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This article first appeared at No Ripcord on Dec. 5, 2017.


U2 has been battered over these last few years. View full article »

This article first appeared at No Ripcord on Nov. 7, 2017.


When Julien Baker released Sprained Ankle, its sparse arrangements and unflinching look at substance abuse, depression and faith made it one of the most cathartic listens in years. Turn Out the Lights digs deeper, exploring her pain in ever more empathetic ways and expanding her musical palette to match. These songs are subtle and focus on Baker’s voice and guitar/piano playing. But some orchestral touches and harmonies give the tracks more room to breathe, rise and fall. View full article »

This article first appeared at No Ripcord on Oct. 23, 2017.


How do you follow up on the buzz and hype of your excellent first EP? If you’re Alex Lahey, write 10 songs in the same mold that are even better. Her debut album, I Love You Like a Brother, is chock-full of catchy tunes, clever wordplay and guitar riffs galore. It’s the kind of record that sounds classic and fresh at the same time, with a high-energy pulse that’s made for bouncing around a club. View full article »

This article first appeared at No Ripcord on Sept. 11, 2017.


To The Bone isn’t Steven Wilson’s first attempt at pop. The idea that the prolific musician was only dedicated to progressive rock is a misnomer. Throughout his lengthy career, he’s straddled the line between both sensibilities. Look at the title track of Hand. Cannot. Erase., or go back to Porcupine Tree’s Stupid Dream. The difference this time around? This is his most concentrated effort at writing concise, straightforward songs yet. But there are still plenty of twists and turns. View full article »

This article first appeared at No Ripcord on Sept. 5, 2017.


Erika M. Anderson grew up in the outer ring, the suburbs and back roads around major cities across the United States. Between reurbanization, globalization and the Internet’s impact on industry, these neighborhoods are hollowed-out and in decline. The hopes of these communities became as dried up and faded as the American flag behind EMA on the cover of Exile In The Outer Ring. Her latest album explores not only her own experience growing up in these towns, but how those still living there react to their growing sense of abandonment. View full article »

This article first appeared at No Ripcord on July 30, 2017.


Arcade Fire’s music has always contained an undeniable, unquantifiable spark. Each album, from Funeral to Reflektor, had the unique ability to combine gravity with weightlessness. Every fiber of your being would shout and dance in the hopes of launching off the planet with them. But on Everything Now, that spark has faded in favor of overblown lyrics and weak songwriting. View full article »

This article first appeared at No Ripcord on June 21, 2017.


“We’re King and Queen of the Weekend/Ain’t a pill that could touch our rush/But what will we do when we’re sober?,” Lorde asks towards the start of Sober, among submerged beats and mountainous brass. But Melodrama isn’t strictly about inebriation. It’s about growing up and growing out of love, where the excitement of a relationship fades and what’s left can’t sustain itself. This album explores this segment of adulthood in all its joy, despair, confusion and revelry. And it does it with stunning introspection and musical freshness.

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This article first appeared at No Ripcord on June 19, 2017.


For all the success they’ve had, Paramore can’t escape strife among its lineup. In every album cycle since their debut, a band member has quit, with harsh words said and relationships ending. Despite these continuous hardships, Paramore not only soldiers on, but excels. Every release has been better than the last. Their self-titled album moved away from pop-punk and following an anything-goes approach. It paid off.

After Laughter goes one step further.

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This article first appeared at No Ripcord on June 9, 2017.


Now six years into its tenure, Governors Ball is a well-oiled machine and is one of the top fests in the country. For New Yorkers, it’s a must-attend event. But it still takes risks and offers surprises that few other showcases pull off. Giving Chance the Rapper a headlining shot? Sure. Having Tool close out three days focused more on pop, indie rock and rap? Why not? But getting to see acts like Lorde, Childish Gambino, Wu-Tang Clan and Air all within 72 hours? That’s an experience that no other festival offered this year.

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This article first appeared at No Ripcord on May 22, 2017.


Jarvis Cocker has always embraced the intricacies of storytelling. His lyrics find the poetry of the tiniest details, “right down to the broken handle on the third drawer down the dressing table.” The vivid descriptions make people and places come to life. Room 29 is no exception. This concept album revolves around the activities of that room in the Hollywood hotel Château Marmont. A theme that lets Cocker write about celebrity and depravity? With the evocative piano  of Chilly Gonzales? How could he possibly resist?! Well, sometimes the subject matter overshadows the music meant to support it.

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