Ryan Reed is a freelance music/culture writer/editor. He also contributes to Rolling Stone, Relix Magazine, Revolver, Pitchfork, and other publications.
Empire of the Sun, ‘Ice on the Dune’ – Album Review
Empire of the Sun have never been shy about their ambitions -- and they've never been afraid of looking like idiots. The Australian duo's debut album, 2008's 'Walking on a Dream,' was as puzzling as it was delectable: a stew of electro-pop grooves and art-rock atmospheres, tied together by a ridiculous sci-fi concept and 'Dune'-esque cover art. It was also pretty damn original, though the music (r
Capital Cities, ‘In a Tidal Wave of Mystery’ – Album Review
Prior to joining forces as Capital Cities, Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian collaborated by writing commercial jingles. Listening to the duo's debut LP, 'In a Tidal Wave of Mystery,' that fact becomes painfully apparent. Merchant and Simonian are expert electro-pop craftsmen, blending disco, New Wave and easy-listening with whip-smart focus. But as one might expect from a pair of hook hustlers, the
Portugal. The Man, ‘Evil Friends’ – Album Review
Over seven schizophrenic studio albums, Alaska's Portugal. The Man have built a career on sonic illogic, jumping from psych-rock to emo to prog-like stations in a bizarre cable package. But with 'Evil Friends,' their eighth overall effort (and second for major label Atlantic Records), they've made the unlikely transition toward the streamlined mainstream, working with "it" producer Dange
Rogue Wave, ‘Nightingale Floors’ – Album Review
Zach Rogue is incredibly gifted at writing one particular style of song: quirky, tuneful, big-hearted indie rock. And over the course of three wonderful albums (2003's 'Out of the Shadow,' 2005's 'Descended Like Vultures,' and their commercial breakthrough, 2007's 'Asleep at Heaven's Gate'), Rogue himself seemed perfectly content with that fact. Then came 2010's 'Permalight,' a batch of sterile, a
Queens of the Stone Age – ‘…Like Clockwork’ – Album Review
For the past 15 years, Josh Homme has subtly tweaked and refined his music like a mad scientist. For all its visceral power, Queens of the Stone Age is built on a formula -- a heavy, colossal, mind-blowing formula, defined by detuned stoner-rock crunch and angelic minor-key spaciness, best exemplified by modern-rock classics like 2002's 'Songs for the Deaf' and 2007's 'Era Vulgaris.'
Eureka the Butcher, ‘Music for Mothers’ – Album Review
After his mother's death, Marcel Rodriguez-Lopez decided to honor his family matriarch through music. And so he did -- in the strangest possible fashion. 'Music for Mothers,' his debut LP as alter ego Eureka the Butcher, isn't an acoustic sob-fest or a collection of lyrical piano ballads; it's a stark, all-instrumental stew of electro-psych texture and ambient drizzle.
Daft Punk, ‘Random Access Memories’ – Album Review
Wrapped up in the overblown, ubiquitous promotional cycle (SNL teasers, behind-the-scenes interviews, etc.) behind Daft Punk's latest album, it's easy to forget these EDM-pioneering robots are human after all. Other than their largely passable 'Tron' soundtrack, the French duo have only released three albums -- and one of them, 2007's 'Human After All,' was almost unanimously panned.
Vampire Weekend – ‘Modern Vampires of the City’ – Album Review
As you probably already know, the guys in Vampire Weekend graduated from Columbia. They aren't poor. With their dapper, upper-crust fashion sense, it often looks like they just walked off the set of 'The Royal Tenenbaums.' And -- just in case you missed out while reading all the beard-stroking think-pieces about their position as indie-rock high-brow trend-setters -- they've also released two exce
Deerhunter, ‘Monomania’ – Album Review
Would any of us care so much about Deerhunter without the schtick? From day one, Bradford Cox has been an indie-rock provocateur (pushing buttons with his volatile stage presence, giving some of the weirdest interviews in rock history), and his unusual backstory (asexual outcast with Marfan syndrome) is as recognizable as his band's music. Given all that, it's easy to overlook Deerhunter's blemish
She & Him, ‘Volume 3′ – Album Review
In the long lineage of actors-turned-pop-songwriters, Zooey Deschanel is one of the few with serious credentials as both. But her image, in many ways, precedes her and prevents any valid discussion of her musical skill. The doe-eyed former Mrs. Ben Gibbard is the tabloid it-girl heartthrob of indie culture, and She & Him, her partnership with classic-pop troubadour M. Ward, has naturally been