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Sep 04th
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Music - Features

Fringe Folk

Fringe Folk

Janis Ian: still a voice for the marginalized

As the 18th-century writer Jonathan Swift once observed, “When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him.” Gender bias aside, that statement rang especially true in the mid-’60s, when the racial tension of the times voiced itself through a 14-year-old folk singer/songwriter with a genius-level IQ. Sung from the perspective of a white girl being condemned for having a black boyfriend, Janis Ian’s song “Society’s Child” earned its precocious young composer numerous death threats. Strangers spit in her food at restaurants, tripped her at concerts and sent her copious amounts of hate mail, sometimes placing razor blades in the envelopes to make her cut her fingers. One especially enterprising dunce (or perhaps a confederacy of them) even burned down an Atlanta radio station for playing “Society’s Child.”

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Music - Features

Widowspeak’s Golden Hour

Widowspeak’s Golden Hour

Dream pop duo pays homage to the ’70s with pastoral imagery and matching jackets

On TLC’s ’90s anthem “Waterfalls” the fearless lady trio preaches, “Don’t go chasing waterfalls. Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to.”

But when it came to Widowspeak’s sophomore LP, Almanac, release in January, the Brooklyn, N.Y. dream pop duo made the bold decision to ignore that advice.

The band chose to feature a photograph of a waterfall on the cover, not solely for its beauty, but because it provides thematic and geographical context to the album, which was recorded in a 100-year-old barn in the Hudson River Valley in New York State.

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Music - Features

Longing for the Sun

Longing for the Sun

Seattle-based production duo creates moody atmosphere with effected vocal samples

You take a sound—any sound—record it and then change its nature by a multiplicity of operations.”

So begins Summer’s Gone, the debut LP from Seattle-based electronic duo Odesza, with a distinguished-sounding gentleman explaining the basics of sound editing. “You record it at different speeds, you play it backwards, you add it to itself over and over again. You adjust filters, echoes, acoustic qualities. You combine segments of magnetic tape. By these means and many others you create sounds which no one has ever heard before.”

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Music - Features

Tight-lipped

Tight-lipped

Seattle band, Pickwick, leaves its songs open to interpretation

Rarely does a band avoid putting an autobiographical slant on its music. But when it comes to Pickwick’s forthcoming release, Can’t Talk Medicine, due out on March 12, singer/songwriter Galen Disston and multi-instrumentalist Kory Kruckenberg are determined to keep their distance.

“Each of the songs on the record is about an idea, character, moment or story I heard about that seemed to be completely without context,” Disston says. “They seemed completely original to me. None of it is personal or autobiographical.”

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Music - Features

Perfecting Imperfection

Perfecting Imperfection

‘Old soul’ singer Brad Mackeson rejects overproduction

These days, you aren’t going to surprise anyone in the world of indie rock by attempting to breathe new life into old folk chord progressions. A quick glance at some of this year’s biggest Grammy winners will tell you that.

But there is a reason that a generation of up-and-coming musicians have been dusting off old Bob Dylan records and finding a use for the harmonicas that were shelved during the ’80s and ’90s. Folk music resonates with people in a way other genres can’t.

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Music - Features

Making The Pieces Fit

Making The Pieces Fit

Violinist and looping master Kishi Bashi to play Moe's Alley

It took the virtuosic violinist Kaoru Ishibashi—a man known for his work with indie-prog masters such as Of Montreal and Regina Spector—more than a year to get to the point where he was comfortable enough to play his solo material in front of an audience.

It wasn't writer's block, nor was it due to him being a perfectionist. To understand why it took so long before Ishibashi, who goes by the stage name Kishi Bashi, was ready to tour, one needs to simply look up his performances online. His NPR Tiny Desk Concert is a good start.

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You Are What You Post

Online personality algorithms put astrological profiles to shame, but UCSC psychologists are raising questions about sharing personal data

 

Venus Direct, Mercury Retro Soon, Honoring Our Labors

As Burning Man (nine days, Aug. 30-Sept. 7 in the sign of Virgo) burns in the hot white desert sands, a petal of the rose created by retrograde Venus and the twelve-petaled Sun in Virgo’s petals unfold. All of us are on the burning ground (Leo) in the womb (cave of the heart) of the mother (Virgo), gestating for humanity once again (each year) a new state of consciousness. Both Virgo and Cancer, feminine (receptive energies) signs, are from our last solar system (Pleiades). When humanity first appeared on Earth we were nurtured by the mother, a matriarchy of energies (on islands in the Pacific). Eve, Isis and Mary are part of the lineages of our ancient Mother. Overseen by the Pleiades, the Earth (matter, mater, the mother) in that last solar system was imbued with intelligence (Ray 3). As we move toward autumn, another mother, Ceres realizes she has mere weeks left with her beloved daughter, Persephone. Persimmon and pomegranate trees prepare for autumn, their colors signs of hope as the light each day continues to dim. Sunday, Venus in Leo turns stationary direct, yet continues in her shadow until Oct. 9 (when retrograde Mercury turns direct). Slowly our newly assessed values emerge from the Venus retrograde. We thought in Venus retro how to use our resources more effectively. Mercury retrogrades Sept. 17. Monday is Labor Day. Let us honor the labor of everyone, all life a “labor.” Let us honor Labor Day and all those who have “served” (labored for) us this past year. We honor their labors. We honor the labor of our parents, those who have loved us. We honor our own labors, too. We are all in service, we are all laboring. We are all valuable.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Girl Gone Wild

’70s SF recalled in raw, poignant ‘Diary of a Teenage Girl’
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