The Tallest Man on Earth takes folk music as a convention that can be dependable and urgent at once. There is very little to distinguish him from any number of folk devotees with yearning voices and acoustic guitars, but he — a less than especially tall songwriter from Sweden named Kristian Matsson — has a way of upending expectations and rendering familiarity moot.
Indie rock was conceived to be nondescript, but few indie legends come as dressed down asMac McCaughan. For 25 years, the Superchunk frontman and Merge Records co-founder has quietly made some of the loudest pop in history, meanwhile keeping his profile inversely proportional to his influence on the indie world at large.
Raw, belligerent, dissonant and powerful: That's just the tip of the noise-rock iceberg when it comes to Metz's self-titled debut from 2012. Released by Sub Pop, Metz helped inject a fresh dose of fierce punk spirit into the record label that brought the world Nirvana, but has lately focused more on tuneful indie rock. But with that kind of expectation in place, what room does that leave for growth?
"Confessional" is a term often tossed around in discussions of singer-songwriters, but it's also one of the most misunderstood. In a recent interview, Mackenzie Scott, who makes music under the name Torres, called it "a four-letter word," common and pejorative, and overapplied to women in particular.
The word "epic" sits cheerily amid the most overused hyperbole of our age. Teenage bros proclaim their recent "pretty epic" mild successes; sports commentators call anything which ends dramatically an "epic game"; the Internet-literate are quick to point out an "epic FAIL." But what else do you call a three-CD, nearly three-hour album anchored by a 10-piece jazz band, featuring a 32-piece orchestra and 20-member choir, and driven by the daydream of an imaginary martial arts grandmaster?
Beauty Pill's The Unsustainable Lifestyle was a promising debut album, an immediately accessible patchwork of the band's hometown, Washington, D.C. In 2004, the record left fans wondering what would happen next, but they would have to wait 11 years. That's because bandleader Chad Clark's heart tried to kill him.
Originally published on Sat April 25, 2015 10:36 am
The French musician Cécile Schott's music sounds a little bit like someone dropped a baroque string instrument into a swimming pool.
Recording under the name Colleen since 2001, she's made music that is purely instrumental and focused on one string instrument in particular: the viola de gamba. But on Captain of None, she's added lyrics for the first time.
Originally published on Tue April 28, 2015 12:16 pm
The vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth consists of eight classically trained singers incorporating Tuvan throat singing, Appalachian yodeling, operatic trills, rhythmic exhalations and whispered speech into music written by some of the most exciting young composers of the 21st century.
Originally published on Fri April 24, 2015 10:27 pm
They say you can't overestimate the power of a good handshake. If that's the case, my job interview with Waka Flocka Flame was doomed from the start.
I went in for the sort of greeting I'm familiar with -– a clasp that pivots up into a grip and pulls in for a hug — but it unexpectedly continued. He raised our wrists to shoulder level, pointed his fingers out, locked them with mine ... but by that point I was long since lost. He looked at me and smiled sympathetically. First impressions, I thought, resigned, are everything.