The Brooklyn band The Antlers frequently finds inspiration in dark places: On 2009's Hospice, singer-guitarist Peter Silberman reflects on terminal illness and emotional abuse, while this year's Familiars turns the Buddhist notion of bardo, a state of being between incarnations, into the impetus for a dialog about multiple selves.
Originally published on Mon July 14, 2014 12:01 pm
When Kwok-Ming Cheng went to a Whole Foods in New York City to pick up some pre-ordered sandwiches over the Fourth of July weekend, he wasn't expecting to get tapped with a new nickname.
"Are you Ching Chong?"
That's the question Cheng said he heard from a customer service representative at the grocery store.
It's a slur I and many other Asian-American folks have heard at some point in our lives. But every time I hear it, I can't help but wonder, "How is this thing still around? And where did it even come from?"
Music is at its most potent when it expands, dissolves, changes and challenges borders. Separations of genre, geography, politics — none are a force more powerful than people getting together to make music in a room. That borderlessness is sewn into the fabric of the self-titled debut album by Alvvays, a Toronto band whose beach-pop seems to come straight from the California shore.
Never Hungover Again begins with a cold open — just a one-second chord and vocalist/guitarist Barry Johnson "looking at your face in the dark" — of a lanky pop song that already seems to be in progress. Joyce Manor has never been one to extend the drama, with albums shorter than it takes to watch an episode of Space Ghost Coast to Coast; the punk band can pack an emotional wallop with as much as a yelp.