“Secularists must hold candidates to account when they insult secular values, whether that means challenging them in town hall meetings or withholding donations. Why, for example, would any secular Republican (yes, there are some) think of supporting the many Republican politicians who have denied the scientific validity of evolution? Politicians will continue to ignore secular Americans until they are convinced that there is a price to be paid for doing so.

“God bless America” has become the standard ending of every major political speech. Just once in my life, I would like the chance to vote for a presidential candidate who ends his or her appeals with Thomas Paine’s observation that “the most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is Reason.”


Fuckin’ Record Reviews hearts Susan Jacoby. Highest recommendation for The Age Of American Unreason  (2009) and Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism (2004) too.


Tim Ellison at ROCK MAG fanzine was kind enough back in 1997 to let me do a special “supplement” of my own then-fanzine within his. Thanks, Tim. I’d totally forgotten about this until I found it in my garage fanzine-storage locker a couple weekends ago.

I had probably quit SUPERDOPE (”for good”) that year or something. Of course, I came back with another issue in 1998 - the last one, as it turned out.

Here I take cracks at the Blues Explosion (!), Hampton Grease Band, Alex Chilton, Dwarves, Screamers, Urinals and others.


It’s that time of year again: anus itch season. Talkadoodles and decidamathons. Music music guess what’s what. A time when publications that talk about music release their you-scratch-my-back-I-scratch-yours list of artists whose record labels bought ad space or sent free download codes. Or, less cynically: music from the year, presented in a more digestible form than most of the time, cranked out and hastily invoiced by beleaguered critics everywhere, hopefully in time to get the poor bastards on the bottom rungs of the biz a little extra holiday cash, and editors and mid-tier scramblers can wait out the clock until the new year by dicking around on Twitter and calling it business. Yes, that’s the least cynical version I can think of for what happens every December with the lists. It’s a mad dash to be the first to limp to the finish.

The good news for regular citizens is you can finally just read one thing and get some straight answers out of people. Or at least less crooked answers. Most of the time music reviews are complete bullshit, like that timesomebody at Vice didn’t like the new Metz album because apparently in that particular 20 minute chunk of their lives they had a migraine and the drums kicked too much ass for them to handle without pukeyfacing. Music reviews are bullshit because the person writing them is getting paid somewhere between zero and some piddling useless amount of dollars, and therefore there’s no stakes, and therefore say whatever you think is best to keep the piddling useless dollars coming in, and do it quick with the first thought that pops into your head because your opinion will never matter as much as word of mouth plus time anyway, and it’s not like the free download is a huge favor because the internet exists. BUT: end of the year lists pare down all that regular bullshit and focus on the bullshit that these people apparently actually believe.

I am a fan of year-end lists because they serve as a roadmap to what kind of people believe what outlandish bullshit things. I like to take these lists, most of which consist of stuff I never heard of because I’ve managed to limit my informational intake to hyper-specific, reliable filters which generally do not waste my time telling me about stuff I have a low chance of actually liking, and attack them with my own kneejerk bullshit. Why? Because that’s even lazier and more cynical than writing a list of my own, and it results in more piddling useless dollars for me. You’re welcome.

Take for example the alphabetically arranged non-hierarchical list supplied by the poor deluded fucks at NPR. Alright gang, let’s riff. Let’s have an NPRty.

Ab-Soul, Control System

I’m sure NPR likes this because this guy is saying some moderately thoughtful stuff and the beats are less predictable than usual, but who actually wants to listen to a song called “Double Standards”? Why stop there? Why not a club banger called “Airport Security”?

Alabama Shakes, Boys And Girls

Making music your parents would like isn’t just for the Fleet Foxes anymore.

Alisa Weilerstein, Cello Concertos (Elgar & Carter)

Look out Yo-Yo Ma, there’s a new cellist in zzzzzzz

Alt-J, An Awesome Wave

Here’s the first of probably many entries on this list which seems like its primary reason for existing is to be transition music on NPR. Like there’s some report on a Peruvian ballet troupe struggling to make art with their limited resources, and then this pops on for fifteen seconds to help convince you that what you just heard was in fact very interesting and not a desperate attempt at interestingness which combines several things you don’t care about. It is relatively high energy, but stark and dramatic at the same time, and it’s constantly throwing “interesting” sounds at you, like bassoons and toy pianos, and layering everything a million times for no reason. And now here’s Terry Gross with “Fresh Air.”

