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Music

Fable Cry - "Onion Grin" (audio) (Premiere)

For a bleak yet wildly fun cabaret tale that mishmashes the styles of Gogol Bordello and Danny Elfman, Fable Cry's "Onion Grin" will do just the trick.

The Nashville-based quintet Fable Cry identifies its music as "theatrical-scamp-rock". Like many genre names these days, it's a head-scratcher, to be sure, but one look at the colorful music and costuming of these musicians is more than enough to give substance to the phrase. Looking like they rolled out of an alternate version of Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus reimagined by Tim Burton, Fable Cry spin inventive, cabaret-ready yarns that are given life by their palpable musical energy. Such is certainly the case for "Onion Grin", the band's newest tune, which tells a time-worn tale from an unfamiliar angle.

Vocalist, guitarist, and accordion player Zach Ferrin goes into detail with PopMatters about "Onion Grin": "This song was inspired by Little Red Riding Hood, and is sung from the point of view of The Big Bad Wolf as it follows his obsession with Red -- the girl and the color itself. It traverses many musical changes taking you through the varied emotions of infatuation; intrigue, desperation, determination. Among the first songs written for our upcoming LP, "Onion Grin" has been apart of our live set for some time, and has thus undergone a fair amount of evolutionary change. Whether you have scamped along to this tune live, or this is your first introduction to it, I think you will enjoy what we have done to take it from the stage to the studio and now your ears at home -- and everywhere else you listen!

He continues, "The song was recorded, mixed, and mastered in East Nashville by Ford Heacock at Firebreath Records. He helped capture the dark and creepy vibe that this song insisted on having, as we subtly textured it with knives, penny-picked banjos, and the deeper notes of an abandoned piano. It's dark. Darker than we were expecting. So color us pleasantly surprised!"




Music

The Best Indie Rock of 2017

Photo courtesy of Matador Records

The indie rock genre is wide and unwieldy, but the musicians selected here share an awareness of one's place on the cultural-historical timeline.

Indie rock may be one of the most fluid and intangible terms currently imposed upon musicians. It holds no real indication of what the music will sound like and many of the artists aren't even independent. But more than a sonic indicator, indie rock represents a spirit. It's a spirit found where folk songsters and punk rockers come together to dialogue about what they're fed up with in mainstream culture. In so doing they uplift each other and celebrate each other's unique qualities.

With that in mind, our list of 2017's best indie rock albums ranges from melancholy to upbeat, defiant to uplifting, serious to seriously goofy. As always, it's hard to pick the best ten albums that represent the year, especially in such a broad category. Artists like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard had a heck of a year, putting out four albums. Although they might fit nicer in progressive rock than here. Artists like Father John Misty don't quite fit the indie rock mold in our estimation. Foxygen, Mackenzie Keefe, Broken Social Scene, Sorority Noise, Sheer Mag... this list of excellent bands that had worthy cuts this year goes on. But ultimately, here are the ten we deemed most worthy of recognition in 2017.

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From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


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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TV

'Curb Your Enthusiasm' S9 Couldn't Find Its Rhythm

Larry David and J.B. Smoove in Curb Your Enthusiasm S9 (HBO)

Curb Your Enthusiasm's well-established characters are reacting to their former selves, rather than inhabiting or reinventing themselves. Thus, it loses the rhythms and inflections that once made the show so consistently, diabolically funny.

In an era of reboots and revivals, we've invented a new form of entertainment: speculation. It sometimes seems as if we enjoy begging for television shows to return more than watching them when they're on the air. And why wouldn't we? We can't be disappointed by our own imaginations. Only the realities of art and commerce get in the way.

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6

Wars of attrition are a matter of stamina, of who has the most tools with which to keep fighting. A surprising common tool in this collection? Humor.

The name of the game is "normal or abnormal". Here's how you play: When some exceedingly shocking political news pops up on your radar, turn to the person next to you, read them the headline and ask, "is this normal or abnormal?" If you want to up the stakes, drink a shot every time the answer is abnormal. If that's too many shots, alter the rules so that you drink only when things are normal—which is basically never, these days. Hilarious, right?

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