Film At 11: Steve Gunn

Steve Gunn’s video for “Ancient Jules” is classically badass while also being surprisingly sweet—shots of a motorcyclist barreling down a country road intertwined with scenes of a cross-generational jam session. The track comes from Gunn’s Matador debut Eyes On The Lines, which is out now. Check out “Ancient Jules” below.

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Essential New Music: The Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds (50th Anniversary Edition)”


Calling a record “important” is somewhat akin to being told to “eat your spinach.” Blecch. What about music that just tastes good? Herein lies the problem to solve with any 50th anniversary reissue (in this case, the golden anniversary of Brian Wilson’s magnum opus, the LP that in so many ways has come to define ’60s pop and Wilson’s entire oeuvre): relevance.

This is timeless, classic stuff; indeed, some of the finest and most fussed-over moments in recorded music history. But the band’s core audience likely already owns this album in multiple formats, while millennials see these songs as museum pieces (worthy of reverence and oldies formats, but not earbud time) vs. the gems they truly are. It’s unclear whether this four-disc retrospective will actually solve for “making surf modern again”: mono plus stereo mixes, session outtakes including backing tracks and vocals-only stacks of the variety the internet now routinely up-votes to “trending,” plus new live cuts. But if it only serves to remind us that Wilson’s core themes of the exhilaration of love (“Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” the immortal “God Only Knows”) and the inevitable disappointment and darkness when it dissolves (“That’s Not Me,” “I’m Waiting For The Day,” “Caroline, No”) are as pivotal to soundtracking life today as they ever were, then it was worth the effort.

History has been kinder to this record than the public was upon its release in 1966 (Pet Sounds was initially a critical and commercial disappointment); thank Christ for the wisdom of hindsight. Greatness, as it turns out, is great in any era.

—Corey duBrowa

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From The Desk Of The Posies: Street Tacos

Solid States is the Posies’ first new collection since 2010’s Blood/Candy, and the circumstances surrounding its conception couldn’t have been more different than those of its predecessor. First and foremost were the double-gut-punch deaths of two longtime band members: drummer Darius Minwalla in 2015, and bassist Joe Skyward earlier this year. There was also a divorce and a remarriage for Jon Auer, who, like Ken Stringfellow, now lives in France. Life-changing events aside, the Posies are back with yet another great album. Stringfellow and Auer will be guest editing all week.


Auer: It’s true: At a certain point in their career, before sleeping bags and sharp-dressed men were the subjects du jour, ZZ Top sang with profound conviction about the cumulative benefits of inexpensive eye shades, and with great artistic success I believe. That said, I’m going to wax on (wax on, wax off?) here for a bit (bear with me) about the relative joy and perfection that, to me, is found in a well-constructed street taco. Perhaps a little context with which to place my unbridled affection for said foodstuff is needed: I’ve been living in France for the last five years, and whenever someone decides to asks me what I miss most about no longer residing in the U.S. of A., my answer is invariably (and without hesitation), “Mexican food!” Sure, the high-end pricey stuff can be good (and in the case of a place like Manuel’s in Austin, excellent), but what really floats my boat and/or yanks my chain … does the proverbial trick … is finding that no-frills truck or stand that deals in unpretentious examples of the species, the kind that can often be had for as little as a buck.

Personally, I think the trucks are often the best for this sort of thing, and it must be said that there was a certain vehicle near the rehearsal spot I used to have in Seattle for many years that I would frequent as often as I could before I made the Transatlantic move. But, really … now, in this day and age, in arguably the golden age of portable eateries, when you start looking around the woodwork and roadsides of a majority of cities and towns in the States alike, they’re prone to being in a multitude of locations. There’s just something in the way all the flavors and ingredients come together in that street environment, the implicit simplicity of it all, and I’m especially pleased when slices of radishes are in bloom, part of the deal as well. Plus, no need to dress up or be fancy unless you want to … you can come as you are, as you would like or wish. As far as a particular place to recommend, I’d love to provide you with a personal favorite location, but these gypsy cafeterias, if you will, can be so random in their location as there’s that whole thing about them moving around. So I respectfully suggest it’s up to the reader to keep their eyes and noses peeled and sniff one out for themselves. I humbly and enthusiastically recommend you find the kind that serves their wares on a plain paper plate. Again, come as you are and dive right in. Smells like taco spirit. Polly wants a cracker—as long as that cracker is a taco. Now go and get yourself some cheap street tacos.

