A Reader staffer shares three musical obsessions, then asks someone (who asks someone else) to take a turn.
Luca Cimarusti, Reader music listings coordinator
Touring like a grown-up A few weeks ago I went on tour with my band—my first such trip on this side of 30. In the past I’d usually found a way to turn a short run of dates into a weeklong party, but this time we were total adults about it: very little drinking, crashing at nice places, eating healthy, taking a day off in the middle to camp and get some fresh air. No hangovers means better attitudes, better shows, and an overall better time. Who would have thought?
Russian Baths I played a show with this Brooklyn band last month, and their two-song tape from April has been in constant rotation with me since. These massive tracks perfectly blend spooky shoegaze and ear-piercing noise rock—they’re punishing in volume and delivery but delicate and beautiful in spirit. The only bad thing I can say about Russian Baths is that this single is too short. I can’t wait to hear what’s next for them.
The Trap Set podcast I’ve been obsessed with The Trap Set podcast lately—it’s not just for drummers, it’s also by drummers. Host Joe Wong interviews some of the best percussionists of the past and present about their personal stories and spiritual and emotional connections to the drum set, rather than geeking out over gear, techniques, or chops. Recent guests have included serious hitters Todd Trainer, Mac McNeilly, Greg Fox, and Mario Rubalcaba, and each episode clocks in at about 30 minutes—you could easily listen to a dozen or so during a regular workday, if you feel so inclined.
Luca is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Nick Cave, One More Time With Feeling and Skeleton Tree Grief is a particularly rich topic for art because it’s so universal and subsuming. Nick Cave, whose son died in an accident during the making of his new album, Skeleton Tree, invited a crew to film a documentary about finishing the record in the aftermath of that loss. The album is nakedly emotional and affecting, and the companion documentary, One More Time With Feeling, is a generous gift—a master poet deepening our perspective on grief by guiding us through his.
Smoking Popes, “Someday I’ll Smile Again” Early this month Smoking Popes released the first recordings by the band’s original lineup in 18 years. One of the two new songs, “Someday I’ll Smile Again,” lives up to their best work, buoyed by Josh Caterer’s immaculate vocal melody and heartaching lyrics. It worms through a chord progression that feels familiar but (in classics Popes fashion) takes left turns into unpredictable scenic territory.
Astronoid, Air Metal is built on brutality, but forward-looking artists have unlocked its ethereal, cathartic potential, often by hybridizing with other genres (screamo for Deafheaven, for instance, or shoegaze for Alcest). Air, the full-length debut by Boston’s Astronoid, is a rare exception—it eschews minor-key brooding and screamed vocals in favor of majestic major keys and soaring melodies, but it never feels like a hybrid (the solo in “Up and Atom” has heavy metal in its DNA). Major keys and clean singing can sound cheesy in metal, but Air is sublime and ferociously catchy.
Trevor is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Kenny Rasmussen, bassist for Anatomy of Habit
Susan Faludi, Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man Faludi examines our culture’s rigid standards of masculinity by drawing on seemingly disparate people and organizations: male porn stars, the author of the book First Blood, sexist Vietnam war protesters, a borderline homoerotic military academy. If the catchphrase “Patriarchy hurts men too” has become a cliche to you, akin to “Save the planet” and “Meat is murder,” then this 1999 book should remind you it’s disturbingly true.
Getting the chance to expand on why I dislike the Grateful Dead I have my reasons for not liking the Dead, but I’ll admit to being green on a fair amount of the band’s catalog. Thanks to Luca Cimarusti, I heard some of the group’s choicest cuts. What I found were meandering guitars, dispassionate vocals, instrumental indulgence with little thought to hooks, melody, harmony, or power, and a dampening of the political spirit of the time. AC/DC and the Ramones have never sounded better.
Late-70s and mid-80s rap and hip-hop The combo of analog synthesizers, vintage drum machines, and vocoders sounds incredible to me. Finding records by the World Class Wreckin Cru, Egyptian Lover, and Twilight 22 has kick-started an obsession. I love DJing, I love dancing, and I love DJing for people who love dancing. The technical innovation, dance styles, and fashion of this era are pure joy.