Category: Audio

Listen to Retro Via's track "Western Sun" from forthcoming The Smoke & the Linger EP

Retro Via is a new project based in C-U, and they have a new record on the way, The Smoke & The Linger, which comes out this Saturday, May 16th. We're debuting a track here on Smile Politely this morning, "Western Sun", ahead of the release. You can stream it below.

In addition, read more about the band below, and while you're at it, check out their fundraiser for C-U Better Together, which provides aid and relief in a variety of capacities to families in the area.

From Retro Via:

Retro Via is the musical endeavor of five long-time friends from Central Illinois. With diverse backgrounds in music and genres, they spent a year devoted to songwriting and developing their sound together before recording their debut EP, The Smoke and the Linger (released in 2020). The five-piece band is made up of:

  • Vocalist & Guitarist - Jared Michael Prince
  • Lead guitarist - Jordan Van Wynen
  • Bassist & Vocalist - Bradlee Barcus
  • Drummer - Blaine Wright (of Year of the Bobcat and Earthholder)
  • Saxophone & Keyboardist - Brett Anderson

The Smoke and the Linger EP:

Retro Via's Debut EP, The Smoke and the Linger, is set to be released on May 16th. Recorded with local audio engineer Nolan Osmond, at LARGE and Earth Analog Studio, this 4 song album is only the introduction of what they hope to do!  With a combination of honest story-like lyrics and music that can rock socks off, you are sure to be left satisfied and smiling. Lyricist and vocalist Jared Prince said, "These songs deal a lot with all those THINGS that are hard for us to leave behind. So we carry it around, the good and bad things." For Retro Via, those stories have helped them create a great debut worth checking out!

IMAGE: Cover art for Retro Via's album the Smoke and the Linger. Provided by Retro Via.
​Artwork provided by Retro Via.

IMAGE: Album art featuring a woman in a white dress drinking from a glass, and a man smoking a cigar. The album art features a tracklisting as well. Photo provided by Retro Via.
Artwork provided by Retro Via.

Top image is album art provided by Retro Via.


Check out College of Fine and Applied Arts’ podcast, FAA Away

While we're under this stay-at-home order, and campus at U of I is quiet, College of Fine + Applied Arts has been publishing a series of interviews with various faculty and staff. FAA Away has published a few interviews so far, kicking off with Dr. Ollie Watts Davis, Suzanne and William Allen Professor of Music in our School of Music, and Director of U of I's Black Chorus. May 1st episode featured Prof. Lisa Gaye Dixon, which reminded me of this feature we published a few years ago. Head over and check out the series.

Photo is a screenshot from FAA's Black Chorus video.


RED shares new track “It’s My Body”

Key Perry's project RED released a new song called "It's My Body", which features a few other local musicians in Emily Anne, Ja Nelle Davenport-Pleasure, and Dai Minnenger. The song was released just a few days ago, supported by Urbana's Arts + Culture Program, mixed and recorded by Larry E. Gates (Curb Service, Lorenzo Goetz).

Stream the track below:

Photo from RED's Soundcloud page.


Champaign Is Also A Band podcast launches Little SIPS series

Just last week, Sven Johnson's podcast, Champaign Is Also A Band, launched an additional component of the operation called Little SIPS (Shelter In Place Series). Generally, the podcast is focused on highlighting local musicians and talking about what they are up to and what they are working on at any given time. Little SIPS is a bit different, and here's what Johnson said about it on his website ahead of the launch:

Little SIPS (Shelter In Place Series) is a series about coping and creating. In this daily podcast sven calls a past guest on the Champaign Is Also a Band to see how they are doing during the shelter in place order.  See if they have created anything new and if so, maybe share it at the end of the episode.

Remember to check in on each other, some of us are not OK. Thank you for your continued support everyone!

He's done episodes with members of Chickadee Sermon, Warm Darn, Primitive Lights, and several others so far, and seems to be churning them out at an impressive rate so far. You can get a new one pretty much every day.

Top image by Madelyn Lucille Witruk.


Take Care shares 32-minute track “the ticklish laughter of rats”

In celebration of 4/20, Take Care decided to release this stoner rock monster of a track, "the ticklish laughter of rats", yesterday on their Bandcamp page. The track was originally recorded in 2011 for Record Store Day with "in Luke's [Bergkoetter, drummer] basement with a tape recorder", marking their first release since their 2018 self-titled record came out.

Originally available on a casette tape for RSD, this is the first time the track has been available digitally. You can listen to the half hour music below, as well as pre-order a t-shirt if you'd like, which are now available for you to scoop up.

In case you missed it, last week Take Care and Avionics collaborated for these awesome mugs. 

Top image is the album art from the release, via Bandcamp.


Matt Talbott releases new demo “Way Up Here”

Matt Talbott (of HUM) has been writing and recording a bit during the COVID-19 pandemic's stay-at-home time, and he's released a demo of a track "Way Up Here", which you can stream below. He posted the 16-plus-minute track yesterday, and back in September, Talbott released "Sinister Webs" in a similar fashion. It seems that at some point, we will get an EP of some sort, if Talbott sees fit.

You can read more about the release below via his Bandcamp, and I've also included the Facebook post which discussses it a bit more:

Written and recorded during the Covid-19 quarantine on Thursday, April 16, in the late afternoon. The silence at the top of the song is intended. Give it time. Recorded live, first take. Lacking perfection in so many ways.

