Sunday, September 13, 2020 - 5:46pm

“God’s Country,” “How Country Feels” and more recently “UNAPOLOGETICALLY COUNTRY AS HELL” are but a few examples of country music’s allegiance to its bucolic namesake. Not to mention the scores of songs about small towns, dirt roads and that one spot by the river no one else knows about. Sometimes, this devotion can turn hostile. Jason Aldean disparages the “guys in first class” who don’t appreciate the heartland in “Fly Over States.” Luke Bryan shakes his head at the unknowing city weatherman on “Rain is a Good Thing.”

Sunday, September 13, 2020 - 5:30pm

Unlike the clear geographical divides that segregate the rich and the poor in most American cities, London is a city where “council tower blocks (roughly, housing projects) are mingled in with the multimillion-pound mansions,” writes Dan Hancox in “Inner City Pressure: The Story of Grime.” In the center of the city lie its central business districts: the City of London and Canary Wharf, symbols of extreme privatized wealth and decadence, not unlike similar projects undertaken in New York City and other world cities in which high finance has taken over.

Thursday, September 10, 2020 - 4:15pm

Whether it be under The Microphones or Mount Eerie, everything in Phil Elverum’s discography exists in such a way that it feels ridiculous to try to assume any interpretation. There is probably no better example of this than his 2017 release A Crow Looked at Me under the Mount Eerie moniker, a project whose subject matter and presentation made for one of the most intrusive listening experiences in recent memory.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020 - 3:47pm

If you’ve waded through enough Spotify indie music radios, you may have heard of Samia. She first hit the scene in 2017 with three deft singles that had no direct ties to one another, ranging from “Welcome to Eden,” a folk ballad painted with broad strokes of biblical imagery, to “Someone Tell the Boys,” a quintessential indie-pop banger. The latter’s unlikely placement on a curated Spotify playlist caught the attention of Twitter, catapulting Samia to wider recognition.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020 - 12:50pm

When Taylor Swift officially left country music in 2014, it wasn’t long before fans and critics alike were searching for “the next Taylor.” But whether she was tall and blonde with crossover appeal (like Kelsea Ballerini) or had songwriting chops and spunk (like duo Maddie & Tae), no one stuck. Of course, some of these artists’ career hurdles can be chalked up to the reign of bro country in the 2010s and the shifting sands of the music industry.

Monday, September 7, 2020 - 5:44pm

In between the transition of tracks one and two, I fire off three successive texts: 

“Holy f#$%ing sh$t.

Nothing has ever wreaked havoc on my soul like this single track has done.

I am CRYING.” 

My friend responds with the picture of a small child who appears to embody the world-weary disgruntlement of a man amid a mid-life crisis:

“Lana always chooses emotional violence.” 

Thursday, August 27, 2020 - 5:24pm

Phoebe Bridgers, Punisher

Phoebe Bridgers is the master of emotive storytelling. She didn’t reinvent or revolutionize the art of it though, and she’s not pretending that she has. “I think I'm pulling from a lot of different places, stealing from a lot of different people,” she said in an interview with NPR. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2020 - 8:00pm

When I heard Quinn XCII’s single “Stacy” this past winter, I thought his upcoming album would be similar to his previous album, From Michigan With Love. “Stacy,” a playful depiction of a rebellious relationship between a high school freshman and a senior, possesses the same contradictions we’ve seen in his previous albums where the upbeat nature of the music sharply contrasts with the heavy and often complicated subject matter of the lyrics.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020 - 3:39pm

On Dec. 13, 1963, Bob Dylan was given the “Tom Paine Award” by the Emergency Civil Liberties Committee for his political activism. A visibly shaken, and likely drunk, Dylan said he accepted the award on behalf of “everybody that went down to Cuba,” then unleashed a doozy: “I got to admit that the man who shot President Kennedy, Lee Oswald … I saw some of myself in him.” The crowd booed him off the stage. 

Sunday, April 19, 2020 - 3:01pm

The Strokes are a transportive band, not just in the tongue-in-cheek nostalgia of their stylistic references, but in the way their music can fixate you in memories. Of course, the music we hear at one time in our lives inherently grounds itself in our memories of that time, but this fact could not be more personally applicable to Is This It, the band’s bittersweet debut album, released in 2001.