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 [...]

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 [...]

Just for Fun, I Guess

Just for Fun, I Guess

Aimee Mann is not known for blistering guitar solos. Neither is Tim Heidecker, a comedian who is only barely known for music at all. Yet somehow these two wrote “Soon Enough,” the third single from Mann’s 2012 release Charmer, a song that, as far as I’m concerned, exists solely to give birth to a searing, scorching [...]

I’m Not a Real Doctor

I’m Not a Real Doctor

We need to take a few steps to get caught up to the present. In 1976, Kiss released Rock and Roll All Over which featured “Calling Dr. Love,” a song about a “doctor” who suggests that he can cure his patients with the magical healing powers of his penis. Fascinated by the absurdity of this (excessively creepy) premise, alternative/temporarily-ska [...]

The Indescribable Excellence of Marcus Sedgwick’s Midwinterblood

The Indescribable Excellence of Marcus Sedgwick’s Midwinterblood

Marcus Sedgwick's Midwinterblood is one of those books that defies review because if you discuss any element of its plot, you start chipping away at the mystery and suspense that make it such a gripping read. Here's the most I'm comfortable relating: For its first few pages, Midwinterblood seems like it might be a romance [...]