Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, January 19th, 2021  

Album Reviews

Two Saviors

Buck Meek
Two Saviors

Jan 19, 2021 Web Exclusive

On his second album away from Big ThiefBuck Meek leads off with an effort to broaden our vocabulary.

Drunk Tank Pink

Shame
Drunk Tank Pink

Jan 15, 2021 Web Exclusive

A natural impulse for rock bands coming off their debut is to go bigger on the second album. That way at least you can’t blame a lack of ambition if a sophomore slump occurs. Sometimes, though, it pays off to rein it in a little bit—take Interpol, or Pearl Jam. South London crew Shame signal such a streamlining right away on Drunk Tank Pink.

South Loop Summer

Hospital Bracelet
South Loop Summer

Jan 14, 2021 Web Exclusive

Hospital Bracelet was first introduced to the world with a short and simple acoustic record dropped with little fanfare into the Bandcamp ecosphere in 2019. That record, Neutrality Acoustic, was quickly passed around in online DIY circles, amassing a dedicated following and turning singer/guitarist Eric Christopher into a rising star in the Chicago emo scene.

Classic Interviews

Mew

Mew
Going Back To Where You Belong

Jul 15, 2015 Issue #53 - April/May 2015 - Tame Impala

"We get really caught up in the details. It's kind of a sickness," laughs Mew frontman Jonas Bjerre when the protracted break between 2009's No More Stories... and their new album +- is broached. "I mean, we were doing other things, like touring," he says, sounding a tad defensive. 

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

The Dears on “Lovers Rock”

The Dears on “Lovers Rock”

Jan 19, 2021 Issue #67 - Phoebe Bridgers and Moses Sumney

After 25 years of making music, The Dears know how to adapt to an altered landscape. Husband and wife Murray Lightburn and Natalia Yanchek, the core duo of the Montreal, Canada rock band, have navigated twists and turns across a music industry landscape that looks nothing like it did when they released their first album.

Tim Burgess of The Charlatans on His Twitter Listening Parties

Tim Burgess of The Charlatans on His Twitter Listening Parties

Jan 15, 2021 Issue #67 - Phoebe Bridgers and Moses Sumney

COVID-19 may have put paid to most of 2020’s live music events, but one of the surprise hits of the lockdown has been Tim Burgess, frontman of The Charlatans, and his Twitter listening parties.

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

Verses From the Abstract: Fourth Quarter Flavors (Better Late Than Never)

Verses From the Abstract: Fourth Quarter Flavors (Better Late Than Never)

Jan 19, 2021 By Dustin Krcatovich

Conventional (or at least, capitalist) logic dictates that it’s insane to release your music during the holiday season, much less on an actual holiday. Unless you’re a megastar and/or releasing a Christmas album, you’re dooming yourself to get lost in the mix; besides which, all the year-end best lists are already written by then, right? 




Cinema Reviews

Sylvie’s Love

Dec 24, 2020 Web Exclusive

Tessa Thompson lights up the screen in Sylvie's Love, a throwback to the classic melodramas of the 1950's.

Television Reviews

Cobra Kai (Season Three)
Netflix

Jan 01, 2021 Web Exclusive

There is something very clear-cut and satisfactory about an ’80s teen drama. The popular and unpopular divide is defined, generally delineated by each character’s cash flow. There is a good side and a bad side, where the former is always in the right and the latter is always, unequivocally, in the wrong. This was certainly the case with the original The Karate Kid trilogy, which started in 1984 and ended in 1989.