John Tarpley has been a contributor and voice of critical dissent at Diffuser.fm since Spring 2012. In the last few years, he has served as the music editor of a fine, Southern alt-weekly; fronted a band that one of Tarpley's musical heroes has said, in so many words, was better than the Beatles; and moderated discussions and lectured on music at a small handful of particularly intimidating schools and universities. He tweets about music, Premier League soccer, and writing at @jttarpley.
FIDLAR, ‘FIDLAR’ – Album Review
It's about time the whole band-as-gang thing comes back in vogue. That's what was cool -- maybe all that was cool -- about the progenitors of bro-pop, the Monkees. Sure, Michael, Micky, Peter and Davy were focus-grouped and contractually obliged to play with each other (insert requisite "But so were the Sex Pistols!"), but with the help of some windowpane acid and an assist from Jack Nic
Nosaj Thing, ‘Home’ – Album Review
Here's an old saw (with teeth recently sharpened by David Byrne in the book 'How Music Works'): genres adapt, evolve and develop their sonic characteristics according to the environment in which the music is heard and the equipment needed to amplify the sound. Consider the difference between, say, listening to dubstep on a laptop and experiencing dubstep at a proper rave. At the latter, the venue
Sean Lennon, ‘Alter Egos’ Soundtrack – Album Review
With movies like 'Kick-Ass,' 'Super' and the Don Dada of all superhero revisions, 'Watchmen,' still clogging up the bottoms of the nation's Netflix queues, no one's in any rush for another superheroes-are-people-too movie like 'Alter Egos.'
10 Best Ariel Pink Songs
No matter what you think of his music -- really, it's not everyone's cup of PCP tea -- Ariel Pink deserves credit for being an observant listener. What else could explain the precision of his uncannily awkward, badly-tracked-Betamax vibes...
Ellie Goulding, ‘Halcyon’ – Album Review
The first minute of 'Don't Say a Word,' the opening track of 'Halcyon,' is a bit jarring, with Ellie Goulding and producer Jim Eliot alluding to the last ten years of great British music with one wink after another. The track begins with delay-pedal-treated vocal samples, a la Jonny Greenwood rocking the transistor radio in 'The National Anthem.' Then Goulding spends a few measures laying down som
Tame Impala, ‘Lonerism’ – Album Review
At first blush, Tame Impala don't offer that much to get fizzled about. Glancing over the barrels of online ink spilled about them, you'll likely find five words connected to 'Lonerism': psychedelia, Lennon, Dave Fridmann, Australia, summer. Got it. Snooze. Next. Whatever.
Matt and Kim, ‘Lightning’ – Album Review
So, if bands were dogs -- for real, bear with us for a second -- Matt and Kim would be a Westie, without a doubt. Your typical West Highland White Terrier is a rapaciously affectionate blur of yips and licks and little doggie hops and boundless energy, for better or worse. You're going to have a hard time finding a Westie that's not absolutely precious. They're wide-eyed, smiley little balls of fu
Moon Duo, ‘Circles’ – Album Review
Don't get it twisted: Ralph Waldo Emerson was one of America's greatest rock stars. Emerson's finest moment -- his 1837 speech to the Phi Beta Kappa society -- was also his most defiantly rock 'n' roll. Here, the brazen and brainy Emerson called for a collective American intellect -- "The American Scholar" as we know it now -- to replace the staid British standard. It was the 19th centur
Muse, ‘The 2nd Law’ – Album Review
Muse are always going to be an ersatz Queen, but that doesn't mean that they can't also be one of the most preposterously entertaining bands around, hyper-accelerating their enormous musical Id into warp speed and, album after album, creating some of the most bombastic, bodacious rock 'n' roll audacity you'll hear anywhere, anytime. On 'The 2nd Law,' there are points that are so brazen -- so engor
Mumford and Sons, ‘Babel’ – Album Review
Say what you will about the band -- surely, they're used to the smack flinging by now -- but if Mumford and Sons look a bit smug on the cover of their latest, they've earned it, by gum. The softie-core London quartet dragged their delicate little hearts around the globe for years in support of their debut album, 'Sigh No More.' They hustled on the road and gigged with a hyper-Protestant work ethic