Rock
The Past is Alive

The Past is Alive

Of all the words in the lexicon of music writing, legendary must be about the most over-used.  Yet I am very much of the opinion that it applies here. Anti-Cimex formed in the days when the U.K. punk scene of the late 1970s was metastasizing into the hardcore punk scene of the 1980s. More»

America Needs Smart People

America Needs Smart People

Running a record label is a pain in the ass. It always begins with the best of intentions that reside somewhere in the mix of DIY ethics, wanting to support your friends, and simply trying to release your band’s arguably mediocre record when nobody else will do it. More»

Long Live Lookout Records

Long Live Lookout Records

Larry Livermore is responsible for getting a lot of great songs stuck in my head. Years before I played my first punk show, I memorized choruses on mixtapes gifted from my skater friends, which included tracks from Green Day, Operation Ivy, Crimpshrine and various other bands I had never seen, but would eventually come to know as part of Livermore’s record label. More»

Where Are We Now?

Where Are We Now?

In the week following David Bowie’s death, a period my friend Ann Powers referred to as “sitting shiva”, my social media feed was dominated by content related to his career. Personal reflections on his impact, pieces about his career and countless links to clips testified to his cultural significance. At times, this collective outpouring felt like a desperate attempt to assert that we all still had something in common. More»

The Dream of the '90s

The Dream of the ’90s

The eldest of the three talented women from Portland that comprise The Ghost Ease might have entered kindergarten in 1991, the year that Nirvana’s mainstream breakthrough album Nevermind was released. More»

I Want To Play My Guitar

I Want To Play My Guitar

The Director had ideas for this video. It was called “Qwi Mai Yab”, or ‘Quit My Job’ as might be filtered through the thick Cuban accent of singer-songwriter Jem Marie’s extended familia. The Director was thinking of clever satirical scenarios: perhaps dull office work, or repetitive factory labor, or handling of toxic materials, something static to be upset by the burst of punk energy from the song and its players. More»

Vinyl Solution

Vinyl Solution

For nearly four decades, punk was America’s counterculture. The scene was remarkably resilient, replicating itself hundreds of times over, in nearly every part of the country. Punk had a sense of timelessness to it, which made it seem independent of its partnership with pop culture. More»

The Death of Meaning

The Death of Meaning

Even if you’ve heard nothing about the new Sufjan Stevens album Carrie and Lowell, the cover should make its purpose clear. But I somehow managed to remain willfully ignorant until the moment when I put it on the stereo. It must have been a defense mechanism, because the minute his voice entered the warbling folk of the first track, I was already in tears. More»

Punk’s Past Alternate Future

Punk’s Past Alternate Future

I first started listening to punk and hardcore in 1988—not that music’s best period. Many of the great early bands, including the Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, and Crass, had broken up a couple years before, and it seemed that the genre might be at its social and aesthetic end. The politics were fading while metalcore and straightedge hardcore bands were in ascendance. More»

The Plague Dancers

The Plague Dancers

France is probably not the first place that one thinks of in terms of extreme music. While it has been home to obscure black metal acts such as Deathspell Omega and Blut aus Nord, the country has not, generally speaking, shown the propensity to produce death and grind bands as Britain or Germany (to say nothing of points further north). But in recent years that has begun to change. More»

The Dark Side of Prog

The Dark Side of Prog

Progressive rock was not the sole province of British hippie bands like Yes, and the self-indulgent noodling of ‘virtuoso’ groups such as Emerson Lake and Palmer. It was also identified with artists like Ian Anderson, and his band Jethro Tull, who, while no slouches in the hair department, trafficked in barbed literary diatribes, and dense, More»

Are the Mekons a Meal?

Are the Mekons a Meal?

The other night I saw Skull Orchard, the latest side band of the Mekons’ Jon Langford, in Brooklyn. I was hungry for some good music, and the show was filling—but not the same way even the best reunions, such as Flag’s recent set, or the Avengers show a few years back, have been. More»