All stories originally published by Static and Feedback, at staticandfeedback.com
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Balance, "Beware of Darkness" and George Harrison
When things are weird, some songs seem to make everything make slightly more sense. George Harrison has a few of those. November
Another ride through Neil Young's "Music Arcade"
Broken Arrow is one of those forever under-appreciated records, and "Music Arcade" is just one of the gems to find in there. October
An American Treasure highlights the pure power of Tom Petty's music
This is so much more impactful than four discs of whatever Petty's greatest hits would've been. September
Retrorockets fired and burned on the Black Crowes' Lions
I listened to this album obsessively in the summer of 2001, and I still haven't really gotten it out of my system. September
Stripped down, the Magpie Salute carries on in New England
I will never have enough good things to say about the things Rich Robinson, John Hogg and Marc Ford are doing together. September
Nothing's not my fault: Pearl Jam returns to Fenway Park
There were a lot of cool moments to be found while the band wound down their 2018 tour. September
The Magpie Salute establishes its own roots on High Water I
Not being able to stop playing an album for a full week is usually good motivation to write a review. August
Pearl Jam teams with Seattle to bring its music home
I made the trip to see Pearl Jam in their home town and it was worth everything. August
Twisted words and singalongs: Capping four nights and 25 years with Radiohead in New York
It was little more than eight hours in a train, round trip, but Radiohead made it worth it. July
Red Rocks, Ryan Adams and the magic of unexpected occurences
I hope I was even mildly able to capture the feeling of seeing Ryan Adams work his magic in a magical place. June
Chris Cornell as a Sunday morning accompaniment
It's been hard to listen to his music in the past year. But it's still there, and it still has work to do. February
Robert Plant’s fire carries on in Boston
Robert Plant might be the most interesting musician of any who came from the world of a giant, mega-selling rock band. February
Gord Downie spins his swan song, Introduce Yerself, into a series of love letters
Downie didn't let his diagnosis or his inevitable fate from stopping him from delivering a wallop of a final album. November
The minimal backing and misheard confessions of Radiohead’s ‘Present Tense’
Even when I don't totally understand Radiohead, I'm blown away by their work. November
Remembering Tom Petty, a virtual friend
I've leaned so hard on Tom through the years. It's hard to know what to do now. October
The Faces were flying immediately on First Step
Their first record might not be as good as where they'd go. But it's still so damn good on its own. August
The Magpie Salute bring their high-flying revival to New England
Over two shows in the greater Boston area, the Magpie Salute solidified that they are an intense and powerful band. August
After 40 years, no excuses and no shortcuts for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Coming to you shortly after the second night at TD Garden with what might go down as the greatest band America has produced. July
No chance of escape: 20 years of wrestling with OK Computer
The release of the anniversary OKNOTOK has just reinforced what a blinding wonder the original album was, and remains. July
The Rolling Stones bring a heavy touch to Blue and Lonesome
It's been six months since its release and that's probably far too long to wait to tell you that this album is a great little gem. June
Cutting through the noise, live at A&R studios
One way to cope with all the depressing stories in the news is to tune out, with the help of the Allman Brothers Band circa 1971. May
Gregg Allman and the soul of the Allman Brothers Band
Voices like Gregg are as rare as can be, and they can turn a group of accomplished musicians into generational voices. May
Remembering Chris Cornell, forever
Can't believe he's gone. May
'Nothing As It Seems' and the story of Pearl Jam
On the brink of their induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, don't forget the songs that aren't always on the radio. April
Another late night with Tom Petty's Highway Companion
It amazes me how well this album holds up after more than a decade, and in the exact same setting no less. February
Ryan Adams explores the space of the studio on Prisoner
At some point, Ryan Adams is going to make an album (of his own songs) that I don't like. That point is not today. February
The Stones let it loose in swirling repetition
There are so many colors and shapes to Exile on Main St., and "Let it Loose" is responsible for some of the boldest ones there. Or something. Look, it's just awesome. January
'One Night' and the casual command of Elvis
Defining Elvis Presley's greatness is tricky and ultimately pointless, but it's fun pointing out how he could be absolutely devastating when he wanted. January
Bad luck, blue eyes and goodbye to another year
Nothing like going on a long walk with an old friend. January
Darker and lighter: Music reflections of 2016
After taking a year off, the roundup of my favorite albums and whatever else comes back, in a slightly altered form. December
There are no obvious answers, and the song remains the same
Realities of living in America became clear again, so I spent the immediate aftermath listening to Led Zeppelin. November
25 years later, Temple of the Dog looks back on tragedy and triumph
Alternate takes, demos and videos paint a fuller picture of the making of this album, and serves as a reminder of Andy Wood, which was always the intention. October
Bruce Springsteen's journey, through four hours and one song
It's probably impossible to write about a 33-song set in any coherent way, so I picked out one that seemed to sum up the entire evening. September
Community and the unexpected, framed through Pearl Jam's Wrigley Field
The band is always great, but even they stepped it up in their return trip to the Chicago Cubs home. August
Rich Robinson explores the space of his new songs in Boston
Every time I see this guy, he's a more comfortable and impressive solo artist, to the point that I'm actually starting to think of him this way and not just the guy in a band. August
Pearl Jam steps up in their first trip to Fenway
I've been waiting a long time to see this band play that park and it went above and beyond. Of course it did. August
Neil Young crafts his inorganic view of the planet on Earth
Plastering animal noises all over a solid live album could have been a disaster, but Young holds back just enough to create an interesting soundscape. July
Robert Pollard takes Boston on a 50-song tour of Guided By Voices
Pollard was not screwing around, and he had the new version of his band firing away at the Paradise. July
Mark Lanegan quietly commands the crowd in Allston
Lanegan's voice is one of the greatest examples that straight musical power is the greatest form of showmanship. June
Black Pistol Fire turns the Sinclair into a sweaty blues mecca
The two guys that make up this ridiculous loud band certainly know how to whip an audience into a frenzy. June
Eagles of Death Metal work a rock and roll revival in Boston
There are few frontmen as natural and energetic a showman than Boots Electric. June
Pearl Jam sprints through a marathon at Madison Square Garden
This was my 20th time seeing them and I couldn't believe how high-energy and up-tempo every single thing was. They were burning. May
Rich Robinson gets a second shot at his debut Paper
Robinson's first album always seemed like just half of the Black Crowes, but since he's stepped out farther into his own territory, getting to remake that album made it all the better. April
Mac Sabbath brings their demented metal vision to Cambridge
The only thing that kept me from laughing the entire time I watched Mac Sabbath was the fact that I was blown away by how great they sound. March
You and I offers another glimpse into Jeff Buckley's brilliance
As far as our obviously blinding talents go, we have so little of Buckley on disc that every entry feels like a monument. You and I is a hauntingly beautiful listen. March
The never-ending grind of life, as illustrated by The Who By Numbers
The Who show prompted a Who binge that went well past a week, and that resulted in this look at one of my favorite albums of theirs. March
The Who step up in Boston on pure determination
I don't know if I'll ever get to see the Who again, but if that was the last one, they made it count. March
Luther Dickinson turns the Brighton Music Hall into home
Running through the songs in the book he compiled in Mississippi, Dickinson made sure everyone had a good time in Boston. March
Extended excursions into Neil Young and 'Change Your Mind'