Andy Stott, Luxury Problems

This is the kind of electronic music you’d hear in a modern art museum and it’s actually more boring than silence.

Astro, Astro

A nice lil’ multi-culti entry for NPR, this one apparently a Chilean version of MGMT. There is actually some very cool shit going on in Chile right now. This is the Wavves to that cool shit’s Thee Oh Sees.

Berlin Philharmonic, St. Matthew Passion

You know who I love? Classical radio DJs. They’re the best. Just in general, when people are only into classical music: the best. I mean, terrible, yeah, but taking the stance that nothing good has happened for over a hundred years is incredible. I can just picture them wincing at the overbearing city noise and fully bear hugging not just their ears but the entire sides of their heads in agony as a wailing ambulance drives by them on the street. Classical-only people are so prim and snooty and delicate they’re like some vestigial form of cultural renegade. I imagine if you pushed one over they would just lie there totally fucked like an upside-down turtle. You’ve got to love it when human society subverts nature and allows people like that to exist.

Meek Mill, Dreamchasers 2

I feel like hip hop at this point is as horrible and predictable and soul-crushing and ceaseless and artless and stagnant as the poverty and violence on the streets it comes from. This guy tells the narrative of how he grew up in a terrible place, sold drugs, and then became successful while so many others didn’t, and his embrace of every trapping of his prosperous lifestyle is fueled by guilt and regret. You may be familiar. Also: you can dance and fuck to it and play it real loud in a car with a lot of bass. Not that NPR listeners are doing those things. Instead they’re nodding their heads to the narrative and saying “oh, isn’t it awful” and “good for him.”

Bobby Womack, The Bravest Man In The Universe

Damon Albarn picked Womack up off the scrap heap and produced this album. It’s kind of like an extremely crappy version of the Rolling Stones reviving Muddy Waters’ career, or a more commercial and electric version of Jon Spencer and R.L. Burnside. I wonder if Bobby knows or cares what the hell is going on here.

Bomba Estereo, Elegancia Tropical

You can guess what this sounds like: an impulse buy CD at a fair trade coffeehouse.

Brooklyn Rider, Seven Steps

If you type “Brooklyn Rider, Seven Steps” into Google, the first results are Amazon, Brooklyn Rider’s website, Brooklyn Rider’s website, Brooklyn Rider’s website, and NPR First Listen. They’re a string quartet, FYI. An extremely well organized one. With a name that sounds like they should be a 2000’s synthpop version of Bachman Turner Overdrive.

Cafe Tacvba, El Objeto Antes Llmado Disco

If a band from Mexico sounds like 70’s Italian prog (think Gentle Giant plus opera) meets Animal Collective (i.e. post-digital American prog), are you allowed to not like it? Not if you’re NPR.

Carla Morrison, Dejenme Llorar

The score so far. Hip hop: 2, soul revival: 2, classical: 3, Spanish language pop: 4, bland Indie pop: 1, minimalist techno: 1, boring: yesalways.

Cat Power, Sun

Cat Power is the musical equivalent of Say Yes To The Dress (the least intolerable reality show my girlfriend watches).


Stupid fucking internet angst. Minutes 4 through 9 of ’Elevation’ doesn’t help. I should post a picture of Pharoah Sanders so white kids will know to hit ‘like’. I’m a white kid too. This has been a passive aggressive Tumblr post. There’s a black hole inside me, that’s where the good things go. I am clinging to him hoping his goodness can save me. If he doesn’t feel the weight of me yet then it’s only a matter of time. He called me back from work, ’Greeting to Saud’ parted the clouds in my head, and then I cried so hard my contact squeezed itself outta my left eye. I’m trying to find a foothold here. Good days follow bad days follow good days. I work sometimes but when I don’t the fear creeps in. I should just stay busy all the time. I should go to the coffee shop where my roommate is. I should finish my resume. I never wanted to need love this badly but holy shit I can’t wait to see his face on my doorstep next week. Now I’m scared again, so much want and need never ended well. An informal poll of my ex-boyfriends reveals they miss my cooking the most. Thank god for his unsophisticated palate, thank god he’s got the patience of a saint. I’m a bad girl trying to be good, he’s a good boy trying to be good but he doesn’t know that yet. I need some sort of combination saint and sanitation worker to deal with all my shit. I’m gonna fuck this up, some kind of shoe is gonna drop. Here comes the fear again, the end is near again. 'Ore-Se-Rere’ is telling me there’s a world outside the one in my head and I should lighten the fuck up. ’The Gathering’ is beautiful and then breaks down and then it gets beautiful again, it wants me to know that that’s just how the world is. I’m still trying to learn shit everyone else figured out when they were five. If I had had more love I’d be stronger by now. I wish I was one of those serene motherfuckers who had nice childhoods and now they’re untouchable. Or one of those tough motherfuckers whose lives were a pile of shit but it made them flinty and wise. I’m having a nervous breakdown almost every day over the stupidest shit. May he never feel like a caretaker or a crutch, may I never be a burden to the one I love, lord don’t let me fuck this up. This has been a really stupid Tumblr post.

