Wooden flooring. Giant, pink globes of light. Hip twentysomethings lounging around on the floor in languid poses. Not exactly the kind of scene one might anticipate at a rock show. In fact, the sparse crowd and sparser threads of conversation that anticipated Calla's arrival onstage were more befitting a late night coffee house than a music venue. But as the band wordlessly took the stage, the audience rose to its feet, swelling in number and energy and the first otherworldly notes floated out to greet them. Founded in Texas but relocated to Brooklyn, Calla (kal-uh, not kai-yah) has a sound that defies regionalism, or even earthly comparison. Waves of atmospheric guitar lilt and rise before collapsing into harsh, staccato breaks, creating a tension between the beautiful and the gritty throughout their songs. Far above this swirling drum and guitar play is the breathy voice of Aurelio Valle, a distant yet insistent whisper that adds still another layer to the rich mixture of sound. Valle teams with drummer Wayne Magruder and bassist Sean Donovan to craft songs with an astonishing degree of texture for a three piece. To more faithfully capture the fullness of their sound -- most recently available on their third album, Televise (Arena Rock) -- the band picked up a fourth member, guitarist Peter Gannon, for the tour. The result is a nearly flawless fidelity to their recordings, which (in this day of overproduction) is a rare and happy occurrence. Many a music fan knows the disappointment of paying good money to see a live act only to realize that it's the producer, not the talent onstage, responsible for their sound. Calla, however, was no disappointment. If anything, they surprised with the stirring renditions of their "ambient" material. Most critics use the term as a synonym for lackadaisical or sleepy tempos that care more about melody than rhythm. With chunky, metallic digressions, though, Calla were able to infuse their amorphous soundscapes with a quiet tension that lent urgency to these less structured abstractions. The song "Strangler", for example, was introduced with three successive, jarring collisions to Valle's guitar while Gannon picked out a higher, but equally ominous melody. Magruder and Donovan joined in (Magruder using, as he often did, one drumstick and one maraca to mark time) with a dark, jerky rhythm. Eventually, however, the song soared into an ethereal melody, a bright, slow glowing emerging from the initial promise of darkness. This juxtaposition, typical of Calla's sound, is both unique and effective. The band alternately lulls its audience with a shimmering flood of melodic feedback and jerks it back to attention with crunchy jerks and syncopated spasms -- or vice versa. Imagine tracing the unfolding path of a gently curving line, only to have it sporadically snap into hard, jagged angles. But all of this might make Calla's sound seem more calculated and detached than it really is. Hiding beneath the varied layers of sound is the faint and elusive idea of pop song. The band may not have people tapping their toes or striking a pose on the dance floor, but neither do they turn their backs on hooks and melodies. Rather, the melodic threads of Calla's work are stretched and refigured, warped into new forms that are at times expansive and, at others, compact. Rarely, however, are they in the recognizable form so favored by the three-minute ditties that populate mainstream radio waves. In short, Calla push further, as they did this night. With disjointed dissonance in one hand and ambient melodies in the other, Calla's live sound drew from both but was beholden to neither. The show, then, was part rock 'n' roll, part seance, in which ghosts were coaxed from amplifiers and dark voices were brought to light.
In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.
Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.
Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"
Encounter Across the Abyss: Examining the Ontology of the Self in Toni Morrison's 'The Origins of Others'
Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.
It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.
A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.
When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.
In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.