The Dream Is Over

PUP: The Dream Is Over

Rocking and roiling punk noise from up North of the border is honestly on my list of things that make me consistently happy. And, on this front, PUP fulfills. Their snotty brand of old-school NOFX-like humor and scream-singing group choruses make for a rollicking time that plays to the more fun side of the pop-punk / emo thing and forgoes some of the math-y wallowing in favor of intentionally sloppy fun, time-signature changes and awesome bursts of crunchy energy. Like their coutrymates, Japandroids, PUP write anthemic tunes that drive enthusiastic fist-pumps and encourage an outrageous level of need-to-sing-along with their […]

Return to Love

LVL UP: Return to Love

I believe this is the second LVL UP album I’ve reviewed in 2016, but why not stick with what you like, right? That said, I loved that first album, 2014’s Hoodwink’d. It was like an amalgam of all the indie rock I loved from the 90s squashed into one album. So I was set up for the inevitable come down of this album — because that’s what happens when these DIY bands move to a major label (in this case, Sub Pop), get some money to record and just kind of lose that edge because they think their music, now that they’re […]

Head Carrier

Pixies: Head Carrier

Pixies are a pretty large touchstone for me in my musical evolution. It honestly started back in 1989 with Doolittle, and I subsequently, and quickly, dug back into their back catalog to uncover Surfer Rosa and then their debut EP, Come On Pilgrim. So I kind of took them in all at once: the more polished, major label band on Doolittle and the weird, indie band from Surfer Rosa. And, like most every other band I love, I tend to like their earlier, more raw stuff better. It’s just more organic and angry and, well, strange. Granted, Doolittle has some […]

The Body. The Blood, The Machine

The Thermals: The Body, The Blood, The Machine

I definitely saw this album cover back when this thing came out in 2006. I mean, how could I miss it with the whole Jesus in front of wreckage thing going on? I probably listened to it too just to see what the Jesus thing was all about. Thing is, I don’t at all recall liking it. So that makes me think I was either drunk or sleeping or both. Because now, ten years later, I can’t for the life of me stop listening to all ten tracks over and over again. How, I ask, can this shit keep happening to […]


Hockey Dad: Boronia

There is nothing more exuberant on this planet than young Australian dudes. Hockey Dad, indeed a couple of teenagers from New South Wales, are what appear to be two skater-surfers who discovered that a simple guitar and drum setup can bring happiness to the masses (or at least the tens who have listened to this record). Granted, every single photo of them seems to contain at least one, if not both, of them flipping the bird in an almost mock-punk posture. But they are far from punk. They are more in the surf pop, fuzzy, sunny laid-back tradition of guys […]

Camp Cope

Camp Cope: Camp Cope

Jesus, I just want this album on repeat in my head all day long. No, Camp Cope isn’t some horrible MTV rehab show hosted by Bob Forrest, but is instead an all-woman indie rock band from Australia. Three women to be exact, fronted by singer and songwriter, Georgia Maq. And it is her mournful, yet demanding voice that can both coo and howl that drives their incredibly 90s-sounding brand of emo pop punk folk rock. Wow, that’s a lot of adjectives to describe one album. That’s because at times they remind me of fellow Aussie, Ben Lee and then come […]

You Come and Go Like a Pop Song

The Bicycle Thief: You Come and Go Like a Pop Song

It feels like just about everything from 2001 that wasn’t 911 was lost to history, including this album. Not that having Bob Forrest from one of my 80s touchstones, Thelonious Monster, at the top of the ticket is exactly going to set the world on fire, but add in future Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist, John Klinghoffer and some random-ass dude from the Geraldine Fibbers and you have something that pretty much like thirty-three dudes on the planet might care about. Now that I’m reading more closely, this album originally debuted in 1999 (with the 2001 release being an updated […]

Spiritual Songs for Lovers to Sing

LUH: Spiritual Songs for Lovers to Sing

WU LYF was short-lived, but influential in my everyday life. Not because of their terrific (and only) 2011 album, Go Tell Fire to the Mountain, but because I used some sort of iPhone app to use their track, “L Y F” to create my ringtone. Now every time I get one of those awesome spam calls telling me I’m going to be turned into the IRS unless I call them back, I am reminded of that album’s awesomeness. So here comes the kind of second incarnation of that band — or at least its enigmatic lead singer, Ellery James Roberts, […]

Teens of Denial

Car Seat Headrest: Teens of Denial

I know we don’t really do desert island albums since the advent of the iPod, but let’s just pretend for a sec that I could only bring 10 albums with me when I have somehow predetermined that I’m going to shipwreck on a deserted island in the middle of nowhere. I’d obviously bring In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, but beyond that and maybe one of two Pavement albums and The Monitor the picture becomes kind of fuzzy. But — and I know this is probably just me throwing a little of-the-moment-ism — this Car Seat Headrest album has made a […]