When life is especially cruel, there are worse ways to relax than letting Young's guitar drone on. March
David Bowie's sound and vision
There just isn't and likey won't ever be anyone with David Bowie's sense of adventure. January
Chris Cornell shows all the roads traveled in Boston
Tracing through his entire career, Cornell put on a show to remember in the Shubert Theatre. October
Ride reintroduces their massive sound to Boston
Starting off with the hurricane that is "Leave Them All Behind" was a good indication that Ride was not messing around. October
Keith Richards is loose and in the groove on Crosseyed Heart
There are records that are worth listening to just to hear people play. Crosseyed Heart is one of those, but there's more to it than just listening to Keef jam. September
Pete Townshend poured his frustration with life in the Who into Who Are You
By 1978, Townshend was more than a little fried by the rock and roll lifestyle, and nearly crafted an entire album around that notion. September
Breaking through the surface of Astral Weeks
Enough time has passed from first hearing this record that I had to spend a lot of time getting to the bottom of it. I came back wiht some weird memories. September
Wilco goes for weird on Star Wars
On their ninth album, the band throws the kitchen sink at Jeff Tweedy's distant-yet-personal lyrics. It keeps everything interesting. September
Strangers Almanac and listening to the Whiskeytown that might have been
A common pastime for me is to kick back with a record and wonder what it would've been like. For Whiskeytown in 1997, it would've been harder than usual. August
Chris Cornell stretched into the unknown on Euphoria Mourning
Stepping out without Soundgarden for the first time, Cornell went for the slow burn on his debut solo album. August
Rich Robinson delivers a stripped-down set in the Rockport harbor
With just his voice and a guitar, Robinson revamped his solo setlist and put a new spin on some special covers. August
Neil Young sings for the Stringman, and everyone
One of my favorite aspects of Young's writing is when he can befriend and sympathize with the strange bedfellows of the world. July
Neil Young pours everything into the message in Mansfield
Backed by Promise of the Real, Young tore into Monsanto and through more than two hours of music at Great Woods. July
The Heartbreakers' first record finds Tom Petty on a mission
Before he became an unquesitoned force in American rock and roll, Tom Petty was burning to lead his Heartbreakers to the promised land. July
Mudhoney continues to defy physics in Allston
There is nothing quite like watching Mudhoney step on a small stage and tear the roof off the place, and it's always amazing that this still happens. July
Spoon gets down to business at the House of Blues
Brit Daniel is one of the most no-nonsense frontmen I've ever had the pleasure of watching. He doesn't mess around and there's no one quite like him. June
The Rolling Stones are at their peak on the remastered 'Sticky Fingers'
Reissues like the deluxe Sticky Fingers are perfect when they top out the original sound and load it with even more nuggets that highlight its brilliance. This is one of the best, for sure. June
Saying goodbye to the ritual of The Late Show with David Letterman
Letterman is retiring, and with him goes yet another little piece of adolescence and musical memories. May
The difficulties of aging and listening to someone other than Jimi Hendrix
It's hard to keep up the drive to find new people when there are so many treasures in my music library. And scientifically, it gets even harder after 33. April
Ryan Adams lays his quirks bare on 'Live at Carnegie Hall'
If nothing else, this might be the most self-deprecating six-album box set anyone's released in a while. More than that, it shows an artist in total control, from the funny to the dark. April
Appreciating the mystery in Gram Parsons' 'She'
I'm not sure what it is that Parsons did to make his music so haunting and endlessly fascinating, but it's worth every listen to try and figure it out. April
The Sonics make an unexpected return on 'This Is the Sonics'
More than 40 years after their last album, the Sonics are booming out of Tacoma again with an album that is shockingly youthful — and good. April
The moon, the stars the unreasonable cold and 'Let It Be'
I have a very specific idea of how spring is supposed to feel, and 20 degree nights covered in snow is not part of it. March
North Mississippi Allstars put a new spin on the ghosts of the blues
On their 2013 album World Boogie Is Coming, the Dickinson brothers went back to their roots to create a modern day, underground blues masterpiece. March
Pearl Jam worked out the bugs on 'Mt. Baker Theatre 5/10/00'
Before starting the six-month tour in support of Binaural, Pearl Jam played a couple of warm-up dates in small venues, including this show that became the fourth in their Vault series. February
A special Grateful Dead show was first captured on 'Rockin' the Rhein'
It doesn't necessarily have the signature moment of other Dead live albums, but this 1972 show is just a winner from top to bottom. February
Sleater-Kinney returns with a fury on 'No Cities to Love'
They'd been disbanded for nine years but it sounds like a blink of an eye on their first album after reuniting. January
Elvis Presley was reborn on 'From Elvis in Memphis'
After the high of the '68 Comeback Special, Elvis ran back into the studio and recorded more than 30 songs that were his most vital in a decade. January
The Black Crowes' complex recipe for surviving the cold
When the temperature drops well below freezing, it's a good bet that I'll wind up listening to the Black Crowes for hours on end. January
Ty Segall topped the musical journey in 2014
Along with Manipulator, there were great records from Ryan Adams, Sleater-Kinney, Jenny Lewis and a lot more. December
A million miles into Rory Gallagher's blues
I'd stopped and started a number of pieces on Rory Gallagher for about six months before I finally landed on this one. December
Ryan Adams tunes in and plows through the noise in Boston
Ryan Adams and the Shining are hitting a groove and were able to get past some annoying distractions at the Wang Theatre. November
Foo Fighters push their boundaries on USA-spanning 'Sonic Highways'
By traveling to eight different recording studios, Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters found new spaces to take their music, creating a unique work and an homage all at once. November
Saying goodbye to the Allman Brothers Band
The Allmans played their last show together in October, sparking plenty of listens to all their classic Duane-era material. November
Pearl Jam drives small town Moline to madness with 'No Code'
Playing their first-ever show in the Quad Cities, Pearl Jam pulled out all the stops, playing No Code in its entirety and breaking out several more requests and rarities. October
The Faces finally got their due on 'Five Guys Walk Into a Bar'
This 2004 box set chronicled the weird history of the Faces and put their entire story into better context. It's probably the most enjoyable box set I've ever heard. October
Jeff Tweedy embraces the hurdles at Berklee
Tweedy, the Wilco frontman's side project with his son Spencer on drums, explored a lot of new sounds and spaces in Boston's Berklee Performance Center. September
Led Zeppelin's early fury captured at the Fillmore West
Another edition of bootlegging looks at one of Led Zeppelin's earliest shows in America from the Fillmore West in 1969. September
Robert Plant continues his ceaseless search for the sound on 'Lullaby'
The lastest chapter from Robert Plant shows the singer going deeper into his roots of blues and English folk while continuing to push things forward. And no one is making music like this. September
Two nights detailed by Paul Westerberg
A weird, lost moment in my personal concert history became less lost and much stranger when I found a partial video of the show. September
Ryan Adams sounds relaxed and recharged on his new album
After three years away, the singer sounds like he's ready for a new set of challenges on his self-titled record. September
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers embrace a fighting spirit at Fenway
Petty seemed recharged and the Heartbreakers were ready for whatever the night threw at them. They embraced new songs, mixed up the setlist and made it a great night. September
Ty Segall's 'Manipulator' is a roaring, massive masterpiece
Manipulator is all over the map, running from punk to psychedelia to glam and back. It's exhausting, in the best way. August
Spoon returns with a funkier edge on 'They Want My Soul'
I didn't really notice a four-year Spoon absence, but the time away clearly changed the band, and it's reflected in the dance-ability of They Want My Soul. August.
