Charles Aaron



  • The Main Attractions: Tom Morello

    For our May cover feature, six stars of this year's festivals give the skinny on ginormous outdoor shows to (sun-)baked crowds. was on hand for the historic cover shoot in Hollywood, and we filmed our own quick interviews with the cover subjects. Watch our on-site video interview with Nightwatchman/Rage guitarist Tom Morello, and keep checking this space for interviews and behind-the-scenes footage of Jeff, Satellite Party's Perry Farrell, AFI's Davey Havok, Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, Wu-Tang's RZA, and Spoon's Britt Daniel. Rage Against the Machine are re-forming to headline Coachella and Rock the Bells. How strange is it that after so many years of performing protest music, you guys haven't been around for the George W. Bush era?I know what you're getting at, but bands don't exist to address historical events. It doesn't work that way.

  • Busdriver, 'RoadKillOvercoat' (Anti-/Epitaph)

    Regan "Busdriver" Farquhar embodies everything exhilarating and frustrating about indie-underground hip-hop. He's got a savagely self-aware wit, a gift for freewheelin' lyrical flights, producer friends who burrow inside his tracks and draw out their mad moods, and the most minimal capacity for anything resembling an accessible hook. Here, on his fifth album, he's more overtly musical, with producers Nobody and Boom Bip incorporating rock, folk, and pop elements. But while 2005's Fear of a Black Tangent was a hilarious, merciless evisceration of rap hypocrisy from the bottom up, he's now trying to address the wider world. The result: motormouth musings on killing yourself, killing your boss, and "ethereal driftwood." That's why they call it underground. Now Hear This: Busdriver - "Less Yes's, More No's" DOWNLOAD MP3 >> Listen to Busdriver on Napster BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • X-Clan, 'Return from Mecca' (Suburban Noize)

    It's hard to imagine an album by these late-'80s black nationalist funk bombers without leader Professor X's basso profundo imprecations ("This is protected by the red, the black, and the green" or the less noble "Sissy!"). Still, despite his death last March, the Brooklyn collective soldiers on (assisted by guests, including Jurassic 5's Chali 2na and KRS-One) in search of a relevant sound and context. While Brother J's voice remains a forceful instrument and the songs are reasonably taut, they lack the urgency of present-day heirs dead prez. Most sadly, there's even a Professor X imitator in the mix, not to mention a dismal rap-rock track perpetrated by Papa Roach. Now Hear This:X-Clan - "Weaponx" DOWNLOAD MP3 BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • The 20 Best Singles of 2006

    1. "Crazy," Gnarls Barkley. The seemingly dead dream of an alternative music in which rock, hip-hop, funk, R&B, electronic, et al., speak a fresh Esperanto is given a liberating new pulse. LISTEN: WINDOWS | REAL 2. "When You Were Young," the Killers. Justifying the album's cornball fantasia, these tetchy gits put their '80s synth-pop boudoir on shiny chrome wheels and head out on Highway 9. LISTEN: WINDOWS 3. "Ain't No Other Man," Christina Aguilera. Unleashing perhaps the hardest bop track since Charles Mingus' "Better Get Hit in Yo' Soul," DJ Premier builds a blass-blasting stage and Xtina grinds her spiked heel. LISTEN: REAL 4. "Welcome to the Black Parade," My Chemical Romance. They may not be this generation's Nirvana, but they sure want to be, and this snarling, we/us pronouncement is enough to make Mom and Dad pee their pj's. LISTEN: REAL 5.

  • MF Grimm, 'American Hunger' (Day By Day)

    MF Grimm has reason to be hungry. In the early '90s, when his first career took off, the Manhattan MC was shot seven times, leaving him paralyzed, blind, and in a wheelchair. He later partnered with MF Doom until a bitter falling out. Then, a drug charge put him in prison. On this triple CD of 60 tracks, Grimm (who can see again!) preaches, pleads, and confesses, fighting betrayals over vivid lo-fi beats. A blunt defeatist where Doom's a dreamy absurdist, he adheres to one motto (from track 32): "Agony is the key to a happy life." Now Hear This:MF Grimm - "The Gingerbread Man" DOWNLOAD MP3 >> Listen to MF Grimm on Napster BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Art Brut, 'Bang Bang Rock and Roll' (Downtown)

    Wittier than any Brit this side of Ricky Gervais, frontman Eddie Argos testifies loudly, like a karaoke drunk with a head cold, but his stories always sing, and his frisky band of London pros never fail to fire up the precise boilerplate punk riff to roil the plot. This U.S. release of Art Brut's 2005 debut album adds three intriguing, if sketchy, new tracks. Now Hear This: "Modern Art" (Download MP3) BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Anti-Flag, 'For Blood and Empire' (RCA)

    This is what I know about politics from listening to punk-rock bands for the past couple of years: George Bush sucks. I know there's been some mention of Noam Chomsky and how he thinks we should abort the corrupt government agency known as "the media" and possibly exterminate our failed democracy entirely (let's don't and say we did). But that's about it. Almost 30 years after the Clash and Dead Kennedys, almost 20 years after Public Enemy and Fugazi, and almost two years after punk authority figures finally decided that it mattered who won the presidency, the familiar rhetoric drones on. Buy our rad CD, DVD, logo tee, mouse pad...and oh yeah, war sucks. It's a retread of the Reagan-is-Satan hardcore '80s -- except with online merch. Why should punk vets ever move past their redneck-baiting, Christian-bashing, faux-socialist song and dance when it's such a successful brand?

  • Against Me!, 'Searching for a Former Clarity' (Fat Wreck Chords)

    There's no better example that the underground rock scene has its head up its collective ass than the lack of appreciation for literate, thrashing Florida folk punks Against Me! Since the release of their 2002 debut album, Reinventing Axl Rose, few bands have matched the songwriting force of singer/guitarist Tom Gabel, whose crimson-faced poetics bellow like Ian MacKaye and Joe Strummer bum-rushing a craic in a Dublin pub. Fist-clenching, whoah-oh broadsides like "Cliche Guevara" and "Sink, Florida, Sink!" (both from 2003's As the Eternal Cowboy) are stoutly bittersweet ballads at heart, with Gabel singing himself back home like Merle Haggard -- though his prison cell is an anarchist squat. On Searching for a Former Clarity, the band's third full-length, Gabel's protestations are all bitter, no sweet.

  • Transplants, 'Haunted Cities' (La Salle/Atlantic)

    While Transplants' self-titled debut caught the trio at that moment when the third-beer buzz kicks in, resulting in some boozy jollity and spirited yo-bro party chants, the new record seems to have picked up several pints and bong hits later, when shit starts to get grisly. One of the more entertainingly pathetic moments on the MTV reality show Meet the Barkers came when blink-182 drummer Travis Barker attempted to take charge of the arrangements for his nuptials with baby-mama/model and narcoleptic hausfrau Shanna Moakler. For a minute, Travis energetically read the riot act to his overpriced, can't-do, L.A. nightmare of a wedding planner.

  • Elliot Smith, 'From a Basement on the Hill' (Anti-)

    Suicide, especially when a celebrity is involved, is inevitably viewed by pundits as a cop-out--an ungrateful denial of the human covenant. Unlike the rest of us, say, who still nobly scrape by with so little, the deceased quit cold, despite having had so much.This rather ungenerous piety was heard years ago when Kurt Cobain ended his stint as generational seraph. It's been heard less frequently since the death last year of Elliott Smith. That's partly because Smith's death has yet to be officially ruled a suicide, and partly because, in life, he shied away from the spoils of fame--especially after receiving an Academy Award nomination in 1998.

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