Ever since Niki and the Dove’s debut EP popped up in the BUST office last fall, I’ve been dying to see them live (and blasting their spacey, technicolor dance pop on repeat at the gym). Last week at the Under the Radar day party, I managed to catch one of their many sets at SXSW, and they absolutely lived up to the hype I’d been building in my head for months. The rest of the crowd seemed to feel the same, because Niki and the Dove finally got ... Read More
Seeing Zola Jesus at the beginning of a festival like SXSW is a perilous activity, because the singer's so good at her job that you might end up holding the rest of the performers to an impossibly high standard. The first time I saw Zola Jesus was last year, on the first night of CMJ, and I spent the subsequent four days complaining that every other band was terrible. Last week at the Fader Fort, she was the final performer of the day, so I had time to get ... Read More
Every year, the Fader Fort at SXSW is a watershed event for festival goers, particularly those with small wallets and no badges. Last week’s edition was as insane as ever, with enough free beer to keep you tipsy for four days’ worth of indie hip-hop acts and experimental punk bands. I came, admittedly, for the free beer, and also to see Zola Jesus, about whom I will never stop rhapsodizing. But the Fader Fort is like Hotel California as sponsored by ... Read More
In the interest of not burying the lede, let me just get it out there now: Willam threw up on the runway last night. Yep, a drag queen threw up on the runway, during the judging, immediately after she had been declared the winner of this week’s challenge. It was one of the weirdest things to ever happen on RuPaul’s Drag Race, until five minutes later when Ru announced who had to sashay away. Nothing else in the episode even seems relevant in light of ... Read More
Phil Moore and Beth Tacular, the couple at the heart of Bowerbirds, journeyed through intense personal hardships—breakups, breakdowns, brushes with death—and returned with The Clearing (out now on Dead Oceans), their most rhythmically and lyrically complex creation yet. Combining elements of dissonance and darkness with moments of remarkable beauty and wisdom, this 11-song LP is an emotionally and visually evocative sonic cinema from start to finish. ... Read More
Early into last night’s episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race, something crossed my mind that I almost dare not speak aloud. During the mini challenge, as the queens were throwing shade at one another and nearly all of them were terrible at it, this thought started forming. Today I will get out my library card (because reading is fundamental), and throw some of my own shade: maybe none of these queens are actually worthy of the title of America’s Next ... Read More
I’ve long suspected that Jamie Stewart, the brains and bleeding heart of Xiu Xiu, could be the third member of Mates of State, exiled from their land of hetero jangle-pop to a rehab center for self-harm. In a similar vein as 2010’s Dear God, I Hate Myself, the band’s new album Always (out now on Polyvinyl) finds Xiu Xiu still wandering the freeways, subsisting on fistfuls of wild kumquats and prescription painkillers. Stewart’s voice ... Read More
Reality shows, like war, can turn heroes into villains and villains into heroes. One day you’re a model soldier being considered for general, the next you’re going rogue and hiding out in the jungle. One day everybody hates you for being a loud alcoholic, then you get punched in the face and you're queen of the shore house. This week on RuPaul's Drag Race, Willam, heretofore the great villain of Season Four, dropped so many one-liners and rocked the ... Read More
Splendor Squalor (out now on Kanine), the second full-length from Brooklyn-based Xray Eyeballs, finds the quartet in a much poppier place than they were on their first effort, Not Nothing. The raw, energetic sound backing O.J. San Felipe’s husky vocals is still present, along with the perfect blend of nostalgia for sounds of the past with a vision decidedly focused on the future. But if Not Nothing felt like a Velvet Undergound–hosted night of garage ... Read More
After an especially traumatic breakup, Islands frontman Nick Thorburn moved from New York to Los Angeles, looking to find solace in a new environment. On Valentine’s Day of last year, Thorburn sat down at a piano and began to play what would become A Sleep & A Forgetting (out now on Anti-), an album in which Thorburn exorcises the demons of his heartbreak, showing both despair and forward-looking optimism. Recorded in just two weeks, the album is less ... Read More
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