Over three decades, Ian MacKaye has tested a few possibilities of what punk can mean. His first band to make a national impact, Minor Threat, was a clear outgrowth of the hardcore scene in his native Washington, D.C. His second act, Fugazi, was subtler: four musicians, all songwriters, infusing punk's energy with rhythms pulled from funk, reggae and even classic rock.
Originally published on Fri November 30, 2012 3:43 pm
Freelance Whales' members make huge tiny music. Their instruments tend to produce delicate sounds: banjos, violins, xylophones, drums played delicately with brushes. But their songs are arranged in such a way that these small sounds form grand, swelling passages that start out softly, then build to something majestic.
Blues is so much a part of the fabric of American music and American culture — not only as a defined musical form, but also as a springboard for all kinds of creativity — that it seems crazy to try to encapsulate it in any way. Bear Family Records, though, has just released a 12-disc survey of electric blues called Plug It In! Turn It Up! that does a great job of illuminating one particular aspect of the blues.
Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 12:07 pm
The Cleveland-based experimental rock duo Mr. Gnome was one of our favorite discoveries from South by Southwest earlier this year, and now the band is back on our radar with an amazing new video. "House of Circles," from Mr. Gnome's recent album Madness in Miniature, is an epic, wildly imaginative story about a band of rebel fighters who attempt to save the world from the evil Queen Machine.
Originally published on Thu November 29, 2012 2:34 pm
"Dense" and "lush" have long been necessary adjectives for anyone attempting to describe Yeasayer's sound. The band's approach entails folding many disparate elements together, twisting and pulling them until they decide to play nice. Although its first two albums, 2007's All Hour Cymbals and 2010's Odd Blood, don't sound terribly similar, they at least have this wide-reaching approach in common.
Originally published on Wed November 28, 2012 4:48 pm
The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion — Jon Spencer, drummer Russell Simins and bassist Judah Baer — has kicked out the jams for more than 20 years. Formed in 1991, the band draws on punk, blues and rockabilly, and has collaborated with artists ranging from Elliott Smith to Solomon Burke to Martina Topley-Bird to Steve Albini and even Ad-Rock of The Beastie Boys.
Produced by D. James Goodwin, Glow marks a kind of artistic reboot for Kaki King, whose most recent recordings integrated traditional songcraft, additional musicians, and her own vocal stylings, all in pursuit of her tenaciously individualistic sonic vision. Glow returns to her instrumental roots and is accompanied by the string quartet 'Ethel'.
Sometimes it pays to be somebody's little brother. Were it not for his fraternal ties, singer and multi-instrumentalist Asa Taccone probably wouldn't have been able to get acclaimed songwriter and producer Brian Burton (better known as Danger Mouse) to produce his band's debut album. Taccone's older brother, a friend of Burton's, asked the producer to listen to the songs his little brother had been working on and give some constructive criticism.