Check out Chicago’s Mandy & the Bandits

It’s that time of the year–barbecues, beers, and a game of bags. And if you’re looking for a soundtrack to your splendid afternoon, check out Mandy & the Bandits.

This Chicago group is coming off their first tour of select Southern and Midwestern states, spreading the sounds from their latest release, When Darkness Glows. You’ll find some bluegrass and country, spots of jazz, and rock and roll; all accompanied with airy vocals and executed with purposefully loose precision.

Amanda Crumley pieced together Mandy & the Bandits, forming a talented crew of seven musicians, and two special guests including Nick Ascher, who provides an effortless pedal steel. For many bands, such a large group presents problems. Mandy & the Bandits, on the other hand, thrive.

When Darkness Glows showcases Mandy & the Bandits’ versatility, and deep commitment to their own style. Country can be a tough sell around here. But having already played some of Chicago’s best venues (Martyr’s, Uncommon Ground, Jerry’s), we expect Mandy & the Bandits to keep turning heads, and tapping toes.

Have a listen below to Heartless Man.

L’anarchiste: New Sounds From … Utah

Quick–name your favorite band from Utah.

That’s a not-so-original way of saying that The Beehive State isn’t exactly like Seattle, or LA when it comes to producing well-known musicians. Not yet.

L’anarchiste is looking to change that, and quickly. The name translates to “the anarchist” — not because this band is a collection of wing nuts with a shed stocked with gas masks and RPGs — but because founder and songwriter Rob LeCheminant feels his music has no specific place.

“I really hate to admit it, but I’m one of those snobs that has every song in iTunes listed as ‘music’ for the genre,” said LeCheminant, in a very good interview with Choose My Music. “I guess I’ll let the listeners decide what they think it is.”

When it comes down to it, LeCheminant is a tinkerer, and one of those people who finds inspiration faster than he can translate it into music. But music is being made.

While we have a strong distaste for comparisons (and it seems entirely anti-L’anarchiste), it feels a bit necessary here. We’ll be quick about it: Sufjan Stevens, Andrew Bird (minus the whistling), and Bon Iver all apply here.

So far, L’anarchiste has released just their first EP (recorded in LeCheminant’s basement, naturally) but new songs are already being written and recorded. We can’t wait for more. This is a very new band, and few such fledgling groups accomplish such depth and complexity so quickly.

Below, you’ll get a taste with “Stony.” You can hear the rest of the EP on bandcamp.