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Ties That Bind

Thursday, June 19 2014

A Wheel Inside a Wheel: Gillian Welch’s ‘Time (The Revelator)’

Time (The Revelator) conjures a hazy post-millennial American dream of disappointment and ambition that's disturbed by what it sees and hears.


Monday, April 7 2014

I Was Young When I Left Home: How Kurt Cobain’s Voice Resonates

There are times when you hear Kurt Cobain sing that you believe no other voice has ever told the truth about suffering. But it's more complicated than that, isn't it?


Tuesday, February 25 2014

Who Does Lydia Loveless Think She Is?

With the release of her two new records, Lydia Loveless watches you watching her. Maybe you should listen, instead.


Friday, January 24 2014

What Will We Become? R.E.M.‘s “Driver 8”

In 2008 Michael Stipe introduced "Driver 8" as "a song that represents the dream of the United States of America and what it may become in the next three days." What did he mean, and has that dream come true?


Tuesday, October 29 2013

Power Up: Janelle Monáe, Afrofuturism, and Plurality

While most pop singers bounce from one marketable persona to another, Janelle Monáe stands her ground in this Afrofuturist vision she's been creating for about a decade. Other pop artists are tourists; she's building a city.


Sunday, August 18 2013

The Mind-Numbing Conservatism of Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros

Traditionalism is the key to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, beginning with their devotion to the past -- but it's a past with all the rough edges, those cuts that make us bleed, rendered dull and ineffectual.


Thursday, June 6 2013

Good Intentions but No Imagination: The Schlock of ‘Accidental Racist’

In "Accidental Racist", history is a generic blob, a "back then" that can safely take the blame for vague injustices while more recent history is overlooked in order to soothe one's own ego. 'Cause these days, it's All About You.


Wednesday, April 17 2013

Saturday Night, Sunday Morning: Gospel Music in a Secular World

Critically, commercially and historically, gospel is the great overlooked American music, maybe because few genres of music force you to confront your beliefs so immediately.


Monday, March 18 2013

I Read the News Today, Oh, Boy

Listening to the NRA's Wayne LaPierre speak around the massacring of children without missing a beat, it's easy to agree with Lewis Black that this century is starting to look just as physically dangerous as the last one—even if, as Steven Pinker claims, it's actually more peaceful.


Thursday, January 24 2013

Rocket to Nowhere: A Proto-Punk Dream

"Rocket to Nowhere" may be considered proto-punk by record collectors and rock critics, but that doesn't do enough justice to its primal, destructive glee.


Thursday, November 29 2012

Music, Meaning and Money: The Special Ingredients of Media and Consumerism in Pop

On negotiations between the pop/rock singer, a media-savvy audience, corporations, and meaning itself. Entranced by media, we turn everything into media; beholden to commerce, we turn life into a commodity.


Tuesday, October 2 2012

The Money I Owe: The National’s ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’ in 2012

The National's "Bloodbuzz Ohio" stays relevant and touching as the Great Recession continues.


Monday, August 20 2012

Fanboy Fury and Authoring ‘Before Watchmen’

Why have fanboys, this group of devoted readers, turned against the mainstream comics industry?


Sunday, July 29 2012

Attack of the 50-Foot Women! From Nancy Archer to Rep. Lisa Brown

How a classic B-movie poster speaks to the contemporary "War on Women".


Thursday, June 7 2012

Bruce Springsteen Shouts at the Hard of Hearing

Why has Springsteen set aside his storytelling in favor of social jeremiads? Who is he singing to? Why is he trying to do something different now, or is it just, as some critics claim, his brand of righteous rock as usual? The critical questions are not about the subjects, but instead, style, method and strategy.


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