Category: Audio

Listen to “Sinister Webs”, a new recording by HUM’s Matt Talbott

Matt Talbott and HUM have been pretty busy as of late: Working on finishing up the new HUM record, Talbott going on solo tours, and HUM performing from time to time (this one is coming up soon). 

Talbott has released a rough cut of a new song "Sinister Webs (rough mix)", which will appear on his forthcoming album, due next Spring. The song was recorded by Steve Albini at Electrical Audio earlier this month. Check out Talbott on tour if you are able.

Here's what Talbott wrote on his Bandcamp page:

A fader up rough mix of one song from the forthcoming album. Recorded live to analog tape, with no overdubs and no processing at mix down. This is a fundraiser, of sorts, for further recording. Gifts above the $2 asking price are, thus, thankfully accepted. Full-length album coming in Spring 2020.

Album art from Talbott's Bandcamp page

Champaign MC Gatson is back with “Draft Day Prelude”

Champaign’s own Gatson — who we featured back in February— is back with a single ahead of his upcoming project, Draft Day.

Produced by TheLetterLBeats, “Draft Day Prelude” serves as a dedication to the project Gatson has been waiting to release for most of this year.

He raps, “they say I’m oh so underrated / I came up, elevated my city / we ‘bout to make it, this is the dedication.” You can stream “Draft Day Prelude” on Audiomack below, where it has racked up over 4,000 plays in the last couple days. It should be on all platforms soon.

Photo is album art for Gatson's single

Jarrel Young releases new album I'd Be Mad Too...

Local rapper Jarrel Young has released his new recoord I'd Be Mad Too... on August 22nd, which is his follow up full-length to last year's Millennial EP. You can stream the whole thing below, or find it on your streaming platform of choice, and check out the album art and tracklisting.

I'd Be Mad Too...

  1. The Benediction (feat. Caleb Mbuvi)
  2. Overthink
  3. Been Gone
  4. Timely Fashion (feat. Jay Moses)
  5. Fuego
  6. Big Shot
  7. 5th Dimension, Pt. 2 (feat. Chase Baby)
  8. Doin' to Me
  9. Thy Zen
Cover art by Lammardo Derfinci

Listen to Relevator’s new song “Marijuana & Chocolate Cake”

Relevator has released a new song, amazingly titled "Marijuana & Chocolate Cake", for the world to hear. You can listen to it streaming below, and stay tuned for our upcoming feature on the band in the coming weeks.

The band has a few upcoming dates lined up:

Photo by Emily McKown


Here’s a playlist of (almost) all the shows that came through C-U in May

Y'all, I did a weird thing. I went back through all the Overtures for the month of May (see here, here, here, here, and here), and then created a playlist on YouTube of as many of those artists as I could find. It's a messy list—some videos are only a single track, some are an entire set, some include interviews. Some are official music videos, some are live shows (I didn't record any of these, they're all just public access online). I picked YouTube as the platform because it presents the fewest access barriers—free for listeners and for artists. Songs are listed more or less chronologically, with the earliest shows in the month listed first and going along through the weeks. I didn't account for multiple performances—If an artist played more than once in May, I only included them once on the playlist. I didn't include them a  The biggest failing of this playlist is that I didn't go through each mini-festival or multi-artist show and include every single artist on the bill—but I encourage you to, if you want!
Some standouts for me (and their respective numbers are on the playlist) are:
This turned out to be really fun. It did two main things: reminded me of how much cool music is available to residents of C-U pretty much all the time, and also made me feel oceans of regret for missing some incredible shows. This wasn't meant to be an exercise of precision, exactly, but to get a general idea of the variety of music we have each month here in town, and to centralize a lot of that into one place to enjoy at-will.
Have fun listening, and if you're sad because I missed one of your favs, post a link and I'll be happy to add it.

U of I student allegedly eats fake Scantron in front of professor during final

Even if this video is totally fake, it is still funny and worthy of discussion as finals have come and gone at the University of Illinois. 

A lot of us have been there: The dreaded finals week, and you just can't wait to turn in your Scantron to finish up your course for the semester.

This form of examination is pretty much the worst, but many of us have been there. I've taken plenty of finals in Foellinger Auditorium, which is where a student at the U of I allegedly staged this prank on his professor: eating a Scantron form right in front of him.

UIUC sub-Reddit is full of gems, and this one popped up. A student had a recorder on his person to tape the interaction, where he allegedly ate his Scantron form in front of his professor (a fake, edible Scantron that he acquired), and subsequently asked to leave the building after he did just that.

