The Thermals’ best album is relevant again, but that’s not what makes it so great

When The A.V. Club put together an Inventory of George W. Bush-era political works that still hold up, we couldn’t have known just how applicable they would be in a Trump presidency. Likewise, when The Thermals released the career-best album The Body, The Blood, The Machine in 2006, they weren’t banking on their…

Riot grrrl grew up on Sleater-Kinney’s Dig Me Out

It didn’t take long for riot grrrl to turn into girl power. By 1997, what had started as a provocative, politically charged underground phenomenon had been chewed up and spat back out onto a ringer T-shirt, a victim of its own charisma. Many of the movement’s key bands were gone or in the process of breaking up—’97…

Big Star’s swan song captured a band—and a genius—falling apart

When is an album not an album? In 1978, the American independent label PVC Records released a Big Star LP called 3rd, which came out from the U.K.’s Aura as The Third Album, with a different track list, later that same year. Recorded in 1974, the songs on what is now known primarily as Third had been essentially…

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion hit its freak-rock peak on Now I Got Worry

A piercing scream opens “Skunk,” the lead track on The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s Now I Got Worry. It’s a harrowing first impression, but coming from Spencer, it feels strangely par for the course. By 1996, all manner of odd sounds, effects, and studio eccentricities had become integral to the Blues Explosion’s…

Trampled moss and sitars: Pearl Jam’s tricky, transformational No Code

“The last time I saw Eddie, he was lying on his face…” It’s the summer of 1995 and Neil Young is standing in front of a crowd of 50,000 frothing Pearl Jam fans at San Francisco’s Polo Fields attempting to head off a riot with only his guitar “Old Black” and a few limp boomer-isms at his disposal. So far, it’s a…