I'm an award winning journalist, critic, and producer with over 15 years of experience covering music, culture, style, and politics across digital, print, and video for Esquire, Pitchfork, GQ, VICE, Playboy, MTV News, and Entertainment Weekly.
In 2017 I won the Webby People’s Voice award in Animation for Pitchfork.tv’s “A Brief History of Goth” (directed by Joren Cull). I'm a former contributing editor at Esquire, former music columnist for the Chicago Reader, and the only professional music critic to share a songwriting credit with Cat Power.
I'm an expert in the history of pop music and youth culture going back to the early 20th century, and a keen observer of the intersection between art and technology.
One time Cheech Marin called me "hilarious."
Back in September, a blue-checkmark Salem account appeared on Instagram with a YouTube link to a forty-minute-long mixtape called . The following week a video post appeared of the duo's Jack Donoghue driving a pickup truck through a nighttime lightning storm, scored by a delicate, uncharacteristically tender, synthpop-inflected ballad, along with the caption "SALEM - STARFALL *OUT NOW*."
This article appears in FLOOD 11: The Action Issue . You can purchase the magazine here . All proceeds benefit NIVA (National Independent Venue Alliance) and their efforts to save independent venues across the United States. #SaveOurStages A city's soul is expressed through its politics, and Chicago's is full of paradoxes.
With the help of Native Instruments, Michael Brun provides the Haitian music community get access to equipment and education. A big artist in the global electronic music scene, Michael Brun's passion goes far beyond music and NI loves to support initiatives around the world that provide an outlet for creativity.
"I DON'T want to be a rock star," says Jennifer Herrema, America's greatest living rock star. And what is a rock star these days, really? The term's been degraded and neutered with overuse, its totemic influence sapped by rock's downfall from the position of power it held in global pop culture for half a century.
A video series I scripted for Pitchfork exploring the history of Chicago through five key years between 1966 and 1998.
How America's benzo habit has reshaped pop culture. Fifty million prescriptions for alprazolam - Xanax's generic name - were filled in the U.S. in 2013, making it the most prescribed psychiatric medication in the country. Prescriptions were rising by nearly 10 percent a year back then, with no indication of slowing down, so 2018 numbers ...
9:07 PM The amphitheater at Arcosanti is built to hold about 1500 people, but tonight there are only a dozen or so people hanging around watching Hundred Waters soundcheck and enjoying the cool, dry nighttime desert air.
The afternoon before my interview with photographer Ed Freeman, the sky over New York City was filled with an otherworldly milky light as the sun began to set, almost like it was pouring straight out of one of the Aelbert Cuyp paintings at the Met. We'd been getting crazy skies like that all week.
The best song in the world right now, by an almost comically wide margin, is Future's "Mask Off." The catchily menacing track from the first of the Atlanta rapper's recent album diptych has worked its way up from fan-favorite deep cut to his highest-charting solo single yet, inspiring several memes and going gold along the way.
I remember the first person who ever told me to "suffer for fashion." It was my friend Amanda-the only person I knew in the town where I lived who had any style-and we were in the bookstore we used to loiter in so we could read fashion magazines.
A$AP Ferg breaks down his favorite lines from "Suicidal Thoughts" by The Notorious B.I.G. in our new VERSES series
Robert Maxwell/Men's Health May is Mental Health Awareness Month. For too long, men have been silent about mental health and it's literally killing us. We can change that. Our Healthy Mind, Healthy Body series shines a light on mental health issues that everyone should be talking about.
Neil Harbisson hears color. Moon Ribas' elbow is wi-fi ready. Miles Raymer discovers that together they make some of the most advanced art in the world.
New York City in 1977 was, among other things, a tale of two nightclubs. In midtown, the new Studio 54 amplified disco's penchant for glitter and glam just before the genre went mainstream. Meanwhile, down at 84 King Street in Soho, an up-and-coming DJ named Larry Levan and club impresario Michael Brody scraped together the resources they needed to open the Paradise Garage.
"If transcending mundanity was David Bowie's greatest talent, close behind was his ability to make other people feel like they could do the same." David Bowie fandom has a tendency to shade into religiosity. Even his most serious fans can joke about it, but it's no stretch to say that he's literally saved lives.
The past couple years have seen the balance of power in the hip-hop world tip decisively away from the traditional star system to a legion of young rappers coming up off of cheaply made digital mixtapes and, increasingly, tracks posted straight to SoundCloud from the laptop they were recorded on.
The best and worst aspects of West's seventh album both stem from his new enthusiasm for leaving certain (major) details deliberately unresolved. Imagine you have the most anticipated album in the world about to drop. There's a release date planned that everyone knows about.
Forty-five years after its release, everything that was supposed to have made The Velvet Underground & Nico special has been nearly eradicated by its own legend.
It's one in the afternoon when Lil Yachty and I meet up in the Times Square hotel where the Atlanta resident is staying during his almost weekly trip to NY- but he's still half asleep.
