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Summer is finally here. Fire up the BBQ and get out those picnic blankets, along with this playlist of new tunes from recent releases to provide the perfect soundtrack. This compilation of 17 songs is culled from a bounty of new music out of the West Coast, especially San Francisco (Waters, Papercuts and the Fresh and Onlys), plus an international mix from across the pond, especially the UK (Eno*Hyde, the Horrors, Damon Albarn and Jimi Goodwin). Listen up and see what catches your ear.

You’re half-listening to 20/20, the Boys’ so/so 1969 release, and you’re more-or-less resigned to the lead track, “Do It Again”, doubling as the high point. Then Side Two rolls around, and you find yourself totally caught off guard as beauty strikes in the restful, baroque pop form of “Time to Get Alone”. If you’re unacquainted, change that. “Time to Get Alone” is a dream, right on down the line from Carl’s feathery lead vocal—and the way it contrasts with the up-and-down crunch of the waltz backdrop—to the sumptuously layered arrangement of the chorus to the immaculate production job to the unadorned coda (which is from the extended version; see below).

With spring finally making an appearance, there’s plenty of news songs for another playlist thanks to the constant renewal of the music scene. Bands such as Cage the Elephant, Wye Oak and Real Estate are back with album releases along with Future Islands and Lost in the Trees. Female voices abound on this playlist, from Annie Clark of St. Vincent and Kelis, to Courtney Barnett, Sharon Van Etten and Monica Birkenes of Mr. Little Jeans.  Also check out new music from veteran bands Elbow and Maximo Park, along with indie heavyweight Beck.

Several years after Kurt Cobain died, I went to Sam Goody with a $20 bill and came home with In Utero.

I was 11, maybe 12. “Rape Me” was my favorite. I blasted the track and asked my parents what “rape” meant. They thumbed through the lyric booklet, frowned at the fetuses dotting the cover art, and quickly confiscated the disc to a bedroom closet, where, some weeks later, I happened upon it and reclaimed it in secret. Forbidden art is alluring art, and In Utero has been my favorite Nirvana release ever since. I already owned Nevermind, but In Utero was different—scarier, sharper around the edges. At least in part, that was because of “Rape Me”.

Rahdan Vandal (who usually just records under his first name), is probably Turkey’s most haunted rapper, his rhymes and beats mired in an air of anxiety and angst. Often, his work expounds on the emotional troubles of solitary youth and, with the poetic sweeps of some carefully versed rhymes, the rapper manages to convey these troubles without seeming banal. This may not be apparent to non-Turkish speakers, so Rahdan does the one thing he knows best when penning a lyric: back it up with an indelible melody that will linger in the listeners’ heads long after.

//Blogs

Is Black Widow Still a Hero? Dissecting the Misogynistic Outrage Against the Avengers

// Short Ends and Leader

"Black Widow may very well be the pinnacle of the modern action heroine, so why is there so much backlash about her role in the new Avengers film?

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