Sound
Anarchy is Disappointing

Anarchy is Disappointing

Death was everywhere.  A large, jovial Calaveras print greeted gig goers at the entrance to Sacramento’s Sol Collective – a reminder that Dia De Muertos is approaching. Sitting on the floor, I could see the dimly lit St. Joseph’s Cemetery across the street. A painting of a skull, tucked into a deep-sea diving mask, hung above Amy Farina’s drum set. More»

Ruts Never Sleeps

Ruts Never Sleeps

Drummer David Ruffy and bassist John “Segs” Jennings peer out of the poster announcing a German tour this past weekend for their legendary punk-reggae band Ruts DC as members of a unique club within the first-wave punk generation. Theirs is one of the few bands that has endured the slings of mortality during both their salad days and in their later revival years. More»

Raving Underwater

Raving Underwater

Sometimes it’s easy to tell when a band will be worth seeing live. But the first time I saw Deerhunter, I wasn’t expecting much. While I had long enjoyed their albums, they seemed too dependent on a particular “processed” sound to translate to a concert venue. Was I ever wrong. When my friend suddenly took me by the hand and led me towards the stage, my critical distance disintegrated in seconds. More»

From Queercore to Apartheid

From Queercore to Apartheid

How do you describe The Shondes? Indie? Punk? Jewish? Queer? After seven years and four albums, the way the band is identified has definitely changed. Souciant sat down with violinist Eli Oberman to discuss the band’s forthcoming album, The Garden, and talk about radical politics, Jewish tradition, and Tzadik Records. More»

Tex-Mex Europop

Tex-Mex Europop

My patience was wearing thin. After two hours of sampling the new releases at one listening station after another, I was starting to wonder whether I’d ever find something that sounded fresh. And then an album caught my eye. Everything about it was out of sync with its surroundings: the bright, neo-psychedelic colors; the pedestrian sans-serif font; and, most of all, the name it spelled out: Bosnian Rainbows. More»

Philly Punx Picnic 2013

Philly Punx Picnic 2013

For the fifth year in a row, the Philly Punx Picnic brought a week’s worth of noise, party, and way too much beer to an appreciative local scene. Featuring seven shows in just under six days, a softball tournament, and a bike race, the festival drew visitors from around the country and all the way from Japan and Australia. More»

Styles of Freedom

Styles of Freedom

One of the peculiarities of punk is that its ethos of personal freedom has often been expressed through regimentation. Punk’s earliest exponents had no coherent ideology, yet punk exists today as a congeries of well-defined styles and symbologies. A further feature of its history, whose appearance was roughly coterminous with the emergence of punk itself, is the view that punk is dying or that it is already dead. More»

We Are the Phone Crew

We Are the Phone Crew

Rock bands lending their ‘brand name’ to consumer products – surely the epitome of ‘selling out’? The Motorhead phone cover would seem to be the latest – and certainly not the worst – in a long tradition of branded merchandise, whose apotheosis must surely be the Kiss coffin. The critique of this kind of branding is almost as familiar as the branding itself. More»

Fair Trade Music

Fair Trade Music

Few cultural movements have left more of a mark than DIY (Do-it-Yourself) punk. For the last four decades, the scene has had a tremendous impact on both music and radical politics. Best known for its anarchists, little attention to has been paid to its ideological contradictions. For example, even its most politicized form, anarcho-punk, proclaims anti-capitalist goals, yet economically ends up working through market  mechanisms. More»

Songs in the Key of Dub

Songs in the Key of Dub

A decade after they announced the shutdown of their Portland-based dubwise label BSI Records, Ezra Ereckson and his visual-artist wife Tracy Harrison are back in the record game, having just put out “Freedom Fighter” by the Disciples, the tenth release on their recently activated artisan-dub label ZamZam Sounds. More»

In Crust We Trust

In Crust We Trust

One of the peculiarities of the early punk scene was the way that certain sounds became associated with certain towns. In mid-1980s, New York became famous for bands with a crunchy, metallic sound, such as Judge, Youth of Today, and the Cro-Mags. Although Chicago has produced a wide range of groups, it’s hard to dissociate the city from dark and angular sounding 1980s bands such as Naked Raygun, The Effigies, and Articles of Faith. More»

Migrants With Drums

Migrants With Drums

The sound of hand drums echoed in the distance. For a second, I thought I was in Berkeley. A daily feature of my graduate school years, I can’t remember a seminar I sat in where I could not hear a jam session in progress.  Located somewhere in Sproul Plaza, drum circles would normally get going in the mid-afternoon, rising in volume – and membership – by the early evening. More»