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Film At 11: Florence + The Machine

Florence + The Machine has unleashed the full version of the band’s visual collaboration with director Vincent Haycock. “The Odyssey,” an audiovisual event maxing out at almost 50 minutes, can be viewed in full below. Connecting videos attached to the band’s most recent release How Big How Blue How Beautiful, “The Odyssey” reveals the complete piece of art that has been slowly released over the last year. Check it out below.

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Frightened Rabbit: Keep Calm And Carry On


Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison confronts his dark side on Painting Of A Panic Attack

Frightened Rabbit bandleader Scott Hutchison knew that he was sinking into an abyss—mentally, emotionally, even spiritually—after the 2013 release of Pedestrian Verse, the Scottish group’s Snow Patrolish breakthrough album, its fourth. But he couldn’t gauge the true depth of his situation until he began seeing his followers in a dreary new light.

“When you start to play a show and you’re looking at the audience, and you resent every single one of them for being there?” he says, with a new clarity. “That’s a really bad place to be in. And when you’re in that bubble, it’s also a very hard place to get help.”

But help is what the singer finally got, from some rather unusual sources. All of which led to the fifth Frightened Rabbit epistle—the aptly dubbed Painting Of A Panic Attack, produced by the National’s Aaron Dessner—and lyrically grim, but sonically sweeping laments like “Death Dream,” “I Wish I Was Sober,” “An Otherwise Disappointing Life” and eventually a life-affirming “Still Want To Be Here.” One haunted number, “Woke Up Hurting,” has such a huge singalong/handclap chorus, it’s the album’s most ebullient feel-good anthem. Even though Hutchison wasn’t feeling too well when he wrote it.

“I’ve always enjoyed the friction that you can get by putting an image that’s dark onto music that’s really uplifting,” he says. “I love that, and it’s something that I’ve been working on for a really long time.”

How did Hutchison wind up in such choppy existential waters? Through a combination of factors, probably starting in childhood, he says, when he was so skittishly shy that his own mother nicknamed him Frightened Rabbit. Gradually, he gained the confidence to perform solo acoustic shows under the moniker, and then added his brother Grant Hutchison on drums, leading to the well-rounded five-piece the outfit is today—a lineup that now includes guitarist Simon Liddell, who recently replaced the departing Gordon Skene.

But the sudden crowd-pleasing popularity of Pedestrian Verse did not suit the Selkirk native well. He began experiencing panic attacks, small ones initially. “And then there was one major episode on a fucking airplane, of all places, which was terrifying,” he says. “So you eventually feel like you’re going to pass out for a lot of the day, and then at night you try and go onstage. I was medicated for that, but I was medicating with—not just with what I was prescribed—but booze, so it was this vicious cycle. And at the end of that? I really wanted the pain to stop.”

The 34-year-old Hutchison and his longtime girlfriend were residing in Los Angeles at the time, and the combustibility of their relationship didn’t help matters. One thump-chiming track, “Break,” details his storming out of their apartment with a bag of belongings, post-argument, to spend an angry night under a city overpass. “It was very dramatic,” he admits. Hutchison has returned to Scotland temporarily, just to give the intense romance some breathing room. “So I’m learning new habits—we’re learning how to be, uh, less up each other’s arses,” he says. “I’m a calmer person now, and I’m just living a little more in the moment. I’m no longer scared, but I’m still looking at it with a sense of trepidation, for sure.”

To hit that plateau, he retreated to the Isle of Mull two years ago—with Liddell and band keyboardist/guitarist Andy Monaghan in tow—to quietly write and record what was essentially a solo album under the moniker of Owl John. He had fallen out of love—not just with fans but songwriting itself, he says—and the experiment put him back in touch with his muse. When he set to work on Painting, he had a concept in mind.

