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Ben Ratliff


  • Metal: The Next Generation

    The ten most important hard and heavy bands right now

    • Music
  • Garage Inc.

    Interpreting other bands' songs isn't part of the rhetoric of heavy metal. It makes the distance between musician and fan too negligible; metal heroes are supposed to be lords of the realm beyond good and evil, not librarian-minded record collectors. Metallica are the exception. Their last tour was a metaphor for rock bloatedness that featured […]

    • Album Reviews
  • The Boy With The Arab Strap

    The eight layabouts in the secretive Scottish band Belle and Sebastian are the new kings of the kind of teen-innocence porn that makes indie-rock fans cry "mama." Manufacturing an illusion of high school cuddliness without actually appealing to teenagers, they issue four-minute fluff balls of nonsense Glasgow stories and singsong melodies — naive and fragile […]

    • Album Reviews
  • Q&A: Koko Taylor

    Rolling Stone interviews the blues legend

    • Music
  • A Thousand Leaves

    Once the music leaves your head, it's already compromised," reads a quote from Los Angeles musician Jack Brewer in the notes to Sonic Youth's 1994 album, Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star. Their next album, Washing Machine, included a snapshot of a king-size LP collection. Sonic Youth have used that internal contradiction — pure […]

    • Album Reviews
  • In The Aeroplane Over The Sea

    Those two great overgrown gardens of American mainstream pop, the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds and Fleetwood Mac's Tusk, have had oddly different effects on their admirers. Looked at one way, the albums responsibly connect with old American idioms — the marching band, the parlor song — and also open the door to new reaches of […]

    • Album Reviews