I want this to be real. I really do. Even if it isn't, it is still funny. Watch the video below which explains what happened.

Top photo is a screenshot from the video

Audio / Link

Carly Beth releases debut demo

Carly Beth, a poppy, punky, girl-power-inspired group comprised of Kamila Glowacki, Isabel Skidmore, and Christine Pallon, has released their debut demo.

The three artists have been longtime collaborators on several different local projects (think Nectar and Spandrels), but Carly Beth is a relatively new project, forming just last summer. The demo was released May 31st on Rat King Records, recorded and mixed by Sean Neumann (Jupiter Styles) and mastered by Brandon Carnes (Looming). As their press release says:

"Once a summer side project with an uncertain future, Carly Beth now exists through these songs as a fully-formed, exuberant testament to the years of friendship and collaboration that inspired it in the first place."

Carly Beth has also announced spring tour dates:


And before you catch them in person, take a listen Sacramento, the first song on the new demo:


New Ruins' We Make Our Own Bad Luck released 10 years ago today

New Ruins were active in the late 2000s here in C-U, and their sophomore record We Make Our Own Bad Luck was released 10 years ago today. The album was featured on our best albums of the decade list, and is still an excellent listen. 

On WMOOBL, original duo J. Caleb Means and Elzie Sexton expanded to a five piece, featuring Paul Chastain, Roy Ewing, and Andrew Davidson — and today marks the 10 year anniversary, as it was released on Parasol on April 28, 2009.

Stream the record below:

Audio / Link / Word

Upcoming Balinese concert and performance highlights C-U’s musical diversity

I keep walking around saying to everyone who will listen that Champaign Urbana is a veritable hotbed of musical diversity, and here's a show that proves it. 

On Saturday April 27th, the Robert E. Brown Center for World Music is putting on a free public performance by the Balinese Gamelan ensembles at the Music Building Auditorium. Gamelan is a style of music from Indonesia, and is played by an ensemble, on several types of (primarily) percussive instruments (read a past Smile Politely article that talks more about gamelan here). Balinese Gamelan is characterized by quick changes in tempo, and complex rhythms that shift throughout the performance. The sounds are unfamiliar to many western ears, mine included, and are dynamic and interesting. Saturday's performers are directed by I Ketut Gede Asnawa.

Alongside the music, this performance will feature Balinese dance under the direction of Putu Oka Mardiani Asnawa. This year, performers are joined by I Nyoman Catra, one Bali's foremost masters of traditional Balinese topeng (masked) dance/theater. You can check out a video of topeng dancing here.

Even if you aren't able to make it to the performance, you should check out gamelan music. Below is a video of the UIUC Balinese gamelan and dance performance from 2015.


Common Loon releases new self-titled album

Earlier this week, dream pop/rock duo Common Loon awoke from bit of a slumber, issuing teasers for new music, releasing a new song "The Coup", and now they have released their long-awaited new record, Common Loon. This is the follow up from their 2010 release The Long Dream of Birds, which you can read our review of here

The band released the track "Harry Dean Stanton" back in 2013, which is featured on this record.

Common Loon is comprised of Robert Hirschfeld and Matthew Campbell, and they will perform for the first time in a handful of years at Record Store Day at Exile on Main Street on April 13th.

Album art and track listing below, and stream the whole thing here via their website.

Common Loon:

  1. Tuesday
  2. Radium
  3. Sitting in the Flames
  4. Radar Gun
  5. Automatic Skin
  6. Academy Smiles
  7. Heart and Soul
  8. Tired of Waiting
  9. Harry Dean Stanton
  10. Via Appia 
  11. The Coup
Audio / Link / Word

Rapper, actor, screenwriter, and social activist Tamer Nafar is coming to Allen Hall on Monday night

Palestinian rapper Tamer Nafar will be presenting My Life in Song for free on Monday night, which will include a performance and discussion in addition to Mediterranean/Levantine cuisine. This show is open to the public, and is an wonderful example of how rich and diverse the music scene in Champaign Urbana truly is.

Nafar grew up in the particularly turbulent town of Lyd (Arabic spelling; also known as Lod, Hebrew spelling), in Israel, and his experiences there have shaped his music and informed his activism. Monday’s show is an excellent opportunity to learn more about how Nafar has situated himself as an artist amid the relative chaos of national and international tension. You can check out his sound before the show on Spotify.

Tamer Nafar
Allen Hall
1005 W Gregory Dr
7 p.m.