Robin Williams, and living with imperfections
Robin Williams took his own life, and then I wrote this. Not much else for me to do, if anything. August
Powering through all phases with Pearl Jam's 'Grievance'
It's only three minutes long, but there's so much going on during "Grievance." It's a song that takes me a lot of different places. August
Tom Petty reaches back and turns the Heartbreakers loose on 'Hypnotic Eye'
Better than just having his band record a blues album, Petty really pulled a You're Gonna Get It vibe out of his band on their new album. July
Ryan Adams skips formality in keeping the Newport spirit alive
Despite the families in beach chairs and towels, Ryan Adams didn't censor his language or create a set to pander to the casual fan. Instead, he played a number of new songs, rearranged his old ones and kept the freewheeling spirit of the Newport Folk Festival burning. July
A lesson in punk, optimism and history with the Minutemen
Of all the great, diverse bands to come out of the 1980s punk scene, none were as open and interesting as the Minutemen. They took the elitism out of hardcore. July
Revelation and rediscovery with Phish after a decade away
I can't say that Phish has occupied much of my listening since 2004, but deciding on a whim to see them in Mansfield brought a lot of good memories back. July
Slipping back into George Harrison's material world
I finally, on a whim, watched Martin Scorsese's documentary on Harrison's life, and just through the first half, I felt the same bolt that always seems to come from his music. June
Tom Petty, repressed memories and occasionally cow turds
Taking a spin through Petty's The Live Anthology brought back memories of Bonnaroo, humidity, fighting, feces and ultimately, the calm that the Heartbreakers restored. June
Restless Souls: How Pearl Jam fought back and saved themselves with Vitalogy
A longform e-reader that looks into the making of Pearl Jam's third album and all the ridiculous hurdles that the band had to clear circa 1994. June
Running full circle with Pete Townshend's 'Drowned'
I have a long history of turning to an acoustic version of the Who's "Drowned" whenever I don't quite know what to do next. It's usually a good decision. May
The Black Keys settle in for the slow burn on 'Turn Blue'
The new Black Keys record doesn't have an instant arena-shaker like "Lonely Boy," but it's got plenty of R&B grooves to make sure it gets played for a long time coming. May
Neil Young etches old favorites into wax for 'A Letter Home'
Using Jack White's carnival record booth, Young laid down some covers for an album that feels warm and older than the songs themselves. April
Diving back into the enveloping world of Grateful Dead bootlegs
I hadn't gone too deep into the Dead tape well for a couple of years, but one thing led to another and I was listening to nothing but Jerry Garcia and company for almost two weeks. April
The Hold Steady and Deer Tick turn the House of Blues into a scream
The two bands don't share too many similarities apart from a total devotion to rock and roll. And through their respective sounds, they did rock and roll proud on a shared bill. April
Searching for answers, 20 years after Kurt Cobain
This one was fueled by an anniversary and the memory of a less-than-motivating guidance councilor. April
Turning discomfort into art, via 'Blonde on Blonde'
Listening to Bob Dylan through headphones on an airplane led to a minor revelation on what he's accomplished by bucking expectations. April
Joe Cocker and friends provide a rainy day soundtrack
I found a copy of With a Little Help From My Friends and I was initially blown away by how many great people played on it. Actually putting the record on the turntable took that to another level. March
The Hold Steady puts the parties in perspective on 'Teeth Dreams'
Back writing about the ridiculous scenes and heartbreak but with an older view, the latest Hold Steady record is another winner. March
Remembering Scott Asheton
Written after hearing about the death of The Stooges drummer, and brother of the late guitarist Ron Asheton. March
Digital overload and Ryan Adams' 'Crossed Out Name'
A late night doing nothing important turned much more important when "Crossed Out Name" came on. March
Keith Richards reveled in the comfort of old songs on 'Stone Alone'
On this bootleg recorded (mostly) in two parts, Keith Richards sat alone at the piano and played some of his favorite songs. Some to pass the time, some to put away in case the worst happened. March
Band of Horses continue their acoustic experiments in Somerville
In a homey-vibe on stage, Band of Horses relaxed, re-worked their catalog and delivered a memorable set. February
Beck returns to a distant sound on 'Morning Phase'
The sound on 2002's Sea Change seemingly came out of nowhere, and Beck never even returned to anything in that vein until this, his first LP in six years. February
Band of Horses strips down and steps out on 'Acoustic at the Ryman'
Making the most of the opportunity to play the Ryman, Band of Horses turned a two-night event into a lean, 10-track album that gives some of their songs new room to breathe. February
U2 marches back to consciousness with 'Invisible'
The new U2 single has raised a lot of money for charity, and it's a nice new song for the band. It's also a reminder of how great they can be. February
Chasing the Sun: How Oasis crossed oceans with 'Definitely Maybe'
In another long-form essay, I dig into Oasis' debut record and go through why it was so important, song for song. And I throw some personal stuff in there, too, of course. February
Mark Lanegan's haunting solo career receives a fitting retrospective
Flying under the radar as he always does, the triple-LP Has God Seen My Shadow? An Anthology 1989-2011 works as the definitive statement on Lanegan's music. So far, anyway. January
Bruce Springsteen finds new life in older songs on 'High Hopes'
The songs are leftovers and outcasts from the past decade or so of Springsteen's recording career, but without that information, High Hopes sounds like a unified piece. January
Lee Ranaldo's guitars speak for themselves in Allston
Lee Ranaldo and the Dust were playing their first headlining show in Boston and the results were pretty impressive. January
Llewyn Davis and the gravity of folk
The Coen Brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis perfectly captured a moment in time in the New York City folk scene, and brought back a lot of person memories of discovering the music. January
Stephen Malkmus keeps it weird on 'Wig Out at Jagbags'
The first few times through a new Jicks album, it's hard to pinpoint what exactly makes the music so cool and exciting. That thing is Malkmus himself keeping it interesting. January
Neil Young took an important step on 'Live at the Cellar Door'
In the latest entry of his Performance Series (no. 2.5, funny enough), Uncle Neil stripped down the After the Goldrush songs and showed another facet of his personality. January
Ringing in the new year with the Band
Come for the veiled references to my New Year's Day hangover, stay for an essay on how great the Band's Rock of Ages was. January
Queens of the Stone Age marched to the top of 2013
...Like Clockwork was my favorite album of the year, and records by David Bowie, Pearl Jam, Arctic Monkeys and more earned plenty of air time. December
Queens of the Stone Age burn through Boston's Agganis Arena
Seeing Josh Homme front this band right now must be equivalent to what it must have been like to see Robert Plant in front of Led Zeppelin in 1977. They're at the peak of their powers as a live band. December
Glen Hansard brings his voice to Springsteen's 'Drive All Night'
On a charity EP, Hansard is able to show off all his strengths in the space of four songs while paying respect to one of the masters. December
Elcodrive celebrates the long way home at the Narrows
At their record-release party at the Narrows Center for the Arts, Elcodrive played a two-hour set that helped remind me and my friends why we liked them so much 10 years ago. December
Paul McCartney marries the experimental and familiar on 'New'
It's not necessarily foreign ground for him, but hearing Paul McCartney take as many chances as he does on New is a pretty exciting listen. November
Even the Who at their worst were worth repeated listens
The Who's penultimate album, It's Hard, was released at a difficult time for the band and ultimately presaged their breakup. And it makes me remember that time I was lost. November
Technical difficulties can't stop a blazing set from the Who
Whether it was the band's frustrations with Quadrophenia's backing tapes or the listener's attempts to break through the sound quality, this 1973 Who bootleg is unstoppable. November
R.E.M. bent the laws or rock radio with 'E-Bow the Letter'
At a time when I was still learning about music and just beginning to devour it, a single from R.E.M.'s new album was kind of a stunner. November
Remembering Lou Reed
Written in a flash after hearing he'd died in New York City at 71. Lou and the Velvet Underground were so important. October
Music and message share center stage with Pearl Jam in Hartford
A speech before "Wasted Reprise" on the Newtown shootings reminded everyone of the gravity of life, but the music, as always, was there to bring levity to reality. October
Pearl Jam shares the love with Massachusetts in Worcester
Over two nights in an unintentionally retro arena setting, Pearl Jam put on a pair of marathon shows and reaffirmed their love of the Boston region. October
Mark Lanegan's deafening roar takes center stage in Boston
With just a guitarist in tow, Mark Lanegan's voice was more than enough to fill the Royale club in Boston in a chilling, thrilling set. October
Pearl Jam crafts 'Lightning Bolt' as a bold, intricate statement
I really wondered if Pearl Jam was done as a creative unit after Backspacer landed in my lap with such a thud. But maybe I was wrong, because Lightning Bolt is fantastic. October
Late night blues and the Black Keys
A column looking at the blues legends of old, the guys inspired by them, and how it all sounds at 1 a.m. through my headphones. October
Nirvana's stark brilliance is laid bare on 'In Utero' anniversary edition
Twenty years after Nirvana's controversial third album was released, the surviving band members pulled together the ultimate document of an album that's only now beginning to be fully understood. September
Neil Young & Crazy Horse kept it beautifully ugly in 1976
Crazy Horse tours are always kind of a mess, but the jaunts in '76 are where they went from curiosities to legends, and it's all captured on a string of bootlegs and recordings. September
Mark Lanegan finds his place among legends on 'Imitations'
With another cover album on the shelf, Lanegan is able to lend his gravelly voice to another group of classics, some of which are absolute classics. And they're all incredible. September
