REVIEW: The National – “Sleep Well Beast”

For the better part of the last two decades, The National has been providing me and others like me with the soundtrack for our adulting. Now, I’m not talking, necessarily, about the world-weariness of the 9-to-5 or the trials, the ups and downs, of raising a family, though impressions of both sometimes sneak into the…

PROFILE: Black Wine (2017)

Black Wine is dead. Long live Black Wine! Everyone’s favorite New Jersey punk trio played its final show Aug. 13 at Brighton Bar in Long Branch, N.J., bringing to an end a run of calculated chaos chronicled in a stream of engaging records and bombastic live shows. “They felt like one of those bands that…

REVIEW: Radon Chong – “I Keep On Talking To You”

Captain Beefheart devotees, rejoice! Shape-shifter Don van Vliet might be deceased but his spirit – and that of his ever-evolving Magic Band – is alive and well in Pittsburgh. Local band Radon Chong channel the Captain with passionate precision, vibrant originality, and colorful flare on its nine-song debut, the mind bogglingly good I Keep On…

REVIEW: astrid & Rachel Grimes – “Through The Sparkle”

Man, that’s devastating! If the reverb-drenched guitar on this record’s second track doesn’t move you to tremble with tears, then the soaring strings on “M1” surely will. Pianist/composer Rachel Grimes follows up her best-of-2015 The Clearing solo outing with the magnificent Through The Sparkle, a seven-song collaboration with the French chamber ensemble astrid, out today…

REVIEW: Adam Gnade – “Life Is The Meat Grinder That Sucks In All Things”

Indie writer/musician Adam Gnade is a lot like Neutral Milk Hotel’s beautific, canonical “Oh Comely;” he makes you feel resilient and centered as life and all its context tries to beat you down. The “Oh Comely” comparison is apt, as Gnade dedicated his Do-It Yourself Guide To Fighting The Big Motherfuckin’ Sad, an indispensable literary…

REVIEW: Iron & Wine – “Beast Epic”

Much pomp and circumstance has been made about Sam Beam returning in 2017 to the form of his early years.  But while Iron & Wine’s Beast Epic, out today on Sub Pop Records, is certainly a stripped-down affair compared to some of Beam’s Warner Bros. catalog, it is still a highly polished outing, with Beam’s…

REVIEW: Pabst/Autisti – “Exciter” b/w “Dealbreaker”

There’s plenty of guitar fuzz and feedback featured on the Pabst/Autisti split seven-inch single, out next Friday on Crazysane Records. Pabst opens the proceedings with inviting grungy figures on guitar and a hooky chorus that call to mind The Leaving Trains. Their song can sometimes be ornate, if mostly for the cock-rock-inspired sing-song of the…

PROFILE: Soda Club (2017)

It starts with the muted, chikka-chikka strum of a Fender Telecaster electric guitar and the clacking metronome of drumsticks, while riffing on a slight, but healthy case of secret identity. “I show up to your Halloween party / without a costume on,” singer/guitarist Shay Park coos, her voice caressing the syllables of each word. “Everyone…

REVIEW: Wilt – “Hand Mirror”

Portland’s Taylor Malsey presents listeners with some warbled tunes and an inviting, warm blanket of melancholia on the excellent Wilt debut Hand Mirror, out now on Good Cheer Records. And, though it’s mostly a record for people who like their music with bumps and cracks in it, all in all, it’s pretty enveloping stuff. The…

REVIEW: The Lumes – “Envy”

There’s this moment on Envy – the new six-song EP from Rotterdam’s The Lumes, out soon on Crazysane Records – that you’ve gotta hear. It’s “Discharge,” the third song, and, part of the way through it, the guitar starts scorching and the drums throb with a kind of reckless abandon; after a brief lull, there…