“I saw it as two young people, a couple, who are desperate to leave the town they grew up in, which also leads back to how I was feeling trapped in L.A., and how the two of us needed to escape, so the music itself is quite claustrophobic,” he says. “So this album was originally supposed to be more of an outward social commentary. But then I was forced to look into what I’d been experiencing—my own abyss—and this is what came gushing out. I had just been holding it in for too long.”

—Tom Lanham

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From The Desk Of The Posies: Moscow Metro

Solid States is the Posies’ first new collection since 2010’s Blood/Candy, and the circumstances surrounding its conception couldn’t have been more different than those of its predecessor. First and foremost were the double-gut-punch deaths of two longtime band members: drummer Darius Minwalla in 2015, and bassist Joe Skyward earlier this year. There was also a divorce and a remarriage for Jon Auer, who, like Ken Stringfellow, now lives in France. Life-changing events aside, the Posies are back with yet another great album. Stringfellow and Auer will be guest editing all week.


Stringfellow: I recently enjoyed my first visit to Moscow, with Marky Ramone. Of course, in our short visit, a stop by Red Square, the Kremlin, etc., was obligatory, but for me, the best things to see in any city are the most quotidian. Moscow, even in June, was grey, cold and wet—the skies, the buildings. While looking for an elusive shoe repair (long story, not even that good of one), I stumbled thru a doorway, barely marked. And emerged into a covered market, a colorful riot of flowers, wild berries and pickled everything. Locals only. I ended up with a gorgeous, big piece of smoked salmon for a couple bucks, supplemented with blueberries and a 14%-alc.-vol. Crimean wine (I know, that would have been a Ukrainian wine just a couple years ago; I’m not happy about the Putinic maneuverings, but I open a further bracket here to say that people are what I’m interested in, not their government … with the Russian elections being what they are, it’s not like these people even chose this path), a cab merlot blend. So, a highly antioxidant lunch.

I think the most iconic sight to see in Moscow that’s of the people, for the people, is the Metro system. Much of it was built in the 1930s, with important extensions in the following decades, and hell, they’re still adding to it to this day. 200 stations, and counting. Like many Soviet designs, the idea of the individual is made to feel small, but also safe in the shelter of an all-encompassing, cradle-to-grave collective might. 400-foot escalators descend to huge galleries. Bas-reliefs, heroic bronzes, gilt gewgaws, wood paneling … it’s like a tunnel-shaped hunting lodge designed by Liberace.

The trains I rode on were the original, boxy “A Type,” but there are sleeker trains out there somewhere. I was glad to be on the old-school devices. They may be ancient, but they were comfortable, and much quieter than the squeaky howls of the NYC Subway or the Paris Metro. Now, I’ve made a successful solo navigation of the Tokyo Subway, etc.; I can tell you the Moscow Metro is not for the faint of heart, unless you read Russian. Signage in Latin alphabet was nearly nonexistent; even if you just memorize the names of places … the terminus is not always listed as the destination. I needed a guide, for sure; thank heavens for Elena, the contest-winning designer of the Posies album artwork for Solid States. Elena’s a design student and while working in the campus bookstore, vaguely rabbit-hole-ing thru the internet, stumbled upon the Creative Allies “design album art for the Posies” contest, submitted a design that freely ignored our guidelines, and was, in the end much more imaginative than what we thought we were looking for. She said the images came to her mind instantly, and then it was a matter of carefully drawing, by hand, the complete cover. She sent me a snapshot of her test sketches … and, of course, she did the song title lettering by hand. Remember, she was using letters that she had never really used before. It was fun to see she had to figure out which way an “S” goes, for example.

We took a detour to another line, so she could show me Ploshad Revolutsii station, where heroic bronzes, just a little larger than life size, leap out of niches in the walls: men with guns and grenades at the ready to fight and die for the Motherland, and women with scythes and chickens and what not. On either side of the exit archway, a man holds back a noble-looking guard dog, and it’s meant to be good luck to rub his snout on the way out of the station.

There have been several deadly bombings over the years, a derailment … and one time a company illegally decided to erect a billboard in the city (Dobro pozhalovat’, kapitalizm!!)—the pile driver managing to drive a pile right thru the roof of the station into a moving train, miraculously killing no one. The Metro has survived a world war and was largely built to withstand a third one; in fact, there’s a TV series called Metro that depicts a post-nuclear-war society that lives on in the Moscow Metro network.

