Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Monday, March 8th, 2021  

Album Reviews

Open Door Policy

The Hold Steady
Open Door Policy

Mar 08, 2021 Web Exclusive

After seven albums and almost two decades as a band, The Hold Steady could easily rest on their laurels, cashing in on their well-earned reputation as America’s Best Bar Band. But with the reintroduction of keyboardist Franz Nickolay into the band and a solid return effort in 2019’s Thrashing Thru The Passion, the band seemed primed for an unexpected second wind. 

Detroit Stories

Alice Cooper
Detroit Stories

Mar 08, 2021 Web Exclusive

To press play on Alice Cooper’s new LP, Detroit Stories, is to get a blood transfusion. Instead of the red stuff, you’re now filled with slick motor oil.

Flock

Jane Weaver
Flock

Mar 05, 2021 Web Exclusive

The chameleonic progression of Jane Weaver as an artist of considerable merit has been one of the most joyous facets in music's recent history. 

Classic Interviews

The War on Drugs vs. Sharon Van Etten

The War on Drugs vs. Sharon Van Etten
The Road from Here to There

Sep 16, 2014 Issue #50 - June/July 2014 - Future Islands

It's hard not to be a third wheel when listening in on a conversation between Sharon Van Etten and The War on Drugs' Adam Granduciel. Having met while Van Etten was recording 2010's Epic in a Philadelphia studio near Granduciel's house, the two songwriters share not only a friendship and a mutual admiration of each other's work, but also a set of memories collected while touring together in 2012.

Comic Book Reviews

The Complete Hate
Fantagraphics

Dec 22, 2020 Web Exclusive

Fantagraphics has released a gorgeous boxed set of the entirety of Peter Bagge’s Hate—three volumes and 30 years of comics to enjoy. For those perhaps unfamiliar with what many regard as an essential alternative comic from the ’90s, Hate follows the escapades of Buddy Bradley, whose slacker tendencies are only overshadowed by his odd fits of rage, horniness, helplessness, and, occasionally, ambition.

Interviews

Jehnny Beth on “To Love Is to Live”

Jehnny Beth on “To Love Is to Live”

Mar 08, 2021 Issue #67 - Phoebe Bridgers and Moses Sumney

It was the 2016 death of David Bowie and his masterful swan song Blackstar (released only two days before his passing) that provided the fresh impetus to inspire French artist and Savages frontperson Jehnny Beth to record her debut solo album, To Love Is to Live.

Perfume Genius on “Set My Heart on Fire Immediately”

Perfume Genius on “Set My Heart on Fire Immediately”

Mar 05, 2021 Issue #67 - Phoebe Bridgers and Moses Sumney

In his self-directed music video for “Describe,” the lead single taken off his fifth studio album, Set My Heart on Fire ImmediatelyPerfume Genius (aka Mike Hadreas) invites audiences into a uniquely personal vision of the end-times, where an isolated commune goes about their dust-encrusted existence as a singular, choregraphed entity—dancing, living, fighting, seducing, and comforting one another without care or consequence.

Lists

Under the Radars Top 100 Albums of 2020 Part 1

Jan 15, 2021

So, 2020 was quite an uneventful year wasn’t it? Nothing much of note happened. It was pretty boring. But at least there were some decent records to liven things up. This is the intro to our Best Albums of 2020 list I wish I could be writing. Well… who wants life to be completely boring, but living through actual future history all the time has gotten quite exhausting. Depending on your age, you may have already experienced some living history, such as 9/11, but 2020 will go down as a particularly troubling year. You don’t need me to spell out why, but the two pillars were the COVID-19 pandemic and the most divisive presidential election in our lifetime. Many were financially affected by the coronavirus and the necessary lockdown that followed, but few more so than touring musicians, as venues across the world were forced to shut down most of the year (and some will never reopen their doors). At the outset of COVID-19 several notable albums were postponed a few months in hopes that things would improve, but it quickly became clear that touring wasn’t coming back any time soon and they were released anyway. There are probably some amazing finished albums that were going to come out in 2020, but were never announced and have been shelved until live music returns (hopefully later this year, now that the vaccines are very slowly rolling out). And yet 2020 was still filled with aural delights, including some creative full-lengths written and recorded while under quarantine. 

Before I present Under the Radar’s favorite albums of 2020, I will fully acknowledge that we are late to the year-end party. While I don’t totally understand why some websites insist on posting their best of the year lists prematurely in late-November or very early in December—simply to be first and get more clicks, but without being able to consider any albums that might be surprise-released later in December—I’m aware that mid-January is also a bit too tardy. We have actually been working on this list since November and had intentions of getting it up by late-December, but various factors and other projects derailed those plans. And we also take great care to get our best albums ranking right each year, so it does take a lot of time to finalize everything and get new blurbs written for each of the Top 50 albums.

For list nerds, here’s how it’s done: Each of our writers and editors are encouraged to turn in a list of their favorite 45 albums of the year. Each person’s number one album counts for 45 points, with their number two getting 44 points, and so on down to their number 45 getting one point. They are also allowed to submit up to 15 honorable mentions that count for one point each. In order for an album to make the final list it’s got to be picked by at least three different writers, to give a true consensus, and each album also gets extra points for the number of people who voted on it. Almost all of the albums in the Top 50 were picked by at least four or five people, each of the Top 10 were all picked by 12 or more people, and our number one album was chosen by 17 different contributors. Overall, 22 of our writers and editors (including myself and my Co-Publisher/wife Wendy Lynch Redfern) weighed in. Our Top 100 Albums of 2020 represents Under the Radar’s 2020 coverage very well, with many being artists we interviewed and/or reviewed favorably last year and our Top 2 being the two artists who appeared on the cover of our last print issue (it was not engineered that way, that’s just how the vote played out). 

Here’s hoping that my intro to the Best Albums of 2021 list will be more mundane, although based on the political events of the last two weeks and the continued pandemic that seems unlikely. By Mark Redfern (Senior Editor/Co-Publisher of Under the Radar)

Click here to check out part 2 of our Top 100 Albums of 2020 list, with numbers 61-100.

Blog

Carnage and Malarkey: Viral Politics in the Age of Fuckery Part III

Carnage and Malarkey: Viral Politics in the Age of Fuckery Part III

Jan 20, 2021 By Steve King

In Danse Macabre Stephen King wrote about American horror at Russia launching Sputnik as “Terror—what Hunter Thompson calls ‘fear and loathing’—often arises from a pervasive sense of disestablishment; that things are in the unmaking. If that sense of unmaking is sudden and seems personal—if it hits you around the heart—then it lodges in the memory as a complete set.” President Trump has terrorized Americans in such a profound way, more people voted (during a pandemic, no less) in this election than ever before in the history of American politics.




Cinema Reviews

The War and Peace of Tim O’Brien

Mar 02, 2021 Web Exclusive

Trying to show the essence of a man who fought for his country during one of the world’s most controversial conflicts at a time of immense change, who then went onto become a National Book Award-winning author and lastly, a father in less than 90 minutes is admirable, but perhaps destined to fail. 

DVD Reviews

The Suspect
Studio: Kino Lorber Studio Classics

Feb 26, 2021 Web Exclusive

Similar to his other noir films, Siodmak anchors his tale of deception and murder in a very genuine relationship between two likable people.

Television Reviews

Beartown
HBO, February 22nd, 2021 @ 9:00 PM

Feb 22, 2021 Web Exclusive

A five-part Swedish series adapted from Fredrik Backman’s hit novel of the same name, Beartown is an engaging sports and family drama from HBO Europe.