• Cat Power / Photo by Simon Burstall

    Cat Power: Raw Power

    "Are you mad at me?" Chan Marshall will ask you this whether you are a bartender mixing her a tequila and soda after closing time or a bodega clerk waiting to take her order or a passerby walking a dog or, certainly, a new acquaintance grappling with how to speak to her at length about deeply personal subjects she is both loathe to dig into and unable to avoid. You will assure her, repeatedly, that of course you're not mad. Why would you be? But eventually, you'll realize this is just a thing she does, the way you might say, "Know what I mean?" She talks a lot, to everyone, gregarious and inquisitive with strangers in a way they may not be used to; there's a lot of energy to burn. She is disarmingly forthright and carefully guarded, often within the same thought, constantly measuring how much she should be saying as she's already in the middle of saying it.

  • Sweet Valley / Photo by Dan Monick

    Wavves' Nathan Williams Debuts Sweet Valley Track 'Total Carnage'

    While we all continue to wait for SPIN cover boy Nathan Williams' next Wavves album, Stay Calm, the debut from Sweet Valley, a collaboration between Williams and his brother Kynan, will be released on August 7 by Fool's Gold.

  • Robert Pollard

    Listen to Robert Pollard's 447th Great Song This Year, 'Who’s Running My Ranch'

    Seems weird to say that 2012 could be the most impressive year of Bob Pollard’s patently ridiculous career, but after two way-better-than-anyone-could-have-expected — and criminally under-the-radar — Guided By Voices albums already out, and a third one due by the time you’re finished reading this probably, a solid solo album would be the cherry on top of a sundae you didn’t even know you ordered. This echo-laden, vaguely psych-rock track from the forthcoming solo outing Jack Sells the Cow sounds, somewhat counterintuitively given the history of Pollard’s swollen discography, a bit more produced than a lot of the new GBV stuff, and could ably serve as a salute to fellow Ohioans and next-gen lo-fi purveyors, Cloud Nothings. As a bonus, you can download "Who's Running My Ranch," too.

  • The Replacements perform in Minneapolis, 1990 / Photo by Jim Steinfeldt/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

    Ex-Replacements Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson Reuniting to Help Bandmate

    This week, while on tour with Guns N' Roses in Israel, Tommy Stinson let slip that he and fellow former Replacement Paul Westerberg were working on a song together to benefit their old guitarist, Slim Dunlap, who suffered a debilitating stroke this past winter. Slim's wife, Chrissie, and the Replacements' former manager, Peter Jesperson confirm the benefit project, but it's not your run-of-the-mill tribute album. "Tribute records can be so ubiquitous and don't necessarily sell well," says Jesperson, who was inspired to form the seminal Minneapolis label Twin/Tone Records after seeing Dunlap's pre-Replacements band Thumbs Up.

  • Josh Fox / Photo by Matt McGinley

    Drill Sergeant: Josh Fox's Anti-Fracking Crusade

    Since college, Brooklyn-based activist Josh Fox, 39, had run a politically oriented theater company. But when oil and gas companies started poking, literally, around the land near his family's house in Pennsylvania, he learned more about the widespread process and attendant risks of hydraulic fracking — drilling for natural shale gas — and began toting a video camera. His resulting documentary, Gasland, premiered at Sundance in 2010 and was subsequently bought by HBO and nominated for an Oscar. It exposes the stories of people from small towns across America who have experienced shocking environmental disturbances (including flammable drinking water). Predictably, he's caught the attention of the nation's oil-and-gas concerns and their government proxies. Now, as Fox finishes the sequel, he's become the mouthpiece for an increasingly vehement resistance.

  • Billy Eichner / Photo by Dan Monick

    Billy Eichner's Street Hassle

    For seven years, comic Billy Eichner has filmed himself urgently accosting strangers on New York City streets to ask them about decidedly nonurgent pop-culture ephemera. He's incorporated the videos into his stage routine, but it wasn't until the debut this past December of his Funny or Die–produced quasi game show for Fuse, Billy on the Street, that his talent for being a manic, preening, one-man Perez Hilton comments section found a wide audience (the second season debuts this fall). Then, as the confetti was still flying after the Giants' Super Bowl victory in February, an unflappable Eichner, at the behest of Conan, stormed the field to ask players what they thought of Madonna's halftime show.

  • The Afghan Whigs / Photo by Ryan Muir

    The Afghan Whigs Play First Show in 13 Years: The Full Report

    The Afghan Whigs released Up In It, their Sub Pop debut, in 1990. They played their last shows in 1999. It is very safe to call them a '90s band. But while that usually connotes some sort of one-hit wonderment or frozen-in-amber datedness, the Afghan Whigs always felt like they spanned every inch of those 10 years; from the Cincinnati proto-grunge that got them mixed up with Sub Pop to begin with to the fraught, bursting-at-the-seams mid-career major-label power plays to the soul-tinged fadeout, they were buoyed up and beaten down by everything that weird decade had to offer. Which is why their first show together since then, at New York's Bowery Ballroom last night, felt less like an easy nostalgia trip than a reminder of problems we, perhaps selectively, forgot we ever had.

  • Sugar / Photo by Ed Sirrs/Retna U.K.

    Sugar Look Back at 20 Years of 'If I Can't Change Your Mind'

    If 1991 was the year punk broke, then 1992 was the year everyone tried to pick up the pieces, or, alternately, figure out how to sell the pieces. Bob Mould was not among those wringing their hands over preserving the sanctity of underground DIY culture or the tangled ethics of commercial success. His groundbreaking Minneapolis punk trio Hüsker Dü capped their historic career with two albums on Warner Bros. before breaking up acrimoniously in January 1988. Mould exorcised (and exercised) those bad Hüsker vibes on 1989's sparse, acoustic Workbook and 1990's lacerating Black Sheets of Rain, but the poppier new songs he had aired out during solo shows in 1991 begged for a little backup.

  • Jack White / Photo by Jo McCaughey

    Jack White, 'Blunderbuss' (Columbia/Third Man)

    The first time I saw the White Stripes, in 1999, everyone walked out with one question: Who looks at his sister like that? At each subsequent concert, once the jig was up, and once Jack's ambition and increasingly baroque tastes exposed Meg's close-enough-for-rock'n'roll approach to keeping time as just as much of an affectation as the candy-cane dress code, the burning question became: What if this guy played with actual skilled musicians who were up to his challenge? Would that push him further or drain the charm? Turned out, both. In the Raconteurs, Jack White was deferential to a fault, just wanting to be one of the boys in the band, and we talked ourselves into believing Brendan Benson was his equal.

  • fIREHOSE / Photo by Bob Lee for The Los Angeles Beat

    Hear 'Making the Freeway' Off fIREHOSE's New Anthology

    The seven-song 1992 Live Totem Pole EP from Mike Watt and George Hurley's post-Minutemen outfit has been out of print forever. But lowFLOWS: The Columbia Anthology ('91-'93), which arrives hot on the heels of the band's Coachella appearance and west-coast tour (the band's first shows in 18 years) includes that EP, the other albums they released after leaving SST, and assorted unreleased odds and sods. "Making the Freeway," originally from fiREHOSE'S second album If'n, is one of just two originals on Live Totem Pole — although the EP-opening cover of Blue Oyster Cult's "The Red and the Black" also appeared on the final Minutemen studio album — and it's here for your pleasure, with Ed Crawford, of course, on vocals.

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