Mike Stenger

"Up and Down" - Wavves and Culture Abuse

"Up and Down" - Wavves and Culture Abuse

Sounds Like:

Driving to the beach, sand (somehow) already between your toes.

Why You Should Care:

Wavves emerged onto the indie scene in 2008, just as pop-punk had returned to its favored noisy and apathetic roots. Since then, Nathan Williams’ band has done an excellent job combining his natural punk feel with the dreamy undertones of current alternative music.

Here, Wavves collaborates with a somewhat newer punk band, Culture Abuse, whose sound could easily be mistaken for Wavves, if not for the cadence and thick baritone voice of frontman David Kelling. Keller and Williams complement each other well vocally, singing the low and high vocal parts on this (rather short) slacker anthem.

A steady, no-frills, flat-out California rock tune the Lords of Dogtown might head-bang to, you can hear "Up and Down," and more, live as Wavves embarks on a late-2017 tour of the U.S. with Joyce Manor opening — along with Culture Abuse, at select venues.


“Body Memory” — Björk

“Body Memory” — Björk

Sounds Like:

“Threading an ocean through a needle” — Björk

Why You Should Care:

You could make a sound argument for any moment in Björk’s long and evolving career as a musical icon. Her escalating musical complexity and embrace of different styles and technologies (in artful ways, never as a gimmick) stem from her pouring her entire heart into every last moment of a project, using the flow of her own life as a lyrical and musical guide.

Björk’s’s latest, Utopia, has been widely cited as a comeback from the “breakup” vibes of 2015’s Vulnicura. The recurring theme is of her re-engaging with a part of the self that she had lost during her separation and estrangement from long-time partner Michael Barney — namely her sensual self. “Body Memory” could represent the whole 14-track (71 minutes, 38 seconds) epic poem on its own, structurally and sonically, with light, airy flutes supported by intensifying rhythmic breaks (almost like memories) as the song develops.

With its lyrical undercurrent of being “trapped in a legal harness,” “Body Memory” is as literal as Björk ever gets, alluding to the pain of her separation before embracing the excitement and chaos of love life head-on again.

“Body Memory” was released on Utopia on November 24, 2017. Experience this song on your next snowy mountain road trip.


"Myrna Lee" - Wilco

"Myrna Lee" - Wilco

Sounds Like:

Old(er) Wilco or Uncle Tupelo, a good, ol’ alt-country ballad.

Why You Should Care:

Wilco has had a long run, and the band now seems to be realizing its mortality with a glance down memory lane, announcing expanded reissues of their two earliest albums: AM (1995) and Being There (1996).

This twangy mountain song “Myrna Lee” is the first single they have chosen to unveil.  A previously unreleased track from AM, “Myrna Lee” has the feel of an Uncle Tupelo alt-country classic where the electric instruments take the background. With plaintive vocals, pedal steel, and buzzing fiddle, “Myrna Lee” was originally written by Wilco bassist John Stirratt for his twin sister Laurie, who released it through her band Blue Mountain’s 1997 album Homegrown.

Even as the band looks back to the early years, it’s hard to say if the end is in sight. For a band with such an extensive resume and side projects as Wilco, the question is always one of what we will hear next.

Both deluxe reissues of AM and Being There are set to appear on Rhino in December. Tracklists have already been released for both.


“Wallowa Lake Monster” – Sufjan Stevens

“Wallowa Lake Monster” – Sufjan Stevens

Sounds Like:

Seeing an actual lake monster on a drizzly day.

Why You Should Care:

Sufjan Stevens has made a career out of blending simple folk elements into complex arrangements. His 2015 album Carrie & Lowell, though wrought with soft-spoken existential angst, presented a resolution to his musical paradoxes. The acoustic instruments on that album sounded a shade electronic, and vice versa. They came together and formed an entirely original indie-folk experience. Apparently, the B-sides do the same thing.

“Wallowa Lake Monster” gives us another chapter in Sufjan’s musical evolution, as well as in the lyrical tale of his mother Carrie. The song draws parallels between the legends of Sufjan’s mother (mentioned throughout his work) and a Leviathan-like creature said to once lurk about Oregon’s Wallowa Lake. It follows —maybe even refines — the classic Sufjan model of weaving tall, majestic lore into a common exploration of self, with instrumentation that shifts between heavy and light.

Starting out with basic picking pattern, similar to “Death with Dignity” and other songs from Carrie & Lowell, it morphs into a more epic synth composition, with a good bit of spacey instrumental by its conclusion

“Wallowa Lake Monster” doesn’t feel like a B-side, matching the scope of any major Carrie & Lowell release. The song gives us a nice hold-over as we await Sufjan’s The Greatest Gift Mixtape — Outtakes, Remixes, & Demos from Carrie & Lowell. Look out for the full compilation on November 24, 2017.