Boston’s 1976 eponymous debut sounds like was written at least five years too early, which is maybe why the then-unknown band sold 1M records in a few months and had their NYC debut at Madison Square Garden. Between the showy guitar playing and Brad Delp’s insane pipes, the album is an obvious precursor to hair metal and exists in this bizarro aural universe linking 70s awesomeness and 80s silliness.

Favorite Lyric: “I looked out this morning and the sun was gone, turned on some music just to start my day. I lost myself in a familiar song, I closed my eyes and I slipped away.”

MUST LISTEN TRACK: ‘Peace of Mind’

Spotify: Boston – Boston

Pig River Records is your comprehensive guide to music as it was 50 years ago.

The site was established on the 1st of January 2012, (1962) since which time it has seamlessly reported on the world of music as if it were happening today.

Through both our website and social media outlets (facebook, twitter, tumblr, youtube) we will bring you articles, interviews, singles and full length LP album reviews as well as ‘Pig River Radio’, our regularly updated playlist of songs from the time.

As Pig River Records continues to grow we will make efforts to expand and make changes to help improve your experience as we cover the most remarkable period in music history.

Please feel free to get in contact with us if you are interested in contributing to the site or if you have any suggestions for improvements we can make.


Pig River Records features artists such as, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Nina Simone & The Crystals.

Why Don't They Teach Heartbreak At School?
  • Why Don't They Teach Heartbreak At School?
  • Aerial
  • Why Don't They Teach Heartbreak At School?

Aerial - Why Don’t They Teach Heartbreak At School?

Every so often a record comes along that takes you completely by surprise, blows you off your feet, then helps you up again so you can wear your feet out dancing to it, as is the case with Scottish power pop band Aerial’s second long-player, a mere 13 years after their debut album ‘Back Within Reach’ (!). 

I’m talking the kind of record that makes you want to purchase this band’s record, and all their other records, and their t-shirts, and then more copies of their records so you can give them to other people. That is how good it is.

The unassuming pastel pink cover hides a deceptive dozen new gems that will thrill and delight upon repeated listening. It must be something in the water up Glasgae way: like fellow denizens Teenage Fanclub and Attic Lights, Aerial deal in sweetly melodic rock with big hooks, Beach Boy-esque harmonies and buzzsaw guitars. And let’s not forget the lyrics! In short, the kind of songs that, once they’re in your head, they never want to leave.

[To these ears, anyway, there’s also quite a resemblance to late 90s heroes Silver Sun and Dutch power-pop-punks the Travoltas, so if all of these bands tick your boxes you’ll be all over this without having to read any further].

But for those that need any more convincing: Check the hammering Smithereens-esque guitars and drums on the opening track “Cartoon Eyes, Cartoon Heart” before the too-catchy-for-words title song asks the question that most of us have been asking since the dawn of time (or at least formal education). 

[The band have graciously allowed that track to be shared here for your aural delight, and I can assure you that with one listen you will be as hooked as I was.]

Each successive song is just as good as the last, each with new sounds to get lost in, like the surf guitars on “Great Teenager”, the melodica on “Madeline It’s Me”, the lap steel licks on “More Than Alcohol”.. and so it goes. 

But the last two tracks are my personal highlights: the epic “Where You Are” (which I am totally, utterly, unabashedly unashamed to admit moved me to tears on the first listen) and the heavenly closer - quite literally - “Wave Goodbye To Scotland”. 

