• DJ Rashad, DJ Spinn, Teklife

    Teklife Forever: DJ Rashad and DJ Spinn Reflect on Footwork's Chicago Origins, Global Spread

    This wasn't supposed to be a eulogy. This was supposed to be the story where Rashad and Spinn were going to tell how they came up from roller-skating parties. I was going to explain how this was going to be their year and how, after 20 years, they were getting their due and getting over. How they were going to be more than Southside gods and big in Japan. This was supposed to be the story where I explained how they both choked up with emotion, when talking about Rashad surviving his car crash last year, a car crash that he says should have killed him.I would have explained that Rashad had grace — and who has fucking grace anymore? His gratitude and earnestness were such that you'd never guess he'd been grinding away for two decades.

  • Patty Schemel, Courtney Love, Kristen Pfaff, and Eric Erlandson in Seattle, 1994

    You Will Ache Like I Ache: The Oral History of Hole's 'Live Through This'

    It's hard not to work through the what if's of Live Through This. What if the world had gotten a proper introduction to this album? What if we only had to confront the image of Courtney Love the rock star that week, rather than the Courtney Love we saw in grief, giving away her husband's T-shirts to mourning teens? How would we have understood such an iconic album, if it had not been bracketed by Kurt Cobain's suicide? And what would Hole have become if bassist Kristen Pfaff had lived?That it made its way outside of the long shadow of death is testament to just how masterful Live Through This was and is — an incontrovertible work that Love and her band fought to bring into the word, to legitimize themselves as a band and worthy peers to Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, and the sensitive boy-geniuses of the alt-rock era.

  • Craig Finn

    The Hold Steady's Craig Finn Talks Female Characters, Catholicism, Drinking

    Craig Finn is not quite "America's Storyteller" but he's spent six albums with the Hold Steady scratching at all the misery and lust that lurks beneath, chronicling some post-collegiate afterworld where people come undone and, if they are lucky, rise again. The band's just-released sixth LP, Teeth Dreams, is their — forgive me, please — steadiest work in a while, and engages with the classic rock monolith on its own terms, giving into that glorious dual-guitar thrall and FM pleasure. But Finn is a bit more modern a man than the music he makes might imply: He writes women and girls into his songs, but they are not sidepieces. To the contrary, they are the compelling center that will not hold, going far beyond the bad girl and good girl archetypes we know from recorded rock'n'roll history, more like the girls we know and the girls we are.

  • St. Vincent

    Annie Clark Burns Down the Boys' Club on the Poised, Effortless 'St. Vincent'

    In the relatively short span of what now constitutes four St. Vincent albums, Annie Clark has become an icon. That's no surprise — she's smart and witty and beautiful, and her music is quick in its rewards, intellectual but hooky. But what's really gotten the singer/songwriter/guitarist to the apex is the way she resists the gendering of her work. There's something fantastically cunning about both her art and her persona, and whether that came from a messianic streak or a simple desire to avoid rock's tired binaries, something strange and wonderful has happened as a result: She has given us a little desperately needed traction in moving past the Women in Rock era. Her dazzler of a new album at least delivers us to the threshold, daring us to imagine a world where female artists are not posited as de facto outsiders.St.

  • Bruce Springsteen / Photo by Getty Images

    Bruce Springsteen Rages Against Coherence on Awkward Remakes of 'High Hopes'

    The magic trick that still powers Bruce Springsteen's epochal career is his ability to rescue clichés, trick them out with an impossible earnestness, and make them resonate as fresh, thrilling sentiments. He's now four decades into a grand thematic vamp about the life and death of blue-collar America, forever bringing our shame, sadness, and unsaid longing into high relief via a visceral rock'n'roll exegesis. And when he connects, it's breathtaking: Jersey-born and Jesus-haunted, the dude affirms all those tired old feel-good rock mythologies and revitalizes the very possibility of music as a way to make sense of our pain.

