Review: Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free

Jason Isbell - Something More Than Free

Is Jason Isbell the best songwriter of his generation?

The former Drive-By Truckers member certainly made a case for the affirmative on Southeastern, his breakthrough solo LP from 2013. Southeastern was the kind of remarkable record that only grows in stature, importance, and personal impact over time. Written in the wake of Isbell getting sober and taking control of his life, Southeastern was at once both mournful and hopeful. Within those songs was a man with a suitcase full of doubts about himself, but also someone with the resilience to push forward and be better—at least with the helping hand of the person he loved most. “Home was a dream, one that I’d never seen, until you came along,” Isbell sang on “Cover Me Up,” Southeastern’s stirring mission statement, and the best song of the decade so far. He wrote it for Amanda Shires, the woman he married just months before Southeastern dropped, and the person he credits with saving him from the darkness.

NOW.HERE Stream ‘New Perspective’ EP

I recently came across this Italian pop-punk band called NOW.HERE. Usually when I hit play on a band labeled “pop-punk” cynicism gets the best of me. My history with the genre is as old as my history online and most of the time I just sort of feel like I’ve heard it all before and that nothing can excite me in this space anymore. Then I stumbled onto the new EP by NOW.HERE. These four songs, crafted by 5 kids from Italy, hit me in a way that very little in the genre has in years. There’s an urgency and energy that reads as authentic and fresh to me. I went from “man, this would be my favorite find if I was in high-school” to “I keep coming back to this more than I expected” to “fuck, this is really good” to “see, I still do like pop-punk” to “yeah, this is one of my favorite finds in a while.” If you’re looking for a great pop-punk EP or maybe just looking for something to relight that air-guitaring jump-kicking part of your soul — start with NOW.HERE.

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Interview: Butch Walker

Butch Walker

Last week, I got a chance to chat extensively with a personal hero of mine, Butch Walker. We talked about Butch’s new album, Afraid of Ghosts, including how the recent loss of his father inspired a new direction for his music, why he decided to have Ryan Adams produce the disc, and why his trademark sarcasm and upbeat songwriting is nowhere to be found. We also touched upon Walker’s back catalog, the woeful reasons why no one should be expecting to find Letters on vinyl anytime soon, whether or not The Black Widows will be making music again in the future, and why Butch’s protege Jake Sinclair took over most of the production duties on the new Fall Out Boy LP.

Recommendation: Logitech UE Mini-Boom

Logitech UE Mini-Boom

For Christmas I got a few Amazon gift cards, and because these things apparently just burn a hole in my mind — I decided to buy myself a couple presents with them.

One of those was the Logitech UE Mini-Boom.

The problem I was trying to solve was how to give myself a very easy way to listen to podcasts while in the shower / getting ready in the bathroom. The rest of my place has speakers where I can be anywhere and hear them with clarity; however, the bathroom (especially with the shower running) drowns out almost all of the sound. So, I wanted something I could easily listen to while in the shower or shaving. And how’s this device solve that problem? With flying colors.

Recommended Blog Reading

motifsinthecity asked:

You’ve mentioned several websites that have become staples in my morning Feedly reading. I was wondering if you had plans for a “Recommendation Post” like your technology one—a post that culls together a list of your essential morning reading for news on tech, art, pop-culture, etc. Personally, I’d find something like that invaluable.

Thanks for the compliment! Here’s a rundown of websites and authors I read practically every day (most of these I subscribe to via RSS, some of them I browse). I’ll try and keep this updated when new things get added into my daily routine.

Recommended Podcasts

Podcast

Podcasts have become one of my favorite ways to pass the time. I’ve compiled a list of my favorites and these span a variety of fields and interests. I’ll keep this list updated on a regular basis. I think there’s an argument to be made that I’ve received a better education from subscribing to podcasts than I did in school.

Recommendation: Elevation Labs’ Anchor

I wrote about Elevation Labs’ “Headphone Anchor” when they were doing their Kickstarter campaign. Last week my order showed up. Since my new computer came last week as well, I decided it was a good time to clean out my office and work on decluttering. I installed the new headphone anchor under my desk and so far it’s been brilliant. I love having my headphones at arms reach without them sitting out on the desk. The anchor’s adhesive feels strong and secure but I used two tiny screws to double down on security. If you’ve got a home office and are looking for a good, simple, solution to storing your headphones — I’d definitely recommend picking one up.

First Impression: Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues

Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues

About one minute into the lead track, front-woman Laura Jane Grace snarls, “you want them to notice the ragged ends of your summer dress, you want them to see you like they see every other girl, they just see a faggot, they’ll hold their breath not to catch the sick” … and the gauntlet is thrown down. What Against Me!’s new album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, offers is a mixture of attitude and bravado that pulls together an emotion, weight, and gravitas that I’ve felt missing from music for a while. The lyrics contain something actually worth saying and while the sing-a-long choruses may get stuck in your head, there’s an underlying message that expels itself in a way unique to music — one that travels from head to heart and leads to rumination long after the guitars and drums dissipate.