Music Review: Age Against the Machine...

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     As a Connecticut boy born and raised, Atlanta music came to me in three helpings. In non-chronological order: First came the dubstep, during a three-night tour through my old friend’s current life as a club promoting hustler savant, from the nightclub where we watched the crowd’s supplication to the DJ from our perch on the stage, to the bar where I watched blissed-out kids bob and weave in pharma-enforced unselfconsciousness to fat-assed bass. Second came the car-sheared-in-half-black metal that a second friend semi-professionally records, music so harsh and dirty your only recorded choice is a cassette tape. And finally were the two lodestars of southern hip-hop, Outkast’s Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik and Goodie Mob’s Soul Food. Did I hear these diamond-hard classics at an epic sweaty house party? Did I discover them in a stack...

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Concert Review: Same Trailer, Different Tour...

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     On the kickoff night of her "Same Trailer, Different Tour", performing at the Bowery Ballroom, Kacey Musgraves drove home a particular belief of mine; good country should be like good liquor. Each taste should land on the palate and linger in a dozen different provocations before it fades. You should serve it in moderation to appreciate the full effect. When you consume it in a crowd it should bear you all up into collective joy, and when you’re alone, it should make you think about every ex you ever lost.      I wasn’t sure what kind of crowd to expect going in; it’s the rare country show I hit up in New York, and I hazarded “folks who look like me and old white dudes.” I was part right. Before the lights dimmed...

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Music Review: Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience...

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     The dead roamed the plains and taigas and deserts and they hunted and they died. When we dug up the ground to build our towns and cities we found their trapped bones, and we crushed what we found and mixed it into our roads and our furnaces and our engines. When we grew and our ranks stretched out to touch the compass points, we journeyed overland to find more of the trapped dead, and when we found them we made terrific weapons to shatter them free from rock that knew no possible threat. The dead were limite, and we knew this, but still we burned and melted and refined into a million iterations that lingered in the air and the water. One day a man burned a handful of the dead into soot...

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Music Review: Annie Up

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      Well that was bad timing; Pistol Annies cancelled all their tour dates in June and now nobody knows if they’re still together. Dammit. Huh. A shame, regardless of the reasons behind it, though judging from the lyrics of Annie Up, the trio’s 2nd album, it could definitely have something to do with booze. Just saying.      Annie Up’s a lean, wise and witty album that hugely satisfies, turning away deftly from cliché and easy resolution at every opportunity. Now, no surprise; Miranda Lambert’s obviously no slouch, and Ashley Monroe’s recent solo record Like A Rose matches Annie Up’s sass and bite track-for-track, and together with Angaleena Presley (no relation) the Annies are an embarrassment of talent.      Annie Up dissects country music’s tendency toward rose-tinted songwriting in favor of the raw, twist-in-the-wind mood...

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Music Review: Southeastern...

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     Chapter 5 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous tells the reader that, for the true alcoholics, “half measures availed us nothing,” which is appropriate, both when considering the creative context of Jason Isbell’s fourth solo record Southeastern, and considering Isbell’s career in general. The babyfaced Alabamian made his bones in his 20’s, burning to shine in the Drive-By Truckers, and it’s not even arguable that he anchored the three albums of theirs to which he contributed; “Danko/Manual” and “Decoration Day” alone would ensure that, let alone every other stellar cut, with that unmistakeable voice cutting through the smoke. But Isbell left that group before I was lucky enough to see them, and on Isbell’s subsequent three records I only paid passing attention to song here, a song there; I was a Truckers...

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