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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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Chicago Rocks!

Some say Chicago is the Windy City. Okay, first things first–it is not windy. It is damn cold at times, but not windy. It was thusly named for the blowhard politicians who took up residence here in the late 1800s. Which is odd, since Chicago is known for being a city where people don't sit around talking about what they're going to do–they just do it.

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Steve Albini: Black Magic

If '80s punk was about finding nothing sacred and everything profane, Chicago's Big Black was it. Steve Albini and Santiago Durango's guitar swordplay imitated the symphonies of the city's meatpacking houses, while bassist Dave Riley broke bones with each pluck. Their heartbeat was inhuman, with the locked rhythms of Roland drum machines igniting each salvo. And what really punctured the skin was Albini. His verses were snapshots of the Middle American wasteland: a bored slacker igniting himself for kicks, a dog trained to attack blacks, a Minnesota town running a child sex ring.

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