Trent Reznor builds on Nine Inch Nails' sound with 'Hesitation Marks'
Coming back to his band after a few years scoring films, Reznor brought with him to the new Nine Inch Nails record a new understanding of dramatic tension. September
Arctic Monkeys grow up and keep the funk on 'AM'
Arctic Monkeys are one of those bands that have a defined sound and are always fun. So when they grow up and keep that sense of fun, it's really something to see. September
Another layer of Bob Dylan is uncovered on 'Another Self Portrait'
The Self Portrait era isn't the first I'd think would need to be more deeply explored, but the 10th volume of Dylan's Bootleg Series turned out to be a revelation. September
Walt, Jesse and Neil in the desert
Watching Breaking Bad is a harrowing peak to come down from on Sunday nights. But Neil Young feels familiar in that setting, and he helps. September
Let it Ride: Ryan Adams' long, prolific road to Cold Roses
I wrote a very long essay, laid out as an e-reader, on Ryan Adams & the Cardinals' masterpiece double record. And whatever happens, I'm very proud of it. August
Nothing lasts and nothing can hurt me
Back-to-back viewings of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me led to some heavy feelings on death and dying and oh my. July
Pearl Jam redefines the faithful at Wrigley Field
A personal account of Pearl Jam's thunderstruck show at the Cubs' home that carried a lot of weight and turned into one of their more memorable shows ever. July
Bruce Springsteen's night in Cleveland cemented his live legend
In another edition of "bootlegging,' I took a look at a legendary three-hour show by Springsteen and the E Street Band in Cleveland that has been happily taking up space on my iPod. July
Ten years of Pearl Jam concerts, documented and charted
A decade after seeing Pearl Jam for the first time, I whipped up a chart that took forever to make but, in the process of it, summed up this whole fanaticism quite accurately in its own way. July
'Prodigal Son' and the rebirth of the Rolling Stones
With a little blues detour on the second side of Beggar's Banquet, the Rolling Stones returned to their roots and then some on "Prodigal Son." June
Keith Richards helped illustrate the vulnerability of Tony Soprano
James Gandolfini's death brought an all-too-early end to one of the greater actors of our time. And the memory of his most famous character intertwines with a classic Rolling Stones song. June
The world of Queens of the Stone Age is still strange on 'Like Clockwork'
The sleazy, slinky mastery of Joshua Homme was in full force on ...Like Clockwork, and served as a reminder that there's nothing like a new Queens of the Stone Age record. June
'Wings Over America' channeled the best of '70s excess and ambition
In the era of the over-the-top live album, Paul McCartney took his band on the road and tried to make a statement to top them all. And the results, in retrospect, are pretty good. May
'You can't fire me because I quit'
Spotting a carving of a Nirvana quote triggered plenty of questions and intrigue in the 14-year-old version of myself, and it hinted at Kurt Cobain's ultimate destination. May
Mudhoney's pure punk rage on display in Boston
Mudhoney is a force of nature, a band that never really changed or really grew up, but they might've gotten better as their 25 years went on. And they're a hurricane live. May
Clapton and Allman collided on the masterpiece 'Layla'
Pinpointing Duane Allman's finest moment is tough, considering how much music he made and how quickly he made it. But Eric Clapton's best is easier to pinpoint, and it came with Allman on Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. May
Duane Allman's career was lovingly chronicled on 'An Anthology'
Beyond the Allman Brothers Band, guitarist Duane was an incredible sideman and had some solo sessions and early recordings that deserved to be heard. An Anthology did an excellent job of painting the entire picture. May
Revisiting the Allman Brothers Band on a not-so-stormy Monday
Popping in Eat a Peach before starting off a new week took me down memory lane to college, and kept me motivated through an otherwise normal work day. May
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club push forward in Boston
Armed with a new record and a never-ending sense of purpose, B.R.M.C. took the crowd for a ride and brought their music places that, honestly, only they can go. Incredible. May
Accidental soundtracks and the sounds of home
When I hear certain songs from Bruce Springsteen's Live/1975-85, I know right where I am. The same goes for Quadrophenia, Lifes Rich Pageant and any number of albums that associate themselves with a certain time. May
The Flaming Lips mine the depths of humanity on 'The Terror'
The fact that the Flaming Lips made a deep, complex album isn't the surprise. That comes in just how dark and bleak the message is. It's almost as if this is the greatest songwriting exercise ever. It's incredible. April
Big Star's story is beautifully told on 'Nothing Can Hurt Me'
Big Star is one of the greater "what-ifs" in the annals of rock music. But their skill and depth can't be denied, and Nothing Can Hurt Me, the soundtrack to an upcoming documentary, makes for a fantastic portrait. April
Mudhoney cranks up the crass on 'Vanishing Point'
How they've managed to stay this rude and sleazy 25 years into their career is a mystery I'll never understand. But I don't have to understand, I just have to listen, and oh is it a glorious listen. April
The Black Crowes announce their return to the road with a fury
Recharged by a two-year hiatus and new lead guitarist Jackie Greene, the Robinson Brothers are back on tour, and their show on this night in Boston was a barn-burner. April
Mad Season's incredible 'Above' gets the treatment it always deserved
Unfairly relegated to the status of a side project, Mad Season featured some of the best music in the careers of any of their fabled members. This deluxe version of their only album does everything it can to correct that. April
The Strokes continue their mastery of the rock song
When I put in Comedown Machine, I expected it to be good. What I didn't expect was to be bowled over by how far the Strokes have come, and how no one really approaches what they're able to do. March
BRMC expand their sound on 'Specter at the Feast'
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club have created an epic, sprawling template from which to work, and they push their own boundries on their latest record. March
The next chapter in Bowie's career as challenging as the rest
After a decade away from music, David Bowie returned in glorious form with The Next Day, an original work that is just as vital as any in his career. March
Reconstructing Jimi Hendrix's final album
As it is, First Rays of the New Rising Sun is as definitive a version of Hendrix's unfinished fourth LP as we'll get. But what else could have made the cut? March
Thurston Moore's Chelsea Light Moving keeps momentum
With Sonic Youth on the shelf, Moore got back on the horse and ripped out a new album of noise, riffs and poetry, keeping the ship moving. March
Hendrix diverted to R&B and funk on 'People, Hell and Angels'
On what could be his final posthumous studio album, Jimi Hendrix showed hints of his new direction without his famous Experience. March
Sitting down with the mind behind Mercy Choir
Paul Belbusti and I had a conversation via email about his new record, Waabaayo, and the inner workings of songwriting and recording. February
George Harrison's lesson on cynicism
On the Beatle's 70th birthday, I looked back to learning to play "Isn't it a Pity" after he died, and the scorn of one uptight hipster. February
Pearl Jam left everything on the Dead's stage at Soldier Field
In the first entry of the Bootlegging series, I took a closer look at Pearl Jam's performance at Soldier Field in 1995, one of my favorite less-than-legitimate recordings ever. January
Searching for Richard Manuel
A binge-listening session of The Band that spanned more than a week lead to an amazing revelation — Richard Manuel sang much more than I'd realized. January
'Before the Frost' and the makings of a wintertime album
Certain records lend themselves to chilly nights indoors, with cocoa and blankets and a blizzard whipping around the streets beyond the window. The Black Crowes have definitely made that type of album. January
'Tonight's the Night' and the power of suggestion
The quick, fleeting mention by Neil Young in his autobiography, Waging Heavy Peace, that Tonight's the Night sounded like "God" when played loud, inspired me to indeed play it loud. January
Months of frustration manifest in a three-record set
On Christmas, I got a copy of Pearl Jam Twenty on vinyl, a little more than a year after it immediately went out of print. It brought some closure, for sure. December
Sizing up the Rolling Stones' epic 'Singles Collection'
I bought this three-CD set in high school in an attempt to learn more about the band, and it provided as great a history as I could have reasonably hoped. December
Coping with the sensless
Newtown, Conn., and Bruce Springsteen. December
Band of Horses lights up a rainy Sunday night
With Japandroids and Dave Matthews, among others, also in town, Band of Horses made everyone in the the House of Blues happy to have picked their show. December
Lee Ranaldo steps out to the head of the class in 2012
Sonic Youth's other guitarist leads off my annual music year-in-review, which also includes Bruce Springsteen, Dinosaur Jr., Japandroids and more. December
Neil Young stomps out the non-believers with the Horse
It's hard to comprehend how this guy can be this loud, this intense and this relevant as a 66-year-old playing the dirtiest, grungiest music around. But here we are. November
All that is powerful and mysterious returns on 'Celebration Day'
In Dec. 2007, Led Zeppelin did the impossible: they reunited, played an amazing show and didn't cash it in. All a great reminder of what they were and what they could be. November
Townshend brings The Who to life with 'Quadrophenia'
I've always known that Pete Townshend is a furious performer, but to see him so committed and energized in bringing his greatest work to the stage was something else. November
Rescuing Led Zeppelin's 'Presence' from the bargain bin
A deep kick into Zeppelin spurred this column on appreciating the least-appreciated record in their catalog. But any album with "Achilles Last Stand" should be one to be reckoned with. November
McCartney scored a late-career triumph with 'Chaos and Creation'
Rare are the latter-day albums by acknowledged legends that are both well-reviewed in the moment and still hold up years later, but 2005's Chaos and Creation in the Backyard is remarkable in its strength. November