I could dissect and describe every aspect of all these songs for you but that would be a complete waste of time; all you need to know is that you need to hear them as soon as possible. If you have ears and a pulse, your life will be improved immeasurably by this joyful record. Couldn’t be more highly recommended - 10/10

Dr Cosmo’s Tape Lab - Coconut Summer Drop-In 432

There’s definitely plenty of pop happening in Glasgow. If it’s not blog favourites Attic Lights and Aerial pleasuring our ears, it’s Dr Cosmo’s Tape Lab, the latest project from Joe Kane (The Owsley Sunshine, Them Beatles) and Stu Kidd (BMX Bandits, The Wellgreen).

While the last Dr Cosmo release from just a few months ago Beyond The Silver Sea was a spacey, pop-psychedelic concept album, Joe and Stu have kicked their shoes off and dipped their toes into the bracing Scottish seas with Coconut Summer Drop-In 432, where there’s nary an electric guitar to be found.  

Instead this brand new album takes its cue from the Beach Boys of the late 60s, particularly the Smile(y Smile) - Love You period; the idea for this LP came about after Joe and Stu went to a screening of the new Brian Wilson biopic, Love And Mercy. That they’ve managed to write, rehearse, record and release the entire album in such a short space of time is testament to their talents. That the album itself is such a pleasurable listen is another.

But while the Beach Boys epitomised the California coast, Dr Cosmo take an international approach, and the album feels somewhat like a musical cruise around the world, taking in Spanish and Italian lyrics, French accordions, and a multitude of other instruments and textures. It all kicks off with ‘Ready Steady Beach!’, bouncy ukulele and handclaps welcoming you aboard.

Continuing in a similar (but never overly samey) vein, each catchy little tune just finds enough time to bury itself deep in your cranium before the next one comes along (of the twelve tracks only two are longer than 3 minutes; the album itself clocks in at just over 28). I particularly enjoyed ’She’s Crazy’, the loping, lolling ‘Andiamo’, the Pet Sounds on synths-styled ‘I May Be Right’ and the penultimate track, the tropical ’Not Sorry About It’.

‘Get There While You’re Going’, meanwhile, may well be the highlight of the album, perfectly blending the classic Beach Boy harmonies with a uniquely British take on the joys of cross-country train travel - “nature’s green arms welcoming you back” - that does for the railways what The Divine Comedy’s ‘National Express’ did for coaches back in the 90s.

It’s actually quite difficult to review this album and not spoil the many unexpected delights that pop up throughout, in terms of lyrics, off-the-wall instrumental interludes, samples etc, a staple of the Dr Cosmo sound.

Overall this is a new but immediately familiar summer soundtrack that will brighten up your days and nights. While a few songs feel a tad underdeveloped this is a minor criticism and shouldn’t put you off discovering this little gem for yourself. 7.5/10

Prurient - “Bermuda Drain” (Hydra Head Records 2011)

Man this record is so good.  Prurient has almost completely dropped noise on this album; an album that is full of lush synth melodies and analog drum sequencers.  Some people may be shocked to listen to this if their only other experience with Prurient is say, “History Of AIDS”, but to me it’s been a natural progression up to this album.  Also his job of being lead synth player in Cold Cave I’m sure didn’t hurt either.  

But yeah, this shit is solid gold.  It’s like a heavy industrial/synth pop album with harsh vocals; something you don’t see often in this kind of style.  Maybe some EBM bands do that, but I wouldn’t know. The album is very unlike anything I’ve ever heard. There is even still noise/power electronics on here, check out “Watch Silently”.  

I can't recommend this album enough.  I swear you’ll get a huge boost in hipster points for buying it.  And the vinyl version is so sexy it hurts me to look at it. 


Titus Andronicus | Dimed Out

In 1940, Woodie Guthrie wrote a series of songs based around the hardship of migrant labourers and put them into an album titled ‘Dust Bowl Ballads’. The record weaved fictional stories, based around the ongoing economic depression in the United States at the time and came to be recognised as the very first concept album within music. Ever since, many of the greatest musicians have toyed with the fictional genre, opting to create fantasy stories to accompany their music and express themselves. It’s here we find Titus Andronicus - not for the first time - as they announce their forthcoming concept album, 'The Most Lamentable Tragegy’, due for release here in the UK on Merge Records.

