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Wednesday, January 19th, 2022  

Album Reviews

Terrible News From Wonderful Men

Taking Meds
Terrible News From Wonderful Men

Jan 14, 2022

Taking Meds feels like a band out of time, yet built for their moment. Since debuting in 2016 with My Life As a Bro and returning in 2019 with I Hate Me, the New York punk outfit has cemented a potent combination of punk, indie rock, and post hardcore. They distill distinctly ‘90s influences, marrying the hooks of the era’s alt rock with dissonant modern punk grit.

Covers

Cat Power
Covers

Jan 13, 2022 Issue #69 - 20th Anniversary Issue

There are always long gaps between Cat Power records. Chan Marshall’s cozy yet faintly unnerving style—grounded by her guitar and distinctive vocal delivery—is not something that can be rushed.

The Legendary 1979 No Nukes Concerts

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
The Legendary 1979 No Nukes Concerts

Jan 12, 2022 Web Exclusive

Watching the amazing footage from these September 1979 shows, it’s hard to believe this unexploded Springsteen/E Street bomb was sitting and ticking for all those years without a release. Available in multiple audio/video formats, The Legendary 1979 No Nukes Concerts finally brings to light these Madison Square Garden performances staged by MUSE (Musicians United for Safe Energy).

Classic Interviews

Gardens & Villa - Chris Lynch on Their New Album, Advice for Young Musicians, and Overcoming Shyness

Gardens & Villa - Chris Lynch on Their New Album, Advice for Young Musicians, and Overcoming Shyness
Just Say No to Gateway Gadgets

Mar 10, 2014 Gardens & Villa

Gardens & Villa‘s frontman, Chris Lynch, is crouched in the darkest corner of his band’s rehearsal space, a warehouse in Gardens & Villa’s hometown of Santa Barbara, California that looks more like a garage that’s used for storage.

Comic Book Reviews

Whistle: A New Gotham City Hero

Whistle: A New Gotham City Hero
DC

Dec 24, 2021 Web Exclusive

Growing up in a rundown urban area of Gotham City, teenager Willow is faced by many a challenge: her unemployed, Jewish, single-parent mother is suffering from cancer, there is little money to support them, and Willow is particularly concerned about not only the plight of a stray dog she names Lebowitz but also about her deprived school and community which she stages protests to improve.

Book Reviews

The Listening Party


The Listening Party

Dec 24, 2021 Web Exclusive

Tim’s Twitter Listening Party was one of the few bright parts of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially when the world was in full lockdown in early to mid 2020. Tim Burgess, frontman for the Madchester/Britpop band The Charlatans, came up with the simple idea—having musicians live tweet while fans collectively all listen to one of their albums at a preset time—after seeing actor Riz Ahmed spontaneously tweet along in 2011 to his film Four Lions.

Interviews

Cat Power on Her New Album “Covers” and the Influence of Her Grandmother

Cat Power on Her New Album “Covers” and the Influence of Her Grandmother

Jan 14, 2022 Issue #69 - 20th Anniversary Issue

One note twirled out from singer Cat Power’s tongue and it’s clear: the artist is a genre unto herself. When the songwriter, also known as Chan Marshall, offers her voice in melody, it’s like a homemade amalgamation of different woods: birch, cedar, maple, applewood (folk, rock, blues, bluegrass), all fused and nailed together to create some echoing birdhouse tone that’s completely singular.

Modern Nature’s Jack Cooper on “Island of Noise” and Processing the World Around Him

Modern Nature’s Jack Cooper on “Island of Noise” and Processing the World Around Him

Jan 06, 2022 Web Exclusive

Modern Nature’s Jack Cooper has an over decade long musical resume going back to earlier projects Mazes and Ultimate Painting. But Cooper considers his latest project, Modern Nature, his true musical calling.

Pleased to meet you

Arlo Parks on “Collapsed in Sunbeams”

Dec 24, 2021 Issue #68 - Japanese Breakfast and HAIM (The Protest Issue)

First and foremost, Arlo Parks is a poet. Born Anaïs Oluwatoyin Estelle Marinho, Parks grew up in London both as a storyteller and an amalgamation of her family’s varying music taste. Raised on ’80s French pop, Prince, and her uncle’s record collection that ranged from Sade to Bob Dylan to Earth, Wind & Fire, Parks had a solid musical foundation when she picked up a guitar at 13. By the time Parks was a teenager her storytelling had evolved to poetry and now with a guitar in hand it transitioned to songwriting.

