Sound
Russia and the Punk Imaginary

Russia and the Punk Imaginary

Pussy Riot is the first Russian punk band to attain household name status in the West. The reason has less to do with its music than its politics. The subject of global media attention since three of its band members were arrested in February, the all-girl guerrilla group has become the unofficial face of Russia’s pro-democracy movement. More»

Turkish Psych Mix

Turkish Psych Mix

Not long after 9/11, San Francisco’s best record store began stocking up on reissues of Turkish psychedelia. The third wave of musical imports from the Middle East taken up by US hipsters (beginning with their adoption of Ofra Haza in the mid-1980s,) the timing was entirely appropriate. Amidst the wreckage of the World Trade Center, Americans were finding themselves drawn to the sounds of the Islamic New York. More»

Horns for Berlusconi

Horns for Berlusconi

Silvio Berlusconi isn’t known to be a Black Sabbath fan. A recording artist in his own right, the musical preferences of the Milanese media magnate lean more towards cruise ship favorites like “What’s New Pussycat?” than they do “Iron Man.” Not that it’s unreasonable to conjecture. Particularly following Il Cavaliere’s infamous flashing of the corna (horns) behind the head of Spain’s foreign minister, during a 2002 photo op. More»

Dub Step to Roots and Culture

Dub Step to Roots and Culture

Alongside the Olympics, London is currently bursting with activity celebrating the 50th anniversary of Jamaican independence. The all-star mega-big Respect Jamaica 50th Festival enters its second week at the nearby Indigo2, sporting a roster that includes everyone from Jimmy Cliff and U-Roy to Maxi Priest and Shaggy. More»

No Hipster Metal Here

No Hipster Metal Here

I’ve spent years trying to convince the world of metal’s radical potential. I’ve followed the obscure byways of obscure extreme metal genres in search of the avant-grade potential of this most degraded form. My heart has swelled with satisfaction as – finally – The Wire, The Quietus and other bastions of elite musical opinion have begun to embrace the metallic dark side. More»

A Brief History of Noise, Part I

A Brief History of Noise, Part I

In the 1970s, older folks regarded punk as untalented, amateur, and above all, noise. Only a few years after its arrival, British artists affiliated with the punk and postpunk scenes co-opted the “noise” designation, turned it into a badge of pride, and pushed the sonic envelope further than many believed possible. More»

The Postpunk Legacy of Crass Records

The Postpunk Legacy of Crass Records

Record labels are a funny thing. Just like bands, they can be objects of cultish devotion. Factory, Dischord, 4AD, Rough Trade, and others all have fans who look to a label’s branding as an indication of a band’s style, ethics, and quality. This goes back to the days of Sun Records in the 1950s. Crass Records‘ reputation as a purist punk label is due for reexamination. More»

In Search of Lost Tribe

In Search of Lost Tribe

Last year, Lost Tribe received an impressive degree of buzz for a punk band. The dark, apocalyptic quintet play a unique mix of ’80s California punk, deathrock, and UK anarcho-punk. Lost Tribe’s discography so far consists solely of cassette and vinyl-only releases. So, whence the notoriety? I asked the band what they think about all the buzz. And I got them to spill the beans about their upcoming tour. More»

Introducing Tanzkommando Untergang

Introducing Tanzkommando Untergang

Tanzkommando Untergang herald Europe’s new dark punk. Combining a guitar-driven deathrock sound with grim, black and white visuals normally associated with radical hardcore, the politically-minded Berlin band is very much of its milieu, and its moment. More»

Reinventing Punk

Reinventing Punk

In “Diary of An Anarcho-Goth-Punk Fiend,” Alistair Livingston, a member of the British  Kill Your Pet Puppy collective, records the transformational year of 1983 in terse bursts of prose. In clipped entries, he describes how 1983 began with him listening to bands like The Mob and Blood and Roses. By 1984 – the year of punk’s (and Orwell’s) apocalypse — he was trying ecstasy and getting into Psychic TV. More»

Slayer and Me

Slayer and Me

It wasn’t the first time I’ve seen Slayer live. As a metal fan for over twenty years  it’s been hard to avoid seeing them, given the frequency with which they tour. Nor would I want to avoid seeing them. They are after all the ur-band, the mother lode of extreme metal, never wavering in their commitment to a tight-riffing, hyper-disciplined sound. More»

George W. Hardcore

George W. Hardcore

It’s common punk wisdom: Republican presidents suck for America, but they’re great for punk. The Reagan Administration proved to be an ironic boon to hardcore. And so was Dubya. What follows are some of the best moments from hardcore punk’s second great era: 2001-2009, the Bush/Cheney regime. More»