Jared Levy

Steve Toltz’s Platonic Ideal

September 15, 2015

An abrasive ex-con, Aldo Benjamin is perhaps not the easiest protagonist to sympathize with. But over the course of Steve Toltz’s second novel Quicksand, Benjamin draws you in.

In Search of Karl Ove Knausgaard

April 29, 2015

“I never thought about my life when I was writing My Struggle,” Norweigan author Karl Ove Knausgaard says.

U Before Me

March 20, 2015

J.C. Hallman’s B & Me is a love story, a look into the writings of Nicholson Baker, but also, as the book jacket plainly states, “a true story of literary arousal.”

Nicholson Baker Navigates the Buffet

September 16, 2013

Blurring the line between fiction and nonfiction is familiar territory for Nicholson Baker.

The Major-League Speedy Ortiz

July 9, 2013

Speedy Ortiz is defying the times. In its approach to both recording and touring, the band has built its fan base in an alternatively modern way: music lovers first, commercialists second.

Popstrangers Dabble in Pop

February 25, 2013

An upstart New Zealand rock band, Popstranger will release their debut album Antipodes through Carpark Records at the end of the month.

Megan Reilly, Doing Well

May 21, 2012

Megan Reilly’s voice and spirit are immediately captivating. She brings warmth to even the darkest of topics—a few of which are covered on her new album, The Well. From breakups to death, the material can be maudlin, but Reilly is a skilled songstress: she beautifies what she touches.

Maps & Atlases Find Their Way

May 18, 2012

Pop music is a malleable and expansive genre. There is a lot of space to play around. Chicago natives Maps & Atlases know this and enjoy its full range of possibilities.

Here We Go Magic’s Production Values

May 8, 2012

Here We Go Magic frontman Luke Temple believes strongly in that moment when the recorder turns on and the creativity flows out.

The Continuing Labor of Lowe

April 24, 2012

At 63, Nick Lowe is experiencing a musical rebirth. Once the writer of rock hits “So It Goes” and “Cruel to Be Kind,” Lowe is now content to slow down the pace, favoring instead stripped-down arrangements and ballads. The Old Magic, his latest album, includes originals with a few covers sprinkled in—notably, “The Poisoned Rose,” by collaborator and kindred spirit Elvis Costello.

John D’Agata, In Check

April 17, 2012

While John D’Agata is a passionate advocate and practitioner of the essay, he is also polite, well-spoken, and reasoned in his defense of manipulating facts and eschewing the label of nonfiction. His most recent book, The Lifespan of a Fact, presents D’Agata’s arguments by way of example: a reproduction of his 2003 essay for The Believer along with a transcript of the ensuing exchange between himself and one of the magazine’s fact-checkers, Jim Fingal.

Kevin Barnes’ Foundations Are Solid

March 29, 2012

Of Montreal is perhaps the most prolific and consistent indie rock band in the past two decades. Thank Kevin Barnes, the group’s frontman and songwriter, whose sometimes-painful autobiographical lyrics and eccentric pop sensibilities are key to the band’s unique and compelling identity.

Touring with Toots and the Maytals

March 26, 2012

Frederick Nathaniel “Toots” Hibbert is a living legend. Across six decades, he and his band Toots and the Maytals have defined reggae music. He even goes so far as to call himself the genre’s inventor.