Four albums in and we see Patrick Stickles and Co have developed a tendancy towards the concept record. Their second release was themed around the American Civil War and was arguably the catalyst to their career. It was an inteligent rock record, as much thought provoking as it was a noisey tribute to angst but it was also criticised by some for it’s bloodymindedness and for perhaps being a little aloof.

Move to the third record of their career and Titus Andronicus turns a corner. Gone is the beard that Patrick Stickles hides himself behind and out emerges a clean shaven, autobiographical songwriter, bearing his soul for all the world to see. In 'Local Business’ we see Stickles tackle personal subjects such as the eating disorder that has plagued him all his life. For me personally, it is the peak of artistic expression to share so openly. Whilst throughout their career, Titus Andronicus have had plenty of ideas, creative flair, intensity, passion and ability; here Titus Andronicus gave us an honest - warts and all - record. At the same time, behind the scenes we see support for the band deminished at their record label, as 'Local Business’ is scheduled for a U.S. release and nowhere else. Here in lies one of the greatest wrongdoings in modern rock music as the world is deprived of a truly great record and thus ends the relationship with XL Recordings.

With their fourth album upon us, I think it’s reasonable to assume that Titus Andronicus’ revertion back into the fictional storytelling style of songwriting, can only be in response to the vote of no confidence given by their last record label. It takes real courage to get up on stage and tell the world your difficult story but I for one am incredibly greatful to Patrick Stickles for doing so. I can only hope that the title of their forthcoming record is a slyly aimed snipe at those who lost faith in them, as Titus Andronicus give us 'The Most Lamentable Tragedy’.


(photo: my US import copy of 'Local Business’)

External image

Father To Son
  • Father To Son
  • Ned Brower
  • Great To Say Hello

Ned Brower - Father To Son

Here’s a new pop discovery for 2011: The first solo album by Rooney drummer Ned Brower, recorded in ten days and produced by Mike Viola. Ned’s sweet vocals, last heard on the title track of Rooney’s Wild One EP, are put to great effect on 10 bouncy tracks, the stand-out undoubtedly being this song. Ned has clearly been inspired by Sam Cooke’s What A Wonderful World and lifts the melody line and Sam’s wistful optimism for his own tune. Elsewhere there are echoes of CSNY and Herman’s Hermits on Underneath Your Spell, and the Nick Lowe-aping-Thin Lizzy-aping The Alleyway. Ned has done a fine job making a debut record under his own name. Most of these songs wouldn’t sound out of place on a Rooney album, but Ned’s own take on them is much more relaxed, as is Mike Viola’s production, and it all adds up to a marvellous record. 9/10

I need to get this out.

I keep hearing people compare Eretria’s pass at Amberle to what she did with Wil and I need to set the record straight.

Let’s review.  When Eretria and Wil first met, she was functioning in full rover capacity, going after an easy mark.  She drugged him and took the elf stones, and used her sexuality to do it.  When she shows up again at the Elven Palace and sleeps with Wil, she is there to retrieve the elf stones again, under duress I might add, so that she can be free of Cephelo from what is essentially indentured servitude.

So to recap, both times Eretria was making any sexual advance towards Wil, she did it because she had to, or because he had something she needed.

Now let’s review her interactions with Amberle.  She chooses to stick around for this quest seemingly because she’s present in a vision at Safehold, (and tied up) but despite how cold Amberle is towards her, she chooses to stick around even when she is untied and no longer actually needs to. Cephelo was gone for the time being and no one was controlling her. Even when Cephalo did show up, she chooses again to defy Cephalo and come back to save Amberle, knocking out the entire camp of rovers. Amberle promises her money, but they never speak of it again, and it’s almost just an exchange for the sake of not discussing why Eretria really came back for her when she already had everything she wanted, which was her freedom in exchange for Amberle.

Anyway, we fast forward to the hot tub scene, where they are for the moment, just relaxing.  There’s no one forcing either girl in any direction, and they’re just there, finally alone, having a seemingly normal conversation.  When Eretria makes her pass at Amberle, no one is influencing her.  Cephelo is no longer pulling her strings and there’s nothing that she needs from Amberle.  That’s what makes this different than what happened with Wil.  Her pass at Amberle wasn’t generated out of some ulterior motive or necessity, it came from a genuine place.  You can see when Amberle deflects that Eretria is truly hurt by being compared to rapey Cephelo, because she’s obviously got feelings for her.

If you’re not 100% sold, let’s talk about them being strung up by crazy elf dude. He whacks Amberle in the head to drag her away and immediately the camera pans to Eretria’s obviously distressed face.  Of all the reaction shots, they pan to her. While Amberle is getting prepared to be tortured, Eretria wiggles her way out of her bindings and immediately rushes to save Amberle. Unfortunately, Wil got there first, and was already mid smooch when she busted through the door (with an absolutely frantic worried look on her face, I might add).  When Amberle turns around and breaks the kiss, both she an Eretria look absolutely horrified, and Wil looks like he does not give a fuck at all, he has this completely blank look.  Seriously, go back and watch it.  He does not even skip a beat when he runs over to the little girl to ask for a way out.

Lastly, when Cephelo tricks Eretria into zip lining across to safety before Wil and Amberle arrive, Amberle is the one to call out to Eretria for help.  Wil isn’t anywhere in the frame (until he’s needed to blast the reaper with his handy elf stones really).  Cephelo says quite vindictively to Eretria that they’ll never choose her, but she looks straight at Amberle, says “so be it” and slides on back across, because Amberle needs her and that’s all that matters to her in that moment.

The whole point of this rant is, look at the motives.  Look at where the attention lies.  Wil isn’t in the middle of any love triangle, nor does he appear to want to be. It’s Amberle at the center between Wil and Eretria.  And seriously, if anyone tries to say that Eretria was just being a rover and trying to seduce Amberle because “that’s what she does” can fight me. Eretria is a precious bisexual child who has real feelings for Amberle.  Why else would she be on this suicidal quest?


Boom. Out.

RECORD REVIEWS - The Syria Issue

You may be asking yourself, “Hey, where are VICE’s usual pissy yet strangely on-point reviews? I was looking forward to reading about the latest release from my favorite _____-wave band!” Well, this month we decided to do things a little differently, apropos of our Syria Issue. Below, you’ll find reviews of (mostly) Syrian music, written by Syrian Americans, or in the case of Shalib Danyals, a person who has spent a shitload of time in the country. So far, Middle Eastern music hasn’t really had a ton of crossover appeal—unlike J-pop, K-pop, or Yanni, for instance. That said, you’ve probably been exposed to small doses of Middle Eastern music at some point, maybe without even knowing it.

The thing about a country at war is that what you hear on the news revolves almost exclusively around violence, suffering, and destruction. Hence we felt it relevant to offer insight into the listening habits of Syrians. Of course, the volatile political situation does change things and offers worrisome inspiration. Some Syrian artists have reflected on the turmoil of recent months via their songs, while others avoid the situation entirely—probably because weighing in on the conversation can easily get a musician thrown in prison or even killed.

As far as the “scene” goes over there, trends in music aren’t all that much different from their Western counterparts. Saccharine, hook-heavy pop reigns supreme. A couple of singers made popular by the Arabic version of the Idol franchise (Arab Idol, naturally) have risen up the pop charts. Hip-hop in Syria and other Arab states is slowly but surely developing into a legit genre. Since the beginning of the uprising that began about a year and a half ago, protest songs have steadily increased in popularity. And, of course, music that incorporates traditional sounds and instruments always has a strong following. Most Arabic music tends to rely on this sort of sonic commingling, and that’s what makes it unique. Even the catchiest pop song might include a customary dabke rhythm, or the twang of an oud (a traditional stringed instrument) among a plethora of synths and Auto-Tuned vocals.

Of course, because of the ongoing political tumult, there’s just not a ton of stuff being released at the moment. And as far as the standard music industry goes… Well, let’s just say it wasn’t super-easy to confine this reviews section to recent releases. Still, what we did find runs the gamut from slick pop to raucous techno-dance to heart-wrenching folk.

So read on, and give some of these albums a listen. Keep an open mind. Who knows? Maybe you’ll love it. And even if it’s not your thing, maybe when the next hot Jay-Z song drops, you’ll be able to say you know where a certain sample originated. And, if you’re into bragging, that you knew all about it before it was popular. Enjoy.


Read the reviews