This short piece on the song “Bruise” by a band called Vomitface was originally written for WNYC’s Soundcheck.
Punk has always had the capacity to speak uncomfortable truths. It’s loud, aggressive music that can provide a platform for expressing frustrations and anger: Some bands focus on the micro level, channelling and working through personal pain; others work in the macro by addressing larger social issues, corrupt institutions, or political disenfranchisement. Downtown Boys specializes in the latter, writing combustible and challenging songs that forcefully face difficult subjects head-on.
I first came across Lady Lamb The Beekeeper in 2011, in an opening set for Sharon Van Etten at the now-gone Red Palace in Washington D.C. And I’m pretty sure a majority of the people in that small room was being introduced to her songs for the first time that night as well. But as sometimes goes with opening acts, there was a moment when the jittery murmur of the crowd there to see another musician soon died down and eyes turned to the stage where an artist they didn’t know became a new discovery. That night, with just an electric guitar Lady Lamb — a.k.a. songwriter and guitarist Aly Spaltro — put on a compelling short set — and maybe for some, became a name to keep an ear out for.
Wrote a long essay about Public Service Broadcasting’s ambitious space-themed concept album, The Race For Space for NPR Music’s First Listen series.
I wrote a short piece for NPR Music’s Heavy Rotation series on Courtney Barnett’s fantastically wordy new song “Pedestrian At Best” from her new album Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit. You can read that over here.
Below, you can read the fuller version.
Whether in her early years as an inward-looking and confessional songwriter, or as the enigmatic creative center of Lower Dens, Jana Hunter has always seemed like a mysterious, reserved figure. Content to mask her voice amid the foggy, blissed-out atmosphere of the Baltimore band, Hunter came off like a shy frontwoman on stage, tolerating the attention because she was driven to perform as a means to push through her own anxiety and internal darkness.
Okay, I have no clue who Novellus really is. Maybe it’s a young upstart developing a following by withholding information. Perhaps it’s an established artist I already know, operating under a different moniker. Or, an enigmatic superstar dropping new music on the sly. Wait, I know! It’s Paul McCartney, right? No? Is it Burial? Probably not.