When I first heard Nottingham duo Sleaford Mods, Jason Williamson’s unhinged vocal delivery immediately captured my attention. Their minimalist music—which is simply Williamson ranting about working-class struggles over Andrew Fern’s sparse, chintzy electronic beats—could appeal to anarcho-punks, hip-hop heads, and Mark E. Smith devotees alike. Williamson is a force: wide-eyed and frothing at the mouth, […]
Kelly Lee Owens’s Inner Song is laser focused and immersive
Welsh producer Kelly Lee Owens begins her sophomore album, Inner Song (Smalltown Supersound), with an instrumental cover of Radiohead’s “Arpeggi.” Her version is all about effervescent electronics, and it can evoke the feeling of being underwater—isolated from the rest of the world with only your thoughts. When Owens’s vocals arrive on the following track, “On,” […]
Deafkids and Petbrick join forces to make subversively twisted psych on Deafbrick
Music festivals as we’ve known them may be in jeopardy due to a virus, but festival culture keeps on giving: this summer’s bounty includes Deafbrick, the new album by brain-rattling São Paulo psych-punk trio Deafkids and maniacal London-based electro-noise-rock duo Petbrick, aka musician and producer Wayne Adams and Sepultura and Cavalera Conspiracy drummer Iggor Cavalera. […]
The personal and spiritual growth doesn’t stop in Burna Boy’s Twice as Tall
As much as mainstream Western music-media outlets compare contemporary African artists to one another, often flattening the expansiveness of their sounds under a single Afrobeats umbrella, some musicians from the continent continue to prove they’re in a league of their own with every new release. Burna Boy’s new fifth studio album, Twice as Tall, is […]
Lianne La Havas moves between love and loss on her new self-produced, self-titled album
Born in London to a Jamaican mother and a Greek father, singer and guitarist Lianne La Havas takes inspiration from both branches of her family tree and beyond, finessing diverse influences into charming, sophisticated, and often heady alt-pop. She made her full-length debut with 2012’s acoustic guitar-driven Is Your Love Big Enough? and then slipped […]
Sault’s Untitled (Black Is) is the soundtrack for the 2020 revolution
Sault are an anonymous UK trio who create music grounded in the tenets of Black rights and Black freedom, and there’s never been a better time than now to hear their message. Last year they put out their debut album, 5, and an almost immediate follow-up, 7, and this summer they released their third record, […]
Nearly 50 years after they formed, Wire are still doing it right
Before I first press play on an “aging punks still at it” record, I try to prepare myself for the worst. Whether the band in question have retained only one original member in a completely retooled lineup (like present-day Gang of Four), or replaced their figurehead (like the Misfits did in the 90s), or awkwardly […]
Gothic doom masters Paradise Lost get eclectic on Obsidian
British five-piece Paradise Lost had already helped pioneer death-doom by the time they put out their second album, 1991’s Gothic, and laid groundwork for subsequent generations of bands that combined metal’s harshness with dark, romantic textures. They’ve since gone through nearly as many drummers as Spinal Tap, but the rest of the lineup—vocalist Nick Holmes, […]
Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs conjure the kind of wild shows we miss while the world’s on lockdown on Viscerals
It may be a while before the sort of all-out raging rock show that’s so hot and packed you leave smelling like other people’s sweat is once again part of human existence, but Newcastle Upon Tyne five-piece Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs (or, more concisely, Pigs x 7) won’t let that feeling fade […]
Dua Lipa channels disco clubs and Jazzercise on Future Nostalgia
British singer Dua Lipa released her second album, Future Nostalgia, on March 27—a week earlier than she originally planned, but right on schedule to give the world a much-needed dose of bubblegum poptimism. The title track opens with a promise: “You want a timeless track, I want to change the game.” From there, the album’s […]
Anna Calvi strips down seven of her own songs on the new Hunted
When British guitarist and vocalist Anna Calvi released her self-titled debut album in 2011, it felt like she’d emerged as a fully formed icon. Drawing from rock, punk, opera, and flamenco guitar, Calvi combined talent, eclecticism, and swagger in a way that had less in common with indie songwriters of her generation than with the […]
Cock Sparrer make anthemic street-punk anthems that feel timeless
Foundational British street-punk band Cock Sparrer formed in 1972, but their most recent album, 2017’s Forever, shows the troupe still at the peak of their powers. (Colin McFaull’s voice is roughly a half-octave lower than in the band’s early days, but that’s hardly a quibble.) Aside from Blitz and the Cockney Rejects, the majority of […]
Seriously, Chicago—you don’t have to watch this royal wedding crap
A lot of Chicagoans are watching the royal wedding this weekend. But that doesn’t mean you have to.
Up the irons, down the hatch: Robinsons’ the Trooper, aka the Iron Maiden beer
A beer that people will buy because it says “Iron Maiden” on the bottle isn’t necessarily a beer that’s actually worth drinking. So is the Trooper both?
Where’s My Lost Penguin?
The refreshing riotelectroscreamo sounds of Lost Penguin.