Chart Up Your Insides

Chart Up Your Insides

The Execution of All Things isn’t the first or only record to open with a bait-and-switch mix that comes in low, tricking you into turning up your stereo, only for you to get blown away when the proper levels finally kick in. But it may be the only one that has the courage to see the bit [...]

Styrofoam and Cellophane

Styrofoam and Cellophane

When I reviewed OWEL’s third full-length, Paris, in March of 2019, I could feel the energy of springtime humming throughout the album. It’s bright and vibrant and delicate and brash. It makes me want to go outside, to bloom and breathe, if you’ll accept the cross-scene metaphor. A year later spring was canceled. I packed up my [...]

The Seven Best Albums of 2021

The Seven Best Albums of 2021

Presented in alphabetical order. 3 -- Envy on the Coast After the birth of Violent Joy, I thought Envy on the Coast was dead. Apparently, I was wrong. 3 is what it promises: a brief, three-song return, but that's enough. "FLASH BANG" is onomatopoeic, all big punches and explosive bombast; "GHOST" is lead-single material, hook-driven [...]

If I Could Do It All Again

If I Could Do It All Again

It’s fitting that Gates was the first band I saw in concert after the pandemic began. I’ve joked that they’re my musical spirit animal and it’s been so long since they passed The Dear Hunter to become the band I’ve seen the most that I can’t recall how long ago that shift happened or how [...]

This Is Not Really Happening

This Is Not Really Happening

During the year that I was a music major, one of my GSIs used Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android” to teach us about complex song structure. Now, I don’t know if that GSI loved OK Computer as much as I—and, one assumes, the rest of my class—did or if she was just leveraging that predictable love to win our favor, but [...]

Exactly What We’re Here For

Exactly What We’re Here For

“Fences” is, pretty transparently, about the misery of being a celebrity. “You’re always on display / for everyone to watch and learn from,” sings Hayley Williams in the first verse. It’s not lost on Williams that this is a privileged position and also that, because of that privilege, because fame is considered desirable, there will always [...]

Shut Up and Let It Go

Shut Up and Let It Go

Being a Detroit sports fan in the ‘90s and early 2000s meant rooting against a number of bitter rivals. Hockey was my first sporting love and in those years when the Red Wings were dominant, it wasn’t frequent foil Chicago who was our chief divisional rival but rather the Chris Pronger-led St. Louis Blues. One [...]