A Night With Ratboys

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Exactly a month ago, a friend and I trekked northward from Des Moines up to Ames, Iowa. It was Fall Break 2k15 and we had decided a couple weeks previously to check out a house show. A bunch of stellar bands were on the ticket, but we were both especially excited to witness the Topshelf Records post-country newcomers Ratboys. A couple days prior to the show, I sent out an email to the band hoping to lock down a quick interview. I was thoroughly pleased to receive  a very enthusiastic follow up.  I met up with guitarist/vocalist Julia Steiner and guitarist […]

“T.I.W.Y.G.” – Savages

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After having just caught my breath from their epic, 37 minute noise rock collaboration with Japanese noise group Bo Ningen, Savages have begun releasing music again. The confrontational, highly political post punk four piece released the second single from their upcoming album Adore Life earlier this week. “T.I.W.Y.G” is a blistering, 3:00 minutes of Savages pushing the limits of their sound.   The song opens with unintelligible guitar feedback that quickly is supplanted by a full, driving bassline. Lead singer and Savages figurehead Jehnny Beth echoes the rhythmic syncopation of the bass with the song’s threatening mantra – “This is […]

“Lust” – Willis Earl Beal

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“I want to emphasise that fame and fortune, that’s not where it’s at. It can give you a lot of things; it’s given me a way to express myself, but at the same time what I’m doing now – riding my bike, making music alone – that’s the way I started out. That’s what I know.” Taken from his interview with the Guardian, Willis Earl Beal’s reflection on his current state confesses a sort of resigned contentment. Returning to his musical roots means freedom, but also in his case, a place of poverty and displacement. Beal grew up in Chicago before […]

Empyrean Isles – Herbie Hancock (Reissue Review)

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  It’s 1964. Your hips are aching and creaking after responding to the call of “Twist and Shout” for a solid year now. It’s time for a break. So you browse the record shop and–hey there, what’s this? Miles Davis’ hip new pianist dropped an album? Herbie Hancock, yeah, that’s that cat who said ‘fuck the man’ and left Grinnell college for the ragged New York City artist’s life. Ah, I can dig it. The needle drops into the groove and so do you. Chin down, head swaying, your shoulders shimmy along to the hard-bop rhythm of “One Finger Snap.” […]

Fading Frontier – Deerhunter

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My friend’s top-floor apartment here in West Philadelphia is loaded with the best music setup I’ve seen in quite a while. The soundtrack to this rainy afternoon on the couch is Deerhunter’s new album. Deerhunter released their seventh studio album, Fading Frontier, on October 16, 2015. Based out of Atlanta, Georgia, the band features Bradford Cox on guitars, vocals and keyboards, Moses Archuleta on drums, Lockett Pundt (guitar, vocals) Josh McKay (bass). In regards to Fading Frontier‘s influences, Cox has made an extensive interactive map that ranges from the poetry of Pablo Neruda to the Pacific Coast Highway. I found […]

Best Blues – Small Black

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When Small Black’s first LP New Chain first appeared in 2010, the synthpop quartet was immediately designated by bloggers as chillwave and situated into the bounds of that music trend, an unfairly reductive critique. While it is most definitely true that Small Black’s initial material was riding on the chilled out atmosphere of 2009/2010 synth driven indie music, chalking them off as merely another chill vibe band was truly a grievous mistake. While their contemporaries Washed Out and Neon Indian were tapping into 80’s nostalgia and Toro y Moi exploring experimentally tinged etherealness, Small Black was approaching straightforward pop rock […]

“Something Soon” – Car Seat Headrest

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On the track “Something Soon,” Will Toledo part-speaks, -shouts, and -sings, “I want to break something important / I want to kick my head in the shins.” It’s the perfect whiny and melodramatic utterance needed to kick off a total lo-fi pop rock banger.   “Something Soon” is one of the pre-released singles from his upcoming debut release on Matador Records, Teens of Style. However, the debut description is a bit misleading because both “Something Soon” and all the other songs on the album are not new. Teens of Style compiles remastered and rerecorded tracks already self-released by Toledo on […]

Beach Music – Alex G

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Friday, 4:29pm. I’m listening to the intro of Alex G’s new album Beach Music, entirely ready to associate great cosmic significance to what I’m about to hear. The intro is an experimental mishap that undeniably haunts every modern indie label at least once. I’m back to my usual Friday rhythm, just another piece of chill music. Alexander Giannascoli, who goes by the stage name of Alex G, is a Philadelphia based multi-instrumentalist who started out as a singer-songwriter working out of his bedroom, utilizing Bandcamp to garner an audience. His sixth album, GSU, amassed critical acclaim from a number of […]

Songs of Paapieye – SK Kakraba

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SK Kakraba’s official debut album Songs of Paapieye is not for everyone.   Still reading? Well, if you’re open to unfamiliar sounds, song structures, and rhythms, please indulge further…   Kakraba is regarded as a master of the gyil (roughly pronounced JEE-lee), a traditional Ghanaian instrument required for all funeral ceremonies, but also played for weddings, community events, and dancing. Gyil playing runs through his paternal lineage–it cannot be separated from Kakraba’s identity. Even when he’s not playing, he painstakingly builds and sells handcrafted gyils (a marker of his mastery); his devotion becomes our bliss on Songs of Paapieye.   […]

“Shivers” – Courtney Barnett

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Part of the charm of Courtney Barnett’s deadpan monotone vocals comes from her cheeky lyrics. Dry humor becomes just as central to her story telling as are her honest reflections of everyday situations. Listening to her roll out the Rowland S. Howard-penned lyrics of The Boys Next Door’s “Shivers,” the seriousness of the content is difficult to process. “I’ve been contemplating suicide / But it really doesn’t suit my style / So I think I’ll just act bored instead / And contain the blood I would’ve shed.” The lyrical solemnity translated through Barnett’s typical apathy overwhelms. The original version shows […]