Young & the Horse reclaim The Spook on 'Psychedelic Pill'
On their second album in six months, Crazy Horse truly ride on their best album in 20 years, one full of the long, mysterious jams that make for their best music. October
'Call Me On Your Way Back Home' another song that delivers a blow
Once again, iTunes delivered a wallop while it was mindlessly shuffling songs, and I took a deeper look at this song from Ryan Adams' first record. October
The Rolling Stones restart the cycle with 'Doom and Gloom'
When it comes to marketing themselves, no band is quite as predictable as the Stones. Strong single, new album, tour for two years, live album, repeat. October
Neal McCarthy makes the most of any given Monday
I'd written about McCarthy a few years ago at The Standard-Times, but a random trip to see his acoustic trio reminded me of what makes him such a great musician. October
Give Dinosaur Jr.'s second act a second look
I don't see much written about Dinosaur Jr.'s albums after 1991's Green Mind, which is a shame. So I decided to highlight 1997's Hand It Over in our New Classic section. October
Band of Horses' 'Mirage Rock' has the sound, but is left lacking
Band of Horses is one of those bands that would probably sound good singing the phone book. But that doesn't mean their phone book opus would be essential listening. October
Dinosaur Jr.'s 'I Bet on Sky' adds more artistic relevance to reunion
The reformation of the classic Dinosaur Jr. lineup wasn't necessarily a surprise, given the climate in alternative music, but the fact that they've so steadly pumped out great, new music is. October
Crawling Back to You: A personal and critical breakdown of Tom Petty's masterpiece, "Wildflowers"
After stewing over this project for years, I sat down and wrote a long essay on my favorite album of all time and presented it as an e-zine, for your reading and flipping pleasure. September
Dylan continues his Americana exploration with 'Tempest'
Bob Dylan keeps cranking out records based on the rhythm and supported by his lyrics, instead of the other way around, and he keeps finding success with that style. September
'Silver Age' finds Bob Mould defying self-imposed ageism
Mould returns to a sound reminiscent of his days in Sugar with a riveting, rocking album that plays in a flurry from beginning to end. A welcome return. September
'Hard Promises' and the myth of the greatest hits set
While they're handy and fun at first, any band's Greatest Hits album can become a burdon on exploration. Tom Petty's Hard Promises helped break that. September
Two Wounded Birds' genre-hopping debut worth the ride
This is an excellent first record from a band that juggles genres with the best of them. It left me totally confused. I took that as a good sign. August
On 'Otis!,' one disc rules in defining Redding's power
In an unusual move (I think), I reviewed the fourth disc of Otis Redding's 1993 box set, the live compilation that serves as the ultimate Redding concert. It is excellent. August
Joe Strummer's unwritten future at 60
I looked back at Strummer's life and influence on what would have been his 60th birthday, just a few months shy of the 10th anniversary of his death. There was no one like him. August
Springsteen and the E Street Band put on a clinic at Fenway Park
I got a ticket to this at the last second thanks to a friend, and I was completely enthralled by Bruce Springsteen. It was one of those magical, uplifiting experiences that are too few and live in the soul forever. August
The Flaming Lips invite friends to their neverending freakout
In a move that proves that, yes, other people can be just as strange in the right setting, the Flaming Lips bring in names from across the musical spectrum (Ke$sha and Nick Cave on the same record?) for The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends. August
From third voice to first, Ranaldo shines apart from Sonic Youth
Following Sonic Youth's split, Lee Ranaldo released his first proper solo album, Between the Tides and the Times, and damn it if it's not a smash. August
Beachwood Sparks returns with the beautiful 'Tarnished Gold'
After a decade away, the Los Angeles band reformed and recorded an album that lives up to its excellent, though overlooked, back catalogue. August
Neil Young and Crazy Horse twist 'Americana' classics into ragged gems
Neil brought back the Horse in the weirdest way he could conceive, by having them turn classic American traditionals into messy Crazy Horse jams. Of course he did. August
Wilco makes the most of a summer night in Newport
Kicking off the Newport Folk Festival, Wilco has a blast through a long set at Fort Adams State Park, and a seagull relieved himself on my Sonic Youth t-shirt. July
The Who are touring again, but what does 'The Who' mean?
Inspired by reading more than a few friends dismiss the news of the band's 2012 tour as, "meh, Keith Moon's dead, not interested." Can this band, without Moon and John Entwistle, still be The Who? July
Ryan Adams lets it all out — literally — on 'Live After Deaf'
Even for a notoriously prolific artist, releasing a vinyl-only, 15-record live album is pretty ambitious. But Ryan Adams pulls it off, and the results are a smashing success. July
Radiohead: Rock and roll's first concept band?
Through emails with friends, we kind of cooked up the idea that maybe every Radiohead album is meant to fit in with each other. They're probably not, but it was still fun to think about. June
Radiohead proves nothing is impossible on stage
There is no band like Radiohead. Seeing them live is a good reminder of this. May
Mark Lanegan brings his thrilling, terrifying vision to Boston
Lanegan has a command and stage presence the likes of which I've never seen. He's dark, intense and, yes, terrifying. And "Methamphetamine Blues" was sick. May
Adam Yauch led a life well lived
A column written a couple of days after the Beastie Boys' MCA passed away. He always struck me as being a really solid guy, and everything said about him in the wake of his death did nothing to disprove that. May
Jack White blazes his own trail on 'Blunderbuss'
After finally releasing his first solo record, the relief resided in how fearless and creative White can stand on his own, without one of his many bands behind him. May
To Levon Helm, goodbye and thanks
It would be impossible to overstate how much the Band means to me, and how much they changed my outlook when I truly discovered their music in college. Levon Helm was the center of that. April
Wild Flag own the stage, through sore throats and beer bottles
I cannot overstate how incredible this band was in that moment. Someone had chucked a Heineken onto the stage, and it barely registered. They just kept doing their thing. Inspiring. April
For better or worse, Mercer runs The Shins on 'Port of Morrow'
I was surprised to hear that James Mercer considered the Shins a project rather than a traditional band. And I would've felt better about it if this album had been as good as the other Shins records. March
Bruce Springsteen channels the 99 percent on 'Wrecking Ball'
I wasn't expecting to like any new Springsteen record that much, but this bucks the trend of his last few E Street Band projects a bit. A pleasant surprise, to be sure. March
The Black Keys work their tunes in an arena setting
So, how did the Black Keys adjust to playing in TD Garden instead of, say, the Paradise? By turning it up and rocking. Fantastic show, and they're going to be playing for a long time. March
The Black Keys grow up without selling out
A column chronicling my own thoughts on seeing this band graduate from clubs to small theaters and, ultimately, arenas. Includes a sidebar on Kings of Leon and how not to make that leap. March
'Last Words' captures the Screaming Trees' final chapter
In a return of the "New Classic" feature, this review looks at the lost recordings of Screaming Trees from 1998 and '99, just before the band decided to call it a career. March
Mark Lanegan recasts soul on 'Blues Funeral'
Lanegan could probaby sing the phone book and I'd enjoy it. As it is, he instead keeps writing interesting, captivating songs and putting his own smokey doom on all of it. February
Thurston Moore works out old ghosts with acoustics and noise
Apart from Sonic Youth, Moore showed that he's an amazing performer in his own right. Not a surprise, but still a thrill to see in person. February
Neil Young announces the likely return of Crazy Horse
I'm not sure what it says about me that a long jam on two old songs could get me this excited, but, here we are. Long live the Horse. January
Tracing the path of Neil Young's 'Helpless'
A simple ode to a song that I've strummed on the guitar for years and listened to for longer, and looking a little at where it measures up in Young's career. January
The Best of 2011: The Black Keys, again, own the year with 'El Camino'
This is the third time in four years that the Black Keys have recorded my favorite album of the year. Also included in this year-end wrap-up: debut of the year, single of the year, score of the year and more. December
Ticket stub memories: sorted, filed and treasured
I received a ticket stub album for Christmas, and had more than a fair amount of fun tracing my concert-going history through little pieces of paper I've refused to throw away. December
Ryan Adams works his magic in a rough setting
Adams was back on tour completely solo, and he sounded fantastic. But enough folks in the crowd in Boston also loved the sound of their own voices, and from there it got interesting. December
The Black Keys conquer genres, again, on 'El Camino'
Offering their take on a big, uptempo rock album, the Black Keys furthered the notion I have that they are almighty and can do no wrong. December
Noel Gallagher flies high on his own
Oasis had been going through a bit of a rebirth on their last albums, and Noel Gallagher keeps the inspired music rolling on his own. If you're wondering, yes, it's much better than Beady Eye. November
The curiosity of 'Lulu'
As I listened to this album in order to review it, I started to become convinced that Lou Reed and Metallica were trying to make a terrible album on purpose. Job well done. November
Revisiting the mechanical world of walkmans and cassettes
A broken iPod led me back to my tape player, a bunch of mix tapes, nostalgia and the like. It was a blast, though. November
Tom Waits is at his morbid, bizarre best on 'Bad as Me'
Waits always surprises me, and his willingness and ability to turn the ugliest sounds into something compelling is definitely admirable. Seriously, this rocks in the weirdest way. October
The Grateful Dead whip a worthy successor to 'Europe '72'
There are a lot of live Dead albums released every year, but not a lot stand out. This is one, however, does, though it was geared to stand out more than the rest. October
The perfect couple are no more?
