TODD SIMMONS lives in Brooklyn and has been writing for the Rail since 2003.
JUL-AUG 2013 | Music
At the beginning of 2013, #DavidBowie wasnt exactly a trending topic. But a week later, with the sudden release of The Next Day, his name was exploding across the Internet in a stampede of chatter.
JUL-AUG 2012 | Music
Theres nothing quite like a highway road trip to exorcise a creative malaise. When J. Tillman motored away from his grey Seattle home, he was looking to shatter an immobilizing depression and the bleak confines of his prior solo work. Steering his van out of King County with no destination in mind, he was determined to find the fun in his wound-licking music again.
APR 2011 | Music
The clear-cut missive appeared on Radioheads website on Valentines Day morning and set the blogging gears of anticipation into motion. Once again, these wizards of misdirection were pulling a rabbit out of their hat.
NOV 2009 | Music
It happened 20 years ago, a few turbulent years before Nirvana accidentally led alternative musics charge onto mainstream radio and MTV, puzzling record executives everywhere.
NOV 2008 | Music
David Byrne has been a busy downtown icon these last several decades, which is how long its taken him and producer/non-musician Brian Eno to get around to recording the follow-up to 1981s My Life in the Bush of Ghosts.
APR 2007 | Music
What started as a spring record-release preview has abruptly morphed into a breakdown of what’s been getting me through my post foot-surgery recuperation and inevitable late-winter cabin fever.
JUN 2007 | Music
It’s a drag when the band you’ve been aching to see gets booked into an antiseptic venue that’s sullied by glaring advertisements, metal detectors, incongruous pre-show muzak, and corporate naming rights that obstruct the view.
DEC 07-JAN 08 | Music
Its ancient history at this point that Radiohead released their first new record in four years with a pay-what-you-want download on their website, months in advance of a standard release.
SEPT 2006 | Music
On a recent Friday night at Webster Hall, Os Mutantes made their first-ever appearance on a U.S. stage. Thirty years after the Brazilian band’s original lineup split, they were back in remarkable form with a ten-piece band that literally entranced the crowd, while showing the Beck fans in the audience who it was that paved the way to his postmodern sound.
MAY 2005 | Music
Despite the fact that his career peaked more than fifty years ago, Django Reinhardt is still the barometer by which all Gypsy jazz guitarists are measured. In the 1999 Woody Allen film Sweet and Lowdown, Sean Penn plays a Gypsy guitarist tormented by living in the shadow of the legendary Django. In the film, the tragically comic, talented, yet troubled Emmet Ray is obsessed with the notion that he is the second best Gypsy guitarist alive.
DEC 05-JAN 06 | Music
In strange and sinister times like these, its not surprising that Americas funkiest indie-rock band has a name like Weird War.
JUL-AUG 2004 | Music
Despite naming themselves after an archduke whose assassination sparked the inferno of World War I, Franz Ferdinand are way beyond a cheeky in-joke. Theyre a tightly coiled dance-punk band with a striking sense of melody, overflowing with clever songs and infectious hooks.
MAR 2012 | Music
Somewhere off I-5 in the woods south of Portlandia, James Angell, Oregons wizard of psychedelic pop, is probably tinkering in his home studio and thinking, Its still your move, David Bowie.
NOV 2012 | Music
As a fan of rock’s weirder, wilder elements, I’d been eager to experience an All Tomorrow’s Parties festival since ATP’s inception 12 years ago in England. Eclectic rosters of avant-rock, post-punk, alt-R&B, proto-grunge, obscure reunions, and name-your-genre bands have been on the British festival’s docket for more than a decade in remote locations around the world.
JUL-AUG 2010 | Music
LCD Soundsystem and Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings are on the road this summer promoting their excellent new albums. The two veteran bands are also serving notice that the moniker the Borough of Kings now refers to Brooklyns decade-plus creative streak and continued critical dominance.
MAR 2008 | Music
Portland, Oregon, may be crawling with bands lately, but at least there's usually an extra musician floating around when you need one. For former Pavement leader Stephen Malkmus, changing drummers in his current band, the Jicks, may have been the key to making their outstanding new album Real Emotional Trash.
FEB 2007 | Music
On his new triple album, Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards, Tom Waits has re-asserted his place among the vanguard of daring and fiercely independent American recording artists.
MAY 2007 | Music
Just when I thought I’d finally turned the corner in my post-foot-surgery convalescence, I developed a staphylococcus aureus infection. You might know this as a “staph” infection.
SEPT 2007 | Music
Less than ten years since the release of their self-titled debut album, Queens of the Stone Age have presented us with LP number five.
JUL-AUG 2006 | Music
Scott Walker’s forty-year evolution from a Swinging London pop singer to the somber genius behind the feel-bad record of the summer is as thoroughgoing, and as startling, as any in modern music history.
NOV 2006 | Music
Its not easy to describe the buzz you catch off the music that James Angell cooks up. Im not referring to industry buzz, because up until recently the music business has had their collective blinders on regarding Angells mesmerizing brand of classically influenced lounge rock. ...
OCT 2005 | Music
After sustaining what has been called “heavy damage” at the Fairgrounds Racetrack in New Orleans (such as having the roof of the grandstands torn off by 100-mph-plus winds), the organizers of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, more commonly known as Jazz Fest, have announced that they intend to hold the event as usual in 2006.
MAR 2004 | Music
onny Greenwood has always been adept at crafting moody, cinematic music. As the lead guitarist and gadget-master of Radiohead, hes helped to create songs like "Exit Music for a Film" and "Motion Picture Soundtrack." Now hes indulged his filmic instincts even further with the compelling score to Bodysong, a British documentary about the cycle of life.
NOV 2003 | Music
Out of Season Sanctuary Records
On the evocative album Out Of Season, the first sound one hears is a rising gust of wind. Those familiar with Beth Gibbonss work with Bristols trip-hop pioneers Portishead wont interpret this as a gentle, summer breeze but rather as an ominous sign of things to come.