punk rock

Catching Up On The Week (Apr. 17 Edition)

Some #longreads as you prepare yourself for Record Store Day…

It should be obvious that we here at Rust Is Just Right love record stores, and so it would seem to follow that we would appreciate the “Record Store Day” celebration.  However, as the “holiday” has grown in recent years, we have begun to realize that the success of the promotion can be a double-edged sword for the very businesses it was meant to protect: a sudden influx of sales can be good, but it means little to these stores if these sales do not create regular customers, and the emphasis on special releases has the problem of crowding out vinyl production, with limited edition records for established artists taking up space initially earmarked for truly independent bands.  Pitchfork has a piece that breaks down in more detail the ambivalent feelings that Record Store Day has generated.

It may sound counterintuitive at first, but the thesis of this Stereogum essay makes more sense the more you think about it–Brian Wilson certainly had an impact on the creation of punk rock.  Elsewhere on the site, the Anniversary Machine takes a look at the tenth anniversary of Alligator from The National, which marked a significant turning point for the band.  The best point made in the article is that despite what some detractors may say, there is a real evolution from Alligator to the present day in The National’s sound.

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago is awarding Kanye West with an honorary degree, and FADER has an interview with the president and dean of the school explaining their decision.  Though it has generated a mild amount of heat among a minority of students and some alumni, it is an easily defensible choice, as explained in the piece.

An ugly spat has been brewing between Black Sabbath and drummer Bill Ward, and it has spilled over into the public sphere this week.  Rolling Stone has an interview with Ward explaining the origins of the dispute and the band’s current situation.

The highly-anticipated second album from Alabama Shakes will be released on Tuesday, and Consequence of Sound talked to frontwoman Brittany Howard about Sound & Color as well as the band’s rise to fame.

Finally, Cuepoint has a fantastic piece courtesy of Bethlehem Shoals on the legacy of Percy Sledge, who should be remembered for more than his mammoth hit “When A Man Loves A Woman.”

Catching Up On The Week (July 11 Edition)

Hope everyone remembered to get a free Slurpee today.  Because goddammit I forgot to get one.

As a capper for their multi-part feature on punk in the 90’s (“Fear of a Punk Decade”), the AV Club engaged in a roundtable to discuss whether the music had a lasting impact.

David Greenwald has an extended look at the business of streaming and breaks down the band payments for Spotify in this article from The Oregonian.

Somebody uploaded a video from 1983 that features the first live performance of “Purple Rain”, which would then go on to be used in the film itself.  Included in the video is a “director’s commentary” a la Pop-Up Video, providing additional insight into the song.  Better watch it soon, before Prince takes it down.

(Update: And sure enough, it’s been pulled.  Hope you enjoyed it while it lasted!)

Pitchfork interviews Geoff Rickly about his new band, United Nations.   I had been a fan of Thursday (Full Collapse will always be a favorite of mine), but didn’t realize they had broken up with the release of their latest.  Rickly talks a bit about Thursday’s break up as well in the interview.   Pitchfork also catches up with Christopher Owens, formerly of the band Girls, and they discuss his upcoming album.  Father, Son, Holy Ghost was one of the best albums of 2011, but there wasn’t much on Owens’s solo debut Lysandre that seemed worthwhile, so I’ll hold off on my anticipation a little bit.

Catching Up On The Week (June 13 Edition)

For those of you who survive Friday the 13th and the full moon, here are some #longreads to get around to on your weekend.

Earlier this week, we had our review of Hamilton Leithauser’s solo debut, but for those of you who need an additional fix of The Walkmen, Drowned in Sound has the stream for Peter Matthew Bauer’s solo record Liberation! available on their site.  The stream wasn’t working for me when I checked, but maybe it will for you; at the very least, you can read Bauer’s track-by-track guide to the album.

Next week also sees the release of Familiars from the Antlers, and Pitchfork caught up with them for an interview.  The band talks about a couple of unexpected inspirations for the new album, including Twin Peaks and The Tibetan Book of the Dead.

Johnny Greenwood recently announced that Radiohead is taking a year off, which I guess counts as news if you were looking around and noticed, hey, it’s been…over a year since The King of Limbs, but people are reporting this anyway.  Read up to see what adventures Johnny has gone on in the meantime, and while you do that, be sure to check out these pictures that fifth graders drew after being subjected to Hail to the Thief.

Stereogum has a look back at Hot Fuss, since we celebrate the ten year anniversary of every decent album that we at the very least half-way remember/are likely to sing a couple songs while drunk at karaoke.  (Everybody thinks that they can sing “All These Things That I’ve Done”, but it’s tougher than it seems–they could probably do “Mr. Brightside” however, since the vocal melody is basically the same pitch throughout the song (that said, I still enjoy the album)).  However, this provides an interesting behind-the-scenes look in the days before their breakthrough release, and is worth checking out.