Marky’s show in Moscow was immense: 2,000 kids moshing and fist pumping and singing along with every word. I hugged kids and did selfies and autographs for almost two hours after the show. Then it was over, and these kids wandered out into the night, and surely descended into the modern marvel that is the Моско́вский метрополите́н.

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Film At 11: Band Of Skulls

Band Of Skulls recently unveiled new song “So Good” through a darkly psychedelic video. A wonderful, whirling clip to a simply masterful piece of indie rock, the “So Good” clip is worth being dizzied by. Check it out below. By Default is out now.

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The Qualia Makes MAGNET A Mix Tape


Recently, we featured the Qualia’s latest track “Out For Blood,” which comes from their August 12 album Cotillion Knives. Today, we’re keeping the Qualia hype train going with a new mix tape, a collaborative effort between all of the members of the band. They’ve all worked hard to put together an immersive, cohesive and enjoyable listening experience for you all. Check it out below, and listen on Apple Music or Spotify. Be sure to give “Out For Blood” another few spins once this playlist runs out.

“This mix tape was put together by the members of our band, and it’s a real mix tape,” says Qualia singer Lars. “We didn’t want this just to be a top-down view of ‘these are the artists we want you to compare our band to’ that the reader could browse through, form an opinion about, then forget. It was important to us that this be a strong representation of the music that we each individually love to listen to, but also something you could actually enjoy. So what that means is that we’ve got a bunch of tracks from all sorts of different music worlds that we’ve tried to find common ground between, and this mix tape should hopefully be something you could toss onto your stereo to have a fun and surprising 40 minutes while you’re walking to work or fixing dinner or whatever else it is that you do in your life when you decide … it’s music time.”

Casiotone For The Painfully Alone, “New Year’s Kiss”
Chvad: There’s a somber tone to all of the material from Casiotone For The Painfully Alone that really strikes a nerve with me. “New Year’s Kiss” sounds tired. Worn out. That’s how I feel. All that being said, I have no idea what the hell this song is talking about. Clearly written by a madman. Video

Beach House, “All Your Yeahs”
Lars: One of the things I love about a lot of Beach House’s songs is that they’ll establish such a thick sense of atmosphere and place with the beginning of the song, and then the last half or third will be a surprise evolution that takes that atmosphere to a different emotional place. A lot of my contributions to this mix tape are songs that I love that are also songs that can work as connective tissue. The way this track goes from melancholy and ethereal to redemptive and forceful is really moving for me as a listener, and for this mix tape, it accomplishes the preposterous task of connecting Chvad’s depressing Casiotone song into Rossen’s celebratory New Orleans track. Video

Jon Batiste & Stay Human, “Express Yourself (Say Yes)”
Rossen: This song has a great message and very addictive groove build over a jazzy saxophone phrase. It’s also a really good example of Jon Batiste’s idea of social music. The band seamlessly combines jazz, funk, blues, rhythm & blues and pop music while keeping their sound fresh and contemporary. If you have a chance, check them out live. The energy of the band is amazing. Video

The Adverts, “Gary Gilmore’s Eyes”
Chvad: I first heard this song being covered by German punk band Die Toten Hosen. I listened to their version for years prior to seeking out the original, which is a real shame because the original really kicks ass. Creepy, catchy, simple, rocks out. Love it. Video

Takeshi Terauchi & The Bunnys, “Kanjinchou”
Lars: I obsessively read guitar magazines, and I loved reading this interview in Premier Guitar with Shana Cleveland from the (totally killer) band La Luz, in which she mentioned that she has been digging deep into the music of Takeshi Terauchi & The Bunnys, a mid-’60s surf band from Japan. So, I checked them out, and she’s right. They’re so much fun. I put this record on sometimes when I’m running my weekly Dungeons And Dragons game to underscore tense battle scenes, and it always gets an enthusiastic, positive response. Plus, it pushes the energy of our mix tape sidewise in a way that helps set up Chvad’s next track. Video

