Posted inArts & Culture

TURBONEGRO

Turbonegro are the scariest-looking bunch of faux homos this side of the Baltic Sea. Plenty of people consider these Norwegian glam-punk deviants nothing but a novelty act, and I’m sure the Clockwork Orange makeup doesn’t help–neither do singer Hank Von Helvete’s “assrockets,” the Roman candles he stuffs in his can and lights onstage. (In a […]

Posted inArts & Culture

OFFICE

In a Critic’s Choice in late 2005, I called Office’s self-released Q & A the best local album of the year, so naturally I’m pretty excited that word’s gotten out about this excellent pop band since then. Office signed to Scratchie/New Line for A Night at the Ritz (due September 25), which they’re treating as […]

Posted inArts & Culture

CASS McCOMBS

Singer-songwriter Cass McCombs, who recently moved to Chicago, makes music so ethereal it seems to build in slow motion out of nowhere, like frost. On his third full-length, Dropping the Writ, due next month on Domino, he’s in much the same mode as on his previous releases: his airy ballads channel the high romance of […]

Posted inArts & Culture

SPOKANE

If you were among the hypotensive minority who thought Low’s first album could’ve been a little slower and sadder, a little more sedate and diffuse, this is just the band for your attention span. Little Hours (Jagjaguwar), Spokane’s fifth album, seems to unfold according to Zeno’s Paradox, which postulates a distance divided in half infinitely–it’s […]

Posted inArts & Culture

ART BRUT

Countless bands have ripped off the Fall, and countless singers have ripped off Mark E. Smith’s distinctive de-liv-e-ry-uh. But it’s the rare front man who goes further and latches onto Smith’s less obvious traits: humor, spontaneity, and the aura of danger that comes from being unafraid to make an utter ass of yourself. It’s just […]

Posted inArts & Culture

ANDERS PARKER

Sometimes talented artists get miscast early in their careers, having hoisted sail under some prevailing trend out of shrewdness, naivete, or desperation–Elvis Costello, for one, debuted as a new wave act when his closest precursor wasn’t Bryan Ferry or David Johansen but Randy Newman. Anders Parker began releasing records in the mid-90s as the gritty, […]

Posted inArts & Culture

OCTOPUS PROJECT

I’ve been a big fan of the Octopus Project from the get-go, so it’s nice to see their wild, upbeat instrumentals finally getting some recognition (some high-energy SXSW shows helped, landing them a recent David Fricke shout-out in Rolling Stone). Their third full-length, Hello, Avalanche (Peek-a-Boo), out next month, is the first produced by an […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Fountains of Wayne

Fountains of Wayne front man Adam Schlesinger is as skilled a pop formalist as they come, as evidenced by his Oscar-nominated title track for That Thing You Do! and more recently the spot-on faux-80s new-wave material he wrote for Music and Lyrics. But his facility with genre can also be a liability in his own […]

Posted inArts & Culture

AVAGAMI

I should just carry around a copy of Avagami’s debut, Metagami (Lens), so I can pull it out the next time a cabbie or one of my uncles asks what kind of music I like. These two locals–Eric Lebofsky on vocals, electronics, and saxophone and Matt Espy (ex-Atombombpocketknife and the Reputation) on electronics and drums–are […]

Posted inArts & Culture

MASS SHIVERS

Mass Shivers’ full-length debut, Ecstatic Eyes Glow Glossy (due August 21 on Sickroom), is awfully, awfully good. This Chicago trio (which becomes a quartet with a second drummer at local shows) captures the spirit of the best out-rock of the 70s: Can’s free-form tribal-Teutonic drums, Beefheart’s stomping junkyard riffs and unhinged harmonic imagination, Faust’s cerebral […]

Posted inArts & Culture

TIMES NEW VIKING

Though the plunder of old indie subgenres continues apace, the rise of powerful home recording software (and the scarcity of the cheap analog gear ubiquitous in the 80s and 90s) has stalled the revival of one major aesthetic: lo-fi. But Times New Viking, from Columbus, Ohio, embrace the romanticized entropy of tape distortion, and its […]

Posted inArts & Culture

TRAVIS

Responses to Travis’s fifth and latest album, The Boy With No Name (Sony), have been mixed: fans, of course, mostly love it, while NME, early champions of the Scottish quartet, gave it two stars out of ten and a brutal one-paragraph walloping. Personally, I’d say anyone who can get too bent out of shape about […]

Posted inArts & Culture

GOGOL BORDELLO

A few weeks ago The Colbert Report did a segment about civic-minded volunteers in Arizona who were building their own fence along the Mexican border. I like to imagine one of those xenophobic spoilsports stuck at a Gogol Bordello show, slouching against the wall with a tumbler of scotch while everybody else dances like they’re […]

Posted inArts & Culture

VCR

This dance-punk combo from Richmond, Virginia, grabbed me by the lapels with its self-titled 2003 debut. The EP showed up at the radio station where I sometimes DJ, and when I got an eyeful of the perfectly awful cover art–just the word VCR in a tacky early-80s-style font, like the logo Osco might use for […]

Posted inMusic

A SUNNY DAY IN GLASGOW

Remember that Remington ad where the guy liked the shaver so much he bought the company? I can’t tell you how many times I played A Sunny Day in Glasgow’s self-released The Sunniest Day Ever EP the night I brought it home last winter, but by the time the sky had turned robin’s egg blue […]