Very Good Haiku: A 2021 Music Writing Experiment

I noticed a couple new things about conventional music review writing this year: namely, that mostly it is boring to me and I would rather just discover and think and write about music independent of it *and, breath* that there is way too much music I love all of the time to devote the one hundred listens and days of study a very thoughtful and long review that I would not be paid for would require for every record I want to discuss and share.

I also feel like in the Bandcamp Era, the best thing you can do as a lover of music who wants musicians and labels to be paid fairly and survive is to leave as many comments as you can on Bandcamp! That is what people who are buying music directly from artists and labels look at to get direction; I am 100% more likely to give something a wishlist save for later or a deeper listen if one of the listeners whose instincts I trust leaves a positive note. I want to be clear here: I think there is a very important role for extended discussion and critique of music, but since I am not yet one of the few remaining people who get paid to do that work, I would like to save my energy for those deeper dives with the things I feel I have the very most to contribute thought around.

Additionally, as a writer, composing reviews in haiku form has proven to be a very useful activity. I love that it saves a lot of time I would spend producing something most people won’t bother to read, anyway. It helps me feel more productive and less stressed out, because I can review more music I love, and not feel trapped under the burden of the work writing a more conventional review would require. Listening to more music and writing more reviews makes me feel like “a steam-locomotive ran off the track [ready to] give the whole wide world a funk attack!!!” I need everyone to see how fucked up the world is right now and opt to “Jaaam On It!” It has also actually proven to be a very useful exercise in really trying to boil a musical experience/argument/statement down to its barest essence. I recently started keeping notes in my daily planner of my listening habits and how I spend my time in order to keep track of things I spend time with, notice my own patterns more, and feel energized by my own productivity when I am doing the work. I have also taken to sharing these daily on social media, for accountability and also to share what I am listening to with everyone, because that is what this shit is largely about, right?

In 2021, all of my record reviews are being composed in haiku form and posted on Bandcamp for the specific releases. I also listen to a lot of old and weird music not on Bandcamp, though, and I want you all to have a place to read all of them if you would like to, so that is this space. I will add them to this entry in the order they are composed.

This project is dedicated to my friend from English Teacher School, Audrey Connor, who once wrote me a haiku about how badly she wished she could go see the Hives with me, which most definitely included the line: “black and white–hot, sweaty…FUCK!” It is also dedicated to Leah Callahan, who put gentle pressure on me to start writing again, shortly before I began this project, specifically because the world needs more truly working class artists. I am here writing again and banging my head against the door because of her.

As a writer, I am deeply indebted to Jeff Moreland, Kate Haffey, Liana Odrcic, and Anne Frances Wysocki. They each made me really believe in the importance of literature, experimentation, education, cultural critique…and that I was very capable of being an important voice in the conversation. All of the writing I ever do is dedicated to them. (Oh, and Karen Huber, the only good teacher I had in elementary school, who supplied me with endless blank, bound books to fill up for her.)

Very Good Show Review Haiku: Refused/Hives (20th anniversary of the first time they toured, and following my terrible experience going all the way to L.A. to catch the Bikini Kill reunion) 5/20/19 @ the Vic–Chicago, IL

white boys from Sweden

care more about oppression

than Bikini Kill


Me, in full Hives band uniform, complete with paradiddle socks made by Tom Tom Mag, ready to “find the backdoor out of teenage hell,” like I am still thirteen at the turn of the century.

Very Good Album Review HaikuStrictly East Coast Sneaky Flute Music by Swirlies

propulsive rhythms

universe swirling around


(One more, because I really love this album very much:)

there is a bonus:

very nineties stage discourse

to finish it off


Leah Callahan of the also Very Good Band from Boston, Turkish Delight, sent me this amazing flyer to enable my 90s Boston music fandom. She wasn’t sure who made it, but I sent it to Andy Bernick from Swirlies, and he confirmed he created this wonderful thing which is now my phone wallpaper, because this week made me a 90s Boston weirdo music superfan. I am now a 33 year old woman in 2021 Chicago who was a grade school girl in Cleveland in the 90s when these bands made music in Boston who has a vintage Swirlies/Turkish Delight flyer as her phone wallpaper, so DIY music is pretty FUCKING COOL.

