History will always chiefly remember Kurt
Cobain as a creator of music, not a consumer. But the Nirvana leader
was also an avid advocate for his favorite groups and most cherished
influences. In the posthumously released Journals, he documented his 50 favorite records. Most telling of all was his inclusion of Pixies’ Surfer Rosa in spot No. 2. That’s significant because Nirvana’s biggest hit owes a great debt to the group.
In a world where Punk has become a
commodity on a par with soy lattes and $500 tennis shoes, it’s
comforting to know that Agent Orange is still prowling the wastelands
and kicking the universe in its rapidly descending ballsack.
Marc Cohn isn’t particularly prolific,
but when he lays hands on a piano or guitar, something extraordinary
happens. Witness the ubiquitous platinum success of “Walking in Memphis”
from Cohn’s eponymous 1991 debut, which earned him a Best New Artist
Grammy. Neither 1993’s The Rainy Season nor 1998’s Burning the Daze matched his debut’s immediacy, and it was nearly eight years before Cohn wrote new original music.
The hit Disney show Hannah Montana not only launched Miley Cyrus' career, but it was also
tangentially responsible for Metro Station, an energetic Pop/Rock outfit
that hit enviable heights in spite of significant internal tensions.
During Hannah Montana’s first season, Trace Cyrus and Mason
Musso, brothers of the show’s co-stars, met on set and formed Metro
Station based on their mutual musical interests.
About halfway through “Deathcamp,” the lead track on Tyler, the Creator’s new album Cherry Bomb,
the dense, hard-charging music takes a breather so the controversial
California-bred rapper can declare, “I don’t like to follow the
rules/And that’s just who I am/I hope you understand.” No doubt many don’t understand, which
seems to suit Tyler just fine
If you’re a Donkeys fan, you know the San
Diego quartet from its decade-plus history, three exemplary albums on
Dead Oceans and 2014 debut with new label Easy Sound Recording Co., Ride the Black Wave.
You know they haven’t had a lineup change since forming in 2004 and
that they’ve been nominated twice (winning once) for Best Rock Band at
the San Diego Music Awards.
When I was getting into music as a
teenager, I took a genealogical approach to discovery. If I liked a
particular band, then presumably I’d like the bands its members had
played with previously or would play with subsequently. If you applied that same connective logic
to Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers, you would a) experience a healthy
degree of corollary success, and b) collect a backbreaking amount of
material in a hurry.
Japanese music culture has always been
adept at absorbing Western musical forms and translating them into
familiar but distinctly new concepts. Shonen Knife may have begun as a
de facto Ramones tribute, but the band has grown into a unique sonic
entity that embraces all genres and reconfigures them into its own
singular sound. Given that, what can we make of Peelander-Z?
The idea behind Jayme Stone’s all-star
group, Lomax Project, is so brilliant it leads one to wonder why no one
has thought of it before. Alan Lomax was the legendary song-catcher and
in-the-field recorder who went out into rural areas, wrong sides of the
tracks and the outskirts of America in the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s to
collect obscure ethnic Folk music. Lomax took along a portable
reel-to-reel tape recorder and captured the music of many unknown
artists who would go on to be recognized by the larger population.
Chicago has given us many things over the
years. Awesome pizza. Billy Corgan. The Cubs, who will always do worse
than the Reds. And each winter a chance to look at the weather report
and not feel quite as downtrodden about “all the snow” that we get. Chicago’s greatest gift to the world, however, came in 1994 with the birth of a little band called Wilco.
Barrence Whitfield is the rare vocalist
that comes around as infrequently as a December hurricane, with the same
power and surprise. But Whitfield will tell you himself that a frontman
is nothing without the right backing, and the best foil for the
frenetic vocalist has always been guitarist Peter Greenberg.
Austin, Texas, Electro Pop trio Sphynx
makes magnetic, jubilant noise — ’80s-tinted but also rooted in
contemporary sounds like EDM and Indie Pop. Like a mix of Chromeo and
MGMT at their grooviest, Sphynx’s music is a call to the cool kids to
put down their phones and get on the dance floor. And the heartfelt and
non-mechanical vibe makes it infectious and accessible enough to
Punk was always intended to be fast,
loose and fleeting; The Ramones didn’t have a pension plan. Neil Young
wasn’t wrong when he noted that it’s better to burn out than to fade
away and yet, for every band like The Sex Pistols that existed for a
moment in the sun, there’s a band like SoCal’s Strung Out, with an
amazingly long history and a potent catalog to back it up.
Joy Division was indisputably one of the
finest names to emerge as a hugely influential entity in Post Punk and,
retroactively, Indie Rock, but the group’s stellar run only lasted only
four years. In that
first project’s wake, Joy Division’s remaining personnel formed New
Order, but hearing a full-on Joy Division set from an authentic source
wasn’t particularly viable.That is until Joy Division bassist (and
former New Order member) Peter Hook started plotting Joy Division
As invigoratingly honest Americana continues to blossom amid the musical banalities of Modern
Country like a desert rose, it brings with it a new phenomenon: the
“No-Hit Wonder,” those troubadours whose
grittily propulsive, slyly smart songs just can’t get commercial Country
airplay. It is to them that Cory Branan has dedicated the title song
of his latest album, The No-Hit Wonder.