New Music from Chicago: Soft Candy

Alex Brettin, singer and guitarist of Chicago-based band Soft Candy, kind of looks like a Who. Not a member of The Who, although Soft Candy’s roots run deep into the Mod sound, but the actual Dr. Seuss, “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” kind of a Who. His mustache is a little wonky and his hair […]

The Young Resurgence of Hip-Hop’s Jazz Roots

Since its beginning, hip-hop has been a fusion of jazz, funk, and soul music laced with the lyrical influences of spoken word poetry and storytelling. From the raw creation of the culture to the current age, DJs have delved deep into their parent’s record collections in hopes of finding the exact sample that pays homage […]

Haunting Simon Joyner

Simon Joyner’s thirteenth studio album is Ghosts (or sixteenth or so if you count the early tapes) and it’s release marks 20 years that Joyner has been making music. He funded the project with a Kickstarter campaign, in which he outlined some big ambitions for the double album that he called “experimental and sprawling, featuring some […]

Celebrating the Superb Lyricism of WHY?, PART III

This review of WHY? lyrics wraps up our three-part series on the band’s excellence in writing and rhyming.  I’m not going to spend the length of this article deliberating on whether Pitchfork’s arbitrary, if not all together misguided, 2.8 limits the credibility of WHY?’s newest release, Mumps, etc. The album exists because de facto leader Yoni […]

Celebrating the Superb Lyricism of WHY?, PART II

In continuation of celebrating WHY?’s upcoming full-length, Mumps, Etc. (Anticon), we are again highlighting the band’s best lyrics from past releases. As stated in the last issue, many years in the making, Mumps, Etc. is the group’s fifth LP. It features Josiah’s wife Liz and boasts 13 tracks from the Cincinnati natives. This article is the second of three that will […]

Zach Schimpf’s “Sleeping” Review

Picture yourself* in your bed. The window is open, but everything around you is… warm. The comforter you’re buried in, mouth only just peaking out for air. The one sock you didn’t take off. Your legs are straight-up hot because you forgot to take off your jeans off before you crawled into your cocoon, and […]

Celebrating the Superb Lyricism of WHY?

Josiah and Yoni Wolf and Doug McDiarmid are the exceptional three-piece that forms the band WHY?. They’re known for their incredibly infectious beats and clever lyrics–somehow never being completely hip-hop, but never being completely rock. They have a fan base tighter than a Brooklyn hipster’s skinny jeans and their live shows are widely known to […]

A Soundtrack of the Future: Tank Battalion Attack and Roma Dune

Black, but white. Sharp, but flat. Brutal, but serene. There’s a record label in Mexico called Umor Rex that manages to creep and jump between these extremes, releasing music that never sounds commonplace. Even their poppiest albums have some kind of forewarning, jagged edge embedded through minor notes and sound effects. The label’s most recent […]

Difficult Listening: Steve Albini

The following is a personal essay about former Big Black frontman and super-producer Steve Albini. During my senior year of college, I earned honors by producing a 25-page collection of original poems. The project began inauspiciously: I wrote a fairly unprofessional project proposal peppered with “Doctor Who” and Velvet Underground references, then, to my surprise, […]

Tracing the Footsteps of Scott Walker

Scott Walker is a truly atypical musician of our time. Albums like 1995’s Tilt and 2006’s The Drift exhibit a weirdness far more distinct and separate from the forced stylistic oddities associated with most so-called independent and alternative acts of the contemporary scene. His recently announced, as of now untitled record with label 4AD is […]

Cloud Nothings: Original and Never Getting Old, or Memory vs. Slightly Older Memory

Throwbacks to styles of music from previous decades and generations have been toyed with a lot in the past decade within this thing we’re going to call “indie” music. Whereas it can be fun to relive (or live for the first time) something from another time period, emulating a retro style just for the sake […]

The Brilliant State of Bee Thousand and Guided by Voices

It’s a big year for Guided by Voices. After calling it quits in 2004, some 21 years and 15 albums into one of the more prolific careers alternative music had ever seen, GBV resurrected in 2010 and, among other things, played the greatest rock ‘n’ roll show I have ever seen in my life. This […]

How So Many Dynamos Redefined Musical Productivity

So Many Dynamos

How do you define musical productivity? So Many Dynamos has had a busy three years since The Loud Wars was released, though that might not be obvious to casual observers of the band, people who only pay attention to things like record releases and tours. Since releasing The Loud Wars in June of 2009 and […]

Descending the Circles of Bright Eyes Hell: The Early Albums

There are videos on youtube of Conor Oberst, frontman of Bright Eyes and various other projects, from when he was in his tween years. One in particular comes to mind of a scrawny boy with a high crackling voice and round John Lennon glasses in a record store in Omaha, Nebraska, over-excitedly ranting about a record […]

You’re Not on Acid, You’re Just Listening to Willis Earl Beal

April 2012 belongs to one of America’s newest buzz acts, Willis Earl Beal: a man who ignores today’s traditional marketing strategies and gets right down to the grit. Every article written about the musician reveals Beal’s humble beginnings and his unyielding ambition to make music for a living. He started off busking in Chicago’s subways […]