The Notwist – Vertigo Days

The Notwist recently joined a select list of bands that continue to release compelling music thirty years after their inception. Like many members of this club the German outfit achieved this milestone by pursuing a steady diet of side projects, and by sidestepping the incessant tour/record/tour grind; Vertigo Days is only the band’s third studio… Continue reading The Notwist – Vertigo Days

Peter Stampfel

Goodbye 20th Century: Peter Stampfel Bids It a Fond Farewell, but Leaves the Light On “Good ol’ Ricola.” Peter Stampfel paused to unwrap a lozenge nearly an hour into a lively conversation. This was no product plug, but rather a coping mechanism. Stampfel suffers from dysphonia, and has completely lost his voice for extended periods… Continue reading Peter Stampfel

Don’t Return This Gift: New Gang of Four Box

Soon after guitarist Andy Gill’s unexpected early February passing (of a respiratory ailment, following a November tour of China – you do the math) the surviving original members of the Gang of Four set out to reaffirm the post-punk standard bearers’ legacy. Gill had been performing with other musicians under the Go4 banner since vocalist… Continue reading Don’t Return This Gift: New Gang of Four Box

Adulkt Life – Book of Curses

Every once in a while, recombinant DNA experiments pay off. Male Bonding was a London garage punk outfit with a promising sound that often came up tantalizingly short on the key dynamics of hooks and transgression. Enter Chris Rowley – onetime member of Huggy Bear, UK standard bearers for the riot grrrl movement helmed stateside… Continue reading Adulkt Life – Book of Curses

The Bats

Heading for the Foothills: The Bats are Finished Logging Tour Miles, but Aren’t Done Making Music We’ve all heard our fill of tales about how Zoom has overwhelmed our lives in recent months. I was recently reminded of its benefits, however, when I connected with frontman Robert Scott and bassist Paul Kean of New Zealand… Continue reading The Bats

Ready Steady Go!

Ready Steady Go! The Weekend Starts Here By Andy Neill [BMG Books] The household name typically attached to British music television is Top of the Pops. While that long-running BBC program certainly cast a long shadow, it was actually predated by a scrappy upstart that set the tone and remains a pop culture touchstone for… Continue reading Ready Steady Go!

Boyracer – On a Promise

Boyracer’s Stewart Anderson long ago perfected a specific strain of breathless, verge-of-falling-apart yet insidiously hooky twee punk. The relentlessly DIY guitarist has churned out an insane number of releases since the mid ’90s with a vast array of bandmates and labels, often on his own imprint in recent years. Arguably Boyracer’s closest shot at wider… Continue reading Boyracer – On a Promise

Cornershop – England is a Garden

The precious few who remember Cornershop probably do on the strength of their 1997 hit “Brimful of Asha.” Sadly, that fine track doesn’t even reflect their best work – for that, check out 1995’s Woman’s Gotta Have It the British band’s most sublime melding of Punjabi and western grooves. The remarkable fact is that the… Continue reading Cornershop – England is a Garden

Luke Haines & Peter Buck – Beat Poetry for Survivalists

Peter Buck always seemed like the Rock and Roll Lifer in R.E.M.’s lineup. His recent burst of creative activity is nonetheless unexpected. He’s certainly not doing it for the money, and his artistic choices (three low-stakes solo albums, The Baseball Project?!) indicate he’s not pining for a return to arena stages, which is refreshing. Beat… Continue reading Luke Haines & Peter Buck – Beat Poetry for Survivalists

Game Theory – Across the Barrier of Sound

Game Theory’s run of hooky, heady and slightly off-kilter power pop extended from 1982-90, drawing the curtain with something that qualified as neither a bang nor a whimper. The quartet, which honed its attack using guitars and keyboards in equal measure, had always been a revolving cast of players centered on curly-haired savant Scott Miller.… Continue reading Game Theory – Across the Barrier of Sound

Waxahatchee Comes In From the Storm

Katie Crutchfield is no stranger to stylistic shifts. Her band Waxahatchee began life as a lo-fi solo affair which she gradually fleshed out, culminating in 2017’s maximalist and superb Out in the Storm – at which point she took a hairpin turn and released an EP of hushed, stripped-down takes of earlier collaborations. Prepare for… Continue reading Waxahatchee Comes In From the Storm

The Frogs Reboot; Evan Dando Hopping On

The Frogs were one of the more curious footnotes of the late ’80s alt-rock scene – hetero brothers from Milwaukee who dressed like Elton John raiding a thrift store and who caused a mini-kerfuffle with It’s Only Right and Natural, a concept album touting gay supremacy. Inexplicably they won fans and opening slots from the… Continue reading The Frogs Reboot; Evan Dando Hopping On

Torres Gets the Urge to Merge

Torres – still better known to family and friends in her Macon hometown as Mackenzie Scott – has found a new home on Merge Records. Following her stunning and organic-sounding eponymous 2013 debut, Torres connected with longtime PJ Harvey collaborator Rob Ellis to create a pair of stylized albums that occasionally veered into bloodless terrain.… Continue reading Torres Gets the Urge to Merge

Comet Gain – Fireraisers Forever!

