John Amen is the author of five collections of poetry, including Illusion of an Overwhelm, a finalist for the 2018 Brockman-Campbell Award. He founded and edits Pedestal Magazine.
Smoke and Stars: YOB’s Our Raw HeartBy John Amen
Emerging in 2002 with Elaborations of Carbon, YOB mined the sub-genre of doom metal, with Mike Scheidt’s lyrics frequently indecipherable, his voice ranging from a whispery snarl to a trebly howl to a demonic roar.
Kristina Esfandiari's Songs of SorrowBy John Amen
Whatever methods she embraces going forward, I can't imagine that she'll stray far from a continued study and articulation of our fundamental ambivalences: how our chief relationship is with the unknown, corporeal and existential; so much bliss, so much trauma; so much beyond our control.
Dommengang: Derivative OriginalityBy John Amen
Dommengangs latest iteration, No Keys, released in May of this year, shows the band stepping confidently into its own brand of derivative originality, sources apparent yet successfully reconfigured, their particular hybridizations, use of melody, and sublime instrumentation resulting in a sequence at once distinct and tributary: an album for avant-gardists and traditionalists alike.
The Revitalization of Caspar BrötzmannBy John Amen
On the introductory track of The Tribe, Eduardo Delgado-Lopez on bass and Jon Beuth on drums establish a stable rhythmic structure into which Brötzmann explodes with a bouncy and pseudo-riffy guitar part that soon segues into more sinister ambient intonations. Toward the end of the track, Brötzmann unleashes a chaotic melody that could easily have served as the mold for Kurt Cobains solo on In Bloom.
A Soundtrack for the Age of ImmanenceBy John Amen
Configuração do Lamento, the 2016 debut from instrumental band Deafkids, is an incendiary meld of punk, ambient metal, progressive sonics, and adrenalized percussion. The group crafts compelling tracks that highlight varying aspects of their multifaceted sound. The album opens with Veia Aberta, featuring a jackhammer rhythm and choppy guitar riff reminiscent of Bleach-era Nirvana, segueing into a drone punctuated by grunts and groans filtered through a multitude of effects.
Zeal & Ardor’s Visionary DiptychBy John Amen
I’ve always been wary of supplementary info—CVs, mission statements, explanatory notes—preferring to encounter a work on its own terms and without critical biases.
Dan Bejar’s Latest IterationBy John Amen
With ken, his twelfth studio release, Dan Bejar, frontman of Destroyer, reiterates his signature style of balancing elusiveness and accessibility—lyrically and sonically.
The Best Band You Never Heard Of: Vanishing Twin's Global AestheticBy John Amen
A listener is well-advised to approach the band's offerings as de facto political statements, performative partnerships that represent models for how the world might realistically embrace otherness, transcending the perennial drive for national, political, and psychological borders.
Originality and Derivation
By John Amen
Sondre Lerche’s Pleasure
Sondre Lerche’s 2002 debut, Faces Down, and 2004 follow-up, Two Way Monologue, displayed his distinct skill for crafting pop hooks, frequently exhibiting the influence of Paul McCartney (Re: melody) and Nick Drake (Re: atmospherics).