On the Radar: This week in music included some new releases and a bombshell opinion about music from Chicago officials. But my mind’s been stuck on a charming band from California, the return of heavy metal titans, a pop icon, and a lovely Finnish band. Here are the top five things I’ve been obsessed with this week.
This Finnish rock band has been on my mind lately. While rifling through old music magazine, I found one with HIM frontman Ville Valo on the cover. Since then, this week has been nothing but playing their albums like Love Metal and Dark Shadows and Brilliant Highlights. But there hasn’t been much happening with the band since the release of their eighth studio album Tears on Tape in 2013. Valo and MGT recently did a cover of ABBA’s “Knowing Me Knowing You” and guitarist Linde released a new album with his side band Daniel Lioneye titled Vol 3.
Last year, long time drummer Gas Lipstick left the band stating he was ready to move on as a musician. HIM have since recruited Jukka ‘Kosmo’ Kroger as their new drummer. Otherwise, there hasn’t been anything new from the band in a while. Hopefully, this means they’re currently working on new music. I’ll keep listening to their albums until that announcement.
I’m not the biggest Metallica fan; I love classics like The Black Album and Master of Puppets, but I grew bored of the band by the time they released Death Magnetic. So when Metallica dropped their new single “Hardwired” last week, I wasn’t expecting much. With everyone raving about it, I decided to take a listen. And holy crap is it awesome. With this song, Metallica are back to take their reign as heavy metal giants. It’s furious, raging, and raw – what Metallica fans have been waiting for. The new track comes from the band’s upcoming double album Hardwired…to Self Destruct, out November 11th. With such a promising lead single, let’s hope the rest of the album is kick ass.
I’ve been obsessed with this band ever since I first saw them open for Blaqk Audio back in May. Hailing from California, Night Riots began their music career as PK. They released their debut album, Into the Roaring, in 2010. But it wasn’t until a name change and a sound shift that made the band stand out. Their 2015 EP Howl pushed them into the spotlight along with catchy lead single “Contagious.” And haven’t stopped listening to it since. Their music is fun, upbeat, and makes you want to dance. According to an interview they did with Fuse a couple of months ago, a new album is coming in October. For now, they released their new single “Nothing Personal,” which is receiving major airplay on alternative radio. Night Riots will be playing Riot Fest on September 17. Keep your eye on this band; they’re about to do big things.
Music = art; not according to Chicago
The Double Door isn’t the only venue that’s in trouble this year. Apparently, plenty of smaller venues around the city, like Beauty Bar and Evil Olive may have to pay up to $200,000 in back taxes. Why is that? Because these places aren’t exempt from the amusement tax according to Chicago officials. Cook county collects a three percent tax on admission fees for “live theatrical, live musical, or other live cultural performances.” Venues with a capacity of less than 750 are usually exempt from the tax. The reason these smaller venues will have to pay is the Cook County Board doesn’t classify DJs, rock, and rap music as art.
“Rap music, country music, and rock ‘n’ roll do not fall under the purview of ‘fine art,'” a county official insisted, which is surprising considering some of the biggest artists like Kanye West, Smashing Pumpkins, and Chance the Rapper all call Chicago home. Many are hoping this decision will be struck down in court because, frankly, it’s ridiculous. Why do artists and fans have to continually defend music as an artform? It’s especially damning for these small venues, who could shut down if they can’t pay up. Want to know how to help? You can always contact your commissioner and let them know how important these small venues are. And while you’re at it maybe you can help them rethink their stance on music.
Michael Jackson‘s birthday is this Monday, August 29th. I started the celebration a little early this week by listening to my favorite Jackson deep cuts. The late King of Pop would’ve turned 58 years old this year. I’m not the only one celebrating. On August 27th, Spike Lee will hold a Michael Jackson block party in Brooklyn dubbed “Brooklyn Loves Michael Jackson.” In its sixth year, the party is hosted by Sway and DJ Spinna will play hot tunes all day long. Lee held a similar party for Prince earlier this year. More information on the party can be found here. If you’re not in Brooklyn, you can still celebrate. Watch your favorite Jackson videos or dust off the Thriller vinyl. I’ll be watching Moonwalker for about the 30th time.