When we last heard from Comet Gain, the long-running London collective was in an introspective and sedate mood – relatively speaking. While 2015’s Paperback Ghosts had its fair share of raucous moments, ringleader David Christian foregrounded the gentler, somber tunes that previously lurked on the periphery. The new Fireraisers Forever! flips the balance. The notion… Continue reading Comet Gain – Fireraisers Forever!

And Here They Are…Again…Wire Return

Post-punk legends (and Stomp and Stammer favorites) Wire will dialyze their kidney bingos once more on January 24 when the foursome releases Mind Hive on its own pinkflag label. It’s risky to draw many conclusions from a single track by this crew, but advance single “Cactused” finds Colin Newman and company in fine late ’80s… Continue reading And Here They Are…Again…Wire Return

Mannequin Pussy – Patience

It’s been several years since I’ve gotten excited about a record on Epitaph – a label that’s seemingly doubled down on a commercialized strain of American punk tailored to the Vans Warped Tour demographic. I may need to revisit that assessment, however, after hearing the powerhouse that is Patience, Mannequin Pussy’s third and best album.… Continue reading Mannequin Pussy – Patience

Half of Wire Try Flyin’ the Flannel

In their never-ending effort to stave off stasis, the members of Wire have taken to staging multi-night residencies/mini-festivals in lieu of pedestrian tour stops. As part of their 2017 DRILL: LOS ANGELES event, Wire’s Graham Lewis and Matthew Simms joined forces with San Pedro punk stalwart Mike Watt and his frequent wingman, drummer Bob Lee,… Continue reading Half of Wire Try Flyin’ the Flannel

Salt – The Loneliness of Clouds

Salt’s origin story is a fascinating one, even if it’ll likely resonate with only a select demographic. The Paris-centric band’s formation is a thin silver lining to emerge from the 2013 suicide of Game Theory/Loud Family mastermind Scott Miller. Miller’s widow enlisted Ken Stringfellow for an unusually heavy lift as producer – interrogating hundreds of… Continue reading Salt – The Loneliness of Clouds

The Mekons – Deserted

The Mekons mean business this time. You’ll need to rewind to the mid ’90s and I (Heart) Mekons for the last case of this motley crew extending such an olive branch to those outside their circle of devoted fans. That’s not to say The Mekons have phoned it in the past 20 years – far… Continue reading The Mekons – Deserted

Clearing Out the Avant-Garage: Pere Ubu Says Goodbye?

Pere Ubu is signaling that its forthcoming album The Long Goodbye (due June 12 on Cherry Red Records) will be the band’s last. We’ve seen no shortage of faux retirements in rock, but this one feels like it could stick. Ringleader David Thomas has been wrapping up affairs for some time, issuing a series of… Continue reading Clearing Out the Avant-Garage: Pere Ubu Says Goodbye?

Dasher – Dear Humans

It stings a bit to see Dasher billed as a Bloomington, Indiana band – after all, the band’s productive life was spent in the Atlanta scene, down to drummer/leader Kylee Kimbrough’s tenure as a Star Bar employee. Dasher’s sole studio album – the excellent Sodium – was recorded here as well, sitting on the shelf… Continue reading Dasher – Dear Humans

Sharon Van Etten – Remind Me Tomorrow

Here’s a case study in why albums should not be reviewed on short notice. Had I written about Remind Me Tomorrow in late January, given roughly a week’s listening time, I would have offered a very different take. After a pair of near-perfect LPs (Epic and Tramp) Sharon Van Etten’s last outing, 2014’s Are We… Continue reading Sharon Van Etten – Remind Me Tomorrow

Robert Forster – Inferno

Robert Forster’s reputation mostly – and rightly – rides on the Australian’s output alongside late bandmate Grant McLennan in the much-loved Go-Betweens. Often overlooked in the shuffle, however, is Forster’s stellar 1990 solo debut Danger in the Past. For his seventh outing, the newly minted Inferno, Forster returned to Berlin and rekindled his connection with… Continue reading Robert Forster – Inferno

The Beths

The Best Damn Thing: The Beths Spike Power Pop’s Punch Elizabeth Stokes has vivid recollections of her band’s show at the Drunken Unicorn last fall – mostly positive ones, but not entirely. “It was our first time in Atlanta and I wasn’t expecting a lot of people, but it a was really good, fun crowd… Continue reading The Beths

No Shutdown for DC Bands Ex Hex, Priests

A pair of Washington punk stalwarts have announced follow-ups to their breakthrough albums. You’ll have to set the Wayback Machine for 2014 to find Ex Hex’s debut Rips, but its windows-down, ’80s guitar-fueled driving tunes graced many Best of Year lists at the time. Rips was the most accessible work of frontwoman Mary Timony’s storied… Continue reading No Shutdown for DC Bands Ex Hex, Priests