Thursday, April 29, 2021

Song Highlight: Thou, Emma Ruth Rundle - Out of Existence

The Baton Rouge sludge metal stalwarts Thou have been hard to pin down stylistically since their inception in 2005. While you could just slot them into the Doom / Sludge metal genre and call it a day, that would be underscoring their creativity. It is not uncommon for their tracks to intersperse crushingly powerful riffs with gorgeous post-rock ambient passages. If asked to think of a band that is able to be beautiful and ugly within the confines of a single song, Thou is the first that comes to my mind. Through a dizzying collection of releases, they have explored many different sounds. In 2018 alone, they released an ambient noise/drone EP, a grunge rock EP, a decidedly not metal alternative rock/acoustic EP, a full length record, and a split with the black metal/doom metal band Ragana.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Song Highlight: Rilo Kiley - The Good That Won't Come Out

A friend of mine prompted me to revisit Rilo Kiley’s music via a fantastic article on Pitchfork Media in anticipation for Jenny Lewis’ 2019 album On the Line. Lewis started her career as a child actress in the 1980s, but she grew tired of telling other people’s stories and started Rilo Kiley in 1998 with another child actor, Blake Sennett. The band became known for Lewis’ insightful and clever lyrics overtop fun and bright pop music, often a little at odds with the despondent lyrical content. 

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Song Highlight: Julien Baker - Shadowboxing

If you have paid even passing attention to independent music in the past few years, you have undoubtedly heard about Julien Baker. The singer-songwriter burst onto everyone’s radar when her debut album Sprained Ankle was re-issued in 2015. The album was recorded while she was still a student at Middle Tennessee State University at just 19 years old. The album is a very personal examination of depression, substance abuse, and questions of faith, all set to sparse acoustic guitar. Before the success of her solo career, Baker toured and performed in the punk rock band The Star Killers (later renamed Forrister). While sonically that music is very different from her solo work, there is a groundwork of earnestness that runs through all of her music.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Song Highlight: Hüsker Dü - Girl Who Lives on Heaven Hill

Hüsker Dü was was born out of the hardcore punk scene in the early 1980s but by the time they disbanded in 1988, they had made a lasting impact on more than just punk rock; they helped to usher in the era of Alternative rock of the 90s (Black Francis of the Pixies famously put out an ad searching for a bassist, looking for someone who was a fan of Peter, Paul, and Mary and Hüsker Dü). Unlike their contemporaries in the hardcore punk community, they did not eschew the music of the past (listen to their superb cover of the Byrds’ Eight Miles High). They began to embrace melody more and more, moving beyond the confines of the blisteringly fast, amphetamine-fueled hardcore punk of Landspeed Record. By their 3rd studio album, New Day Rising, the band had finally fully embraced the notion of writing melodic pop songs, though they were still delivered with a punk rock intensity with noisy, buzzing guitars and the vocals buried under it all.

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