The news that Thuston Moore and Kim Gordon were splitting up bummed me out. Archive-only tidbit: In coming up with the name, look and feel of Static and Feedback, I had Sonic Youth in mind at all times. October
Ryan Adams writes another beautifully sad chapter
In a great week for music — I'd just discovered Wild Flag two days before — Ryan Adams floored me with an amazing record, Ashes & Fire. Somehow, after hundreds of songs, he keeps amazing me. October
Wild Flag debuts with greatness
I first heard this record on my iPod, driving home from Boston. I listened to it again after I got home, and again the next morning, and again, and again ... October
Wilco resumes the search for sound on 'The Whole Love'
For a few years, Jeff Tweedy and Wilco seemed content with writing and recording good songs. On The Whole Love, the band returns to using the studio as an experimental instrument. October
Cameron Crowe delivers the ultimate Pearl Jam mixtape
The thrill of listening to Pearl Jam Twenty for the first time will not be forgotten for some time. This collection is amazing, and I tried to do it justice in a 600-word review. And just one week after trashing "Olé," too! September
Pearl Jam's "Olé" another sign of descent
A free single on the band's PJ20 site shows that bands older than 20 rarely remain solid creative outfits. September
Uncovering the horror of 'Midnight Rambler'
The seedy vision in my head of the Rolling Stones playing live really hasn't left me. And I wasn't that far off, either. August
The parallel universe of the Red Hot Chili Peppers
I'll be honest — I wasn't totally excited to read Anthony Keidis' Scar Tissue when it was lent to me at work. But it did lead me back to a classic record and song. August
Radiohead's lyrics as tools of guidance
I guess the review for The King of Limbs was what I needed to break through, since this is two consecutive pieces on Radiohead. Here's a column on the lyrics I've scribbled places since high school. March
Radiohead holds another challenging masterpiece in 'The King of Limbs'
As far as I can tell, this is the first time I've managed to write an entire, coherent piece on Radiohead. Write about this band typically gives me fits. This either means I'm getting better, or I've just gotten boring. February
North Mississippi Allstars send off their father in style
Whether or not the band as is stays together forever, Luther Dickinson has the look and feel of the lifelong guitarist, the guy who will play with anyone and everyone for a long time. And we'll be better for it. February
Goodbye to the White Stripes
I think it's pretty clear that the White Stripes are without peer when discussing the great bands of the 2000s. They changed so much. They were the White Stripes. February
Robert Plant hosts a Boston hootenanny
I might never see Led Zeppelin live, but with this show, I have now see all three living members live. Jimmy Page in 2000, John Paul Jones in 2009, and this. January
Cage the Elephant takes another step on 'Thank You, Happy Birthday'
Honestly, I can't decide if Cage the Elephant is a cool band, or on the verge of selling out. They really could go either way from this point on. January
Is Cake topping the charts really such a bad thing?
Cake topped the Billboard album charts with the fewest records sold ever — just over 44,000. And I thought that was fantastic. January
Why another Pearl Jam live album?
Listening to it, I get it; it sounds good (minus the Backspacer songs). But a basic live album still seems strange for a band which has released so many live albums. January
Springsteen outlines an alternate reality on 'The Promise'
I'm never amazed more than when I study prolific artists. How Bruce Springsteen managed to write this many great songs in this short a window is nothing short of amazing. January
Ryan Adams releases two rockers from the vaults
Filling in the gaps in his already exhausting catalog, Ryan Adams' III/IV rocks to a surprising degree. It's like Rock N Roll, but much better. January
Two guys from Akron not named LeBron gave us their best in 2010
After many rounds of mental gymnastics, I settled on my favorite music of 2010. The Black Keys were the stars. Now, on to 2011! January
Conan returns: A running blog
When Conan O'Brien made his mighty return to television, I was there to hastily record my thoughts in the moment. November
Say goodnight to the bad guys
I caught two of the Black Crowes acoustic/electric shows before they made their hiatus official. Who knows when/if they're play again, but at least I got to say goodbye. October
In a good mood? What to do?
I went to visit a friend on the Cape, I realized I was in a fantastic mood, and I had no idea what to listen to. Not a bad problem to have, all things considered. October
Neil Young throws out the concepts with 'Le Noise'
It makes me ridicoulously happy that Neil Young just decided to try something new and make an album without some heavy-handed message or theme. September
Dark and rootsy, Lanois helped Dylan shine on 'Time Out of Mind'
Daniel Lanois' latest project is with Neil Young on Le Noise, so naturally, I went back and listed to Bob Dylan's Time Out of Mind about a 1,000 times. September
Love and passion on the Backstreets
This has always been a true favorite in the Bruce Springsteen catalog, but around this time I really started to dive deep into the meaning and the passion of the song. Just beautiful, really. September
Keith Richards, in a moment of calm
Here, I take a look at one of my favorite photographs, Jim Marshall's shot of Richards recording in 1972, and how it can mean so much to the music and the man. August
Nothing saves the season like 'Waterloo Sunset'
To set the scene, it's a hot night on a weekend. I'm alone. So what do I do? If it's a good night, I'll put on Something Else by the Kinks, and I'll write. August
Discovering the manic blues brilliance of Son of Dave's 'O2'
In a "New Classic" entry, I look at Son of Dave's 2006 record, O2. If you have even a passing interest in the harmonica, this album is a must. August
The Dead Weather arrive in time to save the summer
In the midst of a particularly uneventful and unproductive summer, I finally heard the Dead Weather's Sea of Cowards, and all was made right again. August
The Black Crowes bring their road show to Cape Cod
It's hard to keep finding new ways to describe what it's like to see this band when I've already written so many words about them. But I think I reconcilled that well enough here. May
Even with a digital cleaning, 'Exile' oozes unchecked genius
The remastered version of the Rolling Stones' masterpiece walked that line between making the most of technology and keeping the original spirit of the record alive. That the Stones did something right, mind you, is huge. May
In the moment, Pearl Jam thrives
It was hard reconciling my dislike of the new record with their ability as a live band. As it turns out, that was silly. They rocked. May
OK Go owns the video
OK Go is by no means my favorite band in the world, but I have to hand it to them for making me care about their videos. March
Conan O'Brien says goodbye
I don't know if I can ever forgive NBC for dumping Conan in favor of Jay Leno. But for Conan, I'll try. January
Total immersion: Delving into Jimi Hendrix's home recordings
When a friend sent me the CD Jimi By Himself — The Home Recordings, I was obsessed immediately. It took a few days to articulate my feelings on the subject, but, here they are. January
Petty redefines the Heartbreakers' greatness on 'The Live Anthology'
I've long been a Tom Petty fan, and this four-disc box set blew me away when I got it for Christmas. It has completely changed my (already high) opinion of this band. January
2009: My year in music
A column that's exactly what the title says. Cheers to the Flaming Lips, Them Crooked Vultures and the Beatles, jeers to Pearl Jam and ... yeah. December
It's not too late: 10 gems you might've missed this decade
Year by year, I round up some overlooked goodies from the musical sphere of the 2000s. And I got to revisit Boomslang, a pivotal album for me in 2003. December
Sonic Youth: Not to be taken for granted
Sonic Youth really is the greatest live band I've ever seen. There are a lot of fantastic bands, and I've seen plenty of amazing shows, but no one else compares. They're just amazing. Damn. November
How I was freed from the shackles of classic rock by 'Gold'
A column trying to explain how this particular album by Ryan Adams shook me so hard that everything I felt about music wound up changing. No, really, it did. November
33 ways to a better listening experience
Sometimes when I write, I really just sit down and put myself in the mood to do it. When I wrote this, I just had the urge to get something down, so over the course of a couple of records I pumped this out. Not too shabby, I believe. October
'Embryonic' isn't just daring and inventive, it's stunning
The Flaming Lips have made a career of left-turns and surprise moves, but their latest album was a shock, even for them. Every time I listen to it, it gets better. Easily the best album of 2009. October
Them Crooked Vultures are more than just hype
Supergroups are typically terrible, or at best, underwhelming. Them Crooked Vultures are definitely the exception, and their show — before they'd even released an album — blew me away. October
The Beatles are finally given the treatment they deserve
My full, comprehensive review of the Beatles remastered albums, via the stereo box set. This tops 2,000 words, and I'm pretty proud of it. It was also a blast to write. October
What would another Beatles album have looked like?