  • Angel Haze / Photo by Wilson Lee

    Angel Haze Brings Too Many Flowers and Not Enough Fire to the Chaotic 'Dirty Gold'

    Angel Haze is not the Rah Digga of now, nor the Jean Grae of tomorrow, nor the Nicki Minaj of several years from now. On her tumultuously conceived (or at least tumultuously released) full-length Island/Republic debut, it's evident the young MC is not interested in squaring off within lazy "femcee" brackets; instead, she wants a bite — a big one — of what Macklemore is having. Though she's continually pitted against her distaff peers, Dirty Gold eschews the underground entirely, instead aiming squarely for that other niche group: the Top 40.While such globally minded pop striving shows us where she wants to be, Haze's chopper flow betrays not-so-humble Midwestern roots — born in Detroit, and now planning to settle in Williamsburg, her breathless rat-a-tat conjures shades of Twista when she's smooth or mid-period Tech N9ne when she's particularly pissed.

  • The Reluctant Survivor: Tim Kinsella on a Prolific, Polarizing Career at the Art-Rock Margins

    The Reluctant Survivor: Tim Kinsella on a Prolific, Polarizing Career at the Art-Rock Margins

    Tim Kinsella won't stop. He can't. He's played the reluctant star from the moment he first emerged as the mercurial bandleader for Cap'n Jazz, setting the template for Midwestern emo from his mom's suburban Chicago basement circa 1990, and subsequently influencing everyone from Fall Out Boy to P.O.S. That band was legendary and short-lived, and created a kind of mythology around Kinsella as a true artist, especially seeing as his peers and acolytes went on to mainstream and even Top 40 success, while he remained — and remains — underground.In 1995, he blunted Cap'n Jazz interest by forming the rambling post-rock band Joan of Arc, which enjoyed an initial swell of attention and acclaim that lasted for their first four records, but listed toward confounding, inwardly focused, conceptual studio work starting with 2000's The Gap.

  • M.I.A.

    M.I.A.: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Artist

    "I was the only one who was able to draw in the whole class," says Maya Arulpragasam, a.k.a. pop icon M.I.A., of her earliest school years in Sri Lanka. "So, when we were doing our alphabet and we had to do little illustrations, I would draw in everybody’s books… I was the go-to person in the class."The M.I.A. origin story — unchanged since the earliest articles about her appeared a decade ago — is not the definitive story. That tale is just a history of her career as told through interveners: Her "terrorist" dad, her Brit-pop benefactors, Peaches' gifted drum machine, Diplo's affection and production on those early bamboo bangers, Madonna taking her along to the Super Bowl halftime show.

  • Miley Cyrus / Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Miley Cyrus' 'Bangerz' Serves Up the Perfectly American Horrorshow We Deserve

    What is there to "review" when it comes to a Miley Cyrus album? Her singing, affected and perfected by software? How her powerless pop makes you feel, deep down in your quivering soul? How to rate this latest iteration of her personae (code name: "strategic hot mess"), to address these complex matters of cultural ownership with a post-teen girl who has belonged to the public her whole life, a simulacrum of girlhood turned into one of the great products of our age, a bigger emblem of the empire than the very Mouse itself? What else could she do but nuke it, saturate herself in our greedy gaze until she dissolves, give it all away, turn herself out until our knowledge of her is borderline gynecological? Is there a part of Miley that remains unknown? Did you really expect an album called Bangerz to reveal anything to you?In knowing everything, we find we know nothing.

  • Deap Vally 'Sistrionix' Album Stream

    Album of the Week: Stream Deap Vally's Brutalist Boogie Tantrum 'Sistrionix'

    Though Deap Vally's Sistronix was written in the San Fernando Valley, it stomps and swaggers like vintage bayou boogie, with Lindsay Troy's thick-as-a-brick blues riffs and Julie Edwards' monstrous cavewoman beats proving that the dynamic duo can hold up to the hype. The album is a primer in how to have a good time, all the time, with the pair trading lines about the joys of hedonism ("Bad for My Body," "Walk of Shame"). Liberation anthems are liberally doused in sick solos; it's all manner of bawdy boss-bitch real talk wrapped up in garage punk brutalism. For their full-length debut, the duo's goals in the studio were simple, says Troy: "We wanted to get it as raw and straightforward and raw as possible." Sistronix leaves no doubt about what kind of band they are, or just how seriously they want to rock you.

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