I write about music.
A selection of my work can be found below. Each image and title is a link.
“Is punk dead?”
I’ve typically found this refrain loathsome and lazy. Despite my ongoing aversion to the utterance, it was front and center in my own (traitor) brain during the week leading up to Home Sick 2.
You see, after almost forty years, the punk institution known as Maximum Rocknroll announced that the zine would cease printing in 2019. The notion hit me hard. I recalled being fourteen and seeing MRR for the first time as a young teenager and traced from there to the first time I saw the rows and rows of green-taped records myself. It felt like a death.
It’s 8pm in Southern California, the night before Punk Rock Bowling kicks off in Las Vegas: do you know where the local punks are? You might assume they’re all somewhere between another vegan straight-edge food stop and pure Barstow bat country; in reality, a number of them are sticking close to home and swimming in the perks of perfect proximity.
As podcasts have exploded into the mainstream over the last few years, the breadth and depth of DIY podcasts has expanded. With topics ranging from true crime to self-help, it’s almost impossible to not discover something for every interest.
Alexander Edward, the creator of That Awful Sound and Minion Death Cult, has a knack for turning what was once the fodder of late nights and group text messages into accessible podcasts on bad music and worse politics. While That Awful Sound currently speaks best to a millennial demographic, the practice of examining nostalgia through the amused and refined perspective of today has the potential to be familiar to anyone.
I recently sat down with Alexander to talk about everything from loveable, bad music and Minions to the alt-right and the weird places all three intersect.
One of my first shows of 2017 was on Martin Luther King Jr. day, four days before Donald Trump’s inauguration. Composite’s lead singer, Sami, had printed copies of King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” and made them available for the [mostly white] crowd. I knew then that, thanks to both their music and their willingness to combine personal, political, and live music, Composite would be a band worth following.
Composite’s discography is not yet robust but it is a fine example of quality over quantity. I recently sat down with the band to discuss their origins, the intersections of community and politics, and even got a brief botany and art history lesson. Composite earns their name as inspiration and knowledge among the members is diverse and far-reaching.
The first time I saw Midnite Snaxxx (or, “the Snaxxx”) I gave their self-titled 2012 LP a spin before the show and was immediately blown away by the sheer fun contained in their sound. The band that made that album no longer exists. All current members—save for lead singer, and primary songwriter, Dulcinea—can call Chew On This their Midnite Snaxxx full-length debut.
The aforementioned sense of sheer fun remains but it’s the kind of fun cultivated out of necessity, insulation against the weariness that can easily consume us all and especially those who many try to shove to the margins of society. The sonic landscape of the band’s output has subtly expanded—some song topics are more explicitly serious and they’re further boosted by the addition of a second guitar, not to mention bass lines that bounce between supporting character and lead role.
The importance of solidarity to the Snaxxx became increasingly obvious as we talked roots (past and present) and why representation matters, maybe now more than ever, across race and age lines.
Since the release of their self-titled EP in 2015, Super Unison has quickly proven to be a great combination of seasoned musicians, capable of combining shared and disparate roots alike to form a path that feels both comfortingly familiar and refreshing.
Meghan O’Neil Pennie (vocals and bass, ex-Punch), Justin Renninger (drums, ex-Snowing), and Kevin DeFranco (guitar, ex-Dead Seeds) form a sound that brings to mind post-hardcore with riot grrrl leanings—think elements of early Sleater-Kinney and Fugazi—while tossing in a slight undercurrent of math and shoegaze.
I recently sat down with Meghan to talk about Super Unison’s formation, process, and making music in the San Francisco Bay Area. Known for myriad unlike things—punk and tech, high rent and 924 Gilman—the Bay Area has long been a unique backdrop for massive amounts of consistently relevant creative output. As prices continue to rise and feelings toward Gilman shift, I especially appreciated the perspective of a steadfast native on what it looks like to stay put.