Posted inArts & Culture

Animal Collective, BARR

There are some who believe in the romantic notion that banging around long enough without rational constraint will eventually result in something brilliant. For certain purer devotees of the primitive, banging around without rational constraint is brilliant in and of itself. Feels (Fat Cat) has sorely disappointed the latter, or at least confused them enough […]

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Mark Mallman

Mark Mallman, resplendent in his epauletted Sergeant Pepper jacket, rang in 2006 at Minneapolis’s 7th St. Entry with a pomp-laden version of the Cure’s “Fascination Street,” and I don’t doubt that the Twin Cities indie showman at least briefly considered rocking clear through till 2007. In September 2004 he played for 50-plus hours at a […]

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Jamie O’Neal

Jamie O’Neal might disappoint anyone who expects a Nashville superstar to inhabit a single coherent persona. On her second disc, Brave (Liberty), the Australian-born, Vegas-bred singer-songwriter is all over the place, both stylistically and in terms of subject matter: she’s a gritty Shania Twain on the poppy “Naive,” a Gretchen Wilson stand-in on the shit-kicking […]

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Rolling Stones

No one needs a new Rolling Stones album, of course. But for those who want one–even those who aren’t named Jann Wenner–A Bigger Bang (Virgin) is the first real deal since . . . um, Steel Wheels? Tattoo You? Some Girls? Those late-period touchstones are beside the point, actually: the new album is noisier and […]

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Martin Dosh, Head of Femur

Like lots of indie-rock bands these days, HEAD OF FEMUR seeks safety in numbers. Officially they’re an octet, with a core of three Nebraska-bred Chicagoans: Mike Elsener, Ben Armstrong, and Matt Focht. But on their second disc, Hysterical Stars (SpinArt), nearly 30 musicians honk, saw, pound, tinkle, wail, clang, and generally make a jubilant noise. […]

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Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley

Jamaica notoriously refuses to settle for yesterday’s riddims, but despite sounding like some half-forgotten mid-80s classic, Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley’s “Welcome to Jamrock” echoed through the island’s yards all summer. And as both the homicide rate and the temperatures there soared, no cry could’ve sounded as current as the song’s ancient Ini Kamoze sample: “Out […]

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Amy Rigby

Amy Rigby writes great songs. You might think that’s a basic requirement for any singer-songwriter, but plenty of pro acoustic strummers skate by on pretty vocals or a talent for sustaining an enticing, relaxed mood. Rigby can’t afford such luxuries: she sings in a thin warble, and the mix of humor and pathos in her […]

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Washington Social Club

Lots of indie-pop acts can come up with good hooks, so the reasons for preferring one band over another are often matters of stuff like presentation, delivery, sensibility, and style. It’s a game of fine lines, and all I can tell you is that the Washington Social Club’s songs repeatedly land on my side of […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Treatment

Friday 14 GHOSTFACE On “Be Easy,” the first single from his upcoming Fish Scale, Wu-Tang MC Ghostface spits none of the surreal word clusters that inspired blogger Jay Smooth to set up a “Ghostface Killah vs. Random Spam Text” quiz. (Readers had to identify lines like “nice DNA, scroll genetics” as either Ghost quotes or […]

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Tegan and Sara

On the page, the foundering love affairs Tegan and Sara Quin chronicle are merely reminders of how wrought with anguish a person’s early 20s can be. Sung, however, their lyrics take on a tone of restless self-discovery so affecting you might wax nostalgic for the days when every doomed relationship seemed like a puzzle you […]

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Atmosphere

On You Can’t Imagine How Much Fun We’re Having (Rhymesayers Entertainment), the fifth Atmosphere full-length, Slug remains as self-conscious and conflicted as ever, undercutting his battle-rap blasts (“Whoever put your record out must have needed write-offs”) with disarming insecurity (“Don’t worry, someday I’ll be nobody too”). Sex is still a major theme, but the narratives […]