Very Good Album Review HaikuVeni Vidi Vicious by the Hives

This year was the 20th anniversary of this Very Good Record that came out when I was coming of age at the turn of the century. Perfectly timed!

There is a party:

the century is turning.

Teenage hell; escaped.


Very Good One-of-a-Kind Tape Review HaikuThree Pillars of Limbic Fission by Ⓚ

My friend found this private-pressing cassette which claims to be the only one of its kind in Ohio.

consciousness, drifting

drones of time, repetition

…in another realm…


Very Good Record Review Haiku: Hunger for a Way Out by Sweeping Promises

The bass is WHITE HOT!!!

I may never sleep again?!?

…dancing in my bed…


Very Good, Excited, Pre-emptive Reissue Review Haiku: Mountains 20th Anniversary Expanded Edition by Mary Timony

I do not have this actual reissue yet, but I have pre-ordered it. This haiku is about this album in general to promote the reissue dropping January 15th.

I will always love

hearing a brilliant woman

left alone to write


Very Good Album Review HaikuSt. Cloud by Waxahatchee

I loved Katie Crutchfield’s music in 2012-13 and it helped me through a very rough time. I got to see her do her Big Deal Premiere at Pitchfork in 2013, and it was very painful to hear and witness. As someone with stage fright myself, she was audibly scared and felt small–her voice faltered, the raw power of her incredible songwriting and singing wasn’t fully conveyed. It brings me so much joy to hear her sounding SOOOO BIGGGG and confident on this release.

There’s no greater joy

than to witness someone’s growth;



A Very Good DJ Set Review Haiku: NYE Mix for Sleeping Village by DJ Mary Wells

This set was created to bring some live music energy to people’s NYE in quarantine–dancing to it alone in my kitchen was the best part of mine, and I in fact had to strip down *and* turn down the heat for this one. The money it raised went directly to the workers of Sleeping Village, a venue here in Chicago.

Chicago winter:


The gothest city.💗🔥🌨🌆


Very Good Music Nerd Joke About My Dog (NOT A HAIKU):


Very Good Haiku About My Dog Listening to Eartheater

Lying on the floor

Not sure what is happening

Yet I search for it


Very Good Bass Line Review Haiku: “Fountain” by PJ Harvey (the version on Dry with the murkiest fucking bass of all time, probably)

The murkiest bass:

she lives underneath the sea,

and is full of W R A T H !!!!

(Truly, the bass is suboceanic–but that, my friends, is one whole line of the haiku. And then there is little space to discuss the Very Important Wrath. This is why we say “Very Good” and not: excellent, wonderful, groundbreaking, pioneering, S E M I N A L, critical, multi-faceted, mind-boggling, or whatever else. Well, there are other reasons we don’t use “seminal,” but I digress. Very Good Haiku is about telling the most with the least!)


Very Good Vocal Review Haiku: “Love Buzz” by Nirvana, as remastered by Sub Pop

Why does Kurt Cobain

sound like he is becoming

Kermit the Frog, here?????


Very Good Noise Tape Review Haiku: Skeen by Mariam Rezaei

V E R Y D I F F I C U L T!!!!!

recommended if u like:

hiiiiiisssss. GLUG? Agh!!!!….ahhhhh🎶🎶 ahhhhhhhHhhhhh🎶🎶🎶🎶

(According to the Bandcamp description, it is about the fucked up conservative and racist shit happening in the UK. Something fascinating I noticed listening to more experimental music this year is that sometimes the artist statement that comes with this music is what makes it valuable, e.g. Stick Control for the Air Drummer by Mira Martin-Gray, which made my favorite music of the year list based solely on how cool of an experiment it is and how meaningful it feels. Noise is sort of like being at the art museum: it helps to read the tiny words on the side. But it is also very much like FUCK THE ART MUSEUM, which also happens to be the name of what my friend, Peter J. Woods, does within the experimental music realm in Milwaukee.


Very Good Universal Sex Appeal of Iggy Pop Review Haiku: “I Need Somebody (Bowie Mix)” by the Stooges

Is it just me, or

do we all want to be who

Iggy sings to here?


Very Good Haiku Review on Why Parliament Funkadelic are a National Treasure: “Mothership Connection” by Parliament

Parliament: the groove

connecting every form of

American sound.