Unless you plan on spending your summer at a silent meditation retreat, over the next few months you're going to be hearing a lot of Playboi Carti's breakout single "Magnolia," which has all of the telltale signs of a summer-owning street-rap smash.
Jordan Peele and Allison Williams took two very different paths to reach contemporary-comedy stardom (okay, at the very least, semi-stardom). And they couldn't be much more different on the phone, either. On a transatlantic conference call made while Williams, 28, was traveling in London, 37-year-old Peele (co-creator of the dearly departed, audacious sketch series Key & Peele) comes off like an endearingly earnest movie geek.
There are few aspects of modern American identity that have been as profoundly reshaped by social media as hip-hop. It's impossible to stay up to date on rap beef, rap lingo and the constant evolution of hip-hop's sound without consuming a constant stream of tweets and Instagram content-and that's on top of the pipeline of music being released on SoundCloud.
When you get the call from Michael Shannon's publicist saying that your previously postponed interview is back on and he's free to talk right now in a park on the Lower East Side, you drop what you're doing and jump in an Uber-with or without your notes. Because Shannon is a busy guy.
The U.S. copyright system is hopelessly broken. It's an outdated regime, completely unequipped to deal with the realities of a modern world where cheap audiovisual software has made remix artists out of everyone from grade school kids to multiplatinum pop stars.
Michael Brun might be the biggest thing to come out of Haiti in the 21st Century. Now he wants to break down the cultural borders and rebuild his home country. Editor's note: The events in this article took place in July, months before Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti in early October, resulting in Haiti's largest humanitarian emergency since the 2010 earthquake.
Independent record label Ghostly International has teamed up with the Ann Arbor District Library to stream and download its catalog to cardholders. Is this a...
Radiohead are more than a band: They've created a mythos. A mythos that contains nine of the best albums of all time. Take a peek behind their enigmatic image and learn how five young lads from Oxfordshire became the smartest band in the world.
Yeezy is now a dad on the wrong side of 40-but his spirit is as young as ever. The next time Kanye West goes in for his annual physical, his doctor will crack a shopworn joke about how, now that he's got 40,000 miles on the odometer, he's going to have to start getting his undercarriage checked every year.
Today, metal comes in many, many forms, but the hierarchy of the genre is constantly up for debate. One thing is certain, though-Slayer fucking rules! Created by RJ Bentler and Joren Cull Directed by Joren Cull http://www.jorenmania.com http://www.instagram.com/the_joren_cull_company/
Clifford Joseph Harris, Jr. is a complicated man, and that comes through in the number of different, sometimes contradictory, roles he's played in pop culture since he first broke out with a scene-stealing verse on Atlanta rapper Bone Crusher's 2003 single "Never Scared." The man better known as T.I.
I grew up the child of hippies in granola-crunchy Ann Arbor, Michigan during the '80s and '90s, when the town's history as the San Francisco of the Midwest still wafted like a cloud of patchouli. Even in adulthood, as an angst-ridden, technology-dazzled New Yorker, my lifestyle is flecked with bits of that hippie influence: yoga, meditation, cannabis, the occasional macrobiotic plate.
A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie breaks down his favorite lines from "I Can" by Nas in our VERSES series
New York City nightlife is a constantly changing, beautiful beast. So to spotlight some of the NYC's buzziest scenes-envelope-pushing queer parties, rock-and-soul ragers, new high-art affairs-we tagged along with a handful of personalities who are making the most of the city that never sleeps. Discover their nights out (and after-hours tips) below.
Graduation was a much more daring album than Kanye's previous two, where he'd made the transition from successful producer to bankable star. Its songs are built from much different sounds than the dusty, pitched-up hyper soul that he'd built his career on, and drawn from much different sources.
It took me a minute to wrap my head around the fact that Prince was dead-or really, when you get down to it, the fact that there could be such a thing as no more Prince. But after that I wanted to dance. And I wasn't the only one.
Deep below the streets of New York City's Times Square, Ruby da Cherry, one half of the cult rap group $uicideboy$, is parting his audience in two like the Red Sea. "Pick a fucking side!"
During the late '00s, the promoters at Silver Wrapper were booking a steady slate of jam bands at Chicago's now-defunct Congress Theater. At the same time another local independent company, React Presents, was bringing big EDM shows to the same venue. Inevitably, scheduling conflicts arose, but the two sides figured out an interesting solution.
In 1969, two young hippies named Ken Douglas and Dub Taylor heard some unreleased Dylan material on one of the edgier LA radio stations. The station had acquired a copy of the illicit The Basement Tapes , which were, at that time, circulating...
On Monday, Death Cab for Cutie released "Million Dollar Loan," the first installment of Dave Eggers' 30 Days, 30 Songs project curating tracks by indie-leaning acts like R.E.M., Aimee Mann, and My Morning Jacket's Jim James intended to "provide both motivation and soundtrack to doing the right thing" this election, according to its website.
A fast-evolving Internet-born dance-music microscene puts down roots in Chicago
Hannibal Buress got started in the comedy business by fairly standard means, writing for Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock, but it's smaller, riskier projects that have brought him his biggest successes, thanks to a willingness to question conventional wisdom, an uncanny grasp of what goes viral.
