SPIN’s 300 Best Albums of the Last 30 Years

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I went big for this, taking on 30 of the 300 albums. Click through this hulking document for my posts on (in alphabetical order, no spoilers): Arcade Fire, At the Drive-In, Beastie Boys, Beck, Belle & Sebastian, Björk, Bright Eyes, Broken Social Scene, Clipse, Cloud Nothings, Dirty Projectors, the Flaming Lips, the Fugees, Frank Ocean, GZA, Interpol, Jimmy Eat World, Justin Timberlake, the Microphones, My Bloody Valentine, Neutral Milk Hotel, Pixies, Portishead, the Postal Service, Radiohead, TV on the Radio, the Unicorns, Vampire Weekend, the xx, and Wilco. So many of my all-time favorites in here, and so many I’d never had the chance to write about.

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SXSW 2015 Live: Angel Olsen, Courtney Barnett, Laura Marling, Screaming Females, Waxahatchee, Shamir

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Went down to Austin with Diffuser to eat heaping piles of sweet meat and watch folks with guitars rip it up (not the meat—that was already shredded). In what came as no surprise to anyone, axe-wielding women owned SXSW 2015. Angel Olsen, Courtney Barnett, Laura Marling, Screaming Females… It just happens that the best photo I got was of a guy—Steve Gunn hitting the Miller Highlife—but you can read about all of those sets and more (plus food and ping-pong), via links below. Peep the Instagram for photos from each gig I caught. Continue reading

SPIN Cover: TV on the Radio Leave It Behind

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They’ve been my favorite band since I heard the Young Liars EP in the old Filter offices back in 2003 (shout-out Wired‘s Steven Leckart for passing me the promo back then) and I’ve spilled ink on them every release since. This week, TV on the Radio and I reunite for a SPIN cover that’s all about growing up. No, that sounds boring. It’s actually about being unafraid to don Bermuda shorts and grin at a roiling sea made of pure liquid fear. It gets surreal somewhere between the Cheech & Chong reference and the Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance citation, and Kyp Malone makes a couple of semen jokes along the way. The new album is called Seeds, after all.

For pure posterity’s sake, here’s a brief 2013 interview with Tunde Adebimpe.

A Few of Our Favorite Things, 2011: Black Lips, Stephen Colbert, Sensitive Bros, Ambient Beats…

The good people over at Friends of Friends Music, in keeping with their founding each-one-teach-one ethos, asked their friends, and friends of friends, to contribute some sort of top ten (ish) music-related list of favorites from the past year. My contribution is below, but visit the FoF site to read entries by folks like Shlohmo, Ernest Gonzales (Mexicans With Guns), Lushlife, Clive Tanaka, Low Limit, TAKE, Garth Trinidad, Shaun Koplow and Jeff Weiss.

Like most folks that’ll contribute to this project, I could do this all day. To limit a “best of” list to ten entries is the cruelest of tortures to a real music geek, but the tradition exists for a reason: namely, to ensure we all get back to work. This isn’t definitive. These are the first ten wonderful music-related things that popped into my head, but considering the breakneck evolutionary pace and exponential expansion of our chosen medium, it seems fitting to shoot from the hip.

1) Destroyer goes Kaputt: There’s absolutely nothing I don’t love immensely about this album. Am I the only one who had an unrealized, unrecognized need to meet the lovechild of Steely Dan and Sade? Aside from Destroyer’s Dan Bejar, perhaps, but at least I know I’m not totally alone.

2) The Black Lips destroy a ballroom: Mere hours after watching Jared Swilley pinwheel a guitar body into the forehead of a grateful fan at Lollapalooza, I found myself thrashing in a chic hotel ballroom to “Bad Kids” while being pelted with TP rolls and complimentary vodka drinks. \\m//  

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Review: Dave Sitek from TV on the Radio Goes Pop as Maximum Balloon

TVOTR's Dave Sitek is a Maximum Balloon amongst maximal balloons.

Ha ha ha, clever headline, yes! If only I’d have thought of that when I wrote the review for The A.V. Club. At least 10 commenters could’ve taken me to task for egregious punning on the name of TV on the Radio’s David Andrew Sitek’s new solo project Maximum Balloon (awkward mouthful alert!). Instead they talked about dude’s breath. Sigh. You should read about it anyway though, because I say things like this:

“Sitek’s solo material pushes that familiar TVOTR sound further, but ditches those strange blues almost entirely in favor of shocking pinks — radio-ready pop songs featuring a handful of guest vocalists.”

But the comments are waaaay more interesting. Dig in!

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Poptimist Issue 2 Debuts: Artists Of The Decade

As readers of pop culture journalism are well aware (and perhaps lamenting), the dawn of a new decade means twice the list-making. If culture can’t be quantified, well, I’m out of a job. Thus, its in the spirit of thankfulness, nostalgia and horizon-gazing that I offer to you, dear overstretched reader, the “Artists Of The Decade” as determined by myself and the good editors of Poptimist. Read it online (page 34), or pick one up ’round the streets of L.A. Huzzah!

Poptimist, Issue 2

The A.V. Club’s Best Albums Of The Decade

Well, somehow the publishing of this exceptionally compiled and written (heh heh) list eluded me until today. I can’t take too much credit for it, though I did vote, and was given the opportunity to write about one of my top records of all time, TV On The Radio’s Return To Cookie Mountain. That album sneaked in at number 38, but it’s there, right between Grizzly Bear’s Veckatimest and Justin Timberlake’s Justified (both of which made my personal list as well).

TV On The Radio, 'Return To Cookie Mountain'

Read about some of the records that didn’t make the cut here, and I highly recommend perusing the rest of the Club‘s decade coverage here.