Call for Music Writers... Rock, Indie, Urban, Electronic, Americana, Metal, World and More

Bookmark and Share
Tuesday, Nov 20, 2012
If you have a chance to check Clark out live, do so. He sounds fine in a studio setting, and I encourage you to grab his new disc. But like most of the better acts, especially of the jazz and blues idioms, he needs to be seen to be appreciated, and believed.

It’s only happened on two other occasions, before the night of November 9th.

In 2001, I saw Mike Patton in person for the first time, with his brand new side project Tomahawk at the Black Cat in D.C. (which, before the overdue smoking ban, was like standing in a dark closet with a nicotine-scented dry-ice machine). They came out and played “God Hates a Coward” and I turned to my date and said, “I’m good. We can go now.” We did not, of course, but I truly would have been 100% satisfied with just those three minutes. To get an hour-plus of that passion, musicality, and showmanship was one for the ages. I was less than 20 feet from the stage.

Bookmark and Share
Thursday, Mar 22, 2012
Cro-Magnon mating music, Martian childcare, hellbound murderers, and the serene pleasure of speed -- sounds like Swervedriver.

I’ve been a competitive runner for over 20 years. During that span of time, I’ve found running to be intensely thrilling, incredibly frustrating, wholly fulfilling, and painfully heartbreaking—sometimes all at once. For me, competitive running has probably taught me more about life—its peaks and valleys, its pleasures and pains—than anything else in my life.

Right now, the spring of 2012, I’m coming out of a particularly disheartening winter. After running quite well in last October’s Army 10 Miler, I suffered three different injuries in my right foot. Given that my right leg is a bit more bowed then my left, these injuries have become chronic over time. They’re completely unpredictable and are often unrelated to any specific workout or training regimen. Nevertheless, whenever I do suffer from them (posterior tibial problems are the absolute bane of my existence), I end up sidelined for weeks, requiring all manner of intense body work—ice massages, trigger point therapy, myofascial release sessions—to get back in gear. In the meantime, I miss races, my hopes for new PRs slippin’ through like sand.

This is the mindset that I will be bringing to Swervedriver’s upcoming show at Washington, D.C.‘s Rock & Roll Hotel on March 30—just two short days before the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, a race that I will no longer be able to race. Even though I’m not entirely pleased that, yet again, I won’t be able to blast around Hains Point, I actually can’t think of a more fitting physiological space to inhabit while attending what is sure to be a blistering concert.

Bookmark and Share
Thursday, Jan 19, 2012
Often too pretentious for its own good, in 2003 goth-tinged punk group AFI surmounted its shortcomings and excesses to craft at least one near-perfect single.

Ask a random music critic to come up with a shortlist of the best rock songs of the Noughties, and it’s quite unlikely his or her picks will include any offerings by walking Hot Topic billboard AFI. The California quartet (which started as a snotty hardcore outfit before gradually morphing into a goth/punk/emo/alt-rock hybrid obsessed with all things black and somber) is very much a people’s band, one whose increasingly ham-fisted aspirations of seriousness and grandeur is directly proportionate to how many records it sells. Though AFI wishes for its records to be taken as Art, its ambitions have been undercut by a misguided (and frankly adolescent) understanding of what that means, best evidenced by singer Davey Havok’s unabashedly purple lyrics (sample lines from “The Days of the Phoenix”: “The words were mystical as / Purring animals / The circle of rage / The voice on the stage appeared”). Thus, you probably won’t find many AFI tracks on year-end “best-of” critics’ polls

Yes, AFI is pretentious as all hell and Havok comes off as little too in love with the sound of his voice whenever he sings, but nevertheless the group has always had a knack for thrilling, full-throttle rockitude (it’s never a good idea for this band to move at anything slower than a restless clip—witness “Miss Murder”). With the proper focus and the right touch, AFI is indeed capable of greatness—and its magnificent 2003 single “Girl’s Not Grey” is proof of it. Indeed, it’s one of the best the past decade has produced. Seriously. I mean it.

Bookmark and Share
Thursday, Dec 15, 2011
With this year's Hurry Up, We're Dreaming, we have an M83 record that perfectly matches style with execution.

I’ve been admiring M83 from a cautious distance for the past few years. Though I’ve made the effort to grab all of the band’s records, and though I have seen it live once, I’ve tended to remain on the proverbial fence about the group. More often than not, M83’s Anthony Gonzalez gets it right. However, it has always seemed that for every one of those times where he got it right—for every “Teen Angst”, “Gone”, or “Graveyard Girl”—there were at least several moments when he inconceivably missed the mark. Take your pick: “Car Chase Terror”, “Midnight Souls Still Remain”, and, yes, a good chunk of “Beauties Can Die”.  All of them seem to suffer from either a stupefying lack of inspiration or, perhaps paradoxically, too much inspiration. In either case, tracks like those were enough to make me a bit guarded whenever news would break about a new M83 release.

So, back a few months, when the reports about M83’s forthcoming double album went viral, I immediately expected it to be a bloated, shambling mess.  After all, Gonzalez was readily admitting that he had taken his cues from the Smashing Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, which is a bloated, shambling mess.

Wow. Was I ever wrong… about the M83 record Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, that is. Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is still is a bloated, shambling mess.

Bookmark and Share
Wednesday, Nov 30, 2011
After soundtracking a bit of Twilight: New Moon and releasing a lovely new record earlier this year, Hurricane Bells' Steve Schiltz takes us through his top five favorite albums of all-time, all while wondering why more kids don't love the Edge . . .

It’s been an interesting ride for Hurricane Bells’ Steve Schiltz. The man rose to prominence for fronting the underrated NYC guitar-rock act Longwave, but once Schiltz began branching out on his own for his more acoustic-based side project Hurricane Bells, a b-side from his project’s debut album, “Monsters”, wound up getting on the soundtrack to the second Twilight movie. Suddenly Hurricane Bells was more well known than Longwave ever was, even if the song was nowhere near indicative of the cathartic content of his newer project’s’ sound.

Just as 2011 wrapped up, Schiltz could proudly look back on what he accomplished: following the release of the solid Down Comes the Rain EP in late 2010, Schiltz went back and revamped his sound for this year’s Tides and Tales, a much more sonically dense, expansive album than his debut Tonight is the Ghost was. With Tides, not only do we see Schiltz expanding his musical palette, but we also get to see him really come into his own as a songwriter for Hurricane Bells: each band now has their own unique, distinctive sound, even if they do come from the same mind.

To help cap off his triumphant year, Schiltz sat down with PopMatters to reveal his top five favorite records of all time, explaining why these discs had a great influence on him in the way that they did, all while he muses as to why more kids aren’t a fan of the Edge . . .

Now on PopMatters
PM Picks

© 1999-2014 All rights reserved.™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.