Wednesday, May 6 2015
The problem isn't that Rihanna's "American Oxygen" fails as political art, it's that we might consider it a success instead of a mere gesture.
Wednesday, April 8 2015
Nostalgia has its uses, its benefits. But is it useful and beneficial when it obscures the reality of the past and present, usually in the service of power, prestige, and making a buck?
Tuesday, March 24 2015
Disturbing, funny, alluring and repulsive in a uniquely American way that no one likes to admit, The Voices should trouble you.
Thursday, June 19 2014
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
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
With the release of her two new records, Lydia Loveless watches you watching her. Maybe you should listen, instead.
Friday, January 24 2014
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
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
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
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
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
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" 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
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 National's "Bloodbuzz Ohio" stays relevant and touching as the Great Recession continues.
Monday, August 20 2012
Why have fanboys, this group of devoted readers, turned against the mainstream comics industry?
Sunday, July 29 2012
How a classic B-movie poster speaks to the contemporary "War on Women".
Thursday, June 7 2012
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.