Un-Caged Melody

John Cage’s name never quite fit. As one of the 20th century’s most important experimental composers and intellectuals, Cage, who died 20 years ago, resisted constraints, striving instead to allow sounds to be sounds. “I remember loving sound before I ever took a music lesson,” he said in the 1949 talk “Lecture on Nothing.” “And […]

A Vinyl Link

I received a 7-inch vinyl record in the mail last week. And I’ll never play it. I like the artist, avant-rock icon Roger Miller (from Mission of Burma), and the songs, “Big Steam” b/w “Dream Interpretation,” which I listened to on the Good Road record label’s Soundcloud page. But the vinyl comes with a free […]

At Its Core, an Afrobeat

The influence that Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti had on music is so vast that Brooklyn band Zongo Junction needs 12 members to even get close to the kind of hypnotic, polyrhythmic funk he pioneered. Fortunately, they’ve got their own updated musical bag of tricks to work with. “We’re trying to channel Fela’s Africa 70 band […]

All Cage, No Cages

I spent last weekend on the beach listening to avant-garde composer John Cage (1912-1992). I had no MP3s, no CDs, no radios. There were no headphones jammed in my ears, no speakers in front of which to sit. But I listened. I heard gulls and waves; children laughing, howling; the wind screaming around the trees. […]

Discovery Channels

Last week, the Nielsen rating service released survey results that showed radio is still the primary vehicle for music discovery, although teens mostly listen to their favorite jams on YouTube. Radio as a driving force for discovery in the digital age? That feels like an odd revelation — at least until you actually spend time […]

Chain, Chain, Chain

Ian Svenonius is forever devoted to the idea of teen-rock rebellion, which might seem odd for a well-read man in his 40s. And since he’s been mining aesthetics pulled from this garage-rock cave since 1988, you could start taking his music for granted. But Svenonius’ endless ability to spelunk old rock should be celebrated — […]

Sound Foundation

I’ve created my own dream house. No, I haven’t built a mansion, or even kept tidy a 1948 brick Cape Cod. But I usually manage to keep music playing in our home almost continually, inspired in part by the “Dream House” concept conceived by minimalist composer La Monte Young and artist Marian Zazeela. The original […]

Your Move

When is the best time to teach your 5-year-old to play chess? When the deluxe CD reissue of the GZA’s 1995 hip-hop classic “Liquid Swords” arrives in the mail. This box set comes with a chessboard built right into the package — plus game pieces, a remastered version of the album and GZA liner notes […]

Dig the New Breed

When a group of punks in their late teens call their 2011 debut album “New Brigade,” you might be suspicious. After all, there’s not a lot that’s new about Danish quartet Iceage, a band most reminiscent of early Wire: speedy but atmospheric, like art-school kids hopped up on amphetamines. But that’s the wrong way to […]

Not Afraid to Play the Pop

Most indie musicians would be embarrassed to be caught DJing at a wedding reception, spinning Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” for dressed-up crowds dancing awkwardly in church basements. Not Dent May. When he’s not touring, the Oxford, Miss., singer-songwriter books reception gigs on the side “to pay the bills,” he says. He […]