GARAGE ROCK | Downtown/Union

ON THE RUN: Los Angeles’ Downtown/Union play music without a fuss. “Keep the Engines Running” is the fifth track off their 2010 August release, “Astral Turf”. It’s garage rock about leaving suburbia and heading into the city for a good time, “I don’t wanna go home / I just wanna stay out late / Until…

THE SOUND & FURY | The Black Keys

RAUNCH AND REVERB: We know what The Black Keys are all about: a blues-drenched swamp rock, full of psychedelic guitar, fuzz and reverb. And that’s what you’ve got with their new album “Brothers”, scheduled for release on May 18th, 2010. The record begins with a thick bass groove, hand-claps, and an inventive little “doo-wop”-styled background…

A BUTTERFLY’S GRACE | The Powder Kegs

HAPPINESS IS A LIT FUSE: The Powder Kegs’ new 5-song EP “Empty Side” (2010) is decidedly pop-based, but not in the way you might think. It overflows with Beatlesesque melodies, and soft phrasings. Lyrically, on a track like “Shake Me Down”, it’s easy to see John Lennon singing: “Your world is mapped out on a…

BURNING BRIGHT | Tiger! Shit! Tiger! Tiger!

NO LONGER JUST A WHISPER: Tiger! Shit! Tiger! Tiger! could be the best or worst named band of the year. Right now, bands like the un-Google-able “Why?”, the ridiculously smelly “Hoobastank”, the seriously verbose “And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead”, and the unpronounceable “!!!” are all shaking their heads. They’d thought they’d won…

LONG TIME COMING | Blur

NEW TRACK: Blur released their first single in seven years, “Fool’s Day”, in conjunction with Record Store Day on April 17th, 2010. The band released it as a limited edition one-sided 7-inch vinyl single through Parlophone Records. “Fool’s Day” is the first song the entire group of Blur have recorded together since their 2003 album…

ONE IS THE LONELIEST NUMBER | Elliott Smith

Article by David D. Robbins Jr. Reissues: “Roman Candle” and “From a Basement On the Hill” There’s so much emotion devoted to the process of making or listening to great music — but even more-so when an artist dies young. For good reason, Elliott Smith’s fans are as religiously devoted to his music as the…

EXILE IN COVERVILLE | Lissie

BAD ROMANCE: Let it be known, I love covers. Even bad covers can be entertaining. But this is a decent one. Lissie (aka Lissie Maurus) comes from my neck of the woods — Rock Island, Ill., and I’ve been listening to her for a year now. Her five-track first EP, “Why You Runnin’”, was pretty…

A RESURRECTION | Jimi Hendrix

Okay, so Jimi Hendrix has made more posthumous albums than most folks make when they’re alive. Sadly, some of these release dates come because a lawsuit has been settled. Hendrix died without a will and ownership of his music has been battled over ever since. The Hendrix estate won a suit against Legacy Records to…

UNEARTHED BEAUTY | Dinosaur Bones

CANADIAN ABUNDANCE: There really is something in the air in Canada these days. Our northern neighbors are kicking out good music like some giant factory of cool. Add Dinosaur Bones to the list. In late 2009, the band joined producer Jon Drew (Tokyo Police Club, Fucked Up) in the studio to work on their debut…

GOOD TO BE BACK | Tokyo Police Club

OH YEAH!: Tokyo Police Club have released a track from their upcoming 11-song album “Champ”, while the record is being polished up in the studio. There’s something very Smashing Pumpkins-meets-Pixies about their new song “Breakneck Speed”. Since when did Dave Monks sound like Billy Corgan? Nothing wrong with that — it’s just an observation. Besides,…

HIGH ROMANCE | Dark Mean

ONE OF THE BEST BANDS YOU’VE NEVER HEARD: It’s so easy to like this band from Ontario, Canada. They mix beautiful melodies with a number of traditions, including indie-pop, rock and folk. Dark Mean follow up their four-track EP “Frankencottage” (2009) with another four-song EP, “Music Box” — the band’s second record. It’s impressive how…

CIVIL UNREST | Titus Andronicus

THE ANDRONICUS ADDRESS: Naming your band after the lead character in a stilted, ludicrously plotted and monstrously bloody play is enough to turn off many listeners. But what is in a name, anyway? It’s easy to judge this book by its cover — suspecting that heavily-named Titus Andronicus are a white-bred, college-hipster band bent on…

FORCE OF NATURE | Double Dagger

PUNK LIKE A PUNCH: It stands to reason that one of the hardest rockin’ bands in America would come from Baltimore. Not that Baltimore is known for it’s post-punk scene — but it’s a place where the phrase “keeping it real” actually means something. Those thrashing typography nerds Double Dagger, from Thrill Jockey Records, are…

LIFE’S BIG TOP | Drive-By Truckers

Words by David D. Robbins Jr. Album: The Big To-Do •  Release Date: March 16, 2010 The Drive-By Truckers’ newest release “The Big To-Do” is mostly an album of gritty narratives about murder, holding a shit  job, strippers, drunken lost weekends, a dead preacher and dragging a lake for a body. It’s an album about…

BALLAD OF A RELATIONSHIP | Roadside Graves

The Roadside Graves are set to release a new EP, “You Won’t Be Happy With Me”, on March 23, 2010. The band says the new tracks are about the awkwardness and complications in relationships — and ultimately, the long journey of trying to figure out who it is you’re sleeping next to. This month they’ve…

TATTOO YOU | Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

Some things have changed for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and some things remain the same. What’s changed? They’ve got a new drummer now and their own record label. They’re much more accomplished. In some ways they’ve shined up their gritty sound, for better or worse depending on your musical tastes. The new album, “Beat the…

A MYSTIC MIND | Gonjasufi

Artwork & Words by David D. Robbins Jr. Album: A Sufi and a Killer •  Release Date: Today, March 9, 2010 IN HIS MIND: Gonjasufi is the latest musical invention from Sumach Ecks. He’s a Bikram yoga practitioner, devout Muslim, hip-hop beatsmith, spiritual seeker, and mysterious mystic living somewhere out in the Mojave. Seriously. Gonjasufi…

LOVE AND DESIRE | Sean Hayes

A LOOK AT SEAN HAYES Artwork & Words by David D. Robbins Jr. Upcoming Album: Run Wolves Run •  Release Date: March 2, 2010 (Artwork uses web photo and elements from Hayes’ album covers) It’s too bad San Francisco-based singer-songwriter Sean Hayes isn’t better known, because he’s been one of the best musicians in America…

TRUE LOVE | Hole

A LOOK AT COURTNEY LOVE’S “REHAB DEMOS” Artwork & Words by David D. Robbins Jr. Upcoming Album: Nobody’s Daughter •  Announced Release Date: April 27, 2010 (Illustration made with use of photo from unknown source or photographer.) Rock and roll lightning-rod Courtney Love is about as appealing as a swig of hemlock for some. For…

THE DAY AFTER | The Morning Benders

COMING SOON: The Morning Benders won over Bay Area fans and more with two self-released EPs and their 2008 album, Talking Through Tin Cans. Now the band is back with Big Echo, slated for release March 9 through Rough Trade Records. For those in the Midwest, set your dates, as the band makes its rounds…

A MASTER’S LAST BOW | Chocolate Genius

NEW MUSIC ON THE WAY: I still can’t believe this news is flying so low under the radar. The eclectic Marc Anthony Thompson, is ending his long run as alter ego Chocolate Genius Inc., with an album due out sometime this month called “Swansongs”. Chocolate Genius first entered the scene with the gorgeous and melancholic…