Rob Smith reviews sounds that sustained him in 2015, in his new “Vinyl Diaries.”
Rob Smith remembers his father, in his new “Vinyl Diaries” column.
Rob Smith explores some fine 2014 vinyl releases.
Rob Smith pens a love letter to indie record stores, and the “American Hustle” soundtrack.
“The Vinyl Diaries” and Popdose GIVEAWAY: Allman Brothers’s new box set!
Rob Smith declares his love of Air Supply in his new “Vinyl Diaries” column.
Remember when Aerosmith’s Music from Another Dimension was supposed to be the band’s return to rockin’ form, a Seventies-style throwback to the groovin’, Stonesy, Yardbirdsy, slap-happy lewdness of Toys and Rocks, complete with the full-album return of Jack Douglas, who’d been behind the boards for those early high-water marks? Remember when, with the exception of Douglas’ return, it wasn’t any of those things? Did we believe them? How could we believe them? How could we believe that Perry, Tyler, and the other three dudes (who don’t get to wander the catwalk), could channel their most triumphant moments as young men, into the creepy, over-slick mannequins they’ve become in their dotage? How could fans view the record as anything other than a cash-grab in the wake of Tyler’s American Idol experiment, or as an excuse to light out upon another headlining shed tour? And how could fans view the ballad “Can’t Stop Lovin’ You”—a duet with Carrie-freakin’-Underwood—as anything other than a thumb in the eye, a knee to the groin, and a full-body coating of methanethiol …
A journal entry, October 28, 2013, evening (later amended). It figured, the last sound you made for others would be a drone, 20 minutes of drone and guitar and poetry (half spoken, half somewhat sung), after 70 minutes before that of misshapen sound, noise and words that never quite melded, barely even intersected, your compatriots in the endeavor just as confused about your intentions as anyone who would, in the ensuing months, stumble into listening to the mess. The mess you made, the mess you made them make. Dissonance, without being dissonant. The poetry made sense to you, though. The poetry in the words, yes, but also the poetry in the drone, in the sound, in frequency and volume, in the ability to resonate. To make sound, to sympathetically vibrate and cause others to vibrate as well. You did this and it all made sense to you. The poetry of resonance. The poetry within the resonance. It moved through you, moved through your body, your bruised, shrinking body, eaten from within by parts of itself …
Since maybe late February (when it leaked online), my favorite record of the year has been the Flaming Lips’ The Terror. The record’s unyielding tone of desperation and desolation appeals to me. Its abstraction and noise play nicely with the cacophony one might experience in one’s head, particularly when one finds him- or herself in a particularly despairing mood, for whatever reason (or no reason at all), in which every voice encountered, every sentiment expressed, every attempt made at connection, everything slips down a hole somewhere inside one’s heart and disappears. Everything tastes sour. Everything sounds like static, like Psychocandy and Loveless, with melodies extracted from them, turned up way too loud. The Terror finds space in the fuzz, like a seed in soil, germinating in all directions. Still, The Terror is merely an acknowledgement, proof of life inside and outside the noise. What it isn’t is a balm—an agent of comfort. For that, one might turn to new records by Americana artists I have long revered—Steve Earle (The Low Highway), Patty Griffin (American Kid), …
Rob Smith ruminates on high school, time, energy, and U2.
Rob Smith reflects on R.E.M. in the latest “Vinyl Diaries.”
Rob Smith takes the guilt out of guilty pleasures and proclaims his love for Juice Newton.
Rob Smith meditates on memory, music, and the Beatles in “The Vinyl Diaries.”
Rob Smith’s “Vinyl Diaries”: Billy Joel, “The Nylon Curtain”
Rob Smith finds “High Adventure” with Kenny Loggins.
Rob Smith contemplates Bob Dylan in “The Vinyl Diaries.”
Dan Fogelberg, reconsidered, in “The Vinyl Diaries.”
Some Gibby action going on in Rob Smith’s “The Vinyl Diaries.”
Yes’ “Close to the Edge” is a thing of beauty, at least in Rob Smith’s “The Vinyl Diaries.”
Southern rock’s studio pros make their finest record.
Rob Smith’s Vinyl Diaries explores Bruce Springsteen’s “Tunnel of Love.”
Rob Smith’s new vinyl column opens with E.L.O.’s disco record, “Discovery.”