• Serenity Never: Lydia Loveless Brings a Gritty, Witchy Arsonist's Zeal to 'Somewhere Else'

    Lydia Loveless makes unreasonable demands, and she damn well knows it. This 23-year-old Ohioan country-punk singer does a line at a party and decides to pester a married ex; French symbolists make her crave a man devoted enough to lodge a bullet in her wrist. "Don't stop giving me head," she commands, authoritatively enough to imply an unsaid "ever." But whether it's dedication or stamina she seeks, it's constant stimulation she requires.

  • Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks Both Mock and Slyly Embody Middle Age on 'Wig Out at Jagbags'

    Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks Both Mock and Slyly Embody Middle Age on 'Wig Out at Jagbags'

    You can maybe stay cool into your forties, but don't bet on it. The hippest in-jokes wither into the limpest dad jokes, and the culprit's nothing as banal as fluctuation in fashion or the inevitability of losing touch with current trends — it's middle-age itself, the most superficial and least surprising of all life's way stations, a slough devoid of all magic and mystery. A kid's delusions of immortality give offhand utterances an air of discovery; a geezer's croak hints at mortality and seems vaguely oracular. In between, you just try to have a little fun without embarrassing yourself too much.At 47, Stephen Malkmus is gunning for the title of Least Embarrassing Rock Dude of His Generation.

  • Lou Barlow / Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

    Sebadoh Reunite for More Candid, Wincing Mind Games on 'Defend Your Self'

    Fuck yeah, we still need indie-rock bands! As a nation of independent contractors, invoicing each work-for-hire project as if it were our last, we naturally hunger for new models of committed long-term collaboration. But until those emerge, old models — and maybe even old bands — will have to do. Gripe about reunions as nostalgic cash-ins all you want, but there's something morally instructive about watching prickly-ego'd musicians humble themselves with the public admission that their art succeeded best when forged in compromised communion with some other insufferable jerks.Defend Yourself is the first new Sebadoh full-length since 1999, and shouldn't that seem like a much bigger deal? Maybe if Lou Barlow and Jason Loewenstein hadn't released the five-song Secret EP earlier this year, or if they hadn't already reformed twice to tour, or if they weren't on their fourth drummer.

  • Thickefreakness: Robin Thicke at the BET Awards / Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment

    Robin Thicke's 'Blurred Lines' Is the Album Justin Timberlake Was Too Famous to Make

    This is the album that Justin Timberlake is too famous to make in 2013, its musical scope and track lengths modest, its sexual appetite and commercial ambition immodest, its star willing to offer up whatever cheesy line, vocal acrobatic, pop hook or funk groove or electro flourish that it takes to keep you listening. On The 20/20 Experience, JT sought to mature from puppy-doggish persistence to manly assurance while preserving his fascinating ability to try too hard yet never come on too strong. Whereas Robin Thicke, a slow-jam man just now reaching a broader audience, shamelessly parades his versatility as a singer and a lover.

  • George Jones, R.I.P.: The Legacy of Country's Greatest Voice in 15 Tracks

    George Jones, R.I.P.: The Legacy of Country's Greatest Voice in 15 Tracks

    Universally acknowledged as country music's greatest singer as well as its most enigmatic n'er-do-well, George Glenn Jones was born in Saratoga, Texas, in 1931, and went on to record and perform for more than six decades. When Jones died this past Friday at the age of 81, he left a throne with no heir. Such was his talent, that few living country vocalists — save, say, Merle Haggard or Dolly Parton — even rate a mention in the same conversation. Let's take a look back at the hits, lesser-known gems, and other songs that owe him gratitude to grasp Jones' unmatched impact.

  • Snoop Lion / Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

    Snoop Lion, 'Reincarnated' (Berhane Sound System/Mad Decent/Vice/RCA)

    A pimp can have a midlife crisis too, you know. And yet, while Calvin Broadus may be married happily with three kids, he's already led the louche life that balding exurban plodders only flail toward from the wrong side of 40. So like many a spent celebrity before him, Snoop Dogg has sought solace in exotic spirituality — not Kabbalah or Scientology, of course, but the one that lets you smoke a lot of weed.And thus the Rastafari convert returns from Jamaica rechristened Snoop Lion, bearing a Diplo-helmed reggae disc and claiming to be literally Bob Marley reborn.

  • The Strokes / Photo by Dan Martensen

    The Strokes, 'Comedown Machine' (RCA)

    Nobody much asks what the Strokes will do next anymore. ("No search results found for 'What will the Strokes do next?'" Evidence!) So when "One Way Trigger" electro-spasmed into earbuds in January, daring us not to call it an a-ha tribute (a dare this review will not be the first to accept), its boundless synth-pep and ripe falsetto rang with surprising defiance. Add an ironically hype-deflating wink of an album title, and clearly these guys were inviting everyone to have strong opinions about them once more.Not so fast. We happy survivors of the Great Strokes Debates of '01 may fondly reminisce over the youthful energy dissipated in the quest to determine, with absolute certainty, whether these guys were sexy geniuses saving rock'n'roll or derivative, affluent brats embalming it. But we won't get fooled again, and neither will you.

  • Yo La Tengo / Photo by Carlie Armstrong

    Yo La Tengo, 'Fade' (Matador)

    When Yo La Tengo release their next album three years or so from now, no reviewer will think to mention Sonic Youth. Despite a shared fascination with how noise and melody can coincide and glance off one another, the similarities that the East Coast's two preeminent indie-rock bands shared were never really musical. They were, essentially, legal: At the core of each was a longstanding married couple. And that's no longer so. SY's Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon announced their separation in 2011 after a 27-year-marriage; YLT's Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley are still on course to celebrate their silver wedding anniversary in 2013.But the contrast between each couple's self-conscious representation of life-partnership still brings Yo La Tengo's latest, Fade, into focus.

  • The Mountain Goats, 'Transcendental Youth' (Merge)

    Maybe you've heard that Transcendental Youth features horns on a few songs, and maybe you've wondered why you should care. After all, it's been 10 years and eight albums since John Darnielle first signed to 4AD (after a decade of cult-approved home recordings), and started collaborating with other musicians, producers, and engineers in bona fide studios. Still, longtime fans can't help but hear each musical development as a further tweak away from the spare insistence of those no-fi early records, in the same way that we judge an old college friend's middle-aged features by their deviation from the face we first met.And no matter how full and warm the Mountain Goats sound grows, Darnielle himself still embodies the spirit of his earlier work.

  • Adam Young: Owl be there

    Owl City, The Midsummer Station (Universal Republic)

    We should’ve heard the last of Adam Young, a.k.a., Owl City. Back in 2009, "Fireflies" simpered virally across America, and annoyed grown-ups wished 1,000 slugs from 10,000 frightening thugs upon the moony outstate Minnesotan. But we took comfort from the fact that his shtick — a twee tween's Ben Gibbard, the Postal Service for kids too young to have ever licked a stamp — was a one-off novelty fluke. The parallel universe of Christian pop would surely nurture Young, but he seemed no more destined for a long-lived mainstream pop career than the Chicago Bears Shufflin' Crew. And yet, like his divine inspiration, Young has risen from the dead, rebounding commercially after a hitless follow-up LP, last year's All Things Bright and Beautiful. As heralds of resurrection go, the new chart-clambering "Good Time" ain’t quite the sounding of the Seventh Trumpet.

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