Studio Visit: Key Club Recording Company

Benton Harbor, Michigan, isn’t the first town that comes to mind for music recording. Yet the small community is home to Key Club Recording Company, one of the best and most beautiful studios in the Midwest, founded by producer/engineer duo Bill Skibbe and Jessica Ruffins.

Wild Belle

Q&A: Wild Belle on familial dynamics, schmoozing, and using loss as inspiration

Wild Belle: IslesWild Belle: Isles (Columbia, 3/12/13)

“Keep You”

Wild Belle: “Keep You”

Though eight years apart in age, siblings Natalie and Elliot Bergman have a long musical history. Whether playing together in church in their youth, hearing James Brown and Neil Young records from their parents, or soaking up influences on trips abroad, the two have a shared musical heritage that has manifested itself in Wild Belle, a multi-cultural pop project that was born from Natalie’s demos and rounded by Elliot’s professional experience in Nomo.

Isles, the group’s debut full-length, is a blend of pre-1980s reggae and rocksteady, dub, R&B, rock, and African influences, all held together by Natalie’s airy vocals and lovelorn lyrics. Here she speaks about familial dynamics, quickly signing to a major, and using loss as inspiration.

ALARM's 50 Favorite Songs of 2012

ALARM’s 50 (+5) Favorite Songs of 2012

Last month ALARM presented its 50 favorite albums of 2012, an eclectic, rock-heavy selection of discs that were in steady rotation in our downtown-Chicago premises. Now, to give some love to tunes that were left out, we have our 50 (+5) favorite songs of last year — singles, B-sides, EP standouts, soundtrack cuts, and more.

Wild Belle

“Mad about youth” in Wild Belle’s “Keep You”

Wild Belle: IslesWild Belle: s/t EP (Columbia, 9/18/12)

Siblings Natalie and Elliot Bergman (also of Nomo) are the duo behind Wild Belle, whose sultry, funky dub pop picked up buzz after the band’s stint at this year’s SXSW. Now, after a deal with Columbia, the Chicago-based group is preparing its major-label debut, Isles, to be delivered early in 2013.

In Tall Buildings

Concert Photos: In Tall Buildings @ Metro (Chicago, IL)

The solo project of NOMO multi-instrumentalist Erik Hall, pop-folk band In Tall Buildings played a hometown show recently at Metro in Chicago. Its most recent album, the self-titled In Tall Buildings, was released early last year on Whistler Records, and features layers of of dreamy bedroom pop, folk-guitar fingerpicking, and plenty of harmonizing. Contributing photographer Mandy Dempsey captured these images of the band.

In Tall Buildings


Concert Photos: NOMO, In Tall Buildings @ Schubas

NOMO: “Invisible Cities” (Invisible Cities, Ubiquity, 5/5/10)

NOMO: “Invisible Cities”

Contributing photographer David Sampson shot these photos at the recent NOMO show at Schubas. NOMO’s inventive Afro-jazz-rock sound spans so many styles and eras that it belies its contemporary Ann Arbor, MI origins. Meanwhile, opener In Tall Buildings (Chicago’s Erik Hall, also a member of NOMO) warmed the crowd up with his brand of stripped-down folk rock.

In Tall Buildings

What We’re Seeing Saturday: The Quin Kirchner Group

Featuring members of NOMO, Silences (Sumire), Zing! and Eastern Blok, this newly formed improvisational outfit features four young standouts in Chicago’s jazz, rock, and electronic scenes, relying less on freeform contrast and more on repeated melodies and apparent sections.

What We’re Doing This Weekend: Friday

Thirsty Ear recording artists Blink. are a beacon in the already-bright future of Chicago’s avant-jazz scene. Between holiday parties, some of us will sneak out to see the group’s grooving creations of hard-hitting alternative jazz.

Weekly Music News Roundup

Garage a Trois
Garage a Trois

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez announces a new solo album for Stones Throw; Saul Williams speaks about the aftermath of The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust; Garage a Trois announces tour dates and posts an album preview; Don Caballero returns to the Northeast, and much more.