Category Features

THE COST OF A SONG: HONKY TONK HEARTBREAKER JAMES HAND DIES AT 67

Texas troubadour James Hand, a reverent Country & Western traditionalist whose music sounded beamed in from an earlier age of rodeos and radios — and who, later in life, enjoyed success and won a devoted following of fans, musicians, and critics — died early yesterday morning at a hospital in Waco, Texas, surrounded by his […]

Smashing Mirrors & Smashed Guitars: Pete Townshend, Purveyor Of Power Chords, Turns Seventy Five

The sentiment of my original story still holds. Happy 75th Birthday, Mr. Townshend, and many more.  So glad you didn’t die before you got old. You had so much more to say and do. And in turn, over the years you’ve certainly inspired me (and many others) to listen to, live through, and reflect upon, […]

FROM SCUD MOUNTAINS TO CHAPPAQUIDICK SKYLINES: The Geography Of Joe Pernice + Hick Rock With The Lonesome Bros

“I hate my life,” Joe Pernice confides with a strange, almost carnal tenderness. “Don’t be alarmed if someday soon you hear I’ve gone away.” Before the song’s over, he’ll change the “if” to “when”, and as the tune dissolves into the distance, Pernice sounds more certain than ever.

Leaving Traces and Circles Around The Sun: Farewell Neal Casal (1968-2019)

Neal Casal was a multi-tasking, multi-genre musical threat: a fine singer, composer, and detail-oriented storyteller; a fluid and lyrical lead player as well as bedrock-solid rhythm guitarist; and an unassuming personality who proved a versatile sideman and good-natured complement to the legends and stars in the spotlight.

A LATE BLOOMER IN FULL FLOWER: Becoming Asa Brebner (1953-2019)

“I don’t believe in God, but I believe in music and sharing that with other people. That’s kind of my religion. If I have a religion, that’s what it is.”
— Asa Brebner

SECRET WINDFALLS & DIAMONDS DOWN THE DRAIN: The Vinyl Skyway’s Long Cool Journey

Time always seemed to stand still whenever one of The Vinyl Skyway’s songs would crackle to life on the radio inside my parents’ car on a cold-as-chrome winter’s afternoon. I remember being 14 and hunched toward the gleaming dashboard dial as if receiving a secret transmission. There was always something inviting, if somehow slightly baleful, […]

A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock & Roll: Whiskeytown, Uncle Tupelo, and the Torched Twang of Americana

Despite its recent arrival as a charted radio format, Americana is nothing new. In fact, its very existence is predicated on the past. Rock & roll has always been an untidy bastard — rooted as much in outlaw country as it is in backporch blues or jukejoint R&B. Just listen to early Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Eddie Cochran, or Chuck Berry.

OLD GODS HIDING IN LONG GRASS: The Clientele’s Music for the Age of Miracles

Oh, hi there! Don’t mind the bobbing balloons and confetti streaming about, kids. We’re just having a little party. You see, here in the comfy, wood-paneled confines of RPM HQ, we’ve been celebrating the fact that one of our most beloved bands of the past fifteen-plus years, the Clientele, are back — at least for […]

CHRIS BELL’S PURE POP COSMOS: Big Star’s Other Bright Light

News that a biography and at least three vinyl compilations of the work of Big Star co-founder Chris Bell are coming out this year — including “The Complete Chris Bell,” a massive six-LP (!) retrospective due July 7 by Omnivore Recordings (the same folks who’ve issued some tasty Big Star releases in recent years, including […]

BROKEN BISCUITS & A STROKE OF LUCK: How Corin Ashley Picked Up The Pieces To Assemble The Most Challenging Music Of His Life, and Made Himself Whole Again

“Then, on January 6, 2016, an awful thing most 40-somethings like Ashley don’t ever think about happening – because it would be too awful to ponder – happened. Corin suffered a stroke that paralyzed the playing fingers of his left hand and all but wiped out his vocal cords in one felling swoop. Suddenly, just like that, from a hospital bed far away from the stages he had stood on since he was a teenager in cover bands, Ashley didn’t know if he’d ever speak again, much less sing or play. “

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