I’ve already listened to all of Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks’ new album Mirror Traffic twice, first in the car, on my hundred-minute drive back from Phoenix, and again on my home stereo, before my thinking about it starts to find traction. Part of me is glad that the songs are shorter and less solo-inclined than was the case on Mirror Traffic’s predecessors. But even the gravel strewn across their surface — a missed beat here, a splash of distortion there — doesn’t diminish their slipperiness. I have to proceed with care. (More…)
Author: Charlie BertschCharlie Bertsch lives in Tucson, Arizona. A founding editor and regular contributor to one of the world's first online magazines, Bad Subjects: Political Education for Everyday Life, his work has appeared in numerous publications since including The Oxford American, Punk Planet, Phoenix New Times, Cleveland Scene, Tucson Sentinel, and the San Francisco Bay Guardian.
Walking across a college campus these days, one is constantly reminded how important personal technology has become for today’s students. From the sorority sister texting while her beach cruiser wobbles through the crowd, to the nerds sharing a portable videogame console, the scene is reminiscent of yesterday’s science fiction. The degree of collective distraction is truly stunning. Everyone seems to be tuning into their devices as a way of tuning out the world around them. (More…)
From the amp-straining bursts that introduce Is This Hyperreal? through the robotic reverberations that close it, Atari Teenage Riot’s comeback album forcefully reminds listeners that technology has a history. But this is no conventional exercise in nostalgia, like records that fetishize guitar pedals from the late 1960s or synth effects from the early 1980s. The sounds on Is This Hyperreal?” are theatrically dated, but thrown together like the odds and ends in a costume trunk. (More…)
When word started spreading about Wugazi, the excitement in social media circles was palpable. To those long familiar with mash-ups, myself included, this came as a surprise. It has been eight years, after all, since Danger Mouse released the form’s first widely discussed masterwork The Gray Album, an astonishingly vital fusion of The Beatles’ double-LP colloquially referred to as the “white album”, and Jay-Z’s The Black Album. (More…)
When I first noticed Monocle on prominent display near the cashiers at my local Barnes & Noble, I was excited. I’d heard a great deal about the magazine and been to its website. But I had yet to hold a copy in my hands. Sure, I could have subscribed to it, but spending upwards of $100 per year on a publication I’d never seen seemed excessive. And, to be frank, I’m more likely to make that sort of financial outlay for music or films than I am for reading material. (More…)
Now is the time for dub. No genre of popular music is better suited to the exigencies of contemporary cultural production. Technology is inexpensive and easy to come by, but people make things hard. Finding a way to play together, seems to require a complexity of scheduling worthy of a railroad dispatcher. Factor in the geographic dislocations that disperse potential bandmates hundreds, even thousands of miles away, and the appeal of constructing music with pre-existing elements, piece by piece, layer by layer, is clear. (More…)
The other day, a friend of mine asked me to share what media I’d been taking in lately. Even though it was a logical request, I was reluctant to respond. Instead of keeping tabs on new releases, I’ve been spending my limited time and money indulging in familiar pleasures: Haruki Murakami’s A Wild Sheep Chase, Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run, and just about everything to do with J.R.R. Tolkien. (More…)
I wasn’t going to write about the debut album from Cults. The very idea of the band annoyed me. I’m tired of male-female duos like the The White Stripes, Fiery Furnaces, and Mates of State. I’m tired of records that sound like they’re being played over an AM radio. And I’m especially tired of bands from Brooklyn, which actually make me long for the days when Seattle was all the rage. (More…)
Making my way through the vastness of my local Costco, trying to avoid the urge to buy large quantities of things for which I have small need, I was surprised to catch a glimpse of huge plastic barrels of flour out of the corner of my eye.
“Wait,” I thought, “Didn’t I just see a row of flour sacks two aisles back?” As I turned my head to ponder this riddle, I saw that the flour was grouped next to huge containers of dried strawberries and, a little farther to the right, such staples as powdered milk and eggs. (More…)
I still see a lot of these Ron Paul bumper-stickers on the highway. Introduced prior to the 2008 Presidential election in the United States, they were the most visible manifestation of the grassroots support that garnered him huge campaign contributions in spite of the fact that he never came close to winning the Republican nomination. (More…)
When my mother’s worsening health recently made it necessary for my parents to relocate from the Washington D.C. area, where they had lived for over three decades, to be near me in Tucson, Arizona, I volunteered to drive both their cars across the country. (More…)