With over two dozen titles lining their library, “Born Yesterday” is starting to feel like a bit of a misnomer for the growing Chicago DIY label founded back in 2018 by Greg Obis and Kevin Fairbairn. It would be another few years before Obis—formerly of local scene staples Yeesh—would release the debut record from his new band Stuck, while Fairbairn—formerly of local scene staples Clearance—had yet to join newly minted Sub Pop signees Deeper when the label was established. In fact their bio on Bandcamp still begs that listeners take them seriously.
With even just this basic introduction to the label you can see how things in Chicago’s music scene have gotten a little Pepe Silvia meme-y over the years—even as BY alums and their peers continue to graduate to more nationally (if not globally) recognized labels. Yet there still seems to be enough of a Petri dish effect that the newly released sophomore record from Stuck, Freak Frequency, takes enough influence from the band‘s labelmates that in setting out to create a playlist of favorite songs from Born Yesterday signees, Obis’ writeups give the impression that the tracklist nearly doubles as a set of inspirations on the art-punk opus.
With the record arriving today via—who else—Born Yesterday Records, stream the album here and check out Obis’ selections below.
Mesh, “CIA Mind Control”
This is quite possibly the most tenacious earworm in our entire catalog, so I felt like it would be a good way to kick this playlist off and keep people listening! Mesh is such an instantly classic band. I think their scrappy punk brilliance is obvious to anyone who listens to even a chorus of theirs. Very psyched to be playing with them in Philadelphia (alongside Exwhite and Fib)!
Lifeguard, “I Know I Know”
Lifeguard is such a special band gaining attention nationally right now, and we’re super proud to have been able to work with them on this EP. Much hay has been made about their age, but putting that aside, they’re enviably nasty players with an uncanny instinct for taking left turns and keeping the listener on their toes. They recently signed with Matador! Keep your eyes on them.
Glow in the Dark Flowers, “Still Close to Me”
It was a huge honor to get to work with Philip and Jessee on their new album this year. Their last band The Funs loomed very heavily over the Chicago music scene and were an undeniably sick band. Their new project Glow in the Dark Flowers sees them taking an even more introspective and tranquil turn, although this particular song would not have you believe it.
Caution, “Buy My Life”
I met Cash and Nora when I booked a show for their last band Saturday Night in Chicago. I was super excited when they sent Kevin and I this first EP from Caution. Being in music for a long time is funny like that; you really never know what small interaction is going to blossom into something greater down the line. Anyway, Cash and Nora are two of my favorite people and this song owns.
Spirits Having Fun, “Hold the Phone”
This song is an immediate mood lifter for me! Spirits Having Fun’s sense of playfulness is always refreshing to me. I think it’s really challenging to achieve this sense of buoyancy while being such a ferocious rock band, making it feel effortless and instead crafting this breezy mood. Also, wonderful people. I can pretty much say that about all the bands but that will not stop me from saying it.
Ulna, “Been So Far”
Ugh, don’t know where to start with this song! Adam is such a phenomenal songwriter and guitar player. The depth of emotion packed into this song gets me worked up every time I hear it (not to mention the really hooky riffs). I want everyone on the planet to hear this record.
Cafe Racer feat. Mia Joy, “Touchstone”
This was a really fun one-off single we got to do with our friends Cafe Racer and Mia Joy. Mia and I used to be roommates! Once again, funny how interconnected everything feels to me. Chicago rocks. Anyway, I love this song. It’s so immersive and plays with space in such a cool way, having elements weave in and out to create this real depth. Real powerhouse collaboration here.
Neckbolt, “Sort Of”
We’re really excited to be working with Neckbolt! Fantastic band from Austin/OKC. I’m absolutely hooked by what I think [the band’s Ben Krause] called the “unrecording” of the record. The album is littered with weird artifacts from the demoing process that they decided to keep in. Also addicted to the absolutely monstrous bass tone Bill [Indelicato] has in this band. Tim Green of Stuck absolutely snapped on the artwork. Excited to see more from this band in the future (wink wink).
Landowner, “Witch Museum”
We just announced this new album from Landowner last week! Landowner has been a constant for Born Yesterday; they were a huge inspiration for us to start a label, they were the first band, and this new album is going to be our fourth with them! Truly wild that we’ve been lucky enough to do this many releases with them. Also, one of the most primary influences on Stuck as well.
Red Tunic, “Angel Lamp”
Ezra Saulnier (who is now in Stuck) is a longtime friend of Kevin and I’s. He used to set up shows for our old bands Clearance and Yeesh. He also was in the fantastic Cross Country, a band definitely worth diving into when you finish this playlist! This song features some of Ezra’s really precise playing, meticulous tones, and inventive songwriting. Love this track!
DROOL was the band that made Kevin and I realize that we needed to start a label. In 2017, they were playing a lot of shows, and always put on an incredible show that would really leave an impression on audiences. Their confrontational stage presence and massive sound was really something to see! This album rules and I wish more people listened to it!
Lawn, “Night Life”
Wanted to end this playlist with a fun one! Lawn have been one of Kevin and I’s favorite bands around for a long time, so it was really wild when they asked us if we wanted to do this double EP with them last year. Rui and Mac are both such amazing songwriters, and it’s so fun to listen to Lawn records because their styles are so distinct—but they totally work well together at the same time. Anyway, thanks for reading. Go buy every Born Yesterday Record.