Music

Benjamin Taylor: The Legend of Kung Folk: Part 1 (The Killing Bite)

Yes, Benjamin Taylor is the son of Carly Simon and James Taylor. No, he doesn't sound like either of them, as evidenced by his latest disc full of reggae-tinged folk.


Benjamin Taylor

The Legend of Kung Folk: Part 1 (The Killing Bite)

Label: Iris
US Release Date: 2008-09-16
UK Release Date: 2009-04-06
Website
Amazon
iTunes

Yes, Benjamin Taylor is the son of Carly Simon and James Taylor. No, he doesn't sound like either of them. His latest album, The Legend of Kung Folk: Part 1 (The Killing Bite) is not only the martial arts-practitioner's self-described style of hybrid combat, but also his own personal tao of sound. The nearest, approximate categorization for Taylor's eclectic style would be reggae-flavored folk. Chances are, if you're among the crowd that shops at Whole Foods, Ben Taylor's latest offering may be right up your alley.

In spite of Taylor's hard-to-pin-down style, The Legend of Kung Folk is an exercise in simplicity and very straight-forward in its approach. As a whole, the disc can get repetitive, however, there are flashes of brilliance. The slinking crawl of "Wrong" is a sharp contrast to the sad ode to needing space in a relationship titled (what else) "Space" with its modernized '70s feel. The disc's standout piece, however is "Wicked Way". Deceptively sweet and breathily masculine, the song is an appeal for no-strings-attached sex without the pretense of romance. Played and sung slow, soft, and sweet, it marks Benjamin Taylor as the anti-John Mayer: He has that approachably romantic air but is blatantly honest that he's only in it for the nookie. You gotta like a guy with that level of frankness!

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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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Music

The World of Captain Beefheart: An Interview with Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx

Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx (photo © Michael DelSol courtesy of Howlin' Wuelf Media)

Guitarist and band leader Gary Lucas and veteran vocalist Nona Hendryx pay tribute to one of rock's originals in this interview with PopMatters.

From the opening bars of "Suction Prints", we knew we had entered The World of Captain Beefheart and that was exactly where we wanted to be. There it was, that unmistakable fast 'n bulbous sound, the sudden shifts of meter and tempo, the slithery and stinging slide guitar in tandem with propulsive bass, the polyrhythmic drumming giving the music a swing unlike any other rock band.

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From Haircut 100 to his own modern pop stylings, Nick Heyward is loving this new phase of his career, experimenting with genre with the giddy glee of a true pop music nerd.

In 1982, Nick Heyward was a major star in the UK.

As the leader of pop sensations Haircut 100, he found himself loved by every teenage girl in the land. It's easy to see why, as Haircut 100 were a group of chaps so wholesome, they could have stepped from the pages of Lisa Simpson's "Non-Threatening Boys" magazine. They resembled a Benetton knitwear advert and played a type of quirky, pop-funk that propelled them into every transistor radio in Great Britain.

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Kehr was one of the best long-form essay writers people read for clear and sometimes brutally honest indictments of film.

It's perhaps too trite and rash to conclude that the age of good, cogent film criticism is over. They still exist out there, always at print publications such as The New Yorker and at major newspapers like The New York Times. An argument can be made that the late, legendary film critic Roger Ebert became a better writer when he departed from cinema and covered literature, book collecting, or even the simplest pleasures of life. If we look at the film criticism of James Agee from the '40s, or even the short but relevant stint of novelist and short story writer Graham Greene as a film critic, we come to understand that the greatest writing about film went beyond the spectrum of what they saw on the screen.
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This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

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