Critical Voices 2.0: Jay Reatard’s Watch Me Fall

What sort of music would you anticipate from a musician named Jay Reatard (born Jimmy Lindsey)? Don’t let the gothic, morose front cover of his sophomore release, Watch Me Fail, give you a distorted view of what to expect when listening to this album: there is only fun to be had. By 2005, both of […]

Critical Voices 2.0: Pissed Jeans’ King of Jeans

In reviews and biographies scattered across the web, there doesn’t seem to be any consensus on what exactly Allentown, Pennsylvania’s Pissed Jeans should be classified as. While reviewers can’t fully agree on what kind of abstract-genre titles the band deserves—noise-rock, post-grunge, or super-sludgy, Sabbath-influenced hardcore-punk—everyone seems to be sure that there is definitely something abstract […]

Critical Voices 2.0: Julian Plenti is… Skyscraper

What’s a budding musician to do when his band makes two exquisite albums and then releases a less than stellar third record?  If you’re Paul Banks of Interpol, the solution is to be to change your name to Julian Plenti and release your solo debut, Julian Plenti is… Skyscraper. The differences between the music Banks […]

Critical Voices 2.0: Circulatory System’s Signal Morning

In terms of rock ‘n roll time, an eight-year break is an eternity. Unless a band spends eight years recording a masterpiece or nursing a killer reunion tour, chances are the rest of the music world has moved on by the time it resurfaces. Then again, Circulatory System (and most Elephant Six bands in general) […]

Critical Voices 2.0: Portugal. The Man’s The Satanic Satanist

Portugal. The Man is a group of musicians that has always seemed incredibly unlikely to settle down with one particular sound. Maybe in a quest for progress, or, more likely, an effort to avoid the pitfalls many bands encounter as their releases sound more and more identical, this band has to date created four full-lengths […]

Critical Voices 2.0: The Dead Weather’s Horehound

It’s time to erase the word “supergroup” from your vocabulary. After so many pretentious, lackluster efforts made solely for monetary gain (ahem, Chickenfoot), “supergroup” has become shorthand for any collection of like-minded musicians drawn together for all the wrong reasons. And that’s a pity because occasionally groups of already established musicians can actually be spectacular. […]

Critical Voices 2.0: Wilco’s Wilco (The Album)

“This is a man with arms open wide/a sonic shoulder for you to cry,” Jeff Tweedy sings on “Wilco (the song),” the lead-off track from the alt-rocker’s seventh proper LP. In what proves to be one hell of a bait-and-switch, Tweedy insists that despite the “knife in your back” or the “rough road” you may […]

Critical Voices 2.0: The Mars Volta’s Octahedron

The Mars Volta has always had a unique way of doing things. With Omar Rodriguez-Lopez on guitar, Cedric Bixler-Zavala on vocals, and whoever else they can happen to scrounge up to do some recordings or live reenacting (ahem, John Frusciante), this band still finds ways to steer clear of the beaten path with each release. […]

Critical Voices 2.0: Mos Def’s The Ecstatic

There is a lot about Mos Def’s latest release, The Ecstatic, that simply doesn’t fit in with the rest of his catalog. This isn’t the voice that the MC spoke with on the classic Black On Both Sides or Black Star, and, luckily for listeners, it isn’t the washed up Italian Job actor trying to […]

Critical Voices 2.0: Rancid’s Let The Dominoes Fall

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Rancid’s name alone provokes immediate, visceral disgust. It embodies the punch-in-the-gut, intentional provocativeness the band has exploited for the past 18 years. But that great, gritty disgusting-ness is starting to fade. It’s not like all punk bands sell out, but sometimes I wish they did instead of falling into […]

Critical Voices 2.0: Grizzly Bear’s Veckatimest

Grizzly Bear had always been a band I’d gladly overlook, as they fit in so nicely into a niche of average Pitchfork freak-folk/indie-pop. Grizzly Bear was originally an artistic outlet for Ed Droste, who used the ambiguous band title in the same way Conor Oberst used Bright Eyes, to hide his true connection to the […]