Polly Watson

  • CH-CH-CH-CHERRY BOMBED

    WHEN A BAND, famous or unknown, leads with a hit it can mean only one of two things: They’re anxious to get the hell off the stage and go back to snorting rails at the Hôtel Plaza Athénée (or smoking crack out of a Bic-pen barrel at the Super 8), or they’ve got hits for days and can afford to burn them like Weimar Republic cash.

    The first thing that greets you as you walk into “Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock & Roll” at New York’s staid and storied Metropolitan Museum of Art is Chuck Berry’s blond Gibson ES-350T—likely, we are told, the one he used to record “Johnny B. Goode,” the legendary

  • STET! IN THE NAME OF LOVE

    Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style, by Benjamin Dreyer. New York: Random House, 2019. 278 pages

    I DIDN’T TAKE ENGLISH IN COLLEGE. I tested out of it. And I was stoked. Filling out financial-aid forms, backing into a cop car, and getting ringworm all seemed infinitely preferable to reading about how to parse a sentence, and thus I did all of the former and none of the latter. Eventually I landed a series of jobs that required me to at least be able to explain what a dangling participle was; still, every time I look at a style book, I do so through wrath-narrowed eyes.

  • Polly Watson

    1 BABY GRANDE, 1975–77 (HoZac) Chicago’s HoZac Records specializes in glammy power pop—modern (Mama, Velveteen Rabbit) and master-level (check out the incredible Julian Leal!). This album of previously unreleased tracks finds the Church’s Steve Kilbey and Peter Koppes wasting their pre–Blurred Crusade (1982) talent on derivative, stomping glam, and it is fucking AMAZING!

    2 SNAIL MAIL, LUSH (Matador) Just this year, Sunflower Bean’s twenty-two-year-old Julia Cumming sang of her age as being one at which a woman is viewed as “busted and used.” Snail Mail’s Lindsey Jordan, at nineteen, probably

  • passages October 07, 2016

    Alan Vega (1938–2016)

    “Screams at:

    03:33

    03:59

    04:38

    06:15

    08:11

    09:24

    09:50.”

    “imagine just playing this , like casually like ppl would listen to Beyonce and shit”

    —Comments on a YouTube video of Suicide’s “Frankie Teardrop”

    THERE WAS NOTHING CASUAL ABOUT ALAN VEGA, who died last summer at (what turned out to be) the age of seventy-eight. An artist, musician, provocateur, and all-around wild man, Vega was best known as the vocalist for the lightning-bolt-channeling Suicide, who in the late 1970s gave Frankenstein-life to the extraordinarily loud, harsh breed of synth punk that not only inspired others to take up the

  • passages August 28, 2014

    Tommy Ramone (1949–2014)

    BY THE TIME Tommy Ramone (née Erdelyi) died, his band, which came whipping out of the low, brick-walled canyons of Queens in 1974, had long since been canonized into oblivion, becoming the province of Urban Outfitter–clad interns (“Ramones Tee in Charcoal . . . perfect for channeling your inner rock god”) whose knowledge of the band’s oeuvre might well be limited to the appearance of “Blitzkrieg Bop” in a Coppertone ad. After his death, Erdelyi was rightly eulogized everywhere from Vogue to the New York Times. He had become a big deal. But the drummer/producer of one of the world’s most influential