Nick Rubin



Album reviews: Neil Young, Ty Segall and Tift Merritt

Album reviews: Neil Young, Ty Segall and Tift Merritt

Neil Young Peace Trail (Reprise) Despite his 1980s stylistic wanderings, Neil Young is one of rock’s great dependables. His output is perpetual (Peace Trail is his eighth album in 10 years); his voice eternally a thin warble; his grooves bump along like a wagon. When every record carries such strong and specific flavors, it gets […]

Album reviews: Rebel Kind, The Rolling Stones and Proper Ornaments

Album reviews: Rebel Kind, The Rolling Stones and Proper Ornaments

Rebel Kind Just For Fools (Urinal Cake) The band name and green-black-yellow-red color scheme may suggest reggae, but Rebel Kind is straight lo-fi from the fertile indie scene of Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor. The band is led by guitarist/singer Autumn Wetli, one-time drummer for Bad Indians, and includes bassist Shelley Salant (Swimsuit, Tyvek) and drummer/keyboardist Amber Fellows […]

Album reviews: Real Numbers, Flower Girl and Goat

Album reviews: Real Numbers, Flower Girl and Goat

Real Numbers Wordless Wonder (Three Dimensional) Minneapolis’ Real Numbers declares its twee intentions from the first moments of “Frank Infatuation,” the leadoff track on Wordless Wonder. Brisk, strummy guitar chords make a bed for a bouncy, melodic bass before drums rush in along with a rudimentary but game-as-hell lead guitar line. Singer Eli Hansen enters […]

Album reviews: Big Star, Sun Ra and NRBQ

Album reviews: Big Star, Sun Ra and NRBQ

Big Star Complete Third (Omnivore) A legendary band’s most legendary turn. After Big Star’s brilliant 1972 debut, #1 Record, stiffed, co-leader Chris Bell quit, leaving Alex Chilton as the band’s main mover for its 1974 follow-up, the sparkling Radio City—which also stiffed. Both albums are power-pop classics, routinely included in best-ever lists, but for many […]

Album Reviews: Cluster, Robbie Robertson and Punk 45: Les Punks

Album Reviews: Cluster, Robbie Robertson and Punk 45: Les Punks

Cluster Kollektion 06: Cluster 1971-1981 (Bureau B) In the ’70s, Cluster’s Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius were part of Germany’s glorious outpouring of synth-based instrumental rock, simultaneously extending ’60s experimentalism and pointing forward not only to the golden age of synthpop, but to bands like Stereolab, Tortoise and Boards of Canada. Cluster’s psychedelic soft bulletins […]

Album Reviews: Sting, David Crosby, The Pretenders

Album Reviews: Sting, David Crosby, The Pretenders

Sting 57th & 9th (Interscope) Listening to 57th & 9th is like joining your pretentious, albeit charismatic, uncle in his drawing room for a dram of some unfamiliar cordial. Uncle Gordon’s in a yearning mood: for belief; for artistic potency and the burn of adulation; for fallen geniuses and lost lovers. He was, indisputably, a […]

Album reviews: Lambchop, Shagwuf, MV & EE

Album reviews: Lambchop, Shagwuf, MV & EE

Lambchop FLOTUS (Merge) Kurt Wagner might deserve this year’s indie Lifetime Achievement Award. While recording as Lambchop for more than 20 years, he has ably covered a waterfront of styles, from string-laden alt-country to hipster soul and mellow indie-pop. To boot, he’s given us a bounty of wry titles like “Cigaretiquette” and “The Petrified Florist,” […]

Album reviews: Wilco, The Limiñanas, Vulfpeck

Album reviews: Wilco, The Limiñanas, Vulfpeck

Wilco Schmilco (dBpm) Wilco has always been a welcome sight, but I’ve never particularly invested much in Jeff Tweedy and his buds—Wilco’s ninth album, Star Wars, came out last year and I totally missed it. So here’s the 10th, and I’m feeling like a fool and a pushover, because Schmilco’s a total pleasure. Tweedy’s voice […]

