Tag Archives: feature

Mia & Judd Apatow’s Grandfather Was a Giant of Soul and Jazz

Bob Shad

Bob Shad at Record Plant Studio in 1972

The story of Bob Shad is the story of a remarkable music magnate and marketeer. Shad’s name deserves to be spoken in the same breath as Clive Davis, Ahmet Ertegun, Estelle Axton and Jim Stewart, Leonard Chess, and Steve Rifkind—a man whose drive and ingenuity both outside the booth as well as behind the boards helped artists create defining records. Shad was as passionate about the art as he was knowledgeable about the industry, and his 40-year hot streak resulted in nearly 800 albums by artists like Sarah Vaughan, Janis Joplin, Clark Terry, and more.

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Cemican Blend Indigenous Mexican Traditions with Metal Ferocity


As long as there’s been rock music, indigenous people have been making it. The 2018 documentary Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World filled in a lot of gaps, telling the stories of legendary Delta bluesman Charley Patton (believed to have Choctaw ancestry) and guitarist Link Wray, among others. Canadian musicians from Northern Haze to Digawolf help to keep their communities and languages vibrant. In the world of punk and metal, artists have honored their indigenous heritage while also embracing modern forms of sonic aggression. Brazil’s Sepultura collaborated with musicians from their country’s Xavante tribe on 1996’s Roots. The grindcore band Resistant Culture have been blending native instrumentation and militant environmental concerns with furious thrash for close to 20 years, while California’s Black Twilight Circle is a tight-knit collective of underground metal acts who incorporate pre-Columbian languages, instruments, and themes into their music.

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For Psych Duo Guaxe, There’s No Such Thing as “Brazilian Music”

Guaxe-by-Thalita-Silver-1244Although Americans often seem to view a musician’s country of origin as an essential factor in that artist’s creative identity, Pedro Bonifrate is right when he says there’s really no such thing as “Brazilian music.” The country is vast, and every region has its own unique sound—from the drifting, curtains-in-the-breeze samba of Rio de Janeiro to the pounding drums of Recife. “It may seem strange to you but it’s exactly like saying ‘North American music,’” he explains. “It wouldn’t make much sense, since there’s not that much in common between Dixieland, Laurie Spiegel, Slayer, or Hank Williams. We could say the same about Heitor Villa-Lobos, Jocy de Oliveira, Sepultura, or Os Mutantes.”

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Whitney Examine Friendship and Loss On “Forever Turned Around”


Photo by Olivia Bee

Whitney’s Max Kakacek and Julien Ehrlich have known each other for more than a third of their lives. They’ve been making music together for nearly 10 years, first as members of Smith Westerns, and now as Whitney. Together, Ehrlich and Kakacek have weathered a decade’s worth of change, and their sophomore album, Forever Turned Around, reflects that.

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Kindness Preaches Self-Acceptance on “Something Like A War”


Photo by Michele Yong

Kindness, aka Adam Bainbridge, journeyed to Johannesburg, South Africa in November 2016 for the annual Black Portraitures conference, returning to the country where their grandmother was imprisoned under apartheid for a decade. “That was the first time since I was a baby I hadn’t wanted to go back,” they say. 

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Joell Ortiz Embraces Growth on “Monday”

Joell Ortiz

Photos by Jeremy Deputat

As the start of a typical work week, Mondays have a notoriously bad reputation. But what if we thought about it differently? What if we looked at Monday as an opportunity to begin again?

For veteran MC Joell Ortiz, that’s what Monday, his latest solo album, is all about. “People have such a bad energy attached to Monday,” he says. “I wanted to change the narrative. Monday can also be the start of something—the start of something fresh. On this record, I’m talking about some things I’ve wanted to talk about for a while. Getting some things off my chest. Clearing the air. It’s also playing on this idea like, ‘Hey, it’s Joell again. I’m back at it. Back to work.’”

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Ezra Furman’s “Twelve Nudes” is a “Firehose of Frustration”

Ezra Furman

Photos by Jessica Lehman

Ezra Furman is done running away—for now, anyway.

Escape has long been a core theme of the 33-year-old singer’s work. Last year’s Transangelic Exodus made that theme explicit—a concept album about motoring across state lines with an angel lover, encapsulating the queer instinct to seek refuge elsewhere. Continue reading

The Driving Deathrock of Secret Shame Reflects the Troubles of Their Hometown

Secret Shame

Photo by Audrey Pierce

The five-piece goth band Secret Shame aren’t fooled by the majestic Appalachian Mountains that surround their hometown of Asheville, North Carolina. Despite its blue-ridged backdrop, the tragedy of reality is eating the city away from the inside. Like so many other areas in the United States, opioid addiction and its resulting death toll has engulfed Asheville. “[There’s] lots of pills—lots of really nasty stuff,” says Secret Shame vocalist Lena. “Things that are very bad for you.”

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