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Todd Simmons

TODD SIMMONS lives in Brooklyn and has been writing for the Rail since 2003.

Jonny Greenwood: Bodysong

onny Greenwood has always been adept at crafting moody, cinematic music. As the lead guitarist and gadget-master of Radiohead, he’s helped to create songs like "Exit Music for a Film" and "Motion Picture Soundtrack." Now he’s indulged his filmic instincts even further with the compelling score to Bodysong, a British documentary about the cycle of life.

Beth Gibbons & Rustin Man

Out of Season Sanctuary Records On the evocative album Out Of Season, the first sound one hears is a rising gust of wind. Those familiar with Beth Gibbons’s work with Bristol’s trip-hop pioneers Portishead won’t interpret this as a gentle, summer breeze but rather as an ominous sign of things to come.

Give the Guitarist Some

Portland, Oregon, may be crawling with bands lately, but at least there's usually an extra musician floating around when you need one. For former Pavement leader Stephen Malkmus, changing drummers in his current band, the Jicks, may have been the key to making their outstanding new album Real Emotional Trash.

Grunge Before Grunge

It happened 20 years ago, a few turbulent years before Nirvana accidentally led “alternative” music’s charge onto mainstream radio and MTV, puzzling record executives everywhere.


LCD Soundsystem and Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings are on the road this summer promoting their excellent new albums. The two veteran bands are also serving notice that the moniker “the Borough of Kings” now refers to Brooklyn’s decade-plus creative streak and continued critical dominance.

“Thank You For Waiting”

The clear-cut missive appeared on Radiohead’s website on Valentine’s Day morning and set the blogging gears of anticipation into motion. Once again, these wizards of misdirection were pulling a rabbit out of their hat.

Tomorrow’s Parties, Today

As a fan of rock’s weirder, wilder elements, I’d been eager to experience an All Tomorrow’s Parties festival since ATP’s inception 12 years ago in England. Eclectic rosters of avant-rock, post-punk, alt-R&B, proto-grunge, obscure reunions, and name-your-genre bands have been on the British festival’s docket for more than a decade in remote locations around the world.

David Bowie: The Next Day

At the beginning of 2013, #DavidBowie wasn’t exactly a trending topic. But a week later, with the sudden release of The Next Day, his name was exploding across the Internet in a stampede of chatter.

Weird War: In the Belly of the Beat

In strange and sinister times like these, it’s not surprising that America’s funkiest indie-rock band has a name like Weird War.

The Archduke’s Revenge: Franz Ferdinand Takes Williamsburg

Despite naming themselves after an archduke whose assassination sparked the inferno of World War I, Franz Ferdinand are way beyond a cheeky in-joke. They’re a tightly coiled dance-punk band with a striking sense of melody, overflowing with clever songs and infectious hooks.

James Angell: The Making of The Pandemic Symphony

It’s not easy to describe the buzz you catch off the music that James Angell cooks up. I’m not referring to industry buzz, because up until recently the music business has had their collective blinders on regarding Angell’s mesmerizing brand of classically influenced lounge rock. ...

Limping with the Stooges in Washington Heights

Just when I thought I’d finally turned the corner in my post-foot-surgery convalescence, I developed a staphylococcus aureus infection. You might know this as a “staph” infection.

Dr. Homme’s Laboratory

Less than ten years since the release of their self-titled debut album, Queens of the Stone Age have presented us with LP number five.

Waiting For the (Thin) Man

Somewhere off I-5 in the woods south of Portlandia, James Angell, Oregon’s wizard of psychedelic pop, is probably tinkering in his home studio and thinking, “It’s still your move, David Bowie.”

Concerto for Broken Foot and Two Sedatives: Menomena and the Good, the Bad and the Queen

What started as a spring record-release preview has abruptly morphed into a breakdown of what’s been getting me through my post foot-surgery recuperation and inevitable late-winter cabin fever.

Robin Nolan Trio: Live at Langley

Despite the fact that his career peaked more than fifty years ago, Django Reinhardt is still the barometer by which all Gypsy jazz guitarists are measured. In the 1999 Woody Allen film Sweet and Lowdown, Sean Penn plays a Gypsy guitarist tormented by living in the shadow of the legendary Django. In the film, the tragically comic, talented, yet troubled Emmet Ray is obsessed with the notion that he is the “second best” Gypsy guitarist alive.

More Voices from the Graveyard Shift

On his new triple album, Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards, Tom Waits has re-asserted his place among the vanguard of daring and fiercely independent American recording artists.

(Arcade) Fire and Brimstone at the United Palace

It’s a drag when the band you’ve been aching to see gets booked into an antiseptic venue that’s sullied by glaring advertisements, metal detectors, incongruous pre-show muzak, and corporate naming rights that obstruct the view.

A Steal at Any Price

It’s ancient history at this point that Radiohead released their first new record in four years with a pay-what-you-want download on their website, months in advance of a standard release.

Taking It Uneasy

Scott Walker’s forty-year evolution from a Swinging London pop singer to the somber genius behind the feel-bad record of the summer is as thoroughgoing, and as startling, as any in modern music history.

Tropicalia Retriumphant: Os Mutantes Come to New York

On a recent Friday night at Webster Hall, Os Mutantes made their first-ever appearance on a U.S. stage. Thirty years after the Brazilian band’s original lineup split, they were back in remarkable form with a ten-piece band that literally entranced the crowd, while showing the Beck fans in the audience who it was that paved the way to his postmodern sound.

Remain in Touch

David Byrne has been a busy downtown icon these last several decades, which is how long it’s taken him and producer/“non-musician” Brian Eno to get around to recording the follow-up to 1981’s My Life in the Bush of Ghosts.

“If I Make It Out Alive From Hollywood and Vine”

There’s nothing quite like a highway road trip to exorcise a creative malaise. When J. Tillman motored away from his grey Seattle home, he was looking to shatter an “immobilizing depression” and the bleak confines of his prior solo work. Steering his van out of King County with no destination in mind, he was determined to find the fun in his “wound-licking” music again.

Come Hell or High Water The New Orleans Jazz Fest Soldiers On

After sustaining what has been called “heavy damage” at the Fairgrounds Racetrack in New Orleans (such as having the roof of the grandstands torn off by 100-mph-plus winds), the organizers of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, more commonly known as Jazz Fest, have announced that they intend to hold the event as usual in 2006.


The Brooklyn Rail

JUNE 2023

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