The Black – Alongside Death

The vocals are on the gruffer end, a sickened raspy growl that occasionally loses its respective shit and shifts upward into a panicked shriek. The drums aren’t anything flashy but provide a solid (though slipped-disc) spine for when the guitars go all Pollock vomit on us. Pleasingly, The Black aren’t averse to adding some dynamics [...]

The Mary Onettes –

Now it’s not as guitar-heroey as Echo was; in that respect it’s more along the lines of Eighties pop like Crowded House, New Order, or A-Ha. Islands is completely out of time, but perfect pop is perfect pop. Basically, the whole album sounds like that part at the end of “The Cutter” when the pace [...]

Collected Jack Kirby Collector Vol. 7 by John Morrow

Looking at his art is a fucking treat — the crackles of energy, the pointy fingers, the bizarrely detailed machinery, the frenetic action, the bent and broken villains — it’s heady stuff. And seeing Kirby’s original pencil art — without the often interfering hands of inkers (no slur on Joe Sinnot or others) — is [...]

Has Autotune Killed The Radio Diva?

In a review of Mary J. Blige’s latest album, Stronger with Each Tear (Matriarch/Geffen, Dec. 2009), Rolling Stone‘s Rob Sheffield wonders, “Is there room for great soul singers in a post-vocal world?” Or, he goes on to write, has Auto-Tune and studio trickery conditioned us to prefer a tiny robotic trill (Britney, Rihanna, Kei$ha, et al.) to an earthy belt? [...]

Pestilential Shadows – In Memoriam, Ill Omen

The instruments are soaked in echo and reverb for a greater sense of space, which makes them sound like they’re shuddering and bouncing off metal walls (or padded), to say nothing of the broken bell guitar solos. Blast beats are eschewed — though breakneck speed is not shied away from — for a mid-paced gallop [...]

Grunge: Photographs by Michael Lavine

The first half of the book consists of portraits of young punks hanging out on various urban thoroughfares, the styles are fascinating to consider in a pre-internet and pre-irony subculture — I’ll wear this Iron Maiden t-shirt because I like Iron Maiden, what a radical concept. Cool/creepy stills of Seattle street punks and skaters and [...]

Yoga – Megafauna

Megafauna bears the strongest sonic resemblance to I Shalt Become, early Xasthur instrumentals, some of the work of Lurker of Chalice, and Aidan Baker’s perverse ambiance. It’s an interesting formula and makes for occasionally compelling listening, and it’s worthwhile for nothing else than taking back the ambient sonic palette from so much of the boring [...]

Bright Orange – Killer Lake

Part of the charm of this album is the listener’s inability to discern what instruments emit each treated sound; perhaps it’s a guitar, perhaps a keyboard, perhaps a pan filled with boiling water and wind-up Godzilla toys. Is that really a voice singing some lullaby in the background, or is it a sample, or perhaps [...]

RIP Willie Mitchell and Jay Reatard

Music for the Masses bids a belated farewell to Willie Mitchell and Jay Reatard —perhaps the first and last time these two musicians/music producers will be mentioned in the same sentence. Mitchell was best known for his collaboration with Al Green on Green’s seminal ’70s albums, including Let’s Stay Together and I’m Still in Love With You—together, they redefined [...]

Jimi Tenor / Tony Allen – Inspiration Information

Whatever happened to Jimi Tenor? Britpop’s peacock enigma, an outrageous cross between Bryan Ferry and Esquivel, Tenor combined the best parts of retro-tech-wonkery and outrageous showmanship along the lines of Ric Flair and Mr. Quintron on hisEuropa album. And just as quickly as he elbowed his way into the spotlight, he disappeared. Over ten years [...]