A column where I put together the "next" Beatles album, based on solo recordings from 1969/70. It's a pretty fun game, and it's now a cool little playlist on my iPod. September
Too often, inspiration gives way to complacency on 'Backspacer'
For the record, it kills me to pan anything Pearl Jam does. But this album doesn't have the spook, and I can't make myself like an album. September
Celebrating 40 years of bad acid, dirty hippies, and oh yes, fantastic music
A video scrapbook of some of my favorite moments from Woodstock (which, as I note, took place 13 years before I was born). Let's see how long the youtube videos are actually active... August
'Quadrophenia' lets the tide in
I'm fairly convinced that Quadrophenia is one of the five greatest albums I've ever had the pleasure of hearing, and everytime I drive out to the beach to write, it's always the first thing on my mind. July
Wilco rocks again in a rain-shortened set
The Wilco coverage continues with this review of their show at LeLacheur Park, the home of the Class A Lowell Spinners. It was great until it started to rain at apocalyptic proportions. July
Wilco (the band) let their experimental side show
A review of Wilco's cleverly titled new album, which is quite catchy. July
Random Notes: Where the bootlegs invade iTunes
Another Random Notes column, one in which bootleg recordings seemed to pop up more than usual. July
Celebrating Record Store Day: The most wonderful time of the year
I recount my experiences on Record Store Day in the first half of this piece. April
Springsteen hits and misses on 'Working on a Dream'
A review of Bruce Springsteen's then-new album. January
Art inspiring art, a tribute to Cameron Crowe's masterpiece
A column exploring Cameron Crowe's 2000 film Almost Famous, it's place in music, and my own feelings. January
The Black Keys grew up quickly in '08
Attack & Release was my favorite album of 2008, and I also run down the other things that made my year. January
Three albums can cure a bad day's hangover
Column. How three albums — namely, Nebraska, Time out of Mind and Into the Wild — took the sting out of a frustrating day. November
It's not as bad as you think — it's worse
A review of Guns N' Roses' new album, Chinese Democracy. As the kids would say, OMG it was bad. November
CDs? Do they still make those?
Column. One day, I forgot my iPod, and actually had to pick out a CD to listen to while I worked. The Beatles' Anthology 3 did the trick. November
Salewicz fulfills the book on Strummer
A book review of Chris Salewicz's thorough and fantastic biography Redemption Song: The Ballad of Joe Strummer. September
Random Notes: Paying respect to Queens and Kinks through the magic of iTunes
A column where I take another spin through my mp3 collection and let stream-of-conscious take over. September
The Who are honored, not finished
A long piece reviewing the taping of the VH-1 Rock Honors: The Who special in Los Angeles, as well as a look at the Who's place in history. Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, the Flaming Lips, Tenacious D and Incubus are also covered here. July
Living a Pearl Jam show 3,000 miles away
A column dealing with my angst of having to live vicariously through my friends, who were fortunate enough to see Pearl Jam on their 2008 tour. July
Ryan Adams is holding me hostage
Sometimes, I go on kicks where I listen to nothing but one artist for weeks at a time. When I wrote this column, it was Ryan Adams. May
Am I a musician? No. No. Not quite.
I like to pretend I'm a rock star, but in this column, I confess that my musical talents are limited at best. May
Ryan Adams' life a true work of art
This is a column exploring the intricacies of Ryan Adams' now-defunct blog, Foggy, and how it served as a window to his art. April
Why do so many Black Keys fans act like complete tools?
Here's a column best summed up by the title. Written after a particularly annoying concert experience. April
Not for me: Pearl Jam tickets too rich for my blood
If nothing else, this column shows that I can actually be critical of Pearl Jam when I want to be. March
The Black Crowes reclaim their song
A review of the Black Crowes' album Warpaint. March
The argument for the Foo Fighters
A review of the Foo Fighters' concert in Glendale, Ariz. March
BRMC set the new standard for cool
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's album Baby 81 was my favorite of 2007, and I pay tribute to it here. January
Where else can Mr. Mojo Risin' and the Gallaghers coexist peacefully?
Another edition of Random Notes, featuring the Doors and Oasis, among others. October
Wild call a quiet one for Vedder
A review of Eddie Vedder's soundtrack for Into the Wild. September
From the abyss: Rediscovering the mighty Zeppelin
In high school and the beginning of college, Led Zeppelin was my favorite band (other than Pearl Jam), but they took a fast and total fall off the cliff right around my 21st birthday. I got back into them in a huge way right around this time, centered on their live album, How the West was Won. August
A journey into the world at random
The first edition of the Random Notes feature on Static and Feedback, a stream-of-conscious column where the writer jumps off of whatever comes up on iTunes. July
All thrills and no frills: Marc Ford tackles his music with no pretense
Interview with guitarist Marc Ford, and a review of his concert in Phoenix. June
Killer Party: The Hold Steady lead a triple threat
The Hold Steady are one of the best live bands around, and they stepped up again on this night, leading a bill with Illinois and Blitzen Trapper. June
Icky Thump: How the White Stripes will one day save the world
As the title might've led you to believe, a very enthusiastic review of the White Stripes' Icky Thump. June
Wilco strips back with Sky Blue Sky
A review of Wilco's new album. June
Legendary rant: The message of Bill Hicks carries on
This feature looks at Bill Hicks masterpiece, Rant in E-Minor, 10 years after it was finally released in 1997. March
R.E.M. takes their place in the Hall
A column about R.E.M.'s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and how it made me feel as a long-time fan of their music. March
Poetry in motion: The Tragically Hip rattle the desert
A review of the Tragically Hip's opening set for the Who in Phoenix. I didn't review the Who's set because of some ugliness between my party and a member of the FSU gang sitting in front of us. I'm already getting angry thinking about it, actually ... March
Greetings from the road!
An update as I made my way across the country during my move to Arizona. January
We hope you enjoy the show: 2006, live on stage
I created a video yearbook of some great performances via YouTube, though most of the links have since died. Too bad, I got some good e-mails from this one when it first ran. December
'I want it so good' — the best albums of 2006
I contribute to one quarter of this look back at the best records of '06. December
A cassette classic makes a comeback
I've always been a fan of concert bootlegs, and this is a look at one of my early live tapes, a Black Crowes recording from 1995. December
The Who breathes fire on stage in Boston
A review of the Who's concert in Boston. December
Gov't Mule gets down to business in Providence
Gov't Mule, on a weeknight, tearing the roof off the joint in Providence, R.I. Needless to say, this is an enthusiastic review. December
Pearl Jam and their fans rally in Australia
I somehow have a lot of contacts Down Under thanks to the magic of the internets, and these Pearl Jam fans were more than happy to talk to me about a recent tour. December
Ain't Talkin': Dylan lets his songs tell the story
Bob Dylan doesn't screw around when he's on stage. Also, the Raconteurs were a great opener. November
Endless Wire a mark of maturity for the Who
At the end of 2006, the Who got together and released their first album in 24 years and their best in 31, Endless Wire. November
A tale of two cities: The Black Keys burn up the eastern seaboard
Matt Berry and I recount our thoughts on a couple of Black Keys shows. Mr. Berry, for the record, is also a fantastic writer and a true Georgia Bulldog. November
Mudhoney crafted a rude debut with 'Superfuzz'
A look back at Mudhoney's classic 1988 debut, Superfuzz Bigmuff plus Early Singles. If at some point you ask me to make a list of my 10 favorite albums, it's very likely that I'll list this one. November
Uncovering the Beatles: A series of demos unlocks 'The White Album'
The Beatles 'Escher Demos' shows a united side of the band, who were otherwise extremely divided during sessions for The White Album. October
Discovering an exiled gem of an album
A look at Ryan Adams' unreleased album, Exile on Franklin St., which I had just discovered. October
Dellilah: Music, the world and everything in between
A feature on Dellilah, an experimental band based in Jerusalem. Their guitarist, Elie Adelman, later became a guest contributor to Static and Feedback, and was able to land an interview with Mike Watt when the Stooges' The Weirdness was released. So, to say the least, I'm a fan of Elie. October
It's another classic for Dylan on 'Modern Times'
A review of Bob Dylan's latest studio record. September
Petty paves the way for a late-night treat
A review of Tom Petty's fantastic album, Highway Companion. September
Free your mind with the Flaming Lips
I swear, I've never felt happier in my life than I did when I walked out of the Bank of America Pavillion after watching the Flaming Lips do their thing. Oh man. September
How the Black Crowes made my night
The band calms my rage by putting together a fantastic show in Providence. September
How the Black Crowes ruined my morning
Hours after I bought tickets to see the band in Providence, R.I., Marc Ford announced he was leaving the band. I was not amused. September
It's official: I finally get Bruce Springsteen
I didn't understand it for years, but when I did, Bruce Springsteen immediately became one of my favorite artists. He still is, too. July
Sonic Youth rips through another chapter
A review of Sonic Youth's latest album, Rather Ripped, coupled with a peek into their set at Bonnaroo that year. July
Sad songs and the fits they cause
I was exploring a feeling here in this column, and the result was one of my favorite pieces of writing to date. June
Return of the madness: A detailed glance at obsession, music and mental health through four Pearl Jam shows in three weeks
A very personal account of following my favorite band on the road, travelling with friends and getting turned on to new music. This one tops 4,000 words, and is one of my favorite pieces of writing. June
The Flaming Lips take on a new world
A review of the Flaming Lips' album At War with the Mystics. At the end of the year, I declared this to be my favorite album of 2006. June
'So long, this time I'm gone'
Hours — literally — after Pearl Jam released their self-titled eigth album, I chimed in with a song-by-song account. May
Neil fires back against Bush
Neil Young was furious at the Bush Administration in 2006, and he focused all of that anger into Living With War, which was recorded on the fly. April
The quest for the great, lost single
I spent years looking for Pearl Jam's "Off He Goes/Dead Man" single, and that journey came to an end in Berkley, Calif. March
Gilmour hones his craft with 'On an Island'
Former Pink Floyd frontman David Gilmour shows how to age gracefully in this review of his album, On an Island. March
Temple of Rock
Of all the venues in which I've had the pleasure of watching rock shows, San Francisco's Fillmore easily tops the list. As far as acoustics, environment and history, nothing tops it. And Black Rebel Motorcycle Club certainly played up to that standard on this night. March
Rage reached an apex in battle
A look back at Rage Against the Machine's 1999 classic, The Battle of Los Angeles. It was probably one of the most brutal and powerful albums of the decade. February
Discover the magic of the Faces — in a box
Stephen Thomas Erlewine of All Music Guide declared the Faces' Five Guys Walk Into a Bar... box set to be the best ever released. I completely agree, in column form. February
Unboxed: The story of the boxed set's rise
A feature looking at all the notable rock boxed sets since Bob Dylan set the standard with Biograph in 1985. February
Ryan Adams completes his 2005 trilogy
A review of Ryan Adams' last two records, Jacksonville City Nights and 29. January
2005's top 10 albums
I look back at 2005 and wrap up my favorite records from the previous 12 months, like the good little writer I am. January
Looking ahead to (and back from) 2006
The inevitable march of time freaks me out sometimes. January
The Black Crowes say goodbye to 2005
A review of two amazing end-of-the-year shows by the Black Crowes in Springfield, Mass., and Providence, R.I., which were immediately followed by the band's gig at Madison Square Garden on New Year's Eve. January
John Lennon's death, 25 years later
John Lennon was murdered about 18 months before I was born, but he's had a tremendous impact in my life. December
Do the rump! The Black Keys rock Boston
A review of the Black Keys concert at the Avalon in Boston, which was the first, and certainly not the last, time I saw the band.
