SPIN Album Reviews

I’ve written album reviews for the longstanding and acclaimed music publication SPIN, both for their (now-deceased) print and online editions. Check ’em:

Savages, Silence Yourself
Published: May 6, 2013

As their band name implies, Savages are imploring us to get in touch not so much with our brains as with our viscera; the quartet itself feels like one living entity, negotiating the interplay of its various parts. Physically, drummer Fay Milton and bassist Ayse Hassan thump manically yet steadily, like a heart that’s just been defibrillated back to life; the emotions are supplied by guitarist Gemma Thompson’s wailing guitar and Beth’s feverish cries, both of them alternately overtaken by utter pain yet hell-bent on inflecting it.

Johnny Marr, The Messenger
Published: February 27, 2013

No conversation about indie rock can go long without paying homage to the Smiths, and more specifically, Johnny Marr. That pristine Rickenbacker jangle, that juxtaposition of upbeat euphoria and dreamy melancholia wrapped in a flowing bow of chords — these sounds will be forever romanticized in youthful memories and Hollywood films, forever attempted by every sad-sack who ever picked up a guitar, if only just to impress a girl or a boy. But no matter how much money (or how little meat) any festival juggernaut offers, the Smiths ain’t getting back together.

Green Day, ¡Tré!
Published: December 13, 2012

¡Uno!, with rambunctious tracks like “Kill the DJ” and “Troublemaker,” was the trio shooting Patron with the kids; ¡Dos!, with its retro garage rock, soundtracked their purchase of a vintage Porsche 911. But ¡Tré! finds them finally facing reality: “Hey, little kid / Did you wake up late one day/ And you’re not so young, but you’re still dumb / And you’re numb to your old glory, but now it’s gone,” Billie Joe Armstrong howls on “X-Kid,” and it’s hard not to think X equals him.

Bloc Party, Four
Published: August 24, 2012

Four is closest in spirit to White Pony, frequently taking a dip in the “Digital Bath” and, with the help of At the Drive-In/Mars Volta producer Alex Newport, reveling in that sort of heavy, brooding, prog-plod precision: It’s the sound of Bloc Party evolving from confused kids to confident brutes ready for the attack.

The Ting Tings, Sounds From Nowheresville
Published: March 27, 2012

And while Nothing may have been somewhat bipolar, this follow-up crosses over to straight-up schizophrenic. Militaristic snare trills, punk-rock guitar, tolling bells, flaccid raps, elegiac strings, squelching synths, horn wails, a squeaky rocking chair, a reggae groove, a song that sounds straight out of Grease — it makes you wonder if Nowheresville is actually a sort of abandoned playground for deranged children.

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
Published: November 8, 2011

What’s a year without a Gallagher brothers throwdown? Months after Liam and the rest of Oasis unveiled the score-settling Beady Eye, Noel gets in the ring with a sizable advantage (he did write the band’s hits) and a dedication to spreading the love instead of exacerbating the hate. His solo debut is hardly humble, though, from the dramatic strings flooding “Everybody’s on the Run” to the New Orleans brass dancing around the stretched-out vowels of “Dream On” and “The Death of You and Me.” “What a Life” gallops with a grandiosity that recalls Arcade Fire, and “Stop the Clocks” is a full-on orchestral-rock orgy. High Flying Birds isn’t a total knockout, but it should keep Liam sleeping with at least one Beady Eye open.

Future Islands, On the Water
Published: October 11, 2011

Baltimore’s Future Islands obviously were born with their ears pointed eastward to the theatrically heartbroken land of New Order, the Cure, and David Bowie. On this much-improved third album, synths swell, beats throb, and oceanic drones creep. Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner wafts through like a specter on “The Great Fire,” but Sam Herring is the true phantom of this synth-pop opera, still gruffly howling like he’s been forced to gargle rocks in the name of love — a subject that devastatingly plagues him — but also willing to settle into the grooves, even conceding that “it just takes time.”


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