Cool Town

Cool Town: How Athens, Georgia, Launched Alternative Music and Changed American Culture By Grace Elizabeth Hale [University of North Carolina Press] Damn, I am old. So why does it blow my mind that 40+ years have transpired since Athens became the nexus of the Southern avant-garde, the wellspring of Georgia post-punk and the cool place… Continue reading Cool Town


Warhol By Blake Gopnik [Ecco Press] Get this: I am a survivor of WAPS: That’s Warhol Obsession Phase Syndrome. My infection developed in my freshman year of college, sometime after I’d beaten back a strain of PPS (that’s People’s Poet Syndrome) and before the subsequent onset of BCBCW (that’s Black-Clad Burroughs/Camus Windbag Syndrome). WAPS was… Continue reading Warhol

Sing Backwards and Weep

Sing Backwards and Weep By Mark Lanegan [Hatchette Books] “What happened to you that made you so sad?” This is the burning question that 7 Year Bitch’s Selene Vigil asked of the Screaming Trees’ Mark Lanegan during a fleeting, pensive moment of rapprochement during a truncated liaison amourese. This Lanegan guy, he had (and very… Continue reading Sing Backwards and Weep

Brown Acid Compilation Series

The Eclectic Brown-Aid Acid Test: Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Record Collectors There was kind of a weird spot just a smidge past the mid ’60s when the halcyon, zombie-dance daze of the much vaunted hippie era took a dark turn. Music critics and pop culture obsessives will probably argue till the end of time… Continue reading Brown Acid Compilation Series

Me & Mr. Cigar

Me & Mr. Cigar By Gibby Haynes [Soho Teen Press] Yeah, it’s not that uncommon when aging punks and indie rockers shift genres from music to, ahem, literature. I mean, being a novelist is in some ways easier (and perhaps more profitable) than being a musician. It doesn’t entail the tedium and tribulations of interacting… Continue reading Me & Mr. Cigar

Face It

Face It By Debbie Harry [Dey Street/Harper Collins] Blondie’s Debbie Harry has always been something of a consciously postmodern shape-shifter, even when said shape-shifting was a prefiguration of the postmodern condition that would be defined by frou-frou critical theorists in the late 1970s. Playfully manipulating her persona for the entirety of her career, Deborah Harry… Continue reading Face It


Cruel Optimism: Cloak Ascends from the Venomous Depths of Atlanta Metal Hell to Face The Burning Dawn There’s a certain point in the trajectory of a band (well, any band that’s to a degree “making it” in whatever’s left of the music biz, that is) where what is perceived by the average Joe as success… Continue reading Cloak


Nunez Amplification: Torche’s Jonathan Nunez Expands (and Expounds Upon) the Possibilities of Sound It’s really, really hard to get ahead these days – especially in the music biz. Sadly, the current pop milieu is a by-the-numbers, cut-and-paste, ProTools music marketplace. Granted, the lowest common denominator pop neoliberalism of the present day is nothing new. It’s… Continue reading Torche


The “Southern Thing” That Cannot Be: Stairclimbing, Genre Splicing and Blowing Ears Open with Baroness Let’s face it, it’s never been exactly cool to be from the South. Sure, The Southern Thing has its own mystique. And there are buttloads of bands that have honed, mythologized, fetishized, commoditized, struggled with and even claimed to deconstruct… Continue reading Baroness

Keep Music Evil

Keep Music Evil: The Brian Jonestown Massacre Story By Jesse Valencia [Jawbone Press] There was a weird little lull in the, ahem, progress of indie rock, or whatever had become of it, in the late ’90s. You remember the deal: In the post-hardcore ’80s (I’m referring to the period after first wave hardcore, not the… Continue reading Keep Music Evil


Answers that Seem Like Questions: Voivod’s Unlikely, Eternal, Intergalactic Quest When Canada’s Voivod first emerged on the (then) nascent proto-thrash/metal/crossover scene of the mid ’80s, nobody knew exactly what to make of the band. Voivod’s first album, War and Pain (1984) was kind of like an ancient time capsule from the future that had drifted… Continue reading Voivod

Straight Into Darkness

Straight Into Darkness: One Tom Petty Redemption Song By Megan Volpert [Miniver Press] Scholars, or those who fancy themselves scholars, should not write about popular culture. You know the types: If there’s more than one framed parchment hanging on the wall, well, the owner of said parchments is likely under the delusion that it’s their… Continue reading Straight Into Darkness

