Articles & Essays

The PEN World Voices Festival as it Happened: “Dystopian Fiction: The Future Present Tense.”

“When we learned in November of 2016 that Donald Trump would be our next president, sales of novels like Orwell’s 1984 and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale skyrocketed almost overnight. People seemed eager to read the sort of novel that shows us what our world might become if the worst, or some version of it, were to actually happen. What drives us to seek out these types of stories in times of real-world turmoil? Why does dystopian fiction endure and expand in increasingly difficult times?”

Read the full piece here.

Published by Words Without Borders.

A Map With No Edges: Science Fiction Across Cultures

Dreams of aliens and other worlds are as universal as the drive for exploration, or questions of time or purpose, which have never been confined to any one geographically specific school of thought . . . science fiction only takes a small spark of speculation, the need to question, and the ability to imagine some wild, wonderful answer."

Read the full essay here.

Published by Words Without Borders.

Starship: Sodium

"The human body is made up of approximately sixty elements, twenty of which play an active role in life and health, one of which is sodium. A tour is made up of one or more bands traveling from place to place. Bands are made up of a number of musicians. Geometers is made up of David, Kypo, and Sam. Ishmael is made up Aaron, Andy, and myself."

Read the full article in the latest issue of NEU.

Published by Not Entirely Unlike.


Reviews

Circa Survive - The Amulet

Published by The Alternative

"The Amulet feels like Circa Survive at their most unburdened – shedding the formulas and trials of their collective past, accepting their strengths and limitations, and discovering something new through their enduring unity."

Read the full review here.

Emma Ruth Rundle -Marked For Death

Published by Post-Trash

"Her music can be described, opaquely, as alternative rock, but for all her modern flair, her work feels first and foremost like a newfangled form of folk, transposed into something contemporary rather than held back by the genre’s rigid tropes. Whatever you call it, the music across this album bolsters the truest name for Rundle herself: a gifted songwriter... She allows her voice to break, to falter, but never without a measure of graceful intent. Hopefully this brutal honesty and sheer force of talent will inspire musicians of all backgrounds and genres to further explore the depths of their creativity – those darker corners that reveal themselves in quiet moments. This is bold music, deep and wide, and inexorably human."

Read the full review here.

Touché Amoré - Stage Four

Published by The Alternative

"Bolm is talking to a certain someone, but the direct address also acts as an entry point for listeners, allowing them to get closer to his words and the meaning behind them instead of feeling like audience members at a one man show, relating from beyond some fourth wall. Bolm continues to find ways to keep the form relevant to his experience as he faces life's bigger problems. Ones we all face in time. There are no answers here, no maps or guidelines when it comes to navigating tragedy, only visceral response. Pure, unashamed human reaction distilled into songs that remind us of the medium’s potential."

Read the full review here.

TTNG - Disappointment Island

Published by The Alternative

"With three strong individual voices driving towards a common goal, TTNG have crafted a collection of thoughtful songs so thoroughly representative of their collective character that new ears may have difficulty keeping up. But for the majority of their long-time fans, and for any interested parties willing to go along with their earnest yet esoteric style, there is much waiting to be unearthed on Disappointment Island."

Read the full review here.

Frameworks - Smother

Reviewed for Post-Trash

"Smother’s appeal lies in the ambidextrous nature of its songs, whose approachability doesn’t do battle with brutality, but rather melds the two together, in a feat few bands of the genre have accomplished with any grace . . .  creating a concoction that consumes a thing now reaching up a hand to be born. Crystalline clarity and crushing brutality coalesce in some of the band’s most punishing, and simultaneously uplifting work. Frameworks are no longer a band to watch, they’ve become the band we always knew they could be."

Read the full review here.

Mogwai - Atomic

Reviewed for Post-Trash

". . . Atomic isn’t all doom and gloom, though. There is a sense of beauty to these tracks as well, of wonder that hasn’t made it’s way into their work on this level in years. The opening track, and a handful of others, give the feeling that the band is searching for brightness and clarity, writing songs of hope amid a ruined landscape, marred by the corruption of war and misused innovation. The violin leads on “Are You a Dancer?” are haunting and lovely in equal parts, soaring carelessly above a low mechanized growl that is never far off, even in the album’s most soothing moments. This sense of haunting, of an inability to escape some pursuing destruction, is what makes these tracks stand out."

Read the full review here.

Jeff Buckley - You and I

Reviewed for Post-Trash

" . . . the well-placed closer of “I Know It’s Over” is this collection’s crown jewel. It would be easy to attribute this to a connection to Buckley himself – one performer whose artistic career was all but over before it could really begin – but those overtones are not what distinguish the track. This is one moment on the record where Buckley truly and wholly loses himself in the performance. He pours so much of himself into the song that all the tragedy of his loss melts away and we are left with an intimate look at a truly gifted artist, who is in that moment neither lost nor found. "

Read the full review here.

Jesu/Sun Kil Moon - Jesu/Sun Kil Moon

Reviewed for Post-Trash

"While this collaborative effort between post-metal shoegazers Jesu and confessional crooner Sun Kil Moon doesn’t quite creep its way toward words like masterpiece or classic, it is an impressively rich and engaging musical experiment – a coalescence of disparate sensibilities that form something new, if not entirely unique . . . There is already so much artistry to be found in this collaboration that it is most effective when Jesu and Sun Kil Moon let go of the wheel and allow the strangely monstrous rig they have built together to drive itself. "

Read the full review here.

Tortoise - The Catastrophist

Reviewed for The Alternative

"The subtle mastery of rhythm, a signature strength of the group throughout their discography, is on display here and throughout the album. But already there is a certain solidity that has made its way into the group’s sound – a tightening of the screws that perhaps lessens their alluring vulnerability, but speaks volumes to their symbiosis."

Read the full review here.

 

David Bowie - Blackstar

Reviewed for The Alternative

" Blackstar is perhaps, just as Bowie claims, not the work of a pop star – at least not the kind that we recognize in our modern age. It is neither the haunting voice out of the past nor the portentous bellow of an aging soothsayer. It is instead the work of a true artist, something more than a pop star - something that eclipses all such labels. This is uncompromising music inexplicably laid on our ears by an enduring and complex creature whose limits have not yet been set."

Read the full review here.

Baroness - Purple

Reviewed for The Alternative

"The attitude that colors this collection is one of thankfulness, seemingly borne out of an awareness that all things can easily slip away. Instead of delving into the inherent darkness of such a notion, Baizley and company seize the opportunity to celebrate the fleeting nature of life. This results in some very positively charged and even life-affirming music."

Read the full review here.

EPs & Singles

Frameworks - Time Spent

Reviewed for The Alternative

"Time Spent is worth every fleeting moment. Newcomers will find an open door into this band’s growing catalogue, while steady fans of this group will have much to enjoy in this brief but engaging 7”, as well as more reason to follow this group as they continue to reinvigorate an oft-stalled genre."

Read the full review here.

Glassjaw - NewWhiteExtremity

Reviewed for The Alternative

"The track clothes itself in menace, but underneath is a more simple rock tune than it may seem. “NewWhiteExtremity” shows a more mature Glassjaw at work, where the unleashed emotionality of their past is restrained in service of something more traditional."

Read the full review here.

Hannibal Montana - 28/20

Reviewed for The Math Rock Blog (UK)

"What makes this quite possibly HM’s greatest show of force thus far is that the listener is made acutely aware of these seriously good musicians’ ability to make seriously good music, without being so damn serious about it. If you love post-rock but could drop the melodrama, math rock that does more than Tasmanian-devil-spin its way through pull-off riffs, and if you don’t mind the absence of a vocalist where one isn’t necessarily needed, then your 2014 is off to a good start with 28-20. Because whether it is grinning or snarling, this EP has teeth."

Read the full review here.

Features

2016 Albums of the Year

For The Alternative

"For me, there was no record more poignant, more elegantly crafted, or more powerful – for reasons both within and without – than Bowie’s darkly beautiful farewell. Even without his death following so swiftly on the heels of the album’s release, this record would be a classic. He knew what was coming, sooner or later, and gave us Blackstar as a purposeful handshake before he went. Knowing is such a rare thing, and goodbyes often never come. Blackstar is that rare thing, and nothing short of a gift."

Read about this and other records by Sumac, TTNG, Mitski, Esperanza Spalding and more here.

2015 Albums of the Year

Composed for The Alternative

"Vulnicura is not a portrait of an artist fighting against devastation or clawing to be seen as relevant. It's the portrait of person: vulnerable, hopeful, confused and yearning for understanding and comfort. It is among [Bjork's] most compelling work - an essential album worthy of all our attention."

Read about this and other picks including Kendrick Lamar, Deafheaven, Pretend, Title Fight, Locrian and more here.

Read a list of my favorite EPs here.

 Live Reviews

 Deafheaven

11.20.2016 / The Emporium, Patchogue NY

Published by Bandsintown.com

"Deafheaven's music may be larger than life, and their art high, but the grace and energy with which they performed is a testament to their well-earned success as one of heavy music's best and most vital acts ... The set briefly reflected on their history, honoring their past and providing evidence that they have never been better or their artistic aspirations more fully realized."

Read the full article here.

Touche Amore & Tiny Moving Parts

10.25.2016 / House of Independents, Asbury Park NJ

Published by Bandsintown.com

"Tiny Moving Parts manage to make exceedingly emotional music a joyous experience, something better suited for reveling than wallowing ... Touche Amore have managed to commit to making compelling, emotionally potent, and movingly honest music that challenges anyone within hearing distance to choose anything but life."

Read the full article here.

The Dillinger Escape Plan

10.14.16 / Webster Hall, NYC

Published by Bandsintown.com

"The band was quikly lost within a sudden sea of people, but the music kept coming. Nothing could stop it. The stage, now overflowing with rabid fans ebbing and pressing in around Puciato like some living wave, he called for the house lights, illuminating the room so that every corner could be seen. In that moment the truth of what was happening was undeniable, and everyone was sure that they were in the presence of something remarkable."

Read the full article here.

Bear vs Shark

9.28.2016 / Market Hotel, Brooklyn

Published by Bandsintown.com

"It's hard to fall in love with something when you know you'll never get to touch it...to see it for yourself. So imagine my surprise when I found myself inside Market Hotel ... waiting for Bear vs Shark – the band that were as good as ghosts – to take the stage... [a] sense of camaraderie pervaded and defined a night that meant as much to fans as it did the band, all of who seemed rapt in gratitude for the opportunity to make and experience this music again. It may have been nostalgia that brought everyone to Market Hotel on a rainy Wednesday night, but while the band played on and the crowd roared you might have thought Bear vs Shark never left at all."

Read the full article here.