This week’s Rock-a-Ramas were written by Fred Pessaro, Zachary Lipez, Grace Scott, Maria Sherman, Dan Morrissey, and Dave Carnie.
Interpol, The Other Side of Make-Believe
Interpol, baby. Before he joined as drummer, I used to follow around Sam Fogarino so much that the owners of Beacon’s Closet thought I had a crush on him. But I was just lonely! Then he got me a job at the store and I was the second person in Beacon’s history to ever get fired.
(The review would be better/funnier if I left it at that, but I’m simultaneously soft and uptight about ethics in music journalism. The new Interpol is good. Maybe their best since Antics. It’s no Ton-Ups, to be sure, but what is?)—Z.L.
I don’t have a single Belief. Can you Belief it? I know that people have Beliefs, but I’ve never listened to any Belief. I have friends who listen to their Beliefs and they seem to have a lot of issues. They’re very uptight, they’re offended by every little thing, and they’re just generally jerks. They’ve been listening to their Belief for so long that it has turned them into narrow-minded, stupid, intolerant, inimical, hateful, slow, dumb, dull, dimwitted, dopey, crazy assholes. They Belief in all kinds of crazy shit: god, Santa Claus, ghosts, flat planets, alien abduction, that some dude won an election that he didn’t—you can listen to Belief all you want, but that doesn’t make it true. If you listen to Belief, that’s fine, enjoy yourself, but realize that there are other people around you who don’t enjoy Belief the way you do. Some people like listening to other things besides Belief. Some people don’t listen to Belief at all and prefer to question Belief. Remember: if you listen only to Belief, you will never hear anything else.—D.C.
Beabadoobee? Beatopia? Said the boogie-said up drop the boogie! Bawitdaba-da bang-da-bang-diggy-diggy-diggy! (This record slaps.)—M.S.
Cheri Knight, American Rituals
Singer-songwriter Cheri Knight’s American Rituals compiles recently unearthed recordings from the artist’s highly experimental years at Evergreen College in the early ’80s. Hints of post-punk mixed with sound collage. “Prime Numbers” and “Primary Colors” are like Fluxis meets Sesame Street. It’s weird and mostly cool, an ideal soundtrack for a two-year-old as well as your local communist bookstore.—G.S.
Elf Power, Artificial Countrysides
According to https://fictionalcreatures.fandom.com/wiki/Elves, elves have a variety of different powers. They can cast spells, shapeshift, regenerate, manipulate light (photokinesis) and dark (umbrakinesis) without magic. Neat! I listened to Elf Power’s “Soft Trash” from 2022’s Artificial Countrysides and it sounded like Death Cab for Cutie without any hooks. You could definitely fool someone into thinking this is a good song if and only if it is licensed in some darkly-lit Netflix teen drama about depression, or whatever, but otherwise, talking about elves is much more worthy of your time.—M.S.
And now, the same review, in Elvish.
Edhel plural edhil rod plural rodyn, Artificial Countrysides
Galadhrim gar- a varietui -o different powers. Hain tur- cast spells, shapeshift, regenerate, manipulate galad (photokensis) a dúr (umbrakensis) ú- gúl. Puig! Im listened na edhel plural edhil rod plural rodyn’s “moe Trash” o 2022’s Artificial Countrysides a ha sounded like gurth Cab an Cutie ú- anui hooks. Cin could definitelui fool someone into thinking hi na- a man glír if a onlui if ha na- licensed in some darklui-lit Netflix teen drama nia depression, ben whatever, but otherwise, talking nia galadrim na- limb more worthui -o cín anand.—M.S.
…And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, XI: Bleed Here Now
By the time the Gallagher brothers got to the follow-up of their sophomore LP, they had become international superstars. The monolithic “Wonderwall,” had been played in front of 250,000 people at Knebworth and What’s The Story (Morning Glory) was a bonafide classic—with 22 million copies sold to date. But the followup, Be Here Now, was a bloated 71-minute LP recorded at Ridge Farm Studios in Surrey and Abbey Road in London, and featured the singles “D’You Know What I Mean,” “Stand By Me,” “All Around the World” and “Don’t Go Away.” The recording sessions were reportedly chaotic with tons of cocaine and illicit drug use, resulting in several tracks topping the seven minute mark.—F.P.
black midi, Hellfire
I gotta be honest, I've been listening to the same Fiona Apple cassette in my car for two years and that's about it.—D.M.
HISSING, Hypervirulence Architecture
There’s a whole new wave of horror films out now, and most of them are so “smart” that they forget to be truly terrifying. The Lighthouse? That was basically tentacle porn starring Popeye and the worst Batman. We need someone to truly show these A24 goobers what the true meaning of terror is. I guarantee if someone did, it would probably have Hissing as the soundtrack.—F.P.
If you shook up a bunch of disparate indie rock tropes like breathy shoegaze vocals, Built-to-Spill-y melodic leads, and downstroked guitars wet with flanger and reverb, you’d have Happening—which combines these elements to sound a lot like Archers of Loaf meets Catherine Wheel. Why can’t more bands try to sound like those two instead of aping the same MBV and Nirvana records over and over and over? Real heads recognize.—F.P.
Our boss, JJ Kramer, son of the founder of CREEM, the late, great Barry Kramer, is dissatisfied with our website numbers. He wrote the staff an email that included some suggestions for how we could fix it. I hope to address his suggestions in this review of Lizzo’s spectacular new album, Special.
"Bigger names are driving more traffic. We need more of it. In looking at the Asana calendar, I'm not seeing a ton of recognizable names. Let's fix that.”
Okay. Well, this is a review of Lizzo’s new album, but I can mention some other big names as well: Beyonce, the Beatles, Billy Eilish, Bieber, Bad Bunny, Cardi B, Drake, Adele, Taylor Swift (she’s still alive?), and Ye. Is that enough? Should we mention Kid Rock?
"I'm all for music discovery and championing the small guy, but feels like Fresh Creem is trending a bit too much toward an inside-baseball niche site. As I've mentioned before, CREEM was never shy about leaning into mainstream/commercial artists—it was all in how they covered those artists (and it needs to be more than a casual mention in a record review, etc).”
Oh. Okay. I suppose that first mention was a little too casual, but I’m hoping that if I mention the big names again then it’s “more than a casual mention in a record review?” I’m not being casual when I mention these bigger names, not only again, but in all caps: LIZZO, BEYONCE, THE BEATLES, BILLY EILISH, BIEBER, BAD BUNNY, CARDI B, DRAKE, ADELE, TAYLOR SWIFT (I’m being told that she is, in fact, still alive—phew), and YE.
"I think not having an immediate ‘SHOP’ button on the menu may be hurting us a bit. There's a fix in the works for that, correct?”
Yes. We’ve put it right here in the Lizzo review. Please go buy some stuff:
Going forward, is there a way to color code all of our categories; i.e., Fresh Creem, Ecomm, and Archive pages?
Good idea. But: