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Music

Brooklyn Musician Aris Goes to Church with Paula Cole

Aris, who released Twilight Revival in September, recently performed "I Believe in Love" with Grammy-winning artist Paula Cole to a packed house.

Brooklyn native singer-songwriter Aris has just released the deluxe edition of Twilight Revival, an album that blends alternative rock, electronic & pop genres. From the thumping opener "Twilight" to the campfire-folk closing track "Revival" to the diverse bonus tracks included on the digital release, Aris' self-produced album is rooted in dynamic instrumentation, and exploration of vocal styles.

Drawn to poetry, Aris gravitated towards emotional music by singer-songwriters who bared their souls through musical expression such as Paula Cole and Chris Cornell, whose confessional works continue to influence him. Recently he performed a duet with Grammy winner Paula Cole to a packed house and standing ovation.


From as early as age three, the Brooklyn native can remember being influenced by the city's melting pot of musical sounds, and as the son of an Irish belly-dancing mother and a Greek immigrant father his musical worldview was influenced by the diversity shared by his family and hometown.Newfound perspectives gained through life changing events experienced during the death of his mother during Hurricane Sandy can be found within this refined collection of songs. The album's tracks have been honed to reflect both a journey of inner transformation and healing as well as exposing the cracks in the government and institutional response to the disaster. This is a life-altering period Aris hopes to further explore and illuminate in a documentary that would use the story of his mother as a lens to tell a larger story about the failure of local and national systems to manage emergency disaster relief.

Despite the tragedy of this story, the process has left Aris with a very optimistic outlook. "I write from a highly personal place so my albums are usually soundtracks to what's going on in my life. For Twilight Revival, I was feeling both shattered and uplifted spiritually and wanted to express that particularly intimate dichotomy musically and explore the universality of those themes. I set out with the intention to try to bring these disparate energies into the lyrics and arrangements, to give the listener something that could inspire resilience and strength."

Twilight Revival was released on Friday September 6th and a limited edition digipack with a 12-page lyric book will be available for purchase through his official website.

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

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60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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Music

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

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It's ironic that by injecting a shot of cynicism into this glorified soap opera, Johnson provides the most satisfying explanation yet for the significance of The Force.

Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

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Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

Although they played a gig last year for an after-party for a Mick Rock doc, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hadn't played a proper NYC show in four years before their Kings Theatre gig on November 7th, 2017. It was the last of only a handful of gigs, and the only one on the East coast.

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