What To Read


150 Best Albums of 1975

“Our long national nightmare is over,” Gerald Ford had promised his fellow Americans the previous August, as he was sworn in as the most un-elected president ever, replacing the only president who ever resigned. But 1975 still had plenty of nightmare left: State Department bombed by Weather Underground, FBI gunfight on a South Dakota Indian… Continue reading 150 Best Albums of 1975

1-girl:2-boy Amerindie Trio Licks, 2003

CORDELIA’S DAD “Jane”/”Promise”/“Closing Year” Last year, in “Camile’s Not Afraid of the Barn,” these indie-rock-moonlighting Massachusetts folk festival standbys set mysterious words about beached sharks, pellet guns, Chinatown firecrackers, and the smell of dirtbikes to a riff from “Jane Says” by Jane’s Addiction. Their new three-inch CD EP leads, coincidentally, with a traditional upstate-NY ballad… Continue reading 1-girl:2-boy Amerindie Trio Licks, 2003

Confusingly Named Background Gloom Licks, 2003

RAPTURE, Songs for the Withering The Rapture that Williamsburgers don’t know are a heavy-hearted quintet of Helsinki codeine-metal fops who quote Emily Brontë and Sophocles on their lyric sheet and gorgeously balance light croons with heavy grumbles about cold years and hangings and maggots (“our only friends”) and “bad dreams, hollow sleep of dark rooms,… Continue reading Confusingly Named Background Gloom Licks, 2003

Roxette profile, 1991

Similar to when I interviewed the Pet Shop Boys for the same publication four months earlier, in that both involved highly stressful trips from Philly to a New York that was still terrifyingly foreign territory to me, except that Per Gessle was warmer than Neil Tennant and Marie Fredriksson was colder than Chris Lowe. Though… Continue reading Roxette profile, 1991

Baader Meinhof review, 1997

Can’t argue with 100% certainty that he’s a better singer than say the Suede guy or a better songwriter than say the Pulp guy, but as melodicists they don’t come close, and Luke Haines would remain my favorite ’90s Britpop auteur (small praise, but still) even if that wasn’t his primary band’s name. The album… Continue reading Baader Meinhof review, 1997

Celine Dion defense, 1997

Published a full decade before Carl Wilson’s acclaimed 33 1/3 book about Dion’s Let’s Talk About Love. Just saying. Which isn’t to say I was the first critic to put in a good word for the lady — Simon Frith and Frank Kogan may well have preceded me. Should also note that I overstate my… Continue reading Celine Dion defense, 1997

G.G. Allin review, 1987

Snark, pure and simple (okay, paired with a pinch of one-upmanship I suppose), prodded by my annoyance of at an early example of the tiresome hipster schtick of pretending to like (or actually liking, who cares) music by a mentally ill person — in this case, a presumably dangerous and smelly one. In retrospect, I… Continue reading G.G. Allin review, 1987

Country Licks, 2003

Toby Keith tests the army’s latest super-secure landline technology. MERLE HAGGARD Like Never Before Merle has no doubt made more beautiful, more political, and jazzier albums, but maybe not all at once, and probably not in the past quarter-century. This one’s two pinnacles might be the best Gulf War II song and best Patriot Act… Continue reading Country Licks, 2003

Neo-Prog Licks, 2003

NIGHTFIST, The Epic For a CD recorded for $600 and containing barely 26 minutes of music, this one sure seems long, though the title suggests that’s exactly how these five recent high school graduates from Menlo Park, California, want it. “Rabid fans of Yes, Queen, Dream Theater, Grateful Dead, and Metallica,” reportedly not at all… Continue reading Neo-Prog Licks, 2003


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