Lists

Under the Radar’s Top 100 Albums of 2021 Part 1

Jan 07, 2022

For many in America and around the world, when 2021 began they were in a state of uncertainty. The pandemic still raged and the chaotic Trump presidency was coming to an end (even if you supported the policies of the former president, it’s hard to argue that his term wasn’t turbulent). In January 2021 vaccines were on the horizon, but not widely available yet and it was unclear how and when any of us would get a shot. It was also up to speculation as to how peaceful the transition of power from President Trump to then-president-elect Biden would be, given the former’s “big lie” about a supposed stolen election. And only a few days into the new year, January 6 to be precise, it was clear that the transition would not be orderly at all, when Trump supporters stormed the capitol in a previously unthinkable display of insurrection (a term I’d in the past thought of as simply the title of one of the lesser Star Trek movies). For music fans and musicians, at the start of 2021 there was anxiety as to when live music would be able to return, with many music venues barely hanging on. It also seemed that some notable artists were holding back from releasing already completed albums until touring was a possibility again.

Alas, when 2021 ended there was still much uncertainty. While many of us did our part and got vaccinated (and even boosted). While kids as young as five could get a shot in time for Christmas. While there was a brief period where going to a concert, a movie, and the grocery store seemed safe, even without masks on perhaps. But then along came the Omicron variant of COVID-19 and, despite it sounding like the name of a friendly Transformer, the mutation spiked everyone’s pandemic anxiety again. Is it safe to send kids to school, even if they are masked and vaccinated? The Grammys have been postponed indefinitely and will major music festivals and tours be next?

The best that can be said about 2021 then is that it wasn’t as bad as 2020, which for many in the post 9/11 generation might be considered their most trying year. We were able to get vaccinated. Kids were able to go back to school (virtual learning was tough on kids, parents, and teachers). Long delayed movies came out (Daniel Craig finally got his tear-inducing Bond swansong). Some vacations were taken. Politics in Washington got somewhat boring again under Biden. The economy was doing better. But life was far from being back to normal and fear set it in that the pandemic world was going to be the new normal much longer than hoped.

2021 was at least a fruitful year for new music. Some released albums were partially or fully recorded pre-2020, others were written and recorded under lockdown. Herein is a list of the 100 new albums we most loved in 2021, records that helped get us through another tough year. We fully acknowledge that we’re late to the best-of-2021 party. We had other considerations in the last quarter of 2021, such as finishing and putting out our special double 20th Anniversary Issue and finalizing and announcing our 20th anniversary Covers of Covers album, both of which took precedence over working out exactly what our favorite albums of the year were. Plus, we long for the days when music websites posted albums of the year lists in late December or even early January, instead of late November/early December.

For those curious about the process: each of our writers were asked to submit a list of their Top 45 albums of 2021. They had to be new albums (not reissues) first released in 2021. Beforehand we collectively came up with a nominations list and most of their choices had to come from that list, but the writers were allowed to include some other albums too. For an album to make the Top 100 at least three different writers needed to have it on their lists. Nineteen different writers and editors voted and the number one and number two albums were each picked by 17 different writers and most of the Top 75 were picked by at least six different writers. Then via a magic of math and an Excel document, it was all calculated into the list you find now.

Here’s hoping that 2022 will a much less eventful year than the last two, boring even, but that the music is just as good.

Blog

Jackson Browne – Reflecting on the 50th Anniversary of His Eponymous Debut

Jackson Browne – Reflecting on the 50th Anniversary of His Eponymous Debut

Jan 13, 2022 By Austin Saalman

Upon signing to David Geffen’s newly-founded Asylum label in 1971, young wanderer Jackson Browne, then a worldly twentysomething hippie balladeer from Orange County, helped to set into motion a sonic revolution, which would generate a fresh, distinctly American sound synonymous with Southern California.