As I prepared for this piece, I kept telling myself I could stop anytime. I didn’t need to put myself through this. I should focus on the positive and artists whose work I really like. And unlike, say, Maroon 5 (who I’ve written about here), I can’t say I was ever a “fan” of Imagine Dragons. But I do need to admit something: some of those first few big hits were catchy. I won’t lie. Of course, they were overplayed, and the whole work of the Las Vegas quartet fits into a mold of dismissible arena pop rock as defined…


As the world has emerged from full COVID impact (even if that emergence may be ill-advised), 2021’s Emmys looked quite different than 2020’s. The 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards, the ceremony of which was hosted by Cedric the Entertainer, looked more like the awards shows we’ve come to know…also because its winners, specifically in the acting categories, were quite white in relation to the relative diversity of the nominations.

But many were happy to see THE CROWN taking home the most wins with seven (even as TED LASSO was the most nominated show with 13) and others were upset with THE…


I remember the Gorillaz being pretty cool in elementary and middle school. The novel project (note: not novelty) formed in 1998, and Blur frontman Damon Albarn and comic artist and Tank Girl co-creator Jamie Hewlett tackled multimedia ideas that came to define a millennial approach to music. Albarn wrote the music behind Hewlett’s designs, and together they built a fictional band with its own history, supported by an impressive amount of music videos over the years. The Gorillaz, at least in their early years, toured with a giant screen to showcase the “band.” But the duo turned trio (producer and…


Remember how huge “Royals” was? I do. It was kind of a big deal when I was in high school. And in spite of how much I like that song alone, its performer, Lorde, fleshed out the rest of her debut album with an approach that led many critics and fellow musicians to herald her as “the future of pop music.” Now, I don’t know about that, but I do know that the New Zealander, who was only 16 at the time of “Royals’” meteoric success, is one of the foremost practitioners of pop music today. And that’s an interesting…


I remember having some confusion about the nature of The Alan Parsons Project. From my initial and very peripheral experience with the prog/soft/pop rock outfit, I just thought it was a group fronted by a guy named Alan Parsons, the singer and guitarist of a band that followed the format of one typical of the 1970s and ’80s. But some years ago, I learned that the band behind “Eye in the Sky” utilized a rotating group of vocalists for songs written and produced by the titular Parsons but also Eric Woolfson. Indeed, at some point, Woolfson almost became the primary…


Indie rock band Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s came out of Indianapolis, Indiana in 2004, bringing from all their “indie/Indie/Indy” influence a whimsical yet somewhat bitter Midwestern vibe. As far as I can tell, the band is effectively disbanded, although exact information on that development isn’t readily available, at least to me. Since the release of Margot’s last album in 2014, frontman Richard Edwards, who led a wide, rotating cast of bandmates, has released three solo albums, which I’ve written about before. But in eight years, from 2006 to 2014, Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s released…


Out of the wastes of Minnesota (OK, Saint Paul) came Hippo Campus, an indie rock band formed in 2013 that went on (so far) to release three albums of original material in three years, from 2017 to 2019. The outfit had moved from, at their inception, a dream or bedroom pop sound into tropical-influenced rock (with that ethereal pop sticking around) for what I would guess is their most popular work. Now, as evidenced most strongly by the impetus for this piece, the EP GOOD DOG, BAD DREAM (2021), Hippo Campus is doubling down on heavier rock and electronic sounds…


The story of The Kinks is one of contradiction. Praised by critics and fellow musicians alike, the British rock group headed by Ray Davies and his brother Dave had significant hits in their formative decade (the 1960s). However, they were never able to land in the same commercial space as their peers like, say, The Beatles or the Rolling Stones. But The Kinks were no less forward-thinking or great in their prime. The “Muswell Hillbillies” formed in 1963 and disbanded 34 years later, in 1997, apparently due to some acrimony between the Davies brothers. In spite of recent rumors that…


Canadian nerd-rockers Barenaked Ladies are sometimes cited as one-hit wonders on the strength of “One Week,” their 1998 single that has taken the meme world by storm in more recent years. But of course, they had a few other hits beside that one, and a longer lead up and tail to that success than may be thought at first glance (or listen). Indeed, the Barenaked Ladies, at one time, ranked among my favorite bands. While there is still a lot to love about the band, in the years since the departure of co-founder Steven Page in 2009, BNL has floundered…


I really like Modest Mouse. So this may be a strange follow up statement: it was really difficult to listen through the band’s discography. Let me clarify: it was a good, but challenging, experience. That’s because, for a few reasons, I feel there’s a lot of psychic drama going on behind the indie darling’s music, a maelstrom of darkness stemming from frontman Isaac Brock’s lyrics and voice and the band’s unique and eerie sound as a whole. That sound has been tempered by pop instincts in recent years, as often happens to bands that find success and time hit them…

Tristan Ettleman

I write about movies, music, video games, and more.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store