Music

In the best way possible, "KYBM" doesn't let its listeners get comfortable — which is apt for a song inspired by social justice activists who spend their time and resources combating complacency.

Singer and rapper Tunde Olaniran works for Planned Parenthood, and is an active supporter of the LGBT pride scene around Detroit and his home base of Flint, Mich. The non-musical side of his resumé hints at the hard and unpredictable work of taking on social issues, so it's no surprise that his music reveals a restless spirit and seemingly bottomless supply of energy.

Protomartyr's latest song, its best yet, is a fierce and unforgettable shredder. "Why Does It Shake?" — from the Detroit band's upcoming album, The Agent Intellect -- rumbles and roars with a gritty chug as frontman Joe Casey stares down his own mortality. "Sharp mind, eternal youth / I'll be the first to never die / Nice thought / And I'm never going to lose it."

Is Transparency The Music Industry's Next Battle?

Jul 14, 2015

The issue of how much musicians theoretically earn from their work has moved out of the trade press and into social media's trending topics recently, whether that's Taylor Swift demonstrating her clout via a successful protest of Apple Music or Jay Z's Tidal promising artists higher royalty rates than other streaming services. In the background of these debates is the question of whether songwriters and performers are actually getting all the money they're owed.

Teri Gender Bender, founder and lead singer of garage punk outfit Le Butcherettes, has one of the best stares in showbiz. As demonstrated in her supremely memorable Tiny Desk Concert, Gender Bender (Teresa Suárez by birth) makes direct and unblinking eye contact with individual audience members and the camera, confronting and reversing the viewer/performer dynamic.

The Indiana band Houndmouth mixed breezy SoCal harmonies, gritty roots-rock, anthemic sing-alongs and swampland stomp to make the defiant, free-wheeling Little Neon Limelight a perfect summer soundtrack. Here, guitarist Matt Myers, keyboardist Katie Toupin, bassist Zak Appleby and drummer Shane Cody perform a raucous rendition of "Sedona" live in the KEXP studio.

SET LIST

  • "Sedona"

Punk is not typically where one turns for mature thoughts on self-care and ending relationships in a healthy manner. But Columbus, Ohio quartet All Dogs is not where one turns for typical punk. The band makes punk music, but calls its songs "loud pop songs," and that's exactly right, too. The vehicle is loud guitar, unpolished but affecting vocals and fuzzy garage drums, but the destination is upbeat, catchy anthems with lyrics that are destined to be memorized before the end of the song.

Tame Impala's Kevin Parker is a relentless tinkerer: His songs have an impeccable, fussed-over quality, to the point where fussy impeccability could easily seem like the sum total of his mission. Sounding great and being great are two vastly different features in the ever-subjective world of rock 'n' roll, after all, and yet the Australian band's best songs have found ways to check both boxes.

It sounds like a dream: Two old friends, supporting each other from afar, both carve out stellar reputations in the music industry. Then, when they're established enough to call the shots, they band together. For two musicians, it's what really happened.

Girlpool's Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad perform in unison: They play their guitars that way — Tucker on lead, Tividad on bass — and they sing the same angsty, funny words simultaneously, or as if emulating a nursery-rhyme-style round, a la "Row Row Row Your Boat."

Pages