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by Alexander Heigl

12 Dec 2011


Brooklyn-based black metal band Liturgy started out as the solo project of frontman Hunter Hunt-Hendrix, a Manhattan native who grew up in the hardcore punk scene while gravitating towards the more experimental side of that genre—bands like Converge and Rorschach. The band expanded into a four-piece in 2008 and released their first record, Renhilation, in 2009. But it was the group’s second record, 2011’s Aesthetica, that garnered it a new level of infamy. Released on indie label Thrill Jockey, Aesthetica received generally favorable reviews from an assortment of sources: NPR and Pitchfork both loved the album, and the fact that it was accompanied by a long-winded and high-minded essay detailing the band’s music (“Transcendental Black Metal”) was critical catnip. But the black metal scene did not take kindly to Liturgy, and even more traditional rock institutions weren’t particularly enamored of the album (Kerrang wrote that “Liturgy tried to make a mathcore record, put two and two together and got three.”). Aesthetica was seen as the Brooklyn hipster’s black metal record, and that was not a good thing.

Hunt-Hendrix’s thoughts on his own music don’t really help matters: the essay “Transcendental Black Metal”, though coherent and interesting to people that enjoy over-intellectualizing music, is incredibly self-aggrandizing and occasionally patently absurd (sample text: “Transcendental Black Metal is black metal in the mode of Sacrifice . . . it is solar, hypertrophic, courageous, finite and penultimate.”). It’s an easy target for mockery, but it fails to adequately capture what makes Aesthetica so compelling.

by David Ensminger

16 Nov 2011


Steadfast, sincere, and experimental seem to be J. Robbins’ operating modes since he played throbbing bass for godfathers of punk Government Issue during the last half-decade of the band’s lauded career, in the heyday of the 1980s Washington D.C. scene. By the end of the decade he morphed into an inventive, angular, and jazz-inflected guitarist and clean-voiced, freewheeling singer-poet for Jawbox. Then, as the 1990s rolled towards the millennium, he steered all-things-cool for Burning Airlines too.

Jawbox, who re-united in 2009 for a Jimmy Fallon appearance, tilted towards tightly wound, stylized, even abstract sound structures that left listeners both enthralled and vexed. Delivering songs in slippery phrasing, they were wary of power crunch cliches delivered without irony. Thankfully, unlike math rockers aplenty, Jawbox never became too obtuse, and the band carefully chose irreverent covers to show off the crafty heart on its sleeve.

by Sally Fink

27 Oct 2011


Trouble has a habit of shaping the culture of nations. Slavery in the United States resulted in the birth of the blues, and with it, the rise of artists like Robert Johnson and Son House whose influence is still present in music today.

South Africa has had its own share of troubles. Apartheid lasted from 1948 all the way to 1994, drawing a solid line between white and black communities. Today, the country is a democratic rainbow nation of different cultures doing their best to coexist, and it’s this yearning for symbiosis that has resulted in a pop culture that is completely unique. Where else in the world would the choice of presidential candidate be dictated by whether he can do the kwasa-kwasa?

Music and dance is an essential part of the South African cultural identity. It’s this almost fervent need for self expression that has forged the youth identity and music trends of the present.

by David Ensminger

13 Oct 2011


Years ago, the lore of Dischord Records and Washington, D.C.-area punk filtered down into the vocabulary of a worldwide audience that avidly locked onto terms like straight-edge and emo, both slang and now genre, that stemmed from a clustered scene jolting the music world in the early years of the 1980s. The Faith was a bit of both: a gritty, nuanced “heartcore” punk band with succinct, potent lyrics that emoted irascible punk sentiments long before emo became just another overplayed youth brand.

Dischord’s new Subject to Change Plus Demos collection combines both demos recorded prior to the Faith’s split LP with Void and a re-issue of its superb Subject to Change EP, coveted by fans, enthusiasts, and critics as a bedrock slab of Washington D.C. hardcore (promulgated as “harDCore”). To this end, people routinely point out that singer Alec MacKaye’s trademark warbly howl is often overlooked in favor of another MacKaye—brother Ian, the gruff singer for Minor Threat.

by Sally Fink

5 Oct 2011


Whatever you do, do not call them modern. Joshua Third (or Joshua von Grimm as he used to call himself) is clear that the Horrors are anything but. “I don’t like the word modern. We’re futuristic. That’s where our focus is; on the future.”

The British post-punk band recently released their third album, ambitiously entitled Skying, resonant of reaching new heights, and—in the case of the Horrors—new sounds as well.

Skying is that feeling of being elevated; like you’re constantly moving upwards”, says Third.

Skying is experimental by nature, with plenty of melodies and synthesised beats to cement its place as essential indie listening. It’s a far cry from the band’s black-as-tar goth-punk days.

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'Full Throttle: Remastered' Is Both Updated and Dated

// Moving Pixels

"Full Throttle: Remastered is a game made for people who don't mind pixel hunting -- like we used to play.

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