Music

Radio Is Doing Fine... Online

The American radio scene has expanded online with countless offerings for the listening worldwide.

In a CNN interview recently, David Byrne opens with a remark how he doesn’t listen to radio much anymore. A certified tastemaker as a solo artist after leading the Talking Heads, it seemed funny from a guy who posts his personal playlist on iTunes as Radio David Byrne. I’m a huge fan, but it was just not what I wanted to hear as I’m finding my best source of new music by listening to radio programs online.

I have always been on the musical hunt for something new and American radio has provided me with the soundtrack for every decade of my life. From WPLJ in the '70s, to WLIR in the '80s and WHFS in the '90s and beyond, I’ve tuned into radio frequencies for inspiration. However, right as WHFS was calling it a day, I heard that a station I loved listening to during trips to LA was accessible online. The music producer Nic Hardcourt’s “Morning Becomes Eclectic” on KCRW was streaming over the internet with new tunes daily. The novel concept of listening live or on demand anytime meant radio could continue to be my salvation, feeding me upcoming bands with tunes for my own personal playlists. With some decent speakers attached to my laptop, I’ve been in new music heaven ever since. I even have copy of Nic’s book Music Lust signed by him during a New York City appearance a few years back, finally having a name for this attraction.

Although the show’s reigns have been passed to Jason Bentley, it still has the classic radio formula that makes it work. Take a knowledgeable DJ who selects and spins the tunes with background on the bands plus any info on upcoming gigs or releases. I still catch it almost daily or archived online, especially enjoying the live sessions. While this fills my essential need for new tunes, I listen to radio shows found more locally on the dial in the New York City area but also online: Alternative Side on WFUV and Next Music on 107.1 The Peak. I am proud to join the NPR stations as a subscriber in support of these stations to ensure their success. Besides opening doors to unknown acts, I can find the bands listed on station websites plus of course Wikipedia has become an incredibly handy database for every group out there.

A friend’s recommendation is still welcome but a DJ is more opt to play something you haven’t heard before. Older songs take us back to a time and place we can instantly revisit but something new is pure ear candy. David Byrne says he probably doesn’t listen to radio much because he doesn’t have a car -- I’ve seen him in NYC a few times, once with his bike sitting outside a restaurant (his favorite mode of transportation). I know he’s a great champion of new music from all over the world but you don’t need a car to listen to the radio. Let the term radio expand to the web and indulge in the many offerings that were once just found along a dial.

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

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TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

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The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

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To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

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Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

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