Sunday, January 17, 2021

Song Highlight: Drug Church - Weed Pin

Drug Church at Franklin Music Hall in Philadelphia, February 11th, 2020.

2020 was not a good year for live music, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic effectively ending social gatherings for the majority of the year. One of the last shows that I saw before the pandemic shut everything down was Thrice, Mewithoutyou, and Drug Church at the Franklin Music Hall in Philadelphia. And while I love Thrice and Mewithoutyou, the main reason I was there was to see Drug Church. I had only just started to listen to them a few weeks earlier. They are a punk rock band from Albany, New York that combine aspects of hardcore punk with catchy grunge passages and muscular riffs à la Noise rock masters the Jesus Lizard

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Song Highlight: Lydia Loveless - Wringer

Turning on the local country music radio station is an action fraught with disappointment. Most of what I hear does not feel genuine, almost as if an algorithm was used to generate 4 minute tracks that might appeal to the stereotypical “hard working American.” Throw in something about relaxing by the creek, fishing rod in hand, and drinking a cold beer. Add some objectifying words towards women, and thank God for the USA. Make sure there is some acoustic guitar present and you have a country song fit for the radio.

Fortunately for us, not every country musician is chasing the next big hit and leaving earnestly out of the equation. Whenever singer/songwriter Lydia Loveless puts out new music, you can expect a bevy of emotionally honest songs that came into the world out of necessity, and not simply a need to meet a 2 year album cycle. She released a new album this year, Daughter, which is a follow-up to 2016’s Real. I listened to a lot of music in 2020, and Daughter had my favorite song of the year on it, “Wringer.”

“Wringer” is a jangly guitar-driven song carried by Lydia’s emotive voice. She reflects on a relationship that is falling apart, partly due to unreasonable expectations each participant placed upon one another. All of this is anchored by the evocative imagery of their love putting both of them “through the wringer.” But a careful listen suggests that the song is more interesting than just talking about romantic relationships. The line: “said that you don’t do it for fame, or financial gain. Didn’t you always stick by me through everything?” brings to mind her struggles with Bloodshot Records, who have released most of her albums. They certainly put her through the wringer. Fortunately, she has rid herself of them, releasing Daughter on her own label. Finally, her attention goes to her own aspirations putting a strain on herself: “I want to be a symphony, but I’m just a singer. And all that singing ever does is run me through the wringer.” And while Lydia may doubt her abilities, after releasing a host of excellent albums, it seems like she can do no wrong. By being a singer, she has touched many lives, myself included. 

Make sure to buy Lydia’s music here.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Micah Schnabel - The Teenage Years of the 21st Century (2019)

The teenage years of the 21st century. That is an interesting way to think of the last 7 years or so of this new century, imagining it as a anxious, self-entitled teenager. It is a pretty apt comparison, as we have seen a rise in social unrest, ultranationalism, and racism. This comparison is exactly what singer/songwriter Micah Schnabel invites us to make with his fantastic 2019 album, The Teenage Years of the 21st Century.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Song of the Week: Jason Molina – It’s Easier Now

One of the aspects that has always attracted me to alternative country as a music genre is its penchant for sadness. It is a very relatable emotion, and in difficult times, it can be a relief to know that you are not the only one struggling. The late Jason Molina was the master of the despondent song, leaving us with a collection of very personal songs chronicling his own battle with depression. His songs came from a very real place, his struggle with depression leading to alcoholism, and his death from liver failure last year.

The song “It’s Easier Now” comes from his second album under his own name, Let Me Go, Let Me Go, Let Me Go. The song is filled with evocative imagery, as Jason was always known for: “Torn apart moon in an empty room.” But it is also one of the most crushingly disheartening songs in his catalog, the line "It's easier now. And I just say I got better" gets me every time. The song’s protagonist has come to the conclusion that it is easier to just lie to his loved ones and tell them that he has surmounted his personal struggles than it is to tell them about the pain he is is going through.

I can only hope that Jason has found peace.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Song of the Week: The Front Bottoms – Au Revoir

I had not been familiar with the Front Bottoms before this past week when a friend suggested them to me, specifically with the song “Au Revoir.” With just one listen, I was already of fan. Brian Sella's warbling voice has an immediate charm to it, and the lyrical content of the song has an amiable wit that drives it along.

The song humorously chronicles the narrator’s decision to end his relationship with his girlfriend using the expression “au revoir”, thinking she would not know what it meant. “Unexpectedly,” she did and leaves the relationship herself with “Adios.”

I will certainly be spending more time listening the Front Bottoms’ brand of catchy folk-pop, and suggest that you give them a listen, as well.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Best Albums of 2012

Midway into 2014, it might seem like something of a joke to be posting a list of my favorite albums of 2012. It has been something that I have been mulling over for awhile, and have continually struggled to get anything written down about. 2012 was a very unproductive year for me writing about music (only 6 blog posts for the whole year), but there certainly was not a dearth of quality music released. On the contrary, there were a lot of excellent albums which deserve to be talked about.
So without further ado, here my favorite albums of 2012:

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Song of the Week: Leatherface - Punch

In all of my time listening to music, I have never heard another singer quite like Frankie Stubbs of Leatherface. He has an extremely gravelly rasp, but not of the death metal sort. He is not trying his damnedest to sound gruff and tough (like a lot of metal bands), it is just his best singing voice.

Leatherface broke up in 1993, after releasing the now classic records Mush and Minx and inspiring a host of punk bands. In what seems like nothing short of a miracle, they reformed in 1999 to record songs for a split with Hot Water Music. And what a split record it is, finding both bands in top form. The Song of the Week is from that split, and is probably my favorite song from it. Required listening for punk rock fans.