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Tuesday, October 22 2013

How That Flawed Man Flew: Beyond the Myth of Charlie Parker

Chuck Haddix's new biography of the great alto saxophonist unearths fresh details of his early life—and helps us to see more clearly his genius and his tragedy.


Monday, October 21 2013

The Silence of Distortion: An Interview with Nicolas Winding Refn and Peter Peter

PopMatters speaks with director Nicolas Winding Refn and composer Peter Peter about the long overdue release of Peter's score to Refn's 2010 Middle Ages brooder, Valhalla Rising, and its undulating dark ambient music.


Friday, October 18 2013

Pussy Riot and the Art of Political Pranks

Why has the West taken such interest in Pussy Riot? Would our reactions be so different if a similar incident occurred in one of our major cathedrals, synagogues, or mosques?


Monday, October 14 2013

Getting Gone: David Cantwell’s Take on the Iconic Merle Haggard

Merle Haggard's restlessness breaks him out of one prison and sends him towards another.


Thursday, October 10 2013

Homesickness: Refugees and the Balm That Is Music

By reaffirming refugees' cultural identity while simultaneously offering inroads into their new home, music has helped a number of displaced peoples carve out a place of their own.


Tuesday, October 8 2013

A Good Death

All heavy metal bands burn out eventually, but when and how they end matters most. A good death counts for a lot in the genre, because it marks the final point in a band's quest for immortality.


Wednesday, October 2 2013

Travels in Sound: The Globetrotting Music of Don Cherry

The jazz world found its most intrepid explorer in Don Cherry, an adventurous sonic provocateur whose worldly exploits re-drew lines all over the musical map.


Friday, September 27 2013

How John Lurie Made Me Read Fewer Books

The great Elmore Leonard wrote dozens of novels. Some, like Get Shorty, were adapted for film. So why do I associate him with smooth jazz? Well, John Lurie had a hand in that.


Wednesday, September 25 2013

In Defense Of ... Saving the VMAs

A month removed from this year's debacle, it's time to understand that the Video Music Awards are worth reviving, worth enjoying like we did decades ago.


Monday, September 23 2013

The Holy Trinity: Yes

In addition to being one of the pivotal bands of the early '70s, Yes perfected prog-rock as a kind of performance art in sound.


Friday, September 20 2013

A Very Dirty Lens: How Can We Listen to Offensive Metal?

Some people think that heavy metal's too filthy a lens to gaze at the world through, but most fans don't care who finds metal lewd, crude, or otherwise.


Tuesday, September 17 2013

Is Miley Cyrus a Master of Social Media?

With each tweet, photo upload, and "twerk" video, Miley Cyrus artfully crafts her star image, always maintaining our interest in how she presents herself.


Wednesday, September 11 2013

“Later”, Marian McPartland

The great jazz pianist and NPR host of "Piano Jazz", Marian McPartland, left us a few weeks ago. She will be missed.


Thursday, September 5 2013

Getting Good at Getting Dark: An Interview with Cliff Martinez

PopMatters speaks with Only God Forgives composer Cliff Martinez about working with Nicolas Winding Refn, writing music for bloody movies, and finding success in film music.


Wednesday, September 4 2013

The Sound the Earth Makes While Vomiting the Grotesque

In underground metal, ritualized hymns are brought to the boil in the catacombs of the psyche, pointing to the malevolence that awaits in the darkness of the cosmos, linking the baleful depths of the Earth directly with the ominousness of galaxies overhead.


Monday, August 26 2013

How to Make Political Pop Without Trying

"Dancing in the Street" did not seek the kind of greatness ascribed to it -- it simply woke up one morning and found that greatness bestowed upon it.


Wednesday, August 21 2013

Zimbabwe and the Beauty in the Struggle

Throughout the political, economic, and social trials that have dominated and threatened to decimate one of the world’s most vibrant cultures, musicians have stood fast—drawing on ancient traditions to give voice to the hopes, fears, and frustrations of the people of Zimbabwe.


Tuesday, August 20 2013

In Defense Of ... New Radicals

New Radicals sort of invented the term "frenemies", didn't they? Regardless, the group's lone record, Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too, still stands as one of the lost treasures of the '90s.


Sunday, August 18 2013

The Mind-Numbing Conservatism of Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros

Traditionalism is the key to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, beginning with their devotion to the past -- but it's a past with all the rough edges, those cuts that make us bleed, rendered dull and ineffectual.


Wednesday, August 14 2013

Bassist Stephan Crump, from Pop to Avant-Garde and Back Again

Bassist Stephan Crump makes pop with his wife Jen Chapin, experimental improvisation with guitarist Mary Halvorson, and he's a great mainstream player, too. What can't he do well?


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