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album reviews

Parquet Courts

Sunbathing Animal What's Your Rupture?/Mom + Pop
8

Parquet Courts perfected their guitar clang on 2013's Light Up Gold – if all they wanted to do was make the exact same album again, most of us would have been delighted. But these Brooklyn dudes go even deeper on Sunbathing Animal. They've outgrown the Pavement comparisons – these songs make you wonder if you're hearing early Wire jam with Creedence while Thurston Moore brews the tea. Austin Brown and Andrew Savage trade off deadpan vocals, mostly about arty girls, ... | More »

Priests

Bodies and Control and Money and Power Don Giovanni/Sister Polygon
7

They're young, they're rude, they're mad and they mean it. The Washington, D.C., kids in Priests might be your punk-rock dream come true if you're in the market for emotionally urgent, politically pissed-off, wildly funny rants in the style of Bikini Kill or Delta 5. After scattered singles and cassettes, Priests take the plunge with an 18-minute EP that kicks in and sticks. Lead Priest Katie Alice Greer is not a fan of "Doctors" ("You put your fingers in other people'... | More »

Echo & The Bunnymen

Meteorites 429
6

In the Eighties, Echo and the Bunnymen's Ian McCulloch battled the Cure's Robert Smith for goth-doll dominance. But nobody could touch the Buns for glowering guitar grandeur. On their 12th LP, trademark psychedelic swirls and red-sunset strings sound like they're soundtracking a Western about a gunslinger in a Joy Division T-shirt, as McCulloch moans about doomed romance, decadence ("Grapes Upon the Vine") and emotional dissolution (the Phil Spector-steeped "Is This a Breakdown... | More »

Bob Mould

Beauty & Ruin Merge
7

Though he claims that he's "out of inspiration" on the searing "Fix It," Bob Mould is anything but on his 11th solo album. The former Sugar and Hüsker Dü frontman sounds fully invigorated here, perhaps fueled by the weighty subject matter: the death of his father – whose alcoholism and violence Mould chronicles in his 2011 memoir – and his own grappling with mortality. Backed by bassist Jason Narducy and Superchunk drummer Jon Wurster, Mould rips through 1... | More »

Fucked Up

Glass Boys Matador
6

In recent years, post-hardcore extroverts Fucked Up have proved there's more to them than confrontation, incorporating quasi-indie flourishes and lyrical headiness. Their fourth LP feels like their most serious yet – but that doesn't mean they've matured. Burly frontman Damian Abraham still remains furiously raw as he compares his expectations as a young screamer to his current lot on tracks like "Echo Boomer," and the band's triple-thick guitar assault still fe... | More »

Hamilton Leithauser

Black Hours Ribbon
6

With the Walkmen (currently on "extreme hiatus"), Hamilton Leithauser tied rakish, majestic indie rock to Fifties sounds from doo-wop to Sun Records. That stuff is more present than ever on the singer's solo debut, where he's backed by members of Vampire Weekend, the Shins and Fleet Foxes, plus Walkmen guitarist Paul Maroon. Leithauser's voice has traces of Sam Cooke and Steve Perry of Journey as he stretches out on songs like the lachrymose "Self Pity" or the happy skiff le st... | More »

Soundgarden

Superunknown (Reissue) A&M/UMe
8

The defining moment from an unclassifiable band remains brilliantly off-kilter as metal, crushingly moody as alternative and strangely reassuring as classic rock. This 20th-anniversary reissue of the grunge era's most ambitious statement adds a second disc of mostly unnecessary music (the five-disc superdeluxe version adds more). Demos and rehearsals let you hear Chris Cornell's powerful voice go occasionally out of tune; B sides drag ("Black Days III") or are goofs ("Exit Stoneheng... | More »

Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin (Reissue) Atlantic/Swan Song
9

It's easy to forget at this distance that Led Zeppelin's first three albums, the foundation of their titanic legacy, were the most divisive hit records of their day. This magazine is still living down 1969 pans of Led Zeppelin and II as brutal blues ham; III shook fans and enemies alike with its dedicated swerve into acoustic textures and restraint.  The music is now beyond reproach. Made and issued between the falls of 1968 and 1970, the original LPs mark Zeppelin&#... | More »

Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin III (Reissue) Atlantic/Swan Song
10

It's easy to forget at this distance that Led Zeppelin's first three albums, the foundation of their titanic legacy, were the most divisive hit records of their day. This magazine is still living down 1969 pans of Led Zeppelin and II as brutal blues ham; III shook fans and enemies alike with its dedicated swerve into acoustic textures and restraint.  The music is now beyond reproach. Made and issued between the falls of 1968 and 1970, th... | More »

Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin II (Reissue) Atlantic/Swan Song
9

It's easy to forget at this distance that Led Zeppelin's first three albums, the foundation of their titanic legacy, were the most divisive hit records of their day. This magazine is still living down 1969 pans of Led Zeppelin and II as brutal blues ham; III shook fans and enemies alike with its dedicated swerve into acoustic textures and restraint.  The music is now beyond reproach. Made and issued between the falls of 1968 and 1970, th... | More »

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Song Stories

“You Oughta Know”

Alanis Morissette | 1995

This blunt, bitter breakup song -- famous for its line "Would she go down on you in a theater?" -- was long rumored to be about Alanis Morissette getting dumped by Full House actor Dave Coulier. But while she never confirmed it was about him (Coulier himself says it is, however), she insisted the song wasn't all about scorn. "By no means is this record just a sexual, angry record," she told Rolling Stone. "The song wasn't written for the sake of revenge. It was written for the sake of release. I'm actually a pretty rational, calm person."

More Song Stories entries »
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