Lars Gotrich

Bill MacKay's become a stealth fixture on the Chicago music scene over the last decade and change. The guitarist deftly glides through folk, experimental rock and jazz in his band Darts & Arrows and has worked with everyone from Fred Lonberg-Holm and members of Bitchin' Bajas to a blossoming creative partnership with with Ryley Walker — they released an album of guitar duets in 2015.

GAS isn't really meant for the club, but that's where I first heard it — a cavernous basement was hosting a night of experimental music, the definition of which was determined by the DJ. It sounded and felt like a symphony buried underground, beats programmed from a different galaxy. Pop didn't change the landscape of ambient music — it evolved its purpose, its tone, its movement.

Call it math-pop, technical sugar-pop, J-punk, jazzy post-rock — whatever it is, the Kyoto-based Tricot makes sophisticated music that's as sweet and bubbly as soda. The band has self-released two albums in Japan, but is now getting some stateside shine from Topshelf with the simply titled 3. Here's the closing track "Melon Soda" — it's a compact piece of pop wizardry that finds hooks in weird corners, and someone should sync it up to the fizzy lifting drink scene from Willy Wonka already.

Buildings' noise-rock is like a burrito supreme sprayed across the windshield: gross, hilarious, awesome. On its third album, You Are Not One Of Us, the Minneapolis trio has become far more adept at wrapping its angular riffs around punk, noise-rock and post-hardcore with a certain amount of dexterity. Buildings' have a bit of that Jesus Lizard nastiness, but with the determined backbone and heady chops of Dazzling Killmen.

Bands reunite and it's not really a big deal anymore. Pavement's done it, like, 12 times already. Chicago's Riot Fest has made a regular habit of bringing back the '80s and '90s year after year, and scored some nice coups (The Replacements, Glenn Danzig with Misfits, among them). But here's one that no one in the punk scene saw coming: Jawbreaker.

Pages