Image for post
Image for post

Whoever is responsible for tracking down and persuading the New Radicals to reform for the Biden inauguration deserves a medal.

Tomorrow, on Wednesday January 20, one-time frontman Gregg Alexander will get the old band back together for the first time in twenty-two years to perform their one and only hit single for the virtual Biden-Harris “Parade Across America” inauguration event.

As part of one of the most famous one-hit-wonder bands of all time, Alexander disbanded New Radicals in the summer of 1999 at the height of their fame, a mere nine months on from the release of their debut single You Get What You Give. The song became an international hit in the fall of 1998 and will no doubt be familiar to anyone who came of age at the turn of the millennium and had their ears within spitting distance of FM radio.


Image for post
Image for post

Microphones in 2020 is the latest release from Washington-based songwriter and visual artist Phil Elverum. Today he’s more commonly known for his work under the prolific Mount Eerie alias, but twenty years ago he came of prominence spearheading the lo-fi indie band The Microphones, releasing a series of albums that now hold cult classic status.

The plainly titled Microphones in 2020 represents the first release for seventeen years under that name, one which listeners like myself had naively come to assume was defunct and relegated to Elverum’s past. For no particular reason, Elverum decided to play a small gig as The Microphones last year. …


Image for post
Image for post
Credit: Matt Lankes

Richard Linklater once said that all films are about time. As a visual art, film suspends and edits time to showcase an alternative to the constant flow of reality, playing with memory and sense of place as a gateway to tell stories. It moves into the future and it goes way back, too. We know actual time cannot be erased or reclaimed, but films inhabit a world where anything seems possible.


Image for post
Image for post

The only thing bigger than the sound of Arcade Fire is their ambition.

After five albums and hundreds of live shows it’s easy to take their extravagance for granted, but rewind one whole decade and it wouldn’t be considered hyperbole to state that they’d already approached seriously operatic heights with their first two albums. Yet the period surrounding the release of their third album The Suburbsregularly touted as the band’s zenith — built on the grandiosity of those albums and managed, remarkably, to surpass them.

Where Funeral spiralled skyward in curlicues of quasi-religious fervour, The Suburbs unfurled far and wide across sixteen tracks and an hour-plus run time. It explored the band’s inquiries into life and death and then relentlessly pursued them through the prism of childhood nostalgia. In doing so it refined what seemed to be Arcade Fire’s overriding mission statement: to embellish life events that feel essential to the human experience. …


Image for post
Image for post

“The close-up, the correctly illuminated, directed and acted close-up of an actor is and remains the height of cinematography. There is nothing better. That incredibly strange and mysterious contact you can suddenly experience with another soul through an actor’s gaze. A sudden thought, blood that drains away or blood that pumps into the face, the trembling nostrils, the suddenly shiny complexion or mute silence, that is to me some of the most incredible and fascinating moments you will ever experience.” — Ingmar Bergman

More than any other director in the history of film Ingmar Bergman used depictions of the human face as a means to probe the complexities of our innermost thoughts and feelings. How we see the world is a reflection of our lived experience and this knowledge is key to approaching the frequently austere nature of Bergman’s films. Part of the reason his work still fascinates viewers is because of what it can potentially reveal about ourselves as opposed to merely showcasing the lives of others. As such his films often feel like they have a mirror function where dialogue between characters actually stands in for a discussion of ideas between the director and his audience. …


Image for post
Image for post

‘Best of’ lists are not really important, are they?

Yet at this time of year they are everywhere, endlessly organising a chaotic glut of music, film, television and literature. The end of 2019 affords us the opportunity to put a cap on the decade that has just been, soon to be consigned to the annals of history. Perhaps this is why they hold such fascination for culture junkies such as myself, but why do we then often feel compelled to produce our own?

Before Spotify and Apple Music changed the very way we consume music, Last.fm was tracking recording habits and compiling them into weekly statistical data dumps for the numerically-inclined. I’ve had the app installed on either my phone or my laptop ever since I signed up way back in 2006, meaning that I have a fairly accurate log of the amount of times I’ve listened to songs from each of the albums in this list. There’s no purpose to this — maybe like the list itself, and yet I’m fascinated by the idea of it as a complete work that exists sans any concrete meaning. …


Image for post
Image for post

Compiling an end-of-year albums list always feels like a slightly futile idea.

The music is still present. It feels unfinished.

Listening to music is never a done deal, but the ubiquitous end-of-year list seeks to rationalise a year’s worth of music and box it away. Yet rarely does there come a point at which it feels fitting to compartmentalise an individual record and say “I’m done with this!” We merely move on when something else grabs our attention.

It’s worth noting the key differences between personal end-of-year lists and those compiled by publications.

Magazines online and in print (those that remain) essentially collect together opinions from a variety of contributors that serve to truncate the best of multiple genres under one umbrella, whereas personal lists should be just that: personal. If there’s any advantageous reason for paying attention to these lists it would seem to be to act as a guide for further exploration. …


Image for post
Image for post

Christian Marclay’s The Clock (2010) is a 24-hour long video installation composed of instances in film and television where clocks or watches are either visible in shot or just out of shot, or where someone is asking/telling the time. These have been painstakingly edited together to chronicle the passing of real time and as a result it can be considered an actual timepiece.

At no point during the piece (The Clock is not a film, merely a collage of film segments) should the viewer need to refer to their watch or phone to check what time it is (for it is on the screen playing out straight ahead) though the compulsion to frequently monitor that what we’re watching is perfectly synchronised with real time plays like a magic trick, demanding continuous reality checks. …


Image for post
Image for post

Today marks exactly twenty years since the release of Lauryn Hill’s seminal debut (and to date, only) solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Easily one of the best albums ever made in any genre, Miseducation has had a significant and lasting impact on me over the past two decades. It’s also the first album by a black artist — male or female — that I bought, at a time when teen pop was dominating the charts.

Whilst most of the writing surrounding this anniversary is rightly discussing the album’s legacy and what it means to hear it in 2018, I wanted to focus on the theme of love and how it’s interwoven throughout as a means of inspiration and education via the conversations that result from its title. …


Image for post
Image for post

“What’s the point in singing songs, if they’ll never even hear you?”

“We’re all gonna die.”

“I love you more than the world can contain in its lonely and ramshackle head. There’s only a shadow of me, in a matter of speaking, I’m dead.”

In early 2015 Sufjan Stevens released an album called Carrie & Lowell.

It was inspired by the death of his mother in 2012 and the frequent trips they would make to Oregon during his childhood.

It was met with an overwhelming response from listeners and critics alike.

Stevens was born in 1975 and was raised through most of his childhood by his father Rasjid and his stepmother Pat. Carrie, his biological mother, divorced Rasjid after seven years of marriage, leaving their four children with no guarantee that she would be involved in their futures. It was only through her re-marriage to Lowell Brams in the early 1980s that Carrie began a sort of fractured, distant relationship with her children. …

Alex Chocholko

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