Robby Hecht’s New Song, “Old Radio”

Bracing for nostalgia, I was surprised to find that Robby Hecht’s “Old Radio” is as much about the future as the past. The chorus may sound like something you’ve heard before. Some of it you have. Hecht rhymes “fly/high/cry” and “long ago/low/radio.” These sets of words are frequent co-workers in song. One could call them […]

Mon Rovîa Finds a Way Back with “Don’t Lose A Good Thing”

Change is the heart of Mon Rovîa’s “Don’t Lose a Good Thing.” The song pleads, “Change with me, baby.” Mon Rovîa sings the line with as much intensity as any more standard love song plaint, like “Kiss me” or “Don’t leave.” There’s room for those, too, sometimes you do have to beg. But acknowledging that […]

Hit the Cement: An Essay On Commitment

When the first mic stand fell, I saw the singer hesitate. He had taken the microphone in hand to sing into the faces of the crowd – a good move. Nobody was dancing, and the band (Films on Song, whom I’ve praised elsewhere) was giving us plenty of reason to. Since we weren’t coming to […]

The Mountain Goats Witness a “Murder at the 18th Street Garage”

The Mountain Goats don’t need me to tell you that they have a new album, Jenny From Thebes, out October 27. The need is in me. I have to tell somebody Jenny is back. In her prior appearances in the Mountain Goats catalogue, Jenny is a vanishing figure. Even in the song named for her, […]

Inspiration and Imitation

Inspiration is a beat-up word – people can’t decide whether it’s the origin of artistic creativity, or a mythic state invented to give people an excuse not to work at art. I like it, though, as a word for the breath you take in when something makes you gasp. I take that gasp as a […]

Films on Song Leave Room for Imagination in “Gnome”

“Gnome” is a song about killer gnomes. What I like about it, and about the work of Charlottesville band Films on Song generally, is its emotional realism. Songwriters Jonathan Teeter and Francis McKee collage stock images from science fiction with snippets of everyday speech, making stories set in someone else’s dream of your hometown. I […]

The Refuge and Rush of Imani Graham’s “Just Stay for Once”

Imani Graham’s “Just Stay For Once” is urgent and comforting at the same time. The lyrics are direct: they ask for what they want. Tender yet demanding, they refuse to permit any evasion. They’re loving, but fed up with the beloved’s wishy-washy nonsense. The rhythm drives, lead-footed, and does not let up on the gas. […]

The Arcadian Wild Wraps a Story Around Your Shoulders

“Shoulders” by The Arcadian Wild begins with Lincoln Mick telling us a story. We took off in my plane. Most of what I have to say about this song is praise for how well-built its story is, so you had better listen to it before I give it away: In the first verse, rhyme unites […]

The New Pornographers present “Pontius Pilate’s Home Movies”

I rely on The New Pornographers for peculiar and beautiful songs, messages I can never decode but somehow understand anyway. “Pontius Pilate’s Home Movies,” from their ninth album, Continue as a Guest, is a mosaic. A. C. Newman’s lyrics give us fragments of activity, fragments of landscape, occasional fragments of commentary (“beautiful, I guess.”) It […]

The Moving Stills Find Delight on the “Westside”

Why did the Moving Stills call this song “Westside”? Not just because they’re touring (though, yes: at the time of this typing, the Australian band is wrapping up its “Westside” tour.) Titles are a kind of signpost: they can tell you where to focus in a song. “Westside” points to the geography of “distant love.” […]

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