Album reviews: Devendra Banhart, Ryley Walker, Gonjasufi

Album reviews: Devendra Banhart, Ryley Walker, Gonjasufi

Devendra Banhart Ape in Pink Marble (Nonesuch) Devendra Banhart seems like a good idea. Handsome, talented and raised in Venezuela and Los Angeles by free-spirited parents, Banhart dropped out of art school at 19 to busk on streets, and subsequently came to the attention of Swans’ Michael Gira, who released Banhart’s home recordings to wide […]

Album reviews: Amber Arcades, EZTV and Ultimate Painting

Album reviews: Amber Arcades, EZTV and Ultimate Painting

Amber Arcades Fading Lines (Heavenly) A stereotypical indie-rocker might work as a barista or telemarketer; Utrecht songwriter Annelotte de Graaf is a legal aide for the international war crimes tribunal and the Dutch immigration office. As such, you could expect Fading Lines, her debut as Amber Arcades, to be full of ponderous downers, but it’s […]

Album reviews: Keeping it surreal

Album reviews: Keeping it surreal

Frank Ocean Blonde (Boys Don’t Cry) In the midst of all the think pieces analyzing Blonde as an event, it seems worth restating the bottom line: Frank Ocean is a brilliant songwriter, musician and producer, and Blonde is overflowing with sonic and compositional gifts; it’s almost embarrassing. So when I played this for my dad […]

Album reviews: Thee Oh Sees, The Amazing, Cool Ghouls

Album reviews: Thee Oh Sees, The Amazing, Cool Ghouls

Thee Oh Sees A Weird Exits (Castle Face) Led by John Dwyer, garage-psych wrecking crew Thee Oh Sees has churned out 15 albums, the latest being A Weird Exits. It covers familiar territory, though previous forays into jangly, poppy material have been obliterated. For the uninitiated, A Weird Exits is not an easy introduction; song […]

Album Reviews: William Tyler, The Earls of Leicester, The Moontrotters

Album Reviews: William Tyler, The Earls of Leicester, The Moontrotters

William Tyler Modern Country (Merge) A tough one. As a member of Lambchop, guitarist William Tyler helped craft one of the more interesting sounds in alt-rock, a lush mélange replete with strings yet maintaining a welcome twang. The last element was Tyler’s contribution, his abundant gifts becoming more obvious on his own albums, filled with […]

Album Reviews: Paul Simon, Santigold, The Mild High Club

Album Reviews: Paul Simon, Santigold, The Mild High Club

Paul Simon Stranger to Stranger (Concord) Paul Simon was once called “one of rock’s great lightweights,” though I’d offer “one of lightweight rock’s greats” instead. While Simon has never shown interest in proper rocking, he’s imbued pop songs with short-story richness while keeping them catchy, allowing you to sing along with lines like “the poor […]

Get the scoop on the latest releases from Radiohead, Betty Davis and Diarrhea Planet. Photo: File photo

Album review: Radiohead, Betty Davis, Diarrhea Planet

Radiohead A Moon Shaped Pool (XL) Gotta admit I haven’t adored Radiohead so much as I’ve admired them. The group has always written harmonically sophisticated rock music without ever sacrificing the rock aspect. Plus, the band’s albums have always sounded amazing—the relationship Radiohead has with producer Nigel Godrich is on the level of The Beatles […]

Nick Rubin covers the latest albums from Mark Roebuck, Those Pretty Wrongs and Steve Gunn.

The return of…

Mark Roebuck The World and All Within (Fear of the Atom) In 1980s Charlottesville, The Deal was a shining power-pop group poised for success: a Musician magazine conferral of “best unsigned band,” a contract with Bearsville, sessions at Ardent Recording Studios with help from Big Star’s Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens and recordings with a […]