Devin Robinson

I am slipping into nothingness. A strange nothingness this is though: a nothingness with substance.



City: Cotati, California
Venue: The Inn of the Beginning
Date: 2001-03-17

The Night Everything Became Nothing I am slipping into nothingness. A strange nothingness this is though: a nothingness with substance. A nothingness seasoned with meaty odd-metered bass attack, guitar skronk peeling the wallpaper off of my mind's living room and rhythmic ecstasy thumping at the beat of my heart. I have succumbed to the trip, the hallucinatory there of nowhere -- the cinders of all that was burned, the ultimate anything goes psychosis of nihilism. Bassist and vocal terrorist Rob Wright, Mr. Wright, has transmogrified, as he always does, into Mr. Wrong rather early in the performance. We know walk in the Nietzschean territory of beyond good and evil where our most deeply held convictions and morals are thrown at the wall like dry spaghetti. There will be no retreat, no surrender -- a scorched earth policy is now mandated by Mr. Wrong (a.k.a. No Way) and his army -- his brother John Wright (a.k.a. No Where) on the skins and Tom Hollister (a.k.a. No How) on the guitar. We jump and sway to the suggestive rhythm; it has taken over. I have become none with the audience in this celebration of all that is anti. Anti-establishment: a DIY band that has never been and will never be on a major label opting instead for the confines of San Francisco's anarchic Alternative Tentacles. Anti-system: philosophical meanderings bent on postmodern deconstruction of metaphysical notions of balance and essence. Anti-authority: Wright/Wrong physically and verbally chastises a jackoff bouncer who, 10 minutes into the show, jumps onstage to show his allegiance to the gestapo by pushing around a couple of kids having a good time, pushing him offstage with the comment "they (the audience) paid their hard earned money to see the band, not you." Anti, anti, anti, anti .... Everything anti except for antiquated, for these elder Canuck gents still can rock with the passion of newlyweds. Yet, even in this nothingness there is something occurring. Perhaps we are at a wedding, that intersection of two that never quite makes one. Something old: "The Fall" still possesses all of the magic since its inception into this world in 1991. The verbal harangue of its chorus, "Do you know the meaning of this is love, this is love?" interloped with he masochist plea "Give me just a little shove" deftly describes the audience-band relationship this evening, with the band the former and the audience the latter. Mr. Wrong is our master, the stage his bully pulpit, the music his glorious punishment, we are not worthy. "The Tower" and "Two Lips, Two Lungs, One Tongue" off of 1989's Wrong reorient our synapses and puree our delusions of grandeur. "The sword of truth is just another weapon," Mr. Wrong states at the beginning of "The Tower", and we are set straight; the truth has no function here -- all truth shall be negated. "Only so many songs can be sung with two lips, two lungs and one tongue" reminds us of the inadequacy of words. Here, tonight, music speaks more loudly, our canoe carrying us down the waterfall into the abyss. Something new: "The Graveyard Shift", off the new release, No One, is a solid opener, inviting us to care about that security officer that probably chased us out of a parking garage when we were 16 trying to get high and fuck somewhere dangerous. We don't care; he's still as big an asshole today as he was years ago with his shallow sentimentality and "hey look at me moping" mindset. What are you gonna do, throw your flashlight at us? Something borrowed: "Beat on the Brat", the Ramones classic, is less of a lark than the original and more of a call to arms. Punk music has become too snotty for its own good; snotiness sells records whilst innovation is neglected. Immediately after the show the audience split into groups and infiltrated homes and music businesses destroying every Blink 182 album they could find. Something blue: Well, there was nothing blue, only the black of nothingness. Call the wedding off; there will be no union............ only disjointed disunion. All in all, one of the three best shows I've ever been to, in the same company as the two other times I've seen Nomeansno. The lights click on and sanity, normalcy, begins to return. My ears are ringing and my brain is soar. I don't want to go to work on Monday.


The Best Indie Rock of 2017

Photo courtesy of Matador Records

The indie rock genre is wide and unwieldy, but the musicians selected here share an awareness of one's place on the cultural-historical timeline.

Indie rock may be one of the most fluid and intangible terms currently imposed upon musicians. It holds no real indication of what the music will sound like and many of the artists aren't even independent. But more than a sonic indicator, indie rock represents a spirit. It's a spirit found where folk songsters and punk rockers come together to dialogue about what they're fed up with in mainstream culture. In so doing they uplift each other and celebrate each other's unique qualities.

With that in mind, our list of 2017's best indie rock albums ranges from melancholy to upbeat, defiant to uplifting, serious to seriously goofy. As always, it's hard to pick the best ten albums that represent the year, especially in such a broad category. Artists like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard had a heck of a year, putting out four albums. Although they might fit nicer in progressive rock than here. Artists like Father John Misty don't quite fit the indie rock mold in our estimation. Foxygen, Mackenzie Keefe, Broken Social Scene, Sorority Noise, Sheer Mag... this list of excellent bands that had worthy cuts this year goes on. But ultimately, here are the ten we deemed most worthy of recognition in 2017.

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White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

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It's ironic that by injecting a shot of cynicism into this glorified soap opera, Johnson provides the most satisfying explanation yet for the significance of The Force.

Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

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Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

Although they played a gig last year for an after-party for a Mick Rock doc, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hadn't played a proper NYC show in four years before their Kings Theatre gig on November 7th, 2017. It was the last of only a handful of gigs, and the only one on the East coast.

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