Latest Blog Posts

by David Ensminger

31 May 2012


Few people in underground music retain the unvarnished status, proclivity for chance and change, and ductile dedication to musically honesty that Mike Watt does. His relationship to comrade D. Boon extends back to 1973, when the Californians formed the Bright Orange Band, then re-grouped as the Reactionaries, then settled in as the Minutemen by 1980. Considered uber poet-cum-punks armed with endless San Pedro slang, their music deftly fused dollops of Creedence Clearwater and Blue Oyster Cult with Pop Group and Wire. Their catalog alone is seminal and titanic, a working-class tome that impressed writers from Richard Meltzer to Mikal Gilmore and Michael Azerrad.

When D. Boon died in 1986, Watt briefly contributed songs to Sonic Youth for Evol and soon planted his feet in fIREHOSE, featuring Midwest exile Ed from Ohio (Crawford) as singer but retaining floppy-haired Minutemen drummer George Hurley as backbeat captain. From the trio’s days on Greg Ginn’s (Black Flag) iconic label SST to its foray on Columbia, fIREHOSE’s sound transformed from loose-knit Americana jazz-punk to big rock ’n’ roll blends, shaped by producers like J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr.

by Bill Gibron

23 May 2012


As Elvis Costello was wont to opine, radio seems to be solidly in the hands of such a lot of fools trying to anesthetize the way that you feel. Clearly, they are cutting up the catalog of many meaningful bands, reducing their import to a few selected songs. Granted, once you’ve traveled beyond the basics of many musical groups, their oeuvre seems less and less solid. On the other hand, many musicians are lucky if only one song out of their catalog makes it onto the air. As a result, several significant contributors to the medium’s cultural dynamic are left listed as ersatz one hit wonders—that is, a single overplayed track eventually represents everything they stand for. In that regard, here are our picks for 10 tunes that have become a pariah for their particular artists. Each act represented has dozens of definitive moments to remember them by. Radio, on the other hand, only recognizes these cuts.

by Stuart Henderson

17 May 2012


It’s roughly one month now before the first ballot for Canada’s Polaris Prize produces its Long List of the 40 best records of the year. Every round since its founding in 2006, this process has led to intense, mostly uncomfortable debate and decision-making among the pool of as many as 220 jurors, all of whom will cast ballots with their five weighted choices. Indeed, right about now, all across the country, people are taking sides, lobbying and cajoling, and dismissing and decrying.

Moreover, all over Canada, people are listening as hard as they can to as much as they can, trying to give a fair shake to all of the 120-plus records that have been variously suggested by members of the jury (on a private listserve) as albums worth paying attention to. As tasks go, it’s a daunting one, but it’s one of those “daunting tasks you’d pay to have to suffer through”, so who’s complaining? Not me. Though I will cop to a certain kind of ethical crisis every year when I fill out those five spots since, inevitably, I am leaving off another dozen or more albums that easily could have made it. It’s painful, but the kind of painful you want to share with friends over a beer. Like a real life desert island album game.

by David Ensminger

16 May 2012


Top Ten lists, like the ragged handwritten label of an old school mixtape, should never be considered an end-all or a final declaration. They are a weight station in a single person’s life, an aural index of a person’s sense of place, time, and culture. This list of lost punk singles/7” records from the American Midwest is not about a “best of” concept, it is about the rare, sometimes seminal gems that remained tucked away from most consumers because they were made in small batches. Having growing up and attended schools and gigs in the Illinois flatland region, I consider this list like a shout-out to nearby mavericks and marginal rockers that produced fare worth revisiting.

by Enio Chiola

9 May 2012


Now is the time when retrospective “Best of” lists are popping up trying to summarize the standout albums of the 1990s, which helped in defining the decade. Unfortunately, there are so many deserving LPs that are often underrated by critics and overlooked by many in compiling these lists. For every album by Beck inducted into the “Best of the 90s” canon, deserving records by the Lemonheads and Belly are tossed aside. Moreover, for every obvious choice by a well-established artist, more subtlety brilliant follow-ups are considered superfluous and therefore overlooked. Listed below, ordered by release date, is a collection of albums that are too often underrated and overlooked as the best albums of the ‘90s.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

St. Vincent, Beck, and More Heat Up Boston Calling on Memorial Day Weekend

// Notes from the Road

"With vibrant performances by artists including St. Vincent and TV on the Radio, the first half of the bi-annual Boston Calling Festival brought additional excitement to Memorial Day weekend.

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