Notes on Selwyn Birchwood’s “Living in a Burning House” & Jeff Parker’s “Forfolks”

Selwyn Birchwood

Layers of color streak by as the train rushes north. The gray of the Hudson River lies beneath the greens and browns of the pine trees, all under an orange and lemon sky, all moving in different directions. The water flows south, the trees hold steady, and the sun slips into the evening. Syracuse is still a few hours away, plenty of time to relax, listen to music, and enjoy the ride. I’m going to visit my dad. This will be the first time I see his new room in the memory care unit.

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Notes on Yasmin Williams in Concert; or, How Video Games Will Save Us All

Yasmin Williams

We started playing Rock Band a couple of years ago. My kids and I arrived late one night at my brother’s. We were aiming for eight but landed at eleven. We caught a second wind and Casey asked if we wanted to try Rock Band. Video games make me grumpy for all the stereotypical geezer reasons, but it was late and my defenses were down. Plus, we’d never played the game before. I figured after a song or two we’d run out of gas, but we had a blast. We stayed up past one stumbling through various classic and alt rock songs.

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Notes on RL Boyce’s Boogie w/RL Boyce Live & Michael Hurley’s The Time of the Foxgloves

RL Boyce

Lately when my partner and I plan “someday” trips, we head south. Joh wants to return to Memphis, her mom’s birthplace. She hasn’t been since she was a kid. I want to check out zydeco music in and near New Orleans. Someday plans heighten the best days and help us breathe when things are slipping. We were daydreaming again the other day. I proposed adding Como, Mississippi to the current itinerary. Como lies between Memphis and New Orleans, and it’s home to the RL Boyce picnic.

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Notes on Midtown Island Records, Or An Open Letter to Johnny Reno

Record player

Reno,

I have to tell you about this batch of records I received from Midtown Island. They’re based in Tucson and all their releases are connected to the Lenguas Largas family tree. Well, at least the four I ordered are all related to Lenguas. Technically, Lenguas are still together, but it’s been too long since their last studio record. I miss that band. What’s it been six-to-eight years since their last full length, depending on your calculus? These Midtown records remind me of the late ‘80s when every member of the Cars put out a solo record. Those guys could barely muster the modicum of effort it took to be in the Cars. Making solo records would only entail more work, at least theoretically.

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“What if Enya Were in Minor Threat?”: An Interview With Sky Creature

Sky Creature

Trying to classify the music made by Sky Creature isn’t easy. At times, you can hear the presence of thunderous punk rock in their DNA; at others, a much more ethereal sound comes to the foreground. The duo of Majel Connery and Matt Walsh have a new double EP, Childworld/Bear Mountain, out now, with a nationwide tour to follow. Each side of the EP shows a different element of the band’s style, and it makes for a haunting and immersive experience. I spoke with the duo about how the two records came about.

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Notes on All Hits’ “Men and Their Work”, or An Expression of Gratitude for People Who Keep Me Moving Forward 

All Hits

No More Beatlemania, Once Was Enough!
It’s Time for All Hits Mania!
Men and Their Work (Iron Lung Records)

I don’t remember their words, but I remember their stances. My grandfather and my uncle at the kitchen table, summer of ’93. They were arguing about people with HIV. My uncle was calm and compassionate. He argued people deserve care. My grandfather was defensive, doubling down, blinded by homophobia. He argued people should be shamed, isolated.

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Turning Earth Sounds Into Ethereal Music: Inside the Making of Field Works’ “Stations”

Recording the Earth

The last time we spoke with Stuart Hyatt about his Field Works project, he had recently released an album of immersive music with the sounds of bats at its center. The new Field Works album, Stations, goes to a very different place than that in a very literal sense. For this album, Hyatt drew upon the work of EarthScope, recording the sounds of the planet itself and then bringing in a host of collaborators, including Laaraji and Qasim Naqvi, to transform those sounds into a haunting, gorgeous soundscape. Reached via email, Hyatt discussed how everything came together.

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