For something called dance music, dance itself doesn't have much of a central role in the culture surrounding it. Dancing , as in what you do with your friends on the dance floor at the club, is of course one of its central pillars, but dance , as in a organized system of movement and gesture, is a rarity.
Decades later, John Carpenter's classic film scores make their influence felt in electronic dance music
The cruise industry has worked hard to shed its senior-citizens-and-shuffleboard image over the past few years, launching pop-culture-themed cruises aimed at a younger crowd. But even with boats helmed by heavy metal bands, country singers, and, of all people, Paula Deen, the Mad Decent Boat Party floats alone.
John Lennon made drawings before he met Yoko Ono in 1966, but it was only after he started a relationship with Ono-at the time a rising art star-that he really came into his own as an artist.
In 1970, Sanctuary, a foundering nightclub in Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen neighborhood, rebranded itself as a gay club, hiring a local disk jockey named Francis Grasso to provide the music. Grasso was unlike any other DJ working at the time: He pioneered the idea of blending songs together seamlessly to keep partygoers dancing.
A tribute to the oft-derided genre
The iconic cult actor is starring in a new Evil Dead show and is playing Ronald Reagan in Fargo , but he's still not famous enough for people to go through his trash.
Update: Chance the Rapper took to Twitter today to announce the launch of Joe Freshgoods' "Thank U Obama" collection online. Safe to say two things. First, that Chance the Rapper is awesome and doing pretty much everything right. And second, that you better hurry like crazy if you want to get any of this gear.
With 117k followers-not to mention an extremely viral Will Smith-related bit of [email protected] is one of the most popular members of the loosely affiliated online comedy movement known as Weird Twitter. But where most of Weird Twitter's default tone is made up of arm's-distance irony and absurdity for absurdity's sake, @jonnysun mixes de rigueur surrealist deconstruction with quiet moments of occasionally cosmic introspection.
In recent years the Top 40 has become a sonically edgier place, thanks in large part to people like Ariel Rechtshaid and Rostam Batmanglij who've worked on both sides of the increasingly blurry line between the mainstream and the underground. Rechtshaid got his start playing in ska-punk band before moving on to indie rock with the folk-inflected Foreign Born.
Twenty-five years ago today, the first episode of Twin Peaks aired on ABC. A brief 14 months later, on June 10, 1991, the show-which had captured and then terminally confounded a global audience-ended in a spectacular flame-out of unsolved mysteries, unanswered questions, and imagery instantly seared across pop culture's frontal lobe.
Method Man has been a hip-hop star since his eponymous cut from Enter the Wu-Tang first put the Wu-Tang Clan on the map, and he solidified the position with some of the best of the dozens of solo joints to come out of the sprawling group, as well as Blackout!, a cultishly beloved album recorded with his longtime friend and creative partner Redman.
Pitchfork explores the evolution of "Dad Rock" in this animated short.
Being in a band involves a lot of emotional labor-not just the blood, sweat and tears that go into making meaningful art, but the effort it takes to keep a group of people happy enough to keep working together in tight quarters.
Exploring the finance-bro party scene with a world famous DJ.
Does this look awkward?" Michelle Williams politely asks the photographer after fixing her shoe and revealing some leg. "No, I think that's enchanting." Without skipping a beat, Jeff Daniels, practically dripping with dry wit, turns to the crew and shoots back, "Do you think I'm enchanting?"
Popcaan is the current leader in the neverending battle for supremacy among Jamaican deejays, but unlike previous kings of the hill, he's not overly concerned with projecting the image of a badman. With his latest LP, he's made the best dancehall album of the year so far, as well as one of the best pop albums of the year.
Permanent Records is an ongoing closer look at the records that matter most.
Experimental singer/songwriter Jenny Hval's latest album finds her reckoning with longing and self-doubt, tentatively considering domesticity, fantasizing about rebirth, and wrestling with sex and gender. As with all her work, she finds new ways to provoke, and new parts of your brain to light up.
Dâm-Funk has always been one of the spacier of funk's new prophets, which, considering how far-out that whole scene is, is a major accomplishment. On his new album he's leveled up on both sides of the equation-the pop stuff's poppier, and the weird stuff's more intriguingly weird.
Cybotron's 1983 album, Enter, is widely considered to be where Detroit techno began. The collection's obsessed with the future as co-creators Juan Atkins and Richard Davis saw it, a vision dominated by the notion that human life would become so intertwined with technology that they'd be essentially inseparable.
Halfway through a question about the '90s revival and the surge of renewed interest in Blur that's come with it, Damon Albarn cuts me off. "Is this the 'what's it like to be old' question?"
The game is a "live experience" now, but is still pretty stupid overall. We had a blast.
DJ Paypal's name might be ironic and trollish, but his love of Chicago footwork is sincere. On his playful and mind-expanding new mini-LP Sold Out, he not only makes incredibly good footwork but helps pave the way for its future.