This is a fund raiser, of sorts, to help me cover ongoing mortgage, utility, and insurance obligations at my studio while it's closed. Gifts above the $2 asking price are thus thankfully accepted. Mostly, just thank you for listening. I hope this brings you some inner peace. And Happy Bicycle Day!

The air was full of wonder
But it would not transfer sound

Recorded live and hastily to 2" analog tape by the artist. It was a real fucking rodeo. Trust me.

Top photo from Matt Talbott's Bandcamp page.


Braid's Bob Nanna releasing debut solo record, Celebration States, in July

Bob Nanna is best known for his work in Braid and Hey Mercedes, and as Pitchfork explains in more detail, Nanna's first ever solo album under his own name will be released on July 10th. The record is called Celebration States, and although Nanna lives in Chicago now, there's no denying his ties to Champaign-Urbana make this worthy of some pub.

Nanna has released music in a variety of fashions throughout the years in addition to what I've mentioned above, more specifically The City of Film, Lifted Bells, and Jack & Ace.

Braid last performed in Champaign-Urbana in 2014 in Downtown Champaign at the one-time-only Mariposa Festival alongside PHOX, Common Loon, and a few others. I'd have to do some more digging to see when one of Nanna's other projects have performed here last, though he's performed at PYGMALION in various capacities outside of Braid's 2011 performance for the Polyvinyl 15 year anniversary celebration.

Stream a couple of new tracks from Celebration States below:

Top photo by Katie Hovland.


HUM's You'd Prefer An Astronaut released 25 years ago today

HUM's masterful record You'd Prefer An Astronaut was released by RCA 25 years ago today: April 11, 1995. There isn't much more I can say about the record that hasn't already been said by most anyone throughout the years. Simply put, this is one of the best rock records of all time by any act out there. Thankfully we are lucky enough to call HUM a pure Champaign-Urbana band.

John Steinbacher's 2012 piece about the record and the band ahead of their 2012 PYGMALION performance. I'd recommend reading The AV Club's article about the record being "an overlooked masterpiece" as well.

Listen to the record in full below in addition to a few other clips:

Top photo is the album art from the record.

Hogchute releases Hogchute Homestead Quarantine 2020 Mix

While Hogchute's summer installment, Hogchute Opry, is tentatively planned for June 6th, in the interim they've provided us with some tunes to get us through this COVID-19 time. Hogchute has compiled 15 songs from a variety of C-U acts that you can stream below, and if you want, chip in a few bucks to support the collective.

Read more about the release below from their Bandcamp page:

An offering of locally grown tunes compiled by the Hogchute Collective for your listening pleasure - 15 songs generously shared by veterans of past Opry events, as well as a few from folks who are on deck to play the next big barn dance. Hogchute Homestead features a small but mighty sampling of the music being made right here in the Champaign-Urbana area. Hopefully you'll be inspired to dive even deeper into the arts and culture of our twin cities and the surrounding region.

Any other Spring the Collective would be out booking and promoting shows in an effort to raise funds for the next Hogchute Opry, an annual event that takes place at the Kalyx Center for Sustainability in Monticello, IL. Seeing as how we won't be gathering in any of our favorite watering holes anytime too soon, we've done our darnedest to wrangle some consolation.

This mixtape will be here and available to stream free of charge, though if you should feel so inspired you may pay-what-you-want for a download of the entire compilation. Any and all funds received will go on to help produce the next Hogchute Opry, tentatively planned for June 6, 2020.  While the tracks heard here have been so kindly gifted by the artists, the Collective will be having them back time and time again to grace the stage in that beautiful barn. 

Hope to see y'all out there sooner than later - All the Best!


Little Black Spiders release new EP let's pretend this really happened

Little Black Spiders is a crunchy rock project made up of Scott Kimble (Terminus Victor), Lisa Powers, and Dave Domal. They've been playing more shows recently, well, before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out at least. They've dropped their new EP, let's pretend this really happened, which you can stream below. 

The band stated that for the month of April, all sales will be donated "to help support our friends who work at two local live music venues: Rose Bowl Tavern and Loose Cobra."

Top photo from Little Black Spiders' Facebook page.

Power of Dusk share new recordings, demo 2020

Punk/hardcore outfit Power of Dusk have released a new EP of demos, appropriately titled demos 2020, which you can stream now on Bandcamp. The tracks were recorded last fall by Mark Wyman at Earth Analog, mixed and mastered by Kris Di Benedetto.

Top photo from the demo's album art.

Buy local music on Friday when Bandcamp waives its revenue share on music sales

Earlier this week, Bandcamp announced they would be waiving their revenue share for music sales this Friday, March 20th from midnight to midnight Pacific Time. If you've had your eye on buying music generally through Bandcamp, this would be the opportune time to purchase something from any artist, as all of the funds will go directly to said artist on Friday.

While supporting artists is important, keep in mind there are a ton of acts in town that would really appreciate your support during this time, if you are able to do so. Basically all live music has been postponed for the time being, so there's no earning there. 

I've put together a non-comprehensive list of a bunch of recent local album releases from the last year or so. This sale goes for all album sales, not just recent ones like I've listed below. Just know that no matter what you buy, this is what's happening on Friday.

If you want to dive in even more, look no further than Bandcamp's Urbana and Champaign tags. That's how I find local music from time to time. Perhaps you can make someone's day by buying one of their albums through Bandcamp, or even some merch from their website, or giving them a shoutout on social media. 

Did I miss one that you'd like me to add to this list? No sweat, just email us at and I'm happy to add it. This list would go on forever if I kept going with local album releases.

Top photo from Bandcamp's website