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God Less America :: Beyond The Fringe Of C&W

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

It’s late October, and we’re breathing chill, autumnal air, damp with death and lit by the blood moon. During these darkest of nights we while away our witching hours and pay homage to our devils. We reflect on fear itself, and what we realize to be the most frightening is not the bogeys, demons, and […]

Charles Mingus :: Mingus Plays Piano

Monday, October 12th, 2015

The album opens with Charles Mingus sputtering a percussive motif with one hand while the other riffs out an arabesque fantasia. There’s a duality present here, a tension of opposites. A fixed pitch struggles with an ecstatic melody and the battleground is rhythm. This gives way to rich, rolling chords, which develop into a strange […]

Benny Joy :: Nowhere

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

Rarely does Tampa appear in the annals of early rock history. It was there bluesman Hudson Whittaker, aka Tampa Red, worked up his slide chops before making his career in Chicago, and Ray Charles lived in town for a while, playing with Charlie Brantley’s Honey Dippers and cutting some of his own early sides. But […]

The Zion Travelers :: The Dootone Masters

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

“The four walls of my room were like the four walls of my grave. . .” The most moving document of The Zion Travelers may be “The Blood,” an ecstatic testimony of a near death experience. Lead Traveler L.C. Cohen’s soaring tenor blisters and quakes above a feverish bed of group harmony. As they hold […]

The Lagniappe Sessions :: Benjamin Booker covers Furry Lewis / Otis Redding

Monday, September 29th, 2014

Lagniappe (la·gniappe) noun ˈlan-ˌyap,’ – 1. An extra or unexpected gift or benefit. 2. Something given or obtained as a gratuity or bonus. In 2012 I wrote about a young guy living in New Orleans who had just released a set of self-recorded demos. His name was Benjamin Booker. Like his voice, they were raw, […]

The Residents :: Santa Dog & Residue of The Residents

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

“Do you ever… wonder who you are?” A cartoonish voice asks this question on “Aircraft Damage,” a track from The Residents’ first official release in 1972 called Santa Dog. It’s a curious debut EP, a heterogeneous mixture of deconstructoid musical satire and homespun concrète experimentalism. The aesthetic is grotesque and subversive, a spooky pop culture mélange […]

Jack Name :: Light Show

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

Jack Name’s Light Show is shadow music. The outline is familiar but the insides are dark and unknowable. From certain angles, the shape distorts into a giant’s proportions. From others vantages, the shadow dwindles. “I could be anybody/ God knows I’ve got my shadow,” sings John Webster Adams, the man behind the see-through moniker of […]

Tinariwen :: Emmaar

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Tinariwen’s music speaks for Kel Tamashek, the Tuaregs, and their desert home, the “tenere.” The typical descriptor of “desert blues,” suggests a genre defined by it’s point of origin, but how linked are music and place, really? This music—of which Tinariwen are storied masters—clearly resonates with listeners across the world, and the Tuaregs are nomads […]

Purple Snow: Forecasting The Minneapolis Sound

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Prince is the Artist: a virtuoso, a maverick, a symbol. The Purple One’s genius has transformed the man into a musical hero and a legendary performer. If Prince is a somewhat inscrutable artist today, ensconced in Paisley Park, the Twin Cities provided a palpable point of origin for the myth, the hometown scene of a […]