An Essential Musical History Gets a Grand New Edition: On “England’s Hidden Reverse”

"England's Hidden Reverse"

When reading a book about music, it’s generally a good sign when I find myself jotting down notes on artists to check out and albums to buy. In the case of David Keenan’s England’s Hidden Reverse: A Secret History of the Esoteric Underground, recently reissued by Strange Attractor Press, it’s not spoiling much by saying that I was reading it with several tabs open: to AllMusic and Bandcamp and Bull Moose Music and Forced Exposure, eyeing reissue editions and complete discographies and obscure side projects. It’s that kind of a book, told with both rigor and enthusiasm, and making for a compelling read.

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Gold Dime’s Andrya Ambro on the Genesis of “No More Blue Skies”

Andrya Ambro of Gold Dime

I’ve been a fan of Gold Dime‘s music ever since I came across them playing at the 2014 edition of Basilica Soundscape. Do you enjoy your music intense and rhythmic yet pushing towards transcendent moments of bliss? Well then. The group’s third album, No More Blue Skies, arrived on the scene last month, and it pulls off the impressive feat of retaining the group’s core sound while also finding intriguing ways to expand it. I spoke with Gold Dime founder Andrya Ambro to learn more about the album — and the band’s recent tour.

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Sonny Smith on Making the Video For Sonny and the Sunsets’ “Shadows”

telephone pole shadows

There’s a bespoke feeling to “Shadows,” the new video from Sonny and the Sunsets’ new album Self Awareness Through Macrame. There’s a reason for that — namely, that the video consists of a series of 180 paintings by the band’s Sonny Smith. The whole record abounds with bittersweet and understated pop numbers, indicative of Smith’s impressive discography. As Jennifer Kelly wrote at Dusted, “He’s a master of twisting realism into gentle fantasy, so that it’s hard to say where the grit leaves off and the fairy dust starts.” I spoke with Smith about the process of making the video — and that interview, along with a closer look at some of his paintings, follows.

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Notes On The Baseball Project’s “Grand Salami Time”

"Grand Salami Time" cover

Some people use the weather or traffic to move through the early stages of conversation. For me, with certain friends and family, it’s baseball. Sharing lines from favorite announcers (Vin Scully: “Bob Gibson pitched like he was double parked”). Marveling over favorite players (Henry Aaron, Rickey, Fernando, Ichiro). Bemoaning lousy teams (the Mets) and trades that never should have come to pass (Why did the Red Sox trade Mookie Betts?). 

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Metro Riders’ Henrik Stelzer on the Horror Movie Posters That Inspired His Music

Metro Riders

Today sees the release of Lost in Reality, the new album from Stockholm’s Metro Riders — an enticing and atmospheric collection of music that draws both musical and aesthetic inspiration from the suspense and horror films of the 1970s. Metro Riders’ Henrik Stelzer provided an in-depth look at some of his favorite horror film posters — and explained how they shaped the new album.

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Composer Olivia Belli on the Location That Inspired “Valadier”

Olivia Belli

Next year will see the release of Intermundia, the new album from pianist and composer Olivia Belli, on XXIM Records. For the song “Valadier,” Belli drew inspiration from the Temple of Valdier,  a building that’s stood for almost 200 years in the Italian town of Marche. In her own words, here’s Belli on the physical spaces that have shaped her immersive, haunting music…

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Notes On Big Joanie’s “Back Home”

Big Joanie

All photos by Edwina Hay

“We’re a Black, feminist punk band. That means we’re trans revolutionaries. That means we’re Black revolutionaries. That means we’re feminist revolutionaries. And, this is the real test,” drummer Chardine Taylor-Stone pauses for effect, “we’re working class revolutionaries.” 

Big Joanie are everything they claim to be and more. Their lyrics are reflective and probing, digging deep and pulling us into the ups and downs of relationships and self-identity. On stage they maintain that sense of intimacy while building a big, welcoming tent. People lost their minds when the British trio performed at Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn. The club buzzed with anticipation long before Big Joanie played. Even as the opening band, Frida Kill, ripped through their own sizzling set, they made it clear they were just as excited as the rest of us to see Big Joanie. Early in Frida Kill’s set guitarist Lily Gist declared, “We’re from here. Big Joanie is from across the pond. I’m going to hype them up the whole set!”

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When Art Explains Art

"Waiting Room" cover art

When Art Explains Art
by McKenzie Stubbert

For my album “Waiting Room,” I commissioned the painter Zachary Johnson to create the original cover art. It  could have simply been a beautiful piece that, like many album covers, was incredibly vague. Instead, I got a portrait of myself that reflected back to me exactly what I had made: something far more autobiographic. Like a lot of music, my album drew inspiration from many places. But I never expected the album art to reveal to me what I had been trying to uncover.

This album took me seven years to complete. It began as a handful of unrelated pieces I slowly tinkered with, trying to find my so-called “voice.” I struggled to understand what I was making and what connected them to each other. Much of the music originated in film and other visual projects. I have been a full-time freelance composer for about fifteen years. Over the years, certain elements, moments, or, in some cases, entire works jumped out to me as rather personal and something I wanted to use for myself.

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