Music

The Weird and Wonderful Literary World of Bob Dylan

Benjamin Wright

On September 11, 2012, Bob Dylan released his 35th studio album, Tempest. The reviews poured in, many hailing the album as an instant classic, and simultaneously labeling it Dylan’s darkest album to date, filled with tracks about death and disaster, including the nearly 14-minute long title track about the sinking of the Titanic. When the album’s title was revealed, a firestorm of speculation broke out, particularly among music historians and Dylanologists who hypothesized that Tempest might be the last album in the “Bard from Hibbing’s” 50-year career, as The Tempest was what many critics believe to have been Shakespeare’s final play. 

Henry Rollins Discusses ‘Dark Prophet,’ Clint Eastwood, and Musicians Today

Sam Chapin

Henry Rollins wears many hats. He has his musician hat (that he no longer wears), which he earned from singing with State Of Alert, Black Flag and the Rollins Band.  He has his acting hat (which still uses) that he’s worn on two dozen film sets and several television shows, including Sons of Anarchy and the forthcoming Dark Prophet. And finally, he wears his activist hat (which he never takes off). Highbrow Magazine writer Sam Chapin recently had the chance to ask Rollins a few questions about the broad spectrum of his interests and endeavors. 

Meet Brooklyn’s Own Ambassadors of Music

Sam Chapin

Indie and Soul are two words that don’t often meet, much like Gospel and Electronica. But all of these genres, and a host of others, feel right at home in the spectrum of Ambassadors’ influences. Hailing from Brooklyn, the four-man band has been making music together for more than five years. Comprised of lead singer, bassist, and sometimes drummer, Sam Harris, keyboardist and brother of Sam, Casey Harris (who is legally blind and has been since birth), guitarist Noah Feldshuh, and drummer Adam Levin, Ambassadors are quickly gaining traction and becoming a prominent presence in the New York music scene as well as the country at large. Sam Harris recently spoke with Highbrow Magazine.

 

Remembering John Cage

Liz Appleby

If he were alive, Cage would have celebrated his 100th birthday last week. In this, his centenary year, as events are staged across the globe to celebrate his life and work, 4’33” has lost none of its radical edge. Describing 4’33” is fraught with difficulty. Cage wrote the piece in three movements totaling 4’33”. No instruments are played, if performed at a piano, as it often is, the lid of the piano is raised and lowered to indicate the end and start of each movement, the performer may have a stopwatch or timer (of course - how else to gauge 4 minutes 33 seconds), there are no musical notes, and yet, there is a musical score. It is not silent, though it is often referred to as such. 

Dance-Pop Act anon Focuses on the Power of Sound, not Trappings of Fame

Snapper S. Ploen

Somewhere between happiness and fury, lies the music of anon. Choosing to go virtually nameless in a sea of up-and-coming talent, this British dance-pop act is taking an unusual route to exposure -- one which avoids the trappings of pre-judgment or the distractions of an overbearing personality. By identifying only as “anon” (short for “anonymous”), the electronic rhythms of the artist become the focal point rather than the typical celebrity ego. 

Provocative Alt-J Rides the Wave of Success With Debut Album, Tour

Tyler Huggins

The premise of ∆ is simple. Resist definition. A note penned by the band (or intimate of) noted that a decisive sound bite for ∆ has yet to surface. This drives music journalists loco. Said Music journalists pride themselves on their ability to collapse a band's sound into relatable genres, akin bands/artists or slap them with an adjectival morass. While many have tried to encapsulate the aesthetic of ∆, none  has succeeded, resulting in reviews that liken the group to Nick Drake and the Gangsta Rap; Radiohead (the ultimate cop-out comparison); Fleet Foxes and Mystery Jets and Adam Sandler.

Godspeed You! Emperor and the Art of Survival

John McGovern

When T.S. Eliot wrote, “Mankind cannot bear much reality,” he inadvertently (“post-rock” hadn’t reached Oxford yet) described Montreal-based Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s bombastic sound. The band’s music is classically structured and is often lumped into a genre called “post-rock,” though the band dismisses this as a pretentious term. “Post-rock” is used to describe instrumental groups that include the traditional rock n’ roll instrumentation -- guitar, drums, bass -- but breaks from pop song structures. Instead, post-rock draws from a diverse array of influences, most evidently jazz and classical music. The detached, introspective sound of many “post-rock” bands is nonexistent in Godspeed’s music. 

Interview: Whatever Happened to Gloria Estefan?

Alysia Stern

Keeping a more low profile in recent years has fans wondering whatever happened to Estafan, who was such a presence in the 1980s/90s music scene.  We were able to catch up with Estefan recently, along with Karin Caro, Donna Drake and The Village Connection Magazine,  for an interview while the reality show  The Next  was being produced on Long Island at The Paramount Theatre in Huntington, New York. Reality TV seems to be a last bastion of great artists who land on television to either mentor others on the road to fame or keep the irresistible spotlight of fame shining  as long as possible. 

25 Years of Public Enemy: Still Louder Than A Bomb

Liz Appleby

It’s been 25 years since Rap’s finest practitioners, Public Enemy, arrived on the Hip-Hop scene with their powerful aural assault, uncompromising message and high-octane live performances. The group now marks its quarter century with two new concept albums, Most Of My Heroes Still Don’t Appear On No Stamp released in July and The Evil Empire Of Everything coming in September.

It’s Art, Stupid: Rap Lyrics and the Law

Erik Nielson

Torrence Hatch, the Baton Rouge, La., rapper better known to fans as Lil Boosie, faced the trial of his life in May. Charged with first-degree murder in the 2009 shooting death of Terry Boyd, Boosie stood accused of paying his friend Mike "Marlo Mike" Loudon $2,800 to carry out the hit. A conviction would have put him behind bars for good. But local prosecutors had very little with which to work. With no physical evidence tying Boosie to the crime, they built their case on a prior confession from Marlo Mike -- a statement he later recanted at trial -- and, more important, Boosie's rap lyrics. 

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