Surgical Meth Machine, “I’m Invisible”
Chvad: I’m an Al Jourgenson fan. What that means is that I buy everything the man produces for better or for worse. Not everything he releases is golden, and anyone familiar with his career arc and lifestyle will know why. That being said, the last record to really resonate with me that Jourgenson produced was Ministry’s Filth Pig. At least that was the case until Jourgenson released the self-titled Surgical Meth Machine album earlier this year. Hilarious, noisy, loud, fast and then this track: “I’m Invisible.” Jourgenson pushing melodies out into the front and letting his voice ease back from the meter-beating high-decibel barking he’s become known for to give us some chiller melodic verses that just hit all the right spots. Groove, chill, hooks. An absolutely cool track. Video

Black Dub, “I Believe In You”
Rossen: Music to me is about feel and groove. This song has a lot of both. The simplicity of the beat combined with the melodic bass line and the singing in the lower register makes “I Believe in You” one of my favorite tunes. Also there is so much space in everybody’s performance. Pretty rare thing to hear in a recording these days. Video

John Coltrane, “A Love Supreme, Pt. 2: Resolution”
Rossen: “You see, one thing about that music is that it showed you that we had reached a level where you could move the music around. John had a very wonderful way of being flexible with the music, flexing it, stretching it. You know, we reflected that kind of thing. He gave us the freedom to do that. We thought of something, ‘Oh, then we’ll play it,’ you know? And he said, ‘Yeah, I have a feeling’—you know? And all that freedom just came together when we did that record.” —McCoy Tyner Video

St. Vincent, “Cruel”
Lars: I feel like a super-genius for thinking to put this track on the mix tape. This is off of St. Vincent’s Strange Mercy record, which I find myself returning to constantly—I just love it. Wait—why am I so proud of myself for putting this on the mix tape? Because the intro with its sort of gauzy, damaged, blue feel works really well to dovetail out of Rossen’s elongated jazz pick, and then it shifts gears into a high energy, hooky-as-hell, heartbreaking pop track. I love everything about this song. Video

Sparks, “Bon Voyage”
Lars: Speaking of loving things, Sparks’s Propaganda is something I only discovered maybe five years ago, and it’s become maybe my all-time favorite record. When I first heard it, the constant shifts in feel, tempo and melody were shocking and alienating, but then as I kept digging into the record in subsequent listens, it all started feeling comfortable, like home. This is the final track on that record, and it does everything I love about Sparks as a band. The song has a ridiculous premise for a rock song—it seems to be about an animal left behind by Noah in the Book of Genesis. But then, through the music, the band tracks the bittersweet process of coming to accept true failure, showcasing a universal, relatable sense of longing—somehow transforming that ridiculous premise into a song that, to me, is entirely beautiful, approachable and real. Video

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Live Review: The Firefly Festival, 2016


Firefly has become the music festival equivalent of Facebook: it used to be just for college kids, and now your parents do it. What was once the strange, frightening realm of 19- and 20-year-olds has evolved into an adult kid/empty-nest-parent bonding experience, like going to a Phillies game. Even Delaware Governor Jack Markell, who’s 55, whooped it up all four days of the fest. “My 20-year-old son gave me a list of bands to check out,” he said to a group of music writers at Friday’s press conference.

This is due in part to the improved infrastructure and amenities, like air-conditioned camping tents and quinoa-slinging food vendors, as well as to the main-streaming of many artists through Buick commercials and social media, and to the explosion of music festivals in general. The event’s meteoric rise over the past five years has attracted attention too. If 90,000 people go to it, it must be good, right?

Noting the increasing popularity of the festival and the fact that it seems to rain on the third weekend of June every year, I tried planning ahead after the conclusion of Firefly 2015. Since I just crossed the 30 mark and couldn’t bear the thought of sleeping in a squishy tent, I was determined to find a hotel room for Firefly 2016 where I could keep my belongings mud-free and eat miniature boxes of Fruit Loops at the free continental breakfast each morning. When I tried booking a Dover hotel room the Monday after Firefly 2015 for 362 days out, I found all rooms booked within a 30-mile radius. And the actual dates for 2016 hadn’t been officially announced yet. Clearly, the festival is not just a scene for VW-bus driving, shower-shunning, broke college kids anymore.

