The Sounds of Suburbia: Cruising the Ike with Twosyllable Records’ Chicago Cassette (Newcity)

Published August 15, 2011 (

Twosyllable RecordsBrooklyn-based label Twosyllable Records has recently released a compilation that pays homage to the Windy City’s underground music scene that co-founder, Zach Pollakoff, grew up around. Pollakoff left the suburbs in 2003 to go to college but his soft spot for Chicago remains. The city represented an escape for him, a getaway from the repressive bubble of suburban life, a window to the outside world where culture thrived.

The concept of the compilation came about when a Twosyllable Records band, Holiday Shores, was playing a show at the Empty Bottle. A band called Distractions opened the show and blew both the band and Pollakoff away. They soon became signed to Twosyllable and through Distractions, Pollakoff discovered a network of underground bands in the Chicago scene that now form the eighteen tracks of the mix tape. “As I got to know them [Distractions], I learned that each member of the band had their own side project,” said Pollakoff. Then each member of those projects had their own projects and thus, the network of bands expanded.

From Pet Lions to Heavy Times and Netherfriends to Angel Olsen, the bands on the compilation represent a diverse indie-rock and garage background and are DIY in the truest sense of the term; homemade and imaginative with the resources that they have available. Pollakoff sees the Chicago scene as distinctly unique from other cities around the US. “There’s a quality of musicianship,” he explains, “each band brings their own interesting flavor to the comp that makes it the perfect mixtape.”

The release is limited to a 200-tape run without any plans for a re-press. Pollakoff explains that the cassette-tape format harkens back to the days of recording music straight from the radio on to a tape and then playing it on your parents’ car stereo as you journey along the Eisenhower Expressway back to suburbia. (Ben Small)

The Twosyllable Records Chicago Compilation is available from or to download from


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