Neil's still going, but Prairie Wind isn't his best
A review of Neil Young's Nashville effort, Prairie Wind. He made up for it with his next album. October
Moving a time to dive into old, new favorites
There's nothing like the packing of all your CDs and records into boxes to get you to listen to music you'd previously pushed to the side. October
Jim O'Rourke leaves Sonic Youth
A quick news story on Jim O'Rourke's departure from Sonic Youth. Funny, I don't think the news stories really need me to explain beyond the headline... October
Tell 'em Jack White sent ya — The White Stripes conquer Boston
This is, still, one of the five best concerts I've ever seen. I get goosebumps just thinking about it. September
Dylan matures and thrills on 'No Direction Home'
A review of No Direction Home, the seventh in Bob Dylan's Bootleg Series. September
BRMC blows away all preconceptions
I don't know what I was expecting the first time I caught Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, but I don't think I was expecting to discover one of my favorite bands of all time. September
Supergrass makes a giant leap forward on Road to Rouen
A review of Road to Rouen, which for my money is the best album Supergrass has made so far. August
Bootlegs galore: Pearl Jam changed concerts forever
A look back at Pearl Jam's place in the concert industry, specifically their practice of selling official bootlegs — which, really, is an oxymoron — of all their live shows. August
News flash: Stones tickets are expensive
A column detailing my love of the Rolling Stones and how it's always hard to reconcile the fact that they seem themselves as the BMW of rock and roll. August
Kings of Leon turn the Avalon into a rip-roaring roadhouse
Kings of Leon were in total control on this night, just tearing through their set. August
A musical revelation: The Who changed everything
There are many things I look for as a music fan when I'm evaluating bands, and the Who do just about everything right. In just about every other band I like, I can typically find an aspect of the Who in their music. They're my jumping-off point, I guess. August
It's time to pay debt to the forefather of the mp3
My first column for Static and Feedback, and this was under the old "head static" moniker, before I changed the name of the column to "Positively Blake St.," a nod to both Bob Dylan and my Quincy apartment. Oh, and this article is about mix tapes. August
'Rough Justice' kicks off this record with a bang
A review of the Rolling Stones' A Bigger Bang, which, is, you know, pretty good, all things considered. July
Sometimes, mistakes can be sold off
A column detailing the process of deciding which CDs I didn't need in my life anymore. And there's a sign of my early design growing pains, as all but one album cover has disappeared from when this was originally published. Huh. July
Gomez have a good ole' time on 'Out West'
A review of Gomez' live album, recorded at the Fillmore in San Francisco. July
Wilco spins arena rock on its head
Wilco put on a fantastic show at Agganis Arena in Boston, with My Morning Jacket opening. June
Tom Petty hosts the ultimate summer party
Suffice it to say, I had a blast watching Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers at Great Woods in Mansfield, Mass., and that's before I get into the fact that the Black Crowes opened. And I think my ticket cost $25 or something. Crazy! June
The White Stripes grow older and darker on Satan
A review of the White Stripes fantastic record, Get Behind Me Satan. June
7 Worlds Collide assembles an intense, brilliant band
A review of Neil Finn's concert DVD, 7 Worlds Collide, where he and a group of friends — including Johnny Marr, Eddie Vedder and two-fifths of Radiohead — put on a series of shows in Finn's hometown of Aukland, New Zeland. June
The Who smash on the ultimate rock scrapbook
A review of Jeff Stein's film The Kids Are Alright, a scrapbook and documentary of the original Who lineup. Honestly, is there a better rock movie? Maybe The Last Waltz. June
Surprise, surprise — Weezer rocks again
Of all the articles I've written, this is the one I'd most like to have back. I gave this a very favorable review, and then never listened to it again. I don't even own the disc anymore. Oh well. It made a great initial impression. June
Jawas, Woodstock and amps: Rust has it all
A look at Neil Young's concert film Rust Never Sleeps, part of the New Classic series. May
The 22-20s: A new way to demolish your speakers
A review of the 22-20s debut album, who turned out to be a one-and-done band. May
The Crowes (and rock n' roll) return to Boston
A review of the Black Crowes' concert at the Orpheum Theatre in Boston, their first since reforming earlier that year. May
Ryan Adams pumps out another classic collection
A review of Adams' Cold Roses, his first of three albums to be released in 2005. May
Beck brings the funk on Guero
A review of Beck's very funky Guero. May
Queens pummel speakers and turn heads on Lullabies
A review of Lullabies to Paralyze, the then-new album by Queens of the Stone Age. At the time, this was probably the best record revew I'd written. May
The Mars Volta make a right turn on Frances the Mute
A review of the second LP from the Mars Volta. May
Bob Dylan details the road less travelled in Chronicles
A book review of Dylan's Chronicles, Vol. 1, which, if you haven't read it, is superb. I'm still waiting patiently for Vol. 2, though. May
A record store surprise is an all-time masterpiece
A look back at In it for the Money, Supergrass' excellent 1997 album. April
Sonic Youth steps up and shatters eardrums
A review of Sonic Youth's concert in Providence, R.I. April
Mitch Hedberg: 1968-2005
A look back at the life and hilarity of comedian Mitch Hedberg. April
The Kings branch out on Aha Shake Heartbreak
I have to say, it's been fun watching Kings of Leon grow up and change so much so willingly. I was pretty blown away with this record, and the transformation was far from complete. April
Shipyard Wreck brings the funk on their debut
A review of Shipyard Wreck's Reflect and Shine. FYI, Shipyard Wreck is a fantastic band based in South Coast Massachusetts. March
Kasabian is a terrific debut, but it's far from complete
My review of Kasabian's self-titled debut album. Honestly, I'm still expecting more from them. March
The Music are storming America, one club at a time
A review of the Music's show at the Paradise in Boston, with Kasabian opening. February
An excercise in expanding musical horizons
A look back at Loose Fur's debut album, which sparked Jeff Tweedy into experimenting more with his main band, Wilco. This really is a fantastic record. February
A colossal sound that keeps getting better
A review of the second album by the Music, Welcome to the North. They kind of fell off the radar for me after this. February
Pearl Jam glance back, look ahead
A review of Pearl Jam's greatest hits compilation, rearviewmirror. I believe this was also my first article for the fledgling Static and Feedback, too. January