8 Hours Chilling, Then Bed

I reviewed a book about the famous indie label 4AD–whose famous artists include the Cocteau Twins, the Pixies, and the Breeders–for Paste. Read the piece here. Below, the Cocteau Twins’ “Heaven or Las Vegas.” The vocals are handled by Elizabeth Fraser, who was dubbed “the voice of God.” Unlike many indie labels that started in the ’80s, 4AD is still going strong today. For related reading, check out this old Spin article on Kim Deal, who fronted the Breeders.


Ahab Fights The Robots

I connected a new book on the French duo Daft Punk, famous for their Robot costumes, with Captain Ahab’s desire to “strike though the mask!” See the piece here. “Something About Us,” below, from the 2nd Daft Punk album, remains the group’s best homage to funk and R&B.

Family Bliss

I wrote about a book of photographs of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin for Paste. See the piece here. Gainsbourg is one of the best-known French pop singers in America. Birkin–who is English and was initially married to the man who composed the James Bond theme–got romantically involved with Gainsbourg in the late ’60s. They also recorded together. The song below, “Je T’aime,…Moi Non Plus,” was originally written by Gainsbourg when he was involved with another actress/singer/romantic flame, Brigitte Bardot. The version they recorded wasn’t released, since Bardot was married to another man, and the song was full of erotic breathing. Gainsbourg re-recorded it with Birkin when they got together, and this time he put out the song. It promptly got banned by the Vatican and shot to the #2 spot on the English charts.

For The Record

I wrote about For The Record, a book which puts musicians in conversation with other musicians, for Paste. See the piece here. The drummer Bernard Purdie, who played on a number of famous recordings, is interviewed in the book. He’s responsible for the percolating percussion on this famous Aretha Franklin track, “Rock Steady:”



Apples vs. Oranges

I wrote about the Beatles vs. Stones book for Paste. As I argue here, the whole premise of the book doesn’t make a lot of sense. First, the two bands did different things. Second, the Beatles were unquestionably better than the Rolling Stones in the ’60s. Third, most of the Stones’ best work came after the Beatles broke up. According to the Stones’ manager, Andrew Oldham, when the Stones were recording the song “We Love You,” John & Paul came into the studio and “rescued the record… The two Beatles… picked up the [headphones] and sniffed each other out like two dogs in heat for the right part… John and Paul just glided in and changed a runway into an airplay with wings.”

Waxed Up Hair

I reviewed a photographic history of the Replacements–the notoriously sloppy rock band, not the Keanu Reeves movie–for Paste. Read the piece here. The Replacements’ definitive statement remains Let It Be, which they released in 1984. (The famous critic Bob Christgau suggested that an album by the L.A. group X  and Let It Be are the most important indie rock recordings of the ’80s.) Here’s the final track on Let It Be, in which lead singer Paul Westerberg gets really upset with an answering machine.


Hey 19, You Suck!

I reviewed a new book for Paste by Don Fagen, who is known best as the leader of Steely Dan. Check out the piece here.

Fagen really doesn’t like people who watch TV and/or use cell phones. Here’s Steely Dan’s “Hey 19,” which inspired my title for the piece.

American Fairytales

I reviewed a new book about the southern soul label Stax for Paste. Stax has a fascinating, tragic, and uniquely American story. Read the piece here.

Below, one of my favorite late-period Stax tracks, “Never Gonna Give You Up,” by the fantastic Isaac Hayes.

Late Century Dream

I wrote about a new book Late Century Dream: Movements In The U.S. Indie Music Underground for Paste. Read the piece here.

Here’s a classic track from Superchunk, who came up in the North Carolina indie scene–one of the six regional indie scenes discussed in the book.

Buck Em

I reviewed a memoir by the country singer Buck Owens for Paste. Read the piece here. It’s one of the better memoirs I’ve read recently. Unfortunately, it’s surprisingly hard to find Owens’ music–especially relative to many of his ’60s and ’70s peers. The tunes are worth tracking down. Here’s Buck dressed to the 9’s, performing “Waiting In Your Welfare Line.”

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