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Richard Buckner, Xiu Xiu, Portastatic...

Richard Buckner --"Town" From Meadow on Merge Records. Meadow is the 8th full-length recording from Richard Buckner, and the latest chapter in a story that began in San Francisco, back in the early 90’s and has seen Buckner travel across the U.S. and Canada many times. Buckner’s body of work has always seemed to be about motion vs. stillness, whether it be running away or toward something, or watching something or someone leave or approach: the restless energy of the heart, full speed ahead, the consequences taken and embraced, the good and the bad. The false starts, roadblocks and pitfalls along the way only add to the richness of the journey.

Xiu Xiu -- "Boy Soprano" From The Air Force on Kill Rock Stars. It comes in waves of nausea and unease. The Air Force is a wraith, and wraithlike it moves according to genuine, human rhythms; we see frontman Jamie Stewart staring into the void, or into the past, or dipping his hands into the sick pink hues of human grease, into bad love, suicide, rape, sex, stormy friendship, domination, dependency, with husky voiced lyrics that come rising up like steam from some deep and dark and cold dungeon miles below Earth's surface.

Portastatic -- "Sour Shores" From Be Still Please on Merge Records. If I were clever, I’d tell you to think of Be Still Please as the introverted sister to Bright Ideas. But I’m not. So I’ll just tell you that Mac McCaughan is better than he’s ever been – the guy is on a hot streak right now that I’d chart somewhere between Mascis ‘87, Coppola ‘74 and Dwyane Wade ‘06.

Novillero -- "The Hypothesist" From Aim Right For the Holes in Their Lives on Mint Records. Pop-rock music rarely weaves its namesake styles effectively. Pop music overrides rock music most often and turns it into a wimpy mush. Or bands are too concerned with rocking out and they forget the importance of hooks and wit. Novillero don't have that problem. The hooks are plentiful, the arrangements are varied, the melodies are memorable and immediate, and the horns are tastefully implemented.

The Fix -- "Rat Patrol" From At the Speed of Twisted Thought on Touch and Go Records. Within a period of 22 odd months or so, The Fix came blazing--pillaging your town, exploding and burning fast before you knew what hit you. And it's only now that you remember how awesome 1981 was--or at least blessed now with the hearsay and memories because you couldn't have been there to witness The Fix.

Over the Rainbow: An Interview With Herb Alpert

Music legend Herb Alpert discusses his new album, Over the Rainbow, maintaining his artistic drive, and his place in music history. "If we tried to start A&M in today's environment, we'd have no chance. I don't know if I'd get a start as a trumpet player. But I keep doing this because I'm having fun."

Jedd Beaudoin

The Cigarette: A Political History (By the Book)

Sarah Milov's The Cigarette restores politics to its rightful place in the tale of tobacco's rise and fall, illustrating America's continuing battles over corporate influence, individual responsibility, collective choice, and the scope of governmental power. Enjoy this excerpt from Chapter 5. "Inventing the Nonsmoker".

Sarah Milov
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