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Syndrome: Curing Ailing Wardrobes

I've spent more weekends than I'd like to admit aimlessly wandering city streets, searching for the item that will both affirm my connection to and set me apart from the masses. It's part of the culture of the urban hunter/gatherer; it's as significant, in its own way, as whittling fertility figurines of soapstone may have once been.

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Watchers: The Punk-Funk Gospel

While New Yorkers boast about the excess of talented bands coming from their metropolis, it wasn't that long ago that Chicago represented the heliocentric center of the indie rock universe. And even though labels like Touch & Go, Thrill Jockey and Kranky are still releasing urgent and challenging music, ironically it's New Jersey label Gern Blandsten that's home to Watchers, one of Chicago's most compelling and genre-killing quintets.

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Hefty Records: Looking to the Future

What's not to love about a label bold enough to release records by jazz trombonist Phil Ranelin and dirty techno-meister T. Raumschmiere? Despite, or perhaps because of, brash eclecticism, John Hughes III's Hefty Records has cultivated a dedicated following in the fickle world of independent labels. This year, Hefty celebrates 10 years of releasing records by bands like Telefon Tel Aviv, Savath & Savalas and Hughes himself as Slicker.

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Pit Er Pat: Magic and Mystery

Pit Er Pat's music achieves a strange kind of alchemy. Their new album, Shakey (Thrill Jockey)–which follows last winter's mostly instrumental "Emergency" EP (Overcoat)–pieces layers of bass, drums and keyboards into a skittering tableau that flits between post-rock, free jazz and indie rock influences without pledging allegiance to one. The effect is calming and frenetic at once, and at times somber, thanks to the plaintive vocals of keyboardist Fay Davis-Jeffers. Read more » 

Pelican: New Millennium Metal

Lets get this out of the way: Pelican is a heavy metal band without a singer.

This has prompted journalists to create clever labels like "instrumetal" to describe them--and while such words aptly acknowledge broad themes in the music, they overlook the unique and defining characteristics of this band.

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