Like everyone else planning to be at Firefly, I refreshed five times a day during the week leading up to the event. Based on the forecast, I started wondering where I put my poncho from last year. As it turned out, a soggy Thursday night gave way to blue skies and sunshine, low humidity and breezy nights for the remaining days of Firefly, much to the relief of attendees and organizers. All dread that crackling loudspeaker announcing that the rest of the acts have been cancelled for the day due to impending storms, leading to a stampede to the exits and confused, drunk people frantically stumbling around trying to find their friends.

As I walked through the parking lot to the Woodlands on Friday, I witnessed the now-familiar sight of festival-goers streaming over the highway overpass bridge, cars and trucks honking cheerfully as they drove underneath, and planes towing signs for Trojan Groove condoms flying overhead. Adults and teenagers with turtle backpacks, melting body paint, tiny ripped shorts and bandanas were chattering excitedly about the artists they wanted to check out as the musty smell of trampled grass and pot smoke wafted through the sweaty bodies.

Every year, festival organizer Red Frog Events adds new, fun features. This year was no different. After finally making it through the security line, I walked past art installations and photos of Fireflies past. I also noticed that, even though it had rained the night before, a muddy bog didn’t swallow my shoes like in prior years. Since Firefly has established itself as a staple in the Dover, Del., community, permanent infrastructure improvements have been made, including drainage, new pathways and roadways, and two stages, the Coffee House and The Treehouse.

I wandered over to the Coffee House, which was a magical combination of college-campus bar, indie record store and urban-park picnic area. A rotation of smaller acts played throughout the day among lots of chalkboard artwork and several local roasters selling hot java, iced coffee and muffins. The quirky stage reminded me of Tiny House Hunters, with its trapezoid roof and natural wood shingles. During the time I was there, up-and-coming dance-rock duo Powers put the espresso to good use, energizing the crowd with spunky singles like “Beat of My Drum,” which has been featured in Taco Bell promotions.

Across the grounds at the main stage, neo-soul ensemble Fitz And The Tantrums succeeded in tiring everyone out from dancing even before the headliners performed. The six-piece group from Los Angeles played multiple songs off its just-released self-titled album, as well as hits like “Moneygrabber” and “More Than Just A Dream.” To watch this band is to witness masters at their craft, like watching a basketball team where every player is named LeBron James.

As the weekend progressed, it became clear that Firefly was about more than just the music. Festival-goers let their colors fly—literally. The recent event in Orlando compelled many to show their patriotism and support for the LGBT community. Dozens of rainbow and American flags were hoisted, and colorful stickers, scarves and full-body suits were worn proudly. One guy carried around a giant rainbow-striped cutout of a penis with a Go-Pro nestled inside, presumably to record others’ reactions. Most people gave him a thumbs-up and shouts of encouragement.

On Saturday, Firefly veterans Chvrches took to the main stage in front of thousands of happy, burnt faces. “We played here a few years ago at a much smaller stage,” keyboardist Martin Doherty said, acknowledging the band’s rise in popularity. The Glasgow synth-pop trio, led by the diminutive Lauren Mayberry, played favorites like “The Mother We Share” as well as more recent tracks off of last year’s Every Open Eye. Wearing an ivory, billowing skirt, Mayberry floated around stage as her honey-sweet voice soared over the crowd, juxtaposed with the thudding bass and synth behind her.

Death Cab For Cutie, which headlined Saturday evening, has been delighting indie-rock lovers for almost two decades, releasing eight studio albums and multiple EPs, not to mention frontman Ben Gibbard’s cul-classic collaboration the Postal Service. Over that period of time, Death Cab has garnered critical accolades and commercial success, including multiple Grammy nominations. Despite the fact that its demographic has greyed, hipsters still love Death Cab. These guys’ pleasant and unique brand of pop transcends generations, which is why they’re still enjoying success. This was evident at their well-attended performance at Firefly. As they progressed through their 75-minute set, I was amazed at just how many hits they have produced over the years. “Soul Meets Body,” “Photo Booth,” “I Will Possess Your Heart” … the list goes on. As if to highlight the influence they have over the indie-rock world, Chvrches’Mayberry lent her voice during a cameo in one of their songs. Death Cab punctuated their act with the reverberating, tidal “Trasatlanticism.”

