Latest Blog Posts

by AJ Ramirez

28 Jan 2015

Dance music is often accused of seemingly prizing escapist content over substance. That’s a critique based upon faulty expectations. “Substance”, that very thorny, very rockist notion tied to overall determinations of worth, is honestly not often required in such music. Dance music, after all, has a very basic goal it must achieve, and anything beyond facilitating a good time on the dancefloor is an expendable bonus.

However, that doesn’t mean dance music has to sacrifice intelligence or wit, or lyricism more nuanced than the most primal exaltations. Martin Fry’s excellence as a wordsmith is a hefty reason why I enjoy his band ABC’s 1982 album The Lexicon of Love so much. Though it lacks the gargantuan and obtuse experiments typically associated with concept albums, The Lexicon of Love is most assuredly such a specimen, for every aspect of its being is employed in the service of Fry’s bitter deconstruction of modern romance.

by Sean McCarthy

16 Sep 2014

Around 8:30 in the morning, nursing a cup of coffee, I received the following text from a co-worker: “My iPod died.”

Like me, he’s one of those who have 20,000-plus songs loaded on his device. So, my heart couldn’t help but sink a bit when I read his message. I know the hours it takes to put all that material back on the iPod. But until last week, we could at least take comfort in the fact we could always buy a brand new iPod Classic.

by AJ Ramirez

21 Jan 2014

Yes, Psychocandy is far and away the Jesus and Mary Chain’s best album; there’s no disputing that. None of the records Jim and William Reid have put out in the nearly 30 years since that LP’s release have quite matched that record’s almost primitive appeal, a result of its jarring yet alluring juxtaposition of honey-sweet melodies and a nigh-unyielding cacophonous roar of white noise. It’s been argued that the band’s creative downfall has been its efforts to tidy itself out, actions which completely miss the point of what’s appealing about its best music.

On its surface, the 1989 single “Head On” shouldn’t be my favorite Mary Chain number. The lack of layers of feedback reveal the band is peddling a rather straightforward arrangement; the most noticeable bursts of guitar noise are in the form of a ‘50s-style riff William Reid trots out between verses. More unpalatable to my sensibilities is the song’s reliance on synth bass and a drum machine, utilized to make up for the Reids’ lack of a full group at that stage. The synthetic rhythmic section robs the Mary Chain of much-needed thrust, and though I’m partial to dated-sounding synth bass in choice contexts, the most unflattering task it can be made to do in my opinion is to pound out strict root-note eighth notes. Which is exactly what happens on this track.

by AJ Ramirez

7 Jan 2014

Hard rock fans rejoiced last month when Kiss was announced as one of the latest inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. As the band has long been derided by critics as all style and no substance, this achievement was vindication for millions—not all of them card-carrying members of the Kiss Army—who could care less what Rolling Stone or anyone else thinks as long as the music’s loud and the riffs are catchy. If you crave big dumb rock fronted by outsized personalities and served with more pyrotechnics than a Super Bowl halftime show, for four decades the self-styled “hottest band in the world” has had no compunctions about accommodating your desires.

by Evan Sawdey

10 Dec 2013

Here’s a fun fact: I listed “The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)” by Ylvis on my Top 10 Singles list for the year. Some of the staff were confused/bemused/potentially angry at that inclusion, perhaps aghast at the inaccuracies that the song has brought forth, notably that foxes, in fact, do not make such sounds, much less marry them to catchy dance beats. There’s no mistake that this is a novelty song of the highest order, but in the realm of parodic songwriting, does Ylvis’ track line up closer to “Disco Duck” or “Dick in a Box”? What legacy, if any, will it have? And, most importantly, why the hell did I put it on my Top 10 list for the year?

//Mixed media

NYFF 2017: 'Mudbound'

// Notes from the Road

"Dee Rees’ churning and melodramatic epic follows two families in 1940s Mississippi, one black and one white, and the wars they fight abroad and at home.

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