Very Good Song to Play Very Loud in Quarantine Review Haiku: “Celebrate the Mundane” by Grass Widow

This is the greatest

quarantine survival song

that I’m aware of.


Another Very Good Bass Line Review Haiku: “She Brings the Rain” by Can


Sexiest bass line!!!!

I return to it each spring,

bringing rain again.


Another Very Good Song to Bang During Quarantine Review Haiku: “Sludge” by Squid

the Netflix boredom

and looming insanity

have been VERY👏👏 REAL👏👏👏


Yet Another Very Good Quarantine Banger Review Haiku: “Please Don’t Step On My Rainbow” by the Cleaners from Venus

Great quarantine tune:

“please don’t cough in my doorway”



Very Good Song Review Haiku: “Giant” by The The

A man dares to sing

his doubts, insecurities:

everyone joins him!!!


Very Good Song Review Haiku: “Trouble in Mind” by Nina Simone

Here, Nina Simone

shows us how to remain sane

when things are REAL BAD.


Very Good, Wildly-on-Point Song Review Haiku: “F.U.N.K.” by Betty Davis

Betty Davis sings

of the epigenetics

of funking around!


Very Good Description-of-What-Blacks’ Myths-Sound-Like Haiku:

I bought a whole new audio setup just to listen to this tape.

Blacks’ Myths conjure

the noise of a haunted past

and eternity.


Very Good Song Review Haiku: “No Fun” by Too Free

This song inspired me

to attempt to do better

in the ways of love.


Very Good Song Review Haiku: “Cheree” by Suicide

Please, just imagine:

the whole world’s most romantic

ice cream truck!!!! THOSE TONES!!!!


Very Good Musical Dating Rules (NOT A HAIKU):

Tracy Wilson from Dahlia Seed found this flyer from 1994 she had never seen before and posted it today. This is shaping up to be becoming a Very Good Haiku/Vintage Flyer hybrid blog and it is Double Very Good.

If you do not get me at my En Vogue, TLC, and SWV, you do not deserve me at my Unwound, Dahlia Seed, and Stooges. (To be clear, the latter are the Absolute Sexiest Places I Go.)


Very Good Song Review: “Always Now” by Section 25

supremely dubbed out

anarchist nihilism



Very Good Drum Review Haiku: “Lines and Lines” by the Spinanes

This damn rhythm is


love song to myself💗🎶


Very Good and Funny Haiku About Thurston Moore’s Privilege:

Something so funny:

Thurston Moore is from a place

called “CORAL GABLES.”


Very Good Evidence-Boston-90s-Music-is-Saving-That-Place-Culturally Review Haiku: “If You Can Hold Your Breath” by Karate

OH MY! Walden Pond’s

never ever sounded so

extremely sexy.


Very Good Haiku About Supporting Live Music Venues You Love:

Side bonus: witness me being slightly too lit after just dosing my 5mg of THC, wearing two hoodies.

They will die without

all of our support right now.

Please help if you can!!!


Very Good Song Review Haiku: “Under the Great City” by Essential Logic

The perfect slow jam:

grooving in your own warm zone,

below snow blankets.


Very Good Review Haiku On the Good Part of a Not Especially Good Song, in Three Parts: “Basketcase” by Green Day


The male sex worker

and female psychologist

are Quite Very Good👍


He does not assume

we want to hear him complain

which is also good!


Lastly, he accepts

and acknowledges his own

mental health issues.


Very Good Haiku About the Value of Listening to Vinyl Through the Purest Tubes in Quarantine:

The music crackling

is the primordial fire

we still gather by.


Very Good Riff Review Haiku: the entire VERY LONG album Guilt, Regret, and Embarassment by Treepeople

Which punk band riffs most?

My current thought: Treepeople.

Chock full of those RIFFS!!!!


Very Good Album Review Haiku: Healing is a Miracle by Julianna Barwick


t u n n e l i n g towards light, and b e l l s!

Voices raised, we lift.


Very Sad Haiku Upon Seeing “Rest in Power, Alejandro Morales” On the Door of the Empty Bottle, Surrounded By Candles:

The door may be closed,

but we are still here…glowing…

in the coldest time.


