“Let It Be”: The Replacements, Generation X, and Sexuality 30 Years Later


"If they hadn't come along I think we would have to invent them somehow," impressively bearded writer Robert Voedisch told filmmakers in 2011’s Color Me Obsessed. Sprawling over two hours, the documentary captures the feelings of affection, disbelief, and for many fans in regard to the last few albums, despair, that the infamous Minneapolis postpunk band the Replacements inspired. Indeed, the level of reverence that fans hold for a band clearly defined by irreverence remains palpable. They were a 1980s Velvet Underground, notes one; they may have sold few records, but everyone who picked one up joined a band. “The great existential heroes of American Indie rock,” Titus Andronicus lead singer … [Read more...]

Album 88: Historically Right on the Music, Presently Leaving the Dial

save WRAS

Since 1971, Georgia State University has hosted an important Atlanta cultural institution—one that has created a positive relationship between the University and the city (and the general metro area). WRAS, known as Album 88, has allowed GSU students to bring their musical discoveries to Atlanta listeners. In doing so, this student-run radio station has been a touchstone for the local community for over four decades. What began as a 20,000 watt local college station has become a 100,000 watt megaphone for independent music in Atlanta and beyond. In the past 43 years, student volunteers at Georgia State University have had a voice in shaping the local and national music scene. During this … [Read more...]

Notably Decent Indie Rock: Meet the Counterfactuals

counterfactuals minimally decent people

ToM Best of 2013 There’s something very charming about the thought of a band of philosopher-musicians. Enter the Counterfactuals, a band whose members hail from Carleton and St. Olaf Colleges in Northfield, Minnesota. Songwriter, vocalist, and rhythm guitarist Daniel Groll specializes in normative and biomedical ethics at Carleton. Lead guitarist and Carleton philosopher Jason Decker may be most entertainingly described in his own words: “After refusing to vacate his office, he was hired as a tenure track professor, starting in the fall of 2008.” Drummer Mike Fuerstein teaches at St. Olaf, where he tackles epistemological issues in politics and the sciences and makes time to take American … [Read more...]

Filtering Music through a ToM Lens


"Starting with the affirmation of man/ I work myself backwards using cynicism," Mike Watt sings on the Minutemen's classic track "The Glory of Man." "I live sweat, I dream light years/ I am the tide - the rise and fall." For many of our writers individuals like Mike Watt and bands like the Shins or rap groups like Das Racist have served as a means to connect and filter our understanding of late 20th  and early 21st century culture and history. Needless to say it was a veritable red letter day when Watt tweeted at ToM regarding an article we had written about the band.  Undoubtedly, Watt remains a testament to the ethos of the hardcore punk movement—"Punk rock is an idea, not a musical … [Read more...]

Inauthentic Authenticity: Ian Svenonius and the Challenge of Indie Rock Satire in an MP3 World


Saturday night, Washington D.C., a stone’s throw from one of D.C. hardcore’s central nodes and the playground of Nation of Ulysses (NOU) front man Ian Svenonius: the Embassy in Mt. Pleasant.  In the late 1980s and 1990s, Svenonius, NOU, and other D.C. punks used to gather at the Embassy to discuss music, politics, and agit prop, even serving as an ally to the Riot Grrrl movement when Kathleen Hanna and others left Washington for a sojourn to the capital in what for many, became a transformative experience.   Tonight, though, sitting in independent book store Politics and Prose and waiting for Svenonius to appear from on high to assault us with his latest philosophical tract, the shop hums … [Read more...]

Economic Hardcore: Remembering the Minutemen Nearly 30 Years Later


[Editor's Note: For more on punk, hardcore, rap, hip hop, and other ToM music commentary see here] In 1984, British-born director Alex Cox released the now cult classic Repo Man.  The movie, influenced by punk rock and hardcore, filtered the sensibilities of those musical forms through film, illustrating a stark contrast with the commercialism of early 1980s Reaganite America.  White suburban punk Otto (Emilio Estevez) moves through the city as a newly minted repo man, repossessing vehicles his fellow Angelenos have failed to pay for.  While the movie takes aim at rampant consumerism and pokes fun at the aesthetics and tenets of punk and hardcore, it also left many critics impressed with … [Read more...]

Tropics of Meta’s Best of 2012


It has been a big year for us at ToM, as we rebooted and redesigned the site back in March and welcomed many new contributors.  (Hi, Jude, Lauren, Maryann, Nick, Adam, John, Jonathyne, & co.)  We were also lucky to see several of our pieces circulated more broadly in the online world, such as Alex’s look at the politics of Atlanta’s Beltline, Ryan’s analysis of sexuality in the films of Wes Anderson, and our roundtable discussion of Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln.  Meanwhile, the manic, occasionally psychotic antics of the US election cycle prompted both mild laceration from our friend Clement, who covered the presidential conventions and debates, as well as the periodic spike in interest in … [Read more...]

Aimee Mann Is Not Pleased with Your Progress: Best of 2012 Part IV

aimee mann scowl

As part of ToM's Best of 2012 our contributors reflect on books, movies, music, and other pop culture stand-by's that they discovered this year, no matter when their source of inspiration originated.  Click here for parts 1, 2, and 3. Charmer seems like a deliberately inappropriate title for an Aimee Mann album; almost any record from her catalog could just as easily have been called Downer. Mann certainly plays the scold throughout her 2012 offering, in songs such as “Gumby” (“Don’t call me/You should call your daughter”), “Barfly” (“You won’t get high/you’ll only get down”), and “Labrador” (“I come back from more, but you laughed in my face and you rubbed it in”). It is like hearing … [Read more...]

Indie Rock Rhyme: A Look Back at the Year in Hip Hop


Tired of these rappers, tired of these jackers Tired of these dances by these fucking backpackers And I'm sick of all these hipsters - A$AP Rocky, “Leaf” When A$AP Rocky released his mix tape in 2011, it became one of the soundtracks for the year. I remember hearing it bumping in DC’s Dupont Circle on the way up to the city’s hippie/hipster/young professional neighborhood Adams Morgan.  For all his apparent disdain for hipsters and backpackers, some of 2012’s best releases seem to be akin to counterparts in indie rock - the very genre A$AP’s Rocky’s villains inhabit.  While not entirely new, hip hop, like indie rock today, increasingly seems to be dividing into niches.  You still have … [Read more...]

The Relentless Pace of Hipsterdom: A Day at Pitchfork Music Festival Paris


[Editor's note: Please welcome Greg Spivak to ToM.  All photos appearing here were taken by Mr. Spivak, we encourage you to click on them to see them at full size and resolution.] In French there is no equivalent for “hipster.” Recently the term has been adopted by the French press, with articles describing this American idea of “le hipster”; slowly, the word is starting to lose its italicized status as a new loan word along with les has-been, les best-of and les lifting (fine, the last is a strange Gallic deformation of "face-lift"). The closest the French come is the bobo, which, although coined by David Brooks, moved to, settled, and thrived in France -- talk shows speak endlessly of … [Read more...]


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