Sean Balkwill

Sean Balkwill grew up around the world as an army brat, then spent his young adulthood enjoying the Renaissance of college music in the South. He has been rumored to eat old Trouser Press magazines just for the fiber, and wash it down with a home brewed imperial stout made from melted I.R.S. vinyl records. Sean has previously written a music column, produced a radio show, and co-hosted another. He works as an illustrator and designer in North Carolina, and enjoys its craft beer scene, beautiful weather, and outdoor music venues. Follow him on Twitter for instant enlightenment or Instagram for beer porn.

Jun 062016
 

day of the deadWhen I was five, my brother and I were digging in the yard and we dug up some jelly beans. Being jelly beans, we ate them. As you would expect, as they weren’t really food and since they didn’t really decay, they were pretty much intact. And they were delicious. Our Mom apparently didn’t seem to think this was a very smart thing to do, so we were punished. But it  seemed oh-so-worth-it in the end.

Listening to the Red Hot Organization’s 25th release, the sprawling 5-CD Day of the Dead, I kinda feel the same way. There’s a lot more digging though, and way fewer jelly beans.
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May 292015
 

In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!

elliott smith covers

Someday you idiots will shut up and listen to him. — Lou Barlow

Elliott Smith was an outlier. He stuck out on his label, Kill Rock Stars, home of Sleater-Kinney and The Raincoats. He stuck out at the Oscars, wearing a white suit while performing “Miss Misery,” a polar bear stranded on a floating iceberg that failed to sink the Academy’s love of all things Titanic. And he stuck out in defiance to America’s ignorance of his music by continuing to do things his own way, against the advice of those who supposedly had his best interests in mind. Unfortunately, he sometimes didn’t have his own, either.
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Feb 132015
 

Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

Gorillaz, the superband partnership between Blur’s Damon Albarn and Tank Girl comic artist Jamie Hewlett, mixed up indy rock and trip-hop and became the best-known cartoon band since Jem and the Holograms. Albarn and Hewlett would keep the revolving door on Gorillaz open, working with Lou Reed, Snoop Dogg, and De la Soul, among others; Albans insists that despite rumors of a falling out with Hewlett, Gorillaz is still swinging after more than a decade. They remain best known for “Clint Eastwood,” their first single from their first album. Let’s take a look at some of the better covers of this college classic.
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Aug 222014
 

In the Spotlight showcases a cross-section of an artist’s cover work. View past installments, then post suggestions for future picks in the comments!

The rock and roll bands that slammed on the brakes and took the turnoff at country music are numerous. Gram Parsons got high with Keith Richards and “Dead Flowers” was born. The number of times Elvis Costello has cheated on rock and roll with country’s graces is too numerous to count. Jack White turned the knobs for Loretta Lynn. And so on.

The postpunk and indiepop bands that have segued into a Ryman act are no less numerous. X gave birth to the Knitters. The New Pornographers cut loose chanteuse Neko Case. And the Archers of Loaf’s Eric Bachmann disbanded all notions of his indie rock band and spread out into numerous directions, including the roots rock band Crooked Fingers.
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Jun 272014
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

Bob Dylan recorded “Simple Twist of Fate” for one of his most popular albums, 1975’s Blood On the Tracks. Overanalyzed by critics and Bob fans everywhere, Tracks was dismissed by Dylan for having been influenced by the drama of a failing marriage, but there’s no denying how much pain comes through on the album’s songs, particularly this one.
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Jun 042014
 

Jolie Holland’s sixth studio album, Dark Wine Sea, has been getting notice, partly due to a soulful cover of Joe Tex’s 1967 hit “The Love You Save (May Be Your Own),” a song that gained new life a few years ago when it was featured in Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof. As Tex sings about his experience with brutal racism and the injustice of sundown towns, it’s impossible to ignore his message as he pleads with whoever will listen to mend their rocky relationships in the name of love. Continue reading »