By Sunday afternoon, crowds had thinned a bit, as people began to realize they had to work on Monday and felt the effects of three days of day drinking $12 Bud Lights under an unrelenting sun. While energizing a weary bunch of festival-goers might be a daunting task for some acts, Grouplove was up to the task. Co-lead singer Hannah Hooper bounded onstage in a Poison Ivy-meets-Kurt Cobain ensemble, wearing a tight green body suit with a flannel shirt wrapped around her waist. Vocalist/guitarist Christian Zucconi flanked her, sporting black Converse and a red Hugh Hefner robe. As the band churned out songs like “Shark Attack” and “Tongue Tied,” Zucconi crowd surfed, then threw his guitar six feet in the air and deftly caught it. Both singers darted back and forth onstage like monkeys on Adderall, inciting the crowd to jump and dance.

As the sun began to sink behind the tree line, rekindled punk-pop band Blink-182’s performance transported me back to the days of Total Request Live with Carson Daly, and of being dropped off at Warped Tour by my mom, decked out in tube socks, Vans and a studded belt. Though it’s amusing to listen to 40-year-olds play songs about the angst of youth, they were still entertaining, playing old classics like “What’s My Age Again” and bantering onstage with each other and the crowd.

Just like Facebook has been ingrained into our modern-day social fabric, so too has Firefly become woven into the fabric of Delaware and of the early summers of so many music lovers, young and old. It’s become a place where people can express themselves with swirling body paint and statement attire, and to connect with others through music, whether that’s the stranger next to you at Mumford & Sons, or Dad. It’s also where you can unapologetically revel in nostalgia, no matter if you are remembering your golden years via Earth Wind And Fire or Ludacris. It’s for everyone now. Which means when I’m finished writing this, I’m immediately heading over to and booking my room for next year.

—Maureen Coulter; photos by Theo Wargo of Getty Images


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From The Desk Of The Posies: Dynamo Royale

Solid States is the Posies’ first new collection since 2010’s Blood/Candy, and the circumstances surrounding its conception couldn’t have been more different than those of its predecessor. First and foremost were the double-gut-punch deaths of two longtime band members: drummer Darius Minwalla in 2015, and bassist Joe Skyward earlier this year. There was also a divorce and a remarriage for Jon Auer, who, like Ken Stringfellow, now lives in France. Life-changing events aside, the Posies are back with yet another great album. Stringfellow and Auer will be guest editing all week.


Auer: Dynamo Royale started as a casual idea to record a single song with Tiz Aramini, who’d I’d known very well since the mid-’90s. Back in the day, I remember her giving me a cassette tape of her music and being a little scared of the possibility that I wouldn’t like it. However, the complete opposite occurred. Turned out that Tiz had spent several years studying piano at a conservatory in France, and then she discovered other music like the Pixies and Juliana Hatfield and kind of gave the middle finger to her classical past and started writing her own songs. The byproduct of her training was that her compositions were and are often filled with unique chord progressions and unexpected melodies, and I was super impressed, as they have their own stamp and flavor. I produced her first solo record in 1999 in London for the most part (with Darius Minwalla on drums as well), and in 2004, she did her second solo record with session/touring ace Jeremy Stacey at the helm. Cut to a few years ago, around 2011, and the idea for Tiz and I to do one song together turned in to eight songs in just a couple of weeks and then eventually our full-length record Straight On The Diagonal. It kind of just happened and was totally unexpected, and then we fell in love as part of the deal as well. We try to downplay the part about us being couple and married, but there’s no way around it … we are! That said, we want the work to speak for itself, and I really think there are songs on our record that don’t really sound quite like anything else like anything else. It’s a true collaboration with us, usually starting with her full arrangement and chords for a song and me finishing the vocal lines we share and trade and most of the lyrics. She’s the reason I made that Transatlantic move five years ago, and I’m super glad that I did. Follow your heart indeed.

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