Jack White was in the building earlier that day. On a day when The Raconteurs put out their first album in over ten years, the band played a small in-store that afternoon at Rough Trade in Brooklyn-the first of three intimate NY shows for the band. The Raconteurs would go onto play Rough Trade Saturday night and Coney Island Baby Sunday afternoon. Jack White exists within a realm that few working rock musicians do; Dave Grohl is probably his only true contemporary. This is all to say that these 200-250 cap rooms are a rarity for someone of Jack White’s stature to perform in. He’s a rockstar in the truest definition of the word, which is very different from how someone would perceived Titus Andronicus who headlined Rough Trade on Friday Night for the release show for their new record An Obelisk.
It’s been a longtime since there’s been a pure, feelgood rock record that’s really offered to dominate the summer. That’s not to say that there haven’t been great rock records released in the summer, but none are quite as catchy or uplifting as Telethon’s Hard Pop. The Midwestern band is equal parts Green Day, Jeff Rosenstock, and Van Halen-ambitious, experimental, and shredding.
In 2009, if you had told me that I’d willing listen to a Jonas Brothers record in 2019, I’d probably say something that I’d be ashamed of in 2019. While it’s difficult for me to discuss what qualified as insanely popular and well-discussed pop music at that point in time, I can tell you that the Jonas Brothers were hits in the eighth and ninth grade circa 2007-2009. Their 2019 return as a mature pop act is an easy sell to nostalgic twenty-somethings and a chance for reassessment from pretentious Marilyn Manson fans. With Happiness Begins, the trio’s reinvention cements their credibility beyond teenie-boppers, but does little to set them apart from their new contemporaries. Continue reading
Sometimes, I tend to forget that the guys in The National are both thoughtful and innovative musicians. Despite being a group that shifted the sound of indie rock, it’s easy to think they’ve mostly done the same thing on every album. I Am Easy to Find is the first album since Alligator that feels like a significant shift for The National, and it’s a really grand thing. Continue reading
Comparisons will be drawn between Carlo Mirabella-Davis’ Swallow and the films of Yorgos Lanthimos and Todd Solondz, with its showcasing of the most grotesque and depraved parts of humanity using very clean-cut, sanitized and symmetrical imagery. But apart from some absurd and darkly comic dialogue, at no point does this film become untethered from reality, and perhaps that is what makes the viewing experience of Swallow so stressful. Lanthimos and Solondz might push the limits of horror, absurdity, and magical realism for the sake of satire, but Mirabella-Davis tip toes right up against the line. Exaggerated, sure, but never unbelievable. Continue reading
While there’s real emotions loaded behind every Hold Steady song, they’re built around magical realism, where liquor and painkillers are the means to rebirth more than they are a cause of death. I Need a New War, the latest solo album from Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn, occupies the same spaces that records like Separation Sunday and Boys and Girls in America does, but Finn isn’t as reckless and mystified as he was in those mid-aughts masterpieces. While Finn still eludes to heavy drinking and a complicated relationship with faith, he’s much more aware of the repercussions of those viewpoints. Continue reading
If you were a tumblr user and fan of bands like The Front Bottoms and TWIABP in 2015, it’s near impossible to not have heard of Insignificant Other. Lead vocalist and songwriter, Sim Morales has been releasing covers with some originals via bandcamp for last half of the decade, but the recent release of i’m so glad i feel this way about you paints a picture of a triumphant pop-punk band with a Brooklyn-sensibility despite their Alabama by way of Gainesville location. Continue reading
With the formal formation of his backing band, The Mermaid, Dave Hause has become more adventurous. Where 2016’s Bury Me in Philly felt transitional, Kick sounds like a musician who wants to see where he can reach. The singer-songwriter still channels the Americana of his peers Brian Fallon and Craig Finn perpetuate, but there’s more of an inclination towards a (slightly more) modern America than the Ferris wheels and classic cars that you’d probably expect from the former or the drug abuse as religious metaphor of the latter. Hause allows his work to be more bass-driven, as he reflects on finding some contentment in age and sobriety. Continue reading
Following the success of 2016’s The Dream Is Over, an album that catapulted PUP from respectable Canadian pop-punks to North American scene superstars, Morbid Stuff was weighted with excitement and ambition. While there was plenty to ring up the excitement in Dream, Morbid Stuff is like taking a rocket to an unknown moon that was just discovered orbiting earth. With sleek and chunky riffs, Stefan Babcock spills anxiety over with rallying cries and quarter-life rage that sets the band in a certain class of their contemporaries like Rozwell Kid, where they can make incredibly fun and upbeat songs that are immediately memorable and occasionally silly but only layering over a very real sense of self-actualization. Continue reading
Nothingness and empty can swell in a way that we soundtrack our own existence. As “Fulton Street I” builds on La Dispute’s Panorama, Jordan Dreyer’s screaming voice sounds like his soul is exiting his body with fear. The Michigan-based post-hardcore band’s most subdued record yet is also their most intense. Continue reading