Tribulation – Down Below

Along with Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, In Solitude, Grave Pleasures and, most popularly, the masked men of Ghost, Tribulation are among a spate of purportedly scary bands leading the now-not-so-new wave of semi-scary heavy metal, a.k.a. NWSSHM. All the aforementioned bands are grimly reaping notoriety by retooling the now quarter of a century old… Continue reading Tribulation – Down Below

Swans: Sacrifice and Transcendence

Swans: Sacrifice and Transcendence, The Oral History By Nick Soulsby [Jawbone Press] How long must this go on? Am I really enjoying this? If I stay, will I eventually cross some kind of threshold where I start enjoying it? And is this experience really worth sacrificing what’s left of my hearing? These were the nagging… Continue reading Swans: Sacrifice and Transcendence

The Hard Stuff

The Hard Stuff: Dope, Crime, The MC5 & My Life of Impossibilities By Wayne Kramer [Da Capo Press] From its inception, rock ’n’ roll has always been an outsider art form. So of course, there has never been any shortage of rowdy, rough and ready rockers pushing the proverbial envelopes. Rock ’n’ roll is (or… Continue reading The Hard Stuff


Everything Doesn’t Suck Today: The Descendents’ Bill Stevenson Didn’t Want to Grow Up, But He Did Way back in the Paleolithic, proto-hardcore daze of 1982, the Descendents for all intents and purposes started their career by ending their career. The band’s debut LP, Milo Goes to College, was a revelation, a “hardcore” (well, that’s how… Continue reading Descendents


Astral Weeks: Beyond the Abyss (and Back) with YOB’s Mike Scheidt Pondering mortality, one’s place in the cosmos and the meaning of life (or lack thereof) is a task for philosophers, intronauts and all manner of eggheads. Then again, it’s something we’re all going to end up doing at some point –provided we live through… Continue reading YOB

A Spy in the House of Loud

A Spy in the House of Loud: New York Songs and Stories By Chris Stamey [University of Texas Press] The “hit” is something of an onus/craw-sticker for any musician of note – even when said “hit” is not really a hit, just a fan fave. A given artist’s fan base will form a death grip… Continue reading A Spy in the House of Loud



Someday You Will (Not) Ache Like I Ache: Bully’s Alicia Bognanno Stays Focused and Defies Clichés Today’s popular culture, whatever’s left of it, is a precession of simulacra – a virtual hall of mirrors where refractions upon refractions morph amongst themselves for infinity. It’s beyond cliché to say that everything old is new again. Hell,… Continue reading Bully

The Autobiography of Gucci Mane

The Autobiography of Gucci Mane By Gucci Mane with Neil Martinez-Belkin [Simon & Schuster] “I spent my winter in jail, so I’m ballin all summer” – Gucci Mane, “Georgia’s Most Wanted” In the early 1980s, the emergence of hip-hop as a crystallized form dragged popular music, kicking and screaming perhaps, into postmodernity. Rock, R&B, country… Continue reading The Autobiography of Gucci Mane

Hit So Hard

Hit So Hard By Patty Schemel with Erin Hosier [Da Capo Press] If there was ever anyone from the grunge era who was more nakedly careerist that Courtney Love, it was Kurt Cobain. Cobain studiously constructed an anti-star persona that was form-fitted for the post college rock era and worked as a one-way ticket to… Continue reading Hit So Hard

The Lees of Memory – The Blinding White of Nothing at All

“Because I can” is seldom a well-argued rationale for recording a double album, but it certainly works in this case. John Davis is the master of whatever ship he’s helming at the moment, and at present that ship is The Lees of Memory, a band that is pretty much, kinda/sorta but not exactly the reanimation… Continue reading The Lees of Memory – The Blinding White of Nothing at All

Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine

Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine By Joe Hagan [Knopf] “High-functioning Narcissists can be incredibly effective people.” – direct quote from page 503. I know this is incredibly dorky, but I grew up loving rock magazines almost as much as I loved rock ’n’ roll itself. In the… Continue reading Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine

Everything is Combustible

Everything is Combustible: Television, CBGB’s and Five Decades of Rock and Roll By Richard Lloyd [Beech Hill Publishing] The rock band is a multi-celled organism that usually has more than one nucleus. Yeah, every band has a certain someone who stands in the middle and reaps the bulk of the adoration and filthy lucre. But… Continue reading Everything is Combustible

Bully – Losing

The world of rock ’n’ roll music is littered with problems and bad ideas. I mean, let’s face it: Rock is still, for the most part, a musical form that is by and for the young. And of course, the young aren’t exactly known for their wisdom. But who wants wisdom, anyway? Bad ideas, both… Continue reading Bully – Losing