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by Will Rivitz

9 Aug 2016


The Conquerors’ “Turned Me to Stone” is strictly vintage. It’s such a pitch-perfect recreation of Help!-era Beatles that it’s hard to believe it’s a new song. There’s the simple yet masterful pentatonic guitar solo, the three-vocal harmonies, the guttural yells which bring the song through transitions. Even the band’s pictures, all in suits and immaculately arrayed, suggests that they could have been heartthrobs in the ‘60s. There’s a reason the Beatles were so popular back in the day, and the Conquerors’ excellent approximation of that success is ample proof why.

by Will Rivitz

9 Aug 2016


Photo: Christopher M. Howard

The video for “Bones Live Forever” shows two bands, representing the angelic and devilish halves of Megan Slankard, performing at each other. It’s appropriate that the “good” side looks awkward and stilted when they perform while the “bad” one (the same musicians in different clothes and makeup) looks poised and alive: the song’s sound skews towards hard-nosed alt-rock of the sort that’s been decried as “devil music” in days of yore. Guitars yelp and wail over Slankard’s affected snarl, purely-distilled verve animating their dizzying distortion. Pop purity and rock wildness coexist here, but the rock wins out in the end — and the song is all the better because of it.

by Will Rivitz

9 Aug 2016


Crushed Out‘s “Skinny Dippin” is surf rock at its most primal. The lyrics—a plea for the “baby” to come skinny-dipping—are the most obvious part of this, but the music does its part too. Low toms thud like frazzled heartbeats, scuzzy guitars moan plaintively, and Frankie Sunswept’s twangy baritone glues everything together. We’re past the point of applications for “song of the summer,” but the burst of energy that is “Skinny Dippin” fills in the end-of-summer lull quite nicely.

by Will Rivitz

8 Aug 2016


Elijah Ford‘s “The Way We Were” is a hooky pop-rock juggernaut, a song that starts strong and keeps the pedal to the floor all the way through. Mixing Walk the Moon’s full-on peppy onslaught with Southern-fried guitars and darting bass, Elijah Ford’s newest is rock in its most effervescent form, blithely powering from verse to chorus and back again. If you’re looking for a shot of by-the-books rock done with an ear for pop’s best qualities, this should tide you over nicely.

by Will Rivitz

8 Aug 2016


The Qualia’s synthpop only keeps one foot in that genre, whizzing between tangential styles as it goes. Cotillion Knives draws from foot-stomping anthemic rock, skeletal funk, chiptune, Eurodance, and a whole host of other styles. It’s exciting because it never stays in one place, always careening around in order to keep engaged. That everything somehow coheres into one complete album is a testament to the band’s skill — and a testament to the power of synthpop.

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