• Against Me! Challenge Old Fans and Mint New Ones With 'Transgender Dysphoria Blues'

    Against Me! Challenge Old Fans and Mint New Ones With 'Transgender Dysphoria Blues'

    No one knows what to expect from such a high-profile album by not just a transgender rock'n'roller, but an established (maybe even mainstream!) rock'n'roller transitioning in the middle of her career. But you can bet that many fans, even the most supportive ones, have created a private scorecard to track how well this "new" version of Against Me!

  • The Dismemberment Plan perform on 'Late Night With Jimmy Fallon'

    The Dismemberment Plan Slouch Toward Maturity on 'Uncanny Valley'

    Despite the love songs, the tempered tempos, and the "You say 'cluster' / I say 'fuck'!" call-and-response joke, the Dismemberment Plan's first album in 12 years is not dad rock. Non-manchild rock, maybe. Many of us would love to live on a planet where a "dad rock" album is introduced by the lines, "You hit the spacebar enough and cocaine comes out / I really like this computer!"; but there's only room for one They Might Be Giants in the world.That indie rock's most personable band has made a shirt-and-tie (but no blazer) pop album a dozen years after their mellow-yet-tense presumed finale Change might surprise no one.

  • Laura Jane Grace at MilkBoy, Philadelphia, August 10, 2013 / Photo by Derek Brad

    Against Me!'s Laura Jane Grace Opens Mini-Tour Rebirth With Philly Acoustic Show

  • The Five Best (and Five Worst) Lollapalooza Lineups Ever

    The Five Best (and Five Worst) Lollapalooza Lineups Ever

    Without Lollapalooza, it feels like we'd be missing an entire generation — a huge void between The Simpsons and the Gathering of the Juggalos. The iconic summer bacchanal — a touring concern from 1991 to 1997 and a fixture at Chicago's Grant Park since 2005, with only a brief hiccup or two in between — deserves at least as much credit as Nirvana (who themselves never got to play it, as they were booked the year of Kurt Cobain's death) for not just defining what we '90s kids called "alternative," but for the inclusiveness it gave the term.

  • Steve Gunn / Photo by Constance Mensh

    Steve Gunn, 'Time Off' (Paradise of Bachelors)

    Steve Gunn's guitar playing is undoubtedly original, though his languorous fingerpicking style brings up John Fahey comparisons, for sure, not to mention Nick Drake. Intricacy amidst delicacy. Not that Drake ever would've conceived the rough-and-tumble blues "New Decline," or infused it with the shaky rhythm of someone furtively trying to put on a pair of jeans with big holes in the knees.But on Gunn's new Time Off, trailing almost a dozen records released in runs of fewer than 800 copies each, opener "Water Wheel" is pure Pink Moon, despite doubling the length of anything on that record. It starts in the middle, like he's been playing the pattern over and over since well before recording began.

  • Alice in Chains, 'The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here' (Virgin)

    We used to dread our favorite bands reuniting, which says a lot about either diminishing returns or our faith in the people we decide are geniuses. That goes fivefold when one of the band's geniuses is dead. Being post-Spinal Tap (and post-Behind the Music) has given the alt-generation both hindsight and foresight — Archers of Loaf and Pixies and Mission of Burma and Dinosaur Jr. have not worried about how to sound like themselves again. With Portishead's Third and My Bloody Valentine's more recent m b v, we can even acknowledge the possibility that a band might hit one out of the park again ten or 20 years past its alleged peak. But watching how, say, Jefferson Starship or Smashing Pumpkins caught flak, most bands making a second go have merely resigned themselves to the promise of Not Sucking.But with that, another problem has developed — upholding a brand.

  • Rilo Kiley: It's a hit

    Rilo Kiley, 'Rkives' (Little Record Company)

    How many bands' outtakes could serve as a primer? Rkives is not the sorely nonexistent sixth Rilo Kiley album, unfortunately, but as a career-spanning loose-ends wrap-up, it's sure a lot better than the next best thing. Revealing more to outsiders than, say, that entire Nirvana box set, it revels in the seemingly defunct L.A. pop greats' status as old-school virtuosos who turned the new school on.There's no way to explain why Rilo Kiley were loved — yes, loved —without sounding like a bygone jerk. They played their instruments, oh yes they did. And not just good-student guitar architect Blake Sennett and powerhouse frontwoman Jenny Lewis.

  • Toro Y Moi / Photo by Andrew Paynte

    Toro y Moi, 'Anything in Return' (Carpark)

    If, a couple years back, you expected the word "chillwave" to be long gone by 2013, well, some people in 1983 thought rap was a passing fad, too. You know what happened instead? A$AP Rocky signed a three-million-dollar deal for tracks he cut with hip-hop's most chillwave-y, Loveless-jacking producer, Clams Casino. R&B got stretched and taffy-pulled into dark, dubby corridors that led to albums that topped charts and critics' polls. Indie rockers like Wavves find themselves increasingly blown-out, acid-washed, squelched, and warped.

  • Wiz Khalifa

    Wiz Khalifa, 'O.N.I.F.C.' (Rostrum/Atlantic)

    Just because something embodies the laid-back vibes of "weed rap" doesn't mean it can't be meaty. Curren$y is loving and meditative as he maintains a nearly zen pursuit of airplanes and Doritos, while DOOM constructs elaborate scenarios from behind a mask that probably has its own bong attachment. Devin the Dude giggles as he spouts off about sitcom-worthy what-ifs with Slick Rick clarity. As for the re-christened, increasingly less verbose Snoop Lion, well, hakuna matata.In his prime Dogg days, Snoop traded in what many now term "swag." The slippery smoothness of those consonants and vowels that, when bathed in Calvin Broadus' murderous calm, somehow denoted a party. That's what made the decidedly more PG-13 Wiz Khalifa want to be a rapper. He wanted Snoop's invincible cool, that ability to say yes to everything, and still chill, blunted, on the sidelines.

  • Benjamin Gibbard, 'Former Lives' (Barsuk)

    Doesn't the notion of a Ben Gibbard solo album seem quaint? Already, his best-known work is a side project, the Postal Service, which produced the crossover smash ("Such Great Heights") that his main gig, Death Cab for Cutie, has never quite managed. Plus, that side project’s cuddly electropop steez has since been sharked by Owl City, an inexplicable maker of No. 1 hits of such blatant Gibbard dopplegängery that even DCFC guitarist Chris Walla couldn't resist taking a shot on Twitter. And this isn't really his solo debut, either: That would be early project ¡All-Time Quarterback!.Perhaps, Gibbard simply has never felt more alone.

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