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Monday, November 5 2007

Don’t Know Much About History

As Lupe Fiasco learned in a recent faux pas, what you don't know won't scare you – until somebody calls you out.


Thursday, October 25 2007

A Righteous Boy’s Hip-Hop Journey Through Babeland

Songs, more songs -- the prolific singer-songwriter and musician Ani Difranco keeps coming up with them. Here's some help for finding the best of Difranco, especially if you also like De La Soul.


Tuesday, October 23 2007

Scene, Should Be Heard

The Second City has some first-rate music scenes. So listen up, New York.


Tuesday, October 16 2007

Bass Reflections

Recently, two most idiosyncratic jazz bass players, Miroslav Vitous and Eberhard Weber, released riveting, odd, ambitious recordings, suggesting the importance of the bass tradition to the larger history of the music.


Sunday, October 14 2007

Bachata: Generations Apart and Together

Bachata grew up in the barrio. Servants would turn trashcans and fences into instruments in their nighttime escapades, and the words would tune hearts to a frequency unheard during daytime hours.


Thursday, October 11 2007

The Bull of Phalaris, or the Ambiguity of Musical Violence

By working directly on the body, music as a whole has access to a form of violence that far outstrips the petty accusations foisted upon certain of its constituent parts, such as hard rock and rap.


Wednesday, October 10 2007

Sun and Air: An Interview with Anneke van Giersbergen and Krystoffer “Garm” Rygg

Van Giersbergen and Rygg's core audiences remain on the metal side, proof that no matter how diverse your music becomes, your old metal fans will still stubbornly cling to you like barnacles to a creaky hull.


Monday, October 1 2007

Season of the Tribe

A Tribe Called Quest's standout recognition among the glitterati at the VH1 Awards could be viewed as a subtle reminder that hip-hop does not adhere to a static definition, nor is it beholden to a single (commercial) goal.


Sunday, September 30 2007

The Affectionate Parodies and Ironic Diss-Positions of Ween

Shock-humor abounds across Ween’s work, and dumb infantilism is worn as a badge of honor.


Sunday, September 23 2007

Passport to the Future

Once you get past the initial groove that Manu Chao lays, and become accustomed to his fast-paced nature, you recognize a passionate soul as devoted to music as he is to political and social justice.


Thursday, September 20 2007

The Cradle Will Rock

While my wife sings sea chantys to our baby, I'm finding plenty of dark, tranquil passages from Bruce Springsteen to help her sleep. Beats tales of the Black Death, miscarriages, and executions found in traditional nursery rhymes.


Wednesday, September 19 2007

Swept off My Feet by “Newcomer” James Carney

Current musicians like Brad Mehldau or Greg Osby are the equivalents of Albert Pujols or Mariano Rivera: future legends that walk among us today. Now you're on notice: James Carney may just be a master in the making.


Monday, September 10 2007

Many Happy Returns

A little personal, not to mention disturbingly vivid, is par for the course for Today is the Day's music, but when Steve Austin's music is as strong and eclectic as this stack of five discs is, we’ll take anything he’s willing to toss our way.


Sunday, September 9 2007

From Boogie Down to Tinseltown

Rappers in showbiz: Did hip-hop land on Hollywood or did Hollywood land on us? For those in 'the land', some of the 4,079 hip-hop laws of crossing-over.


Thursday, August 30 2007

New Ways to Breathe

Breathing Under Water, a collaboration between sitarist Anoushka Shankar and tablist Karsh Kale, is not only where music is going, it's where it's at.


Wednesday, August 29 2007

Nine to Five

Eager to re-enter the 9-5 work world, before you could even say 401(k), I was halfway to J.Crew and Banana Republic to stock up on office-friendly wear. But adapting to my colleagues' taste in music? Ah, now that's much more difficult.


Sunday, August 12 2007

Bruce Willis, Genghis Khan, and Ravioli: Inside the Red Chord’s Prey for Eyes

Do metalheads dream of Kanye West? Guy Kozowyk, vocalist for deathcore standout, the Red Chord, vividly regales PopMatters with lengthy tales about how the many ideas that dominate the band's latest album came to fruition.


Thursday, August 9 2007

A Critic’s Grab-Bag

The most rewarding work as a critic is not in evaluating the flow of big menu items from established artists, but in sampling the little dishes that come along -- like this quartet of obscure, interesting stuff from 2007's first half.


Tuesday, August 7 2007

The Sounds of Now: Steve Reich and the Transmogrification of the Banal

As human beings, interpretive animals that attempt to navigate the world by coming to some sort of "understanding" of it, we are addicted to purpose.


Sunday, August 5 2007

The Evolution of Africa and Hip-Hop

Pharoahe Monch's new album, Desire, is a complete surround-sense experience, but it's also a reminder that as much as our technologies have improved, what we are communicating is not necessarily the most righteous of information.


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