Very Good Mail, or Some Interesting Evidence of My Attempt to Be Having a Very Good Year (NOT A HAIKU):

Ways I should have known I would become a music writer: I stole chronically as a poor kid growing up and about 90% of it was writing utensils/supplies and music magazines. I have always loved fresh ink, many colors, and setting intentions–and I have always not respected laws that are deeply unfair, such as that poor people don’t deserve anything. Every month is Very Good and has a song-based intention.


Dr. Joy Division (N O T A HAIKU!!!):

For a few years now, I have been possessed by a recurring daydream in which I have become a clinical psychologist–something my therapist told me is so difficult, her and many of her cohort developed chronic physical pain or relapsed in substance abuse issues they thought they had recovered from–specifically so that when the sad, struggling clientele come in, I can listen to them very intently. Then, there will be a long pause, and I will look deeply into their eyes, and say: “I think I understand what is happening here. You’ve got the spirit, but lose the feeling.” Then I will get up, hit “play” on “Disorder,” and begin dancing all around the office, because music and dancing are the only things that have kept me reasonably mentally and emotionally well. In the dream, they dance with me, eventually–by the time the verse comes in! Until we are yelling “FEEEELING FEEELING FEEEELING FEEELING FEEEEEEELING FEEEELING FEEEEEEEELIIIINNNNNGGG,” and having some again.


Very Good Song of the Month Review Haiku: “Mystery Achievement” by the Pretenders

Chrissie Hynde, my Q U E E N,

never gave up on her dream.



Very Good Haiku About the Role of the Reverend Gary Davis in My Life: “I Am the Light of This World” by Reverend Gary Davis

Reverend Gary,

the greatest church that I know:

Harlem street song church.

(A very close second being Funk Church.)


Very Good Haiku on How Growing Up at Hardcore Shows Has Impacted What I Want From Music:

I know I am punk

because I always desire

bass when we begin.


Very Good Working List of Very Cool and Important People from the State of California, in Haiku Form:



M A R I A N A T I M O N Y!!!!!!!

And Poison Ivy!!!!!!!!!



and the only boys allowed:

fuckin MINUTEMEN!!!!!!!!


Grass Widow still RIP!!!

Every day of my damn L I F E:

Grass Widow still rip.


How could I forget

the motherfucking Coup, man?!?!?



Another Very Good Mail Day!!!: The Case of the Chewy Box That Was Not Actually From Chewy At All, but Leah Callahan, Her Very Royal Self:

Thank you so much, Leah!!!!!!!!!!

Did I order this?

Postage is unusual!

Open it and S C R E E E E A M!!!!


Very Good Song Review Haiku: “Smooth Karate” by Turkish Delight


Boston is quite full

of sneaky, sexy music

and noisy outbursts!


In the future, I’ll

only visit Boston for

the sex karate.


Another Very Sad Haiku On All the Musicmakers Lost in Quarantine: Vern Rumsey Edition

I hope he’s resting

in 1:10 to 1:30

of “You Bite My Tongue.”


A Haiku Review of the Very Coolest Thing About Arto Lindsay Before I Ship This Record to My Haiku Editor:

I once went to see him play at Constellation in 2015. He surprised me with an amazing set of like…SPANISH JONATHAN RICHMAN style songs, so I was excited and bought this record, which is insane noise. I do have a very good video of my now deceased cat freaking out to it under a chair, though, so it was worth it. Plus, now I can pay my editor something!

He can play it all,

but has eschewed fame, boredom

to make top shelf noise.


A Haiku About How Cheesy I’m Planning to Be About Live Music When This Shit is Over, Featuring “Oxbow” by Waxahatchee:

Live Music Returns:

I am now a Lighter Girl

at every show.

(Katie Crutchfield: I, too, want it all, and you are the soundtrack to me making Very Big Plans in my bed, waving my arms and pretending I have a lit lighter at your show to finally promote this incredible record.)


A Very Good Haiku About Why I Keep My Looping Station Under My Bed and Bought a Drum Kit Instead, Featuring the Breeders:


I like it behind the beat–

like Britt Walford’s drums!!!!!!!

(Sponsored by Intuitive Musicians Against Perfection.)


A Very Good Haiku On the Very Best Thing About L7:

They never gave a

single fuck about being

your Joey Ramone.


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