AV Club finishes up their “Fear of a Punk Decade” feature with a look at 1999 and…Jimmy Eat World, because that pretty much says everything you need to remember about punk in 1999.  Granted, there’s a much more in-depth discussion of a lot of other bands, but let it be known that was the hook to get you reading.

Normally we tend to keep things strictly music-related on this site, but considering the subject’s connection to music, we’ll say that you should take a look at The Hollywood Reporter’s quest  for answers to the suicide of Searching for Sugarman director Malik Bendjelloul.

And finally, SPIN interviews Dylan Baldi of Cloud Nothings about his recent collaboration with Wavves.  We’re pretty excited to see what the final result of that combination will be.

Review: Fucked Up – Glass Boys

My introduction to Fucked Up was through their album The Chemistry of Common Life, and that initial listen was the first time since Refused’s The Shape of Punk to Come that I was excited about the direction of punk rock.  It’s hard to forget that opening of “Son The Father”, with the faint strains of flute dissolving into a gradual cascade of guitars to form an immense wall of sound, only to be punctured by the howling screech of Damian Abraham.  It was then that all hell broke loose, and the assault didn’t let up for the rest of the album.  It was amazing to hear hardcore punk escape from the box that it had built around itself over the years–here we had all the aggression and fury of the classics, but with music that didn’t focus on the same drumbeat or the same tired melodies.  It was clear Fucked Up wasn’t content with repeating the same old formula, and that’s what made them so exciting.

They reached for the stars with their next album, David Comes To Life, an epic rock opera with a complex and detailed storyline.  It scored rave reviews from critics, but personally I never fully connected with the album, simply due to its sheer length.  It may speak more to my diminished attention span more than anything, but it’s hard to keep engaged with an album that is going 110 mph for 80 minutes; after an initial giddiness that comes from listening to the first third of the record, songs started to bleed into each other and it became a chore to finish the album.  For someone like me who prefers to listen to full albums at a time, this is a problem.

Thankfully, Glass Boys is a leaner machine, and it works to the album’s benefit.  “Echo Boomer” begins the album in much the same way that “Son The Father” did, using an initial soft touch before packing a wallop; this time, with the flute replaced by a toy piano before the guitars kick in.  There’s a better sense of balance throughout the album as a whole, with a natural ebb and flow in tempo and dynamics.  “Sun Glass” opens up with the strumming of a summery acoustic guitar, before it kicks the door down with its call-and-response chorus.  “Sacred young, feel the sun, vermillion” are not the usual lyrics to a hardcore song, but it speaks to how the band is deciding how to view their place within the hardcore scene; later on, the line “We all get replaced, retconned and upstaged, life turns a page” states the fear directly.  It’s also one of the best lines I’ve heard all year.

The album hits a rough patch in the middle; the songs individually are fine, but when listening in context with the rest of the album and after the rousing opening, they suffer in comparison.  However, the album picks up again with the thrilling final three tracks.  “Led By Hand” has an intriguing minor-key melody that’s elevated by it’s sing-along background vocals, reminiscent of The Men in the Open Your Heart era.  “The Great Divide” ramps the tempo up and it sounds like it’s the most fun the band has had in years.  And the title track finishes the album with a blast, keeping the energy up but providing the cathartic resolution that the album needs with each repetition of “Glass Boys”.  The album ends as it began, with solo piano, but it captures a more subdued mood (if anything, it reminds me most of the end to Faith No More’s “Epic”–if that’s the inspiration, then it’s the perfect nod to conclude the album).

Glass Boys ends up being the album that fulfills the promise of The Chemistry of Common Life better than David Comes to Life did.*  Whereas Refused’s magnum opus showed how punk rock didn’t have to be confined to a specific genre, and could incorporate musical ideas ranging from electronica to jazz, Glass Boys shows that you can have all the intensity of hardcore without being constrained by the same formula time and time again.  Yes, Damian Abraham’s gruff bark will be the first thing that gets the neophyte’s attention, as well as the ferocity of the attack from the music.  But there is scope and sweep to the album behind it that helps amplify the band’s search for meaning, as they reflect on their place within the music world and their relationship with their audience.  It’s a coherent, cohesive statement, and despite the themes of the album, hopefully this is the beginning of a new chapter for Fucked Up.

*I saw this pointed out somewhere on the internet, but it is rather interesting that the artwork of David Comes to Life and Glass Boys seem to have been switched–the statue of David is used for Glass Boys, and two glass light bulbs are used for David Comes to Life (in the shape of a heart (fitting the Queen of Hearts character) or testicles (if held upside-down)).  Considering the time in between the albums and the tension within the band during that time period, it would be amazing to find out if this was indeed planned.