Yoni & Geti: Testarossa

Testarossa is a very specific reference for males of a certain age. So is Countach. I had posters of both on my wall as an adolescent. The Testarossa was on a planet with moons all around it. The Countach just sat there in all its black sleekness. They were cars unattainable and almost alien in their foreignness. Like those cars, this duo has an exotic and vaguely Euro-sounding name, but their music is anything but. Made up of American, Yoni Wolf, from Why? and Chicagoan, David Cohn (aka Serengeti), they form what purports to be a hip-hop group. To call […]

The Life of Pablo

Kanye West: The Life of Pablo

Oh Kanye. You silly, silly, self-important man. Kanye is one of the few musicians I had the opportunity to interact with on a deeper level when working at Island Def Jam many years ago. At that point Kanye was merely a producer for affiliated Roc-a-fella Records, had released one single, “Through the Wire,” and was working on his first LP, The College Dropout. I was an interactive producer for the folks who built all of IDJ’s websites and as such sat on a call with Kanye as he ripped off his vision for his first site. It was pure insanity. […]


LVL UP: Hoodwink’d

When I first saw this band, technically on the undercard with Pinegrove at a show I was to attend in Montclair, NJ, all I could think was “that name does not inspire confidence.” But in order to prep for the show, I threw on this album, Hoodwink’d. And goddamnit if they didn’t surprise the hell out of me. And remind me why it is I miss going to more live shows and discovering via openers the real gems in the bunch. I think this show was unique, as on any other night LVL UP might have been the headliner and […]

Higher Power

The Dirty Nil: Higher Power

I’ve been listening to this Dirty Nil album on repeat for weeks now. And in this day and age of on-damand media, that’s saying a lot. To keep an album in rotation for more than a week is rare, as there are always 59 more, new, old and indifferent, to take its place. But this one is definitely a keeper. From the first burst of squealed feedback, one can tell that this is an album with a point of view. It never feels confused or contrary or pandering or anything other than straight-up yearning to tell the story of high-energy, […]


Pinegrove: Cardinal

Dateline Montclair, NJ. Home to Stephen Colbert, media types and hippies of all stripes. An ethnically and economically diverse NYC-adjacent commuter town filled with Priuses and at least three different music venues. It is also apparently the hometown of two of the members of Pinegrove, who came to play the town’s newest venue, Old Mogul Theatre, in late February (2016), bringing with them the music from their debut album, Cardinal. And goddamn if I wasn’t super-proud of my adopted home that weekend. Standing in line in the frigid cold with dozens of whatever the generation behind millennials is called, feeling […]

Three Dollar Bill Y'all

We Listened to Limp Bizkit and We Lost

Limp Bizkit somehow plays into my past. I mean we all had to put up with Fred Durst and the obnoxious swarm of rapcore shitheads he spawned, but they actually and totally played into my everyday work life. I was a publicity coordinator at Interscope back in 1997 when the Bizkit’s album, Three Dollar Bill Y’all, dropped. My job mainly consisted of clipping articles out of skate and metal magazines in which our artists appeared, setting up photo shoots, answering phones, yelling at road managers to get their hung-over artists to interviews and arranging travel and doing expense reports for my […]


NehruvianDOOM: NehruvianDOOM

I am a sucker for a certain era of rap. It’s mostly early nineties into the mid-nineties. The rappers back then decided that because they’re music was based on the lyrics they were spittin’ that you should probably be able to understand them. Sometimes they made sense, sometimes they didn’t. But that wasn’t the point. It just needed to sound good and clever. And the rap changed. It became about something else. I’m not sure what that something else is, but it no longer seemed clever or considered to me. With obvious exceptions, of course. But, for the most part, […]


The Bolshoi: Friends

If the Internet existed in its current form back in 1986 when this album came out, this would have appeared in the “If you like The Cure, you’ll love The Bolshoi” section of any number of algorithmically or tag-driven websites around this lovely web of ours. Though that comparison is only skin-deep, and this band is only peripherally goth, even though that’s how I’ve tagged it only because this kind of defies description otherwise. Plus I just kind of wanted to say I listened to some goth when I was a kid. Without the Internet, I’m not sure how I […]

You're Gonna MIss It All

Modern Baseball: You’re Gonna Miss It All

Welcome to the goofier side of pop punk. Not that the genre isn’t inherently goofy, but you have your emo-ish pop punk that deals with the trials and tabulations of young life, or days filled with drowning said lingering issues of a formerly young life now soaked in alcohol. Then there’s Modern Baseball, which mixes the more whimsical side of blink-182 with the less serious moments of a Lit. Sorry, I swore I’d never bring that band up in any context, but here I am in 2016 bringing up a novelty pop punk band who had one minor radio hit […]