Author Archives: Chuck

About Chuck

Chuck is a lifelong music lover. He spent his 20s working as a professional musician before discovering he enjoys listening to music more than playing it. He knows a little bit about most genres, though electronic dance music, rock, and hip-hop are his favorites. Eleven albums/shows that transformed how he sees and hears the world (in order he encountered them): Fleetwood Mac Rumours; Van Halen Fair Warning; The Cure Standing on a Beach; John Coltrane Crescent; De La Soul Three Feet High and Rising; Puccini La Boheme (de los Angeles, Bjorling, Beecham); Everything but the Girl Walking Wounded; Carl Cox, Twilo, NYC, May 2000; Godspeed You! Black Emperor Yanqui U.X.O.; Grateful Dead. Fillmore East, NYC, April 1971; Taylor Swift 1989.

Actress – Karma & Desire

      3 Comments on Actress – Karma & Desire
Album cover for Actress "Karma & Desire"

Bob once said that the Rolling Stones can’t write a song, they only write riffs. The same could be said about Actress. On Karma & Desire, however, Darren Cunningham pushes his riffs and challenges himself and his collaborators. Karma & Desire doesn’t rely on the factory drones that open 2014’s Ghettoville, but it builds the same grey mood. Cunningham and… Read more »

Yoshinori Hayashi – Pulse of Defiance

Album cover for "Pulse of Defiance" by Yoshinori Hayashi

Many dance albums take us on a roller coaster of intense peaks followed by chances to catch our breath. Pulse of Defiance instead climbs from an introspective opening to three high-energy closing tracks. It’s a journey that few producers have the confidence or discipline to attempt, and Yoshinori Hayashi nails it. Hayashi also navigates a journey across subgenres. The album… Read more »

Record Reviews, Brevity, and Pitchfork

It’s surprisingly difficult to write short reviews that convey something meaningful. One of my personal constraints is to keep my reviews below 200 words. That’s still a lot of words, but in record review circles, it’s practically a haiku-level of brevity. I don’t always succeed, but I try to help people answer one question: is this an album I want… Read more »

Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um, Fort Apache Reservation, Arizona, 1989

Album cover for Charles Mingus, Mingus Ah Um

I lose sight of the two-lane mountain road on every westbound curve. The fire of the Arizona sunset is broken by trees but still blinding, relentless in its beauty and power. I drive too fast, taking corners like I was in my old Nissan Z instead of an overloaded Toyota pickup. I flirt with the gravel on the shoulder then… Read more »

Taylor Swift – “Illicit Affairs”

      2 Comments on Taylor Swift – “Illicit Affairs”
Album cover for Folklore by Taylor Swift

Romantic relationships are rarely balanced. Inevitably, one person is more in love and has more to lose than the other. Affairs amplify this imbalance. One person is married and one isn’t, or one recommits to their spouse, or one has no intention of leaving their partner. While unrequited love songs are a dime a dozen, I don’t know many affair… Read more »

Jessica Moss – “Opened Ending”

      2 Comments on Jessica Moss – “Opened Ending”
Album cover for Opened Endings by Jessica Moss

I’ve been revisiting Entanglement by Jessica Moss. The opening song, “Particles,” is gorgeous, and is what I wanted to hear back in the ‘90s when I was buying and quickly abandoning albums by Rachel’s and the Ordinaires and Tortoise. Unfortunately, the four-song suite, “Fractals,” feels almost academic, an impartial study of interesting ideas. In researching Moss’ work, I stumbled upon… Read more »

Van Halen – Fair Warning, Albuquerque NM, 1981

Album cover for Van Halen's Fair Warning

I’m hypnotized by the wall of used cassettes when the in-store sound system yanks me out of my reverie. The song is dark and aggressive and exciting. It makes me feel an urgency unlike anything I’ve felt before. I’m a shy kid. I’m chubby and have a lot of pimples and I don’t understand what to do with the mop… Read more »

U2 – April 10, 1987, Pan American Center, Las Cruces NM

My first concert of 1987 was U2’s sixth date on their Joshua Tree tour. I didn’t know U2 beyond Under a Blood Red Sky, but “Where the Streets Have No Name” immediately captivated me. I intuitively knew this band, this record, and this concert would change my life. My friend David and I convinced our parents to let us make… Read more »

Sophie Trudeau – Confinement Songs

      No Comments on Sophie Trudeau – Confinement Songs
Album cover for "Confinement Songs" by Sophie Trudeau

I was going to review the new Godspeed You! Black Emperor record, G_d’s Pee AT STATES END!, but better writers have already said what I would say, albeit sometimes in a strange way. Instead, I’ll review a new-to-me discovery from the Godspeed collective: the five-song pandemic collection of “small weekly offerings while in confinement” from GY!BE violinist Sophie Trudeau. The… Read more »

Peter Gabriel – 3 / Melt

      2 Comments on Peter Gabriel – 3 / Melt
Album cover for Peter Gabriel 3 / Melt

Oddly, Passion was the first Peter Gabriel album that spoke to me. Although So eventually connected with me, his earlier records never did. With that in mind, I’m revisiting 3, an album whose supposed greatness always eluded me. As I listen with fresh ears, this album feels like Gabriel’s attempt to balance the head that ruled his earlier work and… Read more »