Best Music Writing 2004

Special web Exclusive Anthology

ICARUS LINE: "As the Icarus Line winds up their set, [guitarist Aaron] North gets frustrated with sound problems. He hangs over his amp—on the face, he's painted, 'punk is dead'—trying to fix something in the back, playing all the while, his legs dangling in front of the amp. Finally, he lifts his guitar in the air and runs, jamming it as hard as he can into the wall. It breaks, but it doesn't break right, so he smashes it into the ground repeatedly until it splinters. Pardon me, but what the fuck? What about all that stuff he said about his equipment being his only possession and blah, blah, blah? 'The neck was breaking,' he says to you later. 'I was just giving it a proper burial.'" (AMR)

BUILT TO SPILL: "In conversation, you can only ask, 'But what do you mean?' so many times. What's he really saying when he claims music doesn't play a big role in his relationship with Karena anymore? You can't tell. And why, when he says, 'When you're young, music kind of brings people together,' can you hear him underlining the 'young' part? Want to romanticize things? Mention your friends have chosen Built to Spill's 'The Weather' as their wedding song, and even though it's going to be a big wedding with bridesmaids and priests and aunts and uncles and cousins, he'll sound genuinely thrilled. But as he talks about songwriting, he's about as excited as a sleepy sheriff explaining the day-to-day procedures at the jail." (KZ)

RICHARD BUCKNER: "That environment is everywhere in Buckner's songs, a reflection of the continent he's traveled across again and again: haunted, wide-open spaces; maybe a ragged steel guitar solo on the horizon; a piano line rushing up from nowhere like a city-limit sign; the heartbeat of the small town in the welling toms and country pap-pap drums; and the rare intersection where all of them come together. A long and winding metaphor, yeah, but there's a lot of time to think on those drives." (Rex Reason)

GWAR: "With a frothy vigor, [Oderus] explains the rest of his grand old plans for the Grand Old Party members: 'I would give birth to a snake-head fish. You don't have those on the West Coast, but they're a phenomenon in the East. They're called the Frankenstein fish because they can get out of ponds and flop around on dry land until they get to another pond, where they eat everything. A lot of people think they are fish, but they are actually individual sperm cells of Oderus. What I would do is I would come in [Bush's] flayed ass and let the Franken-fish eat him from the inside out.'" (Michael Coyle)

BRETT CAIN: "What truly makes Cain such a refreshing change of musical pace is far simpler than his talent and presence: he laughs. All the time. During gigs, during songs, during conversations. It's part of his utter lack of pretension. His ambition and dreams may be as big as his persona, but onstage, what you get isn't ironic indifference or rock-star-in-training bullshit—it's exuberance and unbridled passion. And it doesn't matter if he's performing an original song such as his frighteningly radio-friendly ode to life, 'Make Life' or the theme song to The Jeffersons." (Joel Beers)

JOSH ONE: "He looked down at his cell phone, then felt a thud. Looking up, he saw his car was right about to plow through a storefront. He quickly swerved the car onto the street, and then the car's airbag socked him on the head like a right hook from a boxer. 'I thought I was invincible,' he said. 'But that was the last straw.'" (Andrew Asch)

THE MELVINS: "While he's describing the crew, Rutmanis decides to break down the band, too: 'Buzz is like a chia pet with a black shirt on . . . that never shuts up. Crover is like how Duane Allman sees himself. I'm a giant blinking cone of sanity.'" (RR)

RYE COALITION: "'We almost had to get a loan from a loan shark,' Cuseglio sighs. It's hard to tell if he's kidding. 'Come on,' Leto says, as if it's the most logical thing in the world. 'What bank's gonna be like, "Here's 10 grand--go make a record"?'" (KZ)

BAY CITY ROLLERS: "Alex's went to dust around me while I was looking past the nose—a cute little upturned nose!—of this punker girl, and suddenly her nose turned fake-tan orange and deflated and her lips bloated to a sticky Botox pink, and she wasn't wearing a studded belt anymore; she had stonewashed jeans split at the knees and a laundry pile of a haircut, and I couldn't tell whether that tinkle-clink was from the ice cubes in her Long Island iced tea or all the turquoise and silver on her fingers, and she was brushing the highlights out of her eyes and screeching, 'MARRRRRRRGERRRITTTAVILLLE!' And I looked down, and I had a belly out past my toes, and I felt the Dockers constrict around my hips for a second—just to remind me not to put up a fight—and I had a Long Island iced tea, too, and I knew that I couldn't die because I was already dead." (CZ)

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