Pekar Tribute 4: Mike Sheehan

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Nota Bene #111: Mmmmm… Beeeeeer

Sorry for the long absence. Let’s carry on, shall we? “If you listen to the guys up in the stands, pretty soon you’ll be up there sitting with them.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #105: The Illustrated Dick

“When all you are becomes defined as the amount of information traceable to you, what are we then? What have we become, in a world where there is no separation, no door, no filter beyond which we can say, ‘No. This is my personal space. Not yours. Here I am alone with my thoughts and free of any outside influence or control. This, you cannot have.’ I don’t know, but I don’t want to find out.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #104: Large Marge Sent Me

“Everything is changing. People are taking the comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.” Who said it? Continue reading

The Best CDs of 2009, pt. 3: the Super-Platinum LPs

In Part 1 we noted that 2009 had produced some really good music. In Part 2 we explained that the past year had given us some really great music. Today, though, we take an unprecedented step, because a few of the platinum-level releases from 2k9 were simply a cut above the rest, necessitating the creation of a Super-Platinum LP award. But that’s okay – if artists keep cranking out more exceptional music than we have categories to deal with, we’ll keep inventing new ways of honoring their efforts.

IAMXKingdom Of Welcome Addiction
Darkness? Yeah, Chris Corner knows a thing or two about darkness, and in Kingdom Of Welcome Addiction he’s kind enough to escort us through a blasted, perversely alluring landscape of addiction, lust, self-loathing, sexual degeneracy, spiritual poverty and alienation that’s about as dark as it gets. And the landscape is distinctly British in a way that recalls perhaps the greatest portrait of England ever painted, TS Eliot’s The Waste Land. Continue reading

Nota Bene #97: toDwI'ma' qoS yItIvqu'!

“To be truly free, and truly to appreciate its freedom, a society must be literate.” Continue reading

Nota Bene #94: Bear Vs. Ninja

“Overture, curtain, lights Continue reading