Tag Archives: Alternative

Bill Callahan Discovers the Magic of Settling Down

Bill Callahan

Photos by Hanly Banks Callahan

Bill Callahan has spent the past three decades cementing his reputation one of America’s most prolific and inventive songwriters, both in his work as Smog, as well as in the records he’s released under his own name. Although Callahan is well-known for his cryptic and pared-down narratives—which often mirror his elusive public persona—he took a radical new approach on his new double album, Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest: he opened up. The album, which features the most explicitly autobiographical writing of his career, arrives after a six-year hiatus during which Callahan got married and had a son; he also bore witness to his mother’s death. Callahan’s songs have long explored humanity through a wide-angle lens, often situated in the American wilderness. Here, his tales of life on the home front are no less captivating. In a wide-ranging interview, edited for clarity, Callahan dove into his intentions behind the new album, explained what sets it apart from his extensive catalog, and even chimed in on the merits of “dad rock.”

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Lost and Found: A Vital Live Recording From Argentinian Cult Band Los Pillos

Los Pillos

It starts like this: a kick drum reverberating in what sounds like a large open space, while a collective murmur becomes louder. There is the crackling of microphones, the sound of breathing, and then the toms start off the first song, “Conversaciones con la hierba.” This is the live recording of Argentinian rock group Los Pillos’ show opening for Siouxsie and The Banshees in December 1986—a console recording that remained unreleased for 32 years. Siouxsie’s visit was a milestone for shows in Buenos Aires, a connection to the thriving post-punk underground. Lesser-known bands like The Bolshoi, or poppier acts like The Police, had come through—but nobody on Siouxsie’s level. The show took place at the Obras Sanitarias basketball stadium, a covered arena that can fit just under 5,000 concertgoers. A show of that size, for a band of this scope, was a rarity.

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On “Midnight,” Stef Chura Gets Loose

Stef Chura has been hosting karaoke two to three times a week for four years. She considers herself a veteran. “I need to know my hours,” she says. “Do I have 10,000 hours? Am I a real professional yet?” It’s a funny question for a professional touring musician with a record contract to ask herself. 

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Comedian Tim Heidecker Walks Us Through Seven of His Bandcamp Releases

tim heidecker

Photos by Cara Robbins

It’s the oldest, most universally understood law of the internet, just behind “Never read the comments” and just ahead of “Never Google a symptom:” Don’t feed the trolls. Like all bullies, internet trolls thrive on attention and negativity—which makes them categorically immune to reason. Empowered by anonymity and distance, they harass their targets with the dim persistence of mosquitoes; should the victim swat back, the swarm grows bigger, nastier, and more reckless, and their noxious life cycle rolls on.

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Album of the Day: Christelle Bofale, “Swim Team”

Christelle Bofale has a superpowered voice that flows like water. Her debut album, Swim Team, is lush and inviting, a carefully crafted project that evinces a clear artistic vision. Part indie rock and part soul, it’s a stellar introduction to Bofale’s singular sound.

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Album of the Day: Kythira, “Cut Through”

“I caught you reading my diary last night but I didn’t mind, I knew you’d find it,” murmurs singer-songwriter Alyssa Gengos, aka Kythira, on a spoken word interlude during “In the Attic Room.” The song arrives halfway through Kythira’s full-length debut Cut Through. It’s a telling line on a record that unfolds like a series of diary entries written not only to be read, but explicitly understood—its lyrics are plain-spoken and stripped of flowery metaphor, and its gently strummed, guitar-based indie pop songs are straightforward and uncomplicated. 

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On “Atlanta Millionaires Club,” Faye Webster Gets Honest

Faye Webster

Faye Webster is only 21 years old, but her discography is already three albums deep. Her latest, Atlanta Millionaires Club, moves her even further away from the straightforward country-folk that defined her early records; its songs cross-pollinate Laurel Canyon pop a la Fleetwood Mac with soft touches of soul and Americana balladry, centered around Webster’s quietly aching voice. While many artists struggle with finding ways to reinvent their sound, venturing off into territory for which they’re ill suited, Webster’s evolution feels completely natural. 

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Skinny Pelembe Can (Literally) Write Songs in His Sleep

Skinny Pelembe

The South Africa-born, British-raised multi-instrumentalist and singer Skinny Pelembe has been using his discography as a way to write little notes to himself. The title of his 2018 EP, Sleep More, Make More Friends, is advice he gave himself in one of his dream journals, the contents of which he also uses as rough sketches for his lyrics. His full-length debut, Dreaming Is Dead Now, is a reference to his favorite way to write songs: by going to sleep, and letting his subconsciousness reign free.

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