeing the culture of music in general. My favorite places were New York, Puerto Rico, California, London, and Germany. It was very influential and definitely key moments in my life as these places have such rooted hardcore and hip hop history”. Love Lost currently has no upcoming shows but they did release a music video that can be found on the HARDCORE WORLD WIDE on youtube and have an album titled Sleep Well set to release the first quarter of 2019.

Thursday 12pm Eastern time Unlovable(Sleep Well) ft Alex Of MALEVOLENCE on Worldwide Underground“Looking back you covered tracks I should have known better by nowYou held me back there’s nowhere to turn but downLove is deceit so please just let me be I hope you sleep wellWhile I’m coping and burning in hellBrain is straight anguish my feelings relentlessAlone by myself and god damn it’s depressingI never felt so disposable When I look at you I FEEL LIKE IM UNLOVEABLE”

Posted by Love Lost on Tuesday, November 27, 2018

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Jamila Woods & NE-HI Surprise

It is not often occurrence when hip hop and soul meets rock and roll but when its done right it is an extraordinary combination of sound and style. Not surprisingly the endlessly talented Jamila Woods involved herself with the Chicago rock group NE-HI to recreate The Times I’m Not There. Previously never working together before Jamila and NE-HI had a mutual interest in each others music. There is more significance to this work than ears can hear.

This song chosen is from NE-HI’s first LP. The two being from Chicago they agreed upon giving the money raised from the song to charity that empowers youth through creative means created by Chance the Rapper named SocialWorks. They all got to talking with Sterogum about the collaboration and shared some words on their experiences. Jamila, coming back from BLK Wednesday & John Walt Day, gave outstanding performances over Thanksgiving weekend that may have topped her LSD video release viewing, treating the crowds to unreleased music. Keep ears open from new music from both these locals.

James Weird of NE-HI On collaborating with Jamila:

We spent some time this summer reimagining the arrangement and rhythmic approach to “The Times I’m Not There”, a song from our first record. The idea was to explore new melodies and textures to shape around the guitar hook and find a different voice to take the song somewhere else. Jamila Woods, being the amazing vocalist that she is, came on and completely led the song into a new life. After tampering around with the edit for a while, what started as an experiment turned out to be a memorable song and recording process. Shout out to Jamila Woods, Dave Vettraino on production, and Dee Lilly on the keys! This being a project between two Chicago artists, we wanted to give all the proceeds back to young people in the city through the arts empowerment charity, SocialWorks

Jamila on NE-HI:

I had a great time working on the song with NE-HI, we had never worked together before but I really like their sound and it was fun to collaborate during the process. I think it’s dope that they chose to partner with SocialWorks for the release

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NE-HI | Soundcloud

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White Mystery Played My Hand [Music Video]

White Mystery is quite the talented duo from Chicago. The siblings Alex and Francis White Recently released a stop motion music video for their track Played My Hand. For those of you not too familiar with stop motion, this method requires a lot of time and patience. The track comes from their recent album Fuck Your Mouth Shut. Marking their 8th studio album the two make it a goal to release one once a year on April 20th – 4/20. This only highlights one aspect of White Mystery.

Priding themselves on DIY projects these couple of artists take on every aspect of their music career on their own. From self management, booking shows, press and marketing. Chicago’s Rock n’ Roll has a pair of creative titans in their midst. Even more some, Alex and Francis been running a podcast interviewing local Chicago artists playing video games, music and talking about whats important. All this on top of creating new music every year. If you are looking for any inspiration, you gotta take some notes from these indie rock experimentalists.

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My Gold Mask – Dissipate [Music Video]

My Gold Mask releases a this colorful piece of visual media for track off their forthcoming album Anxious Utopia. Dissipate is their second video release and preview of their forthcoming album generating a lot of anticipation here in Chicago. And industrial pop rock track with a dark breakdown building the anticipation for Anxious Utopia Filming and editing the video must have been fun; who doesn’t like tossing paint at anyone in reverse. My Gold Mask had released another abstract music video for Battles, earlier in September, also to be released on the new LP. These guys are on the rise, so keep your tabs on them!

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DualStyles – Dispute the Difference

Straight out of Chicago Dualstyles comes loaded with the 12 track album Dispute the Difference. True to their name they express their creativity through a fusion of genres. Combining heavy metal, rap and electronic music production, tracks like More Power, End of an Empire, War Machine and Below the Line really stand out in terms of genre bending. While tracks like Impulse represents the metal genre in its fullness. This band definitely has some extraordinary talent that brings something new to the table. You can catch more of their experimental sound live as they perform around Chicago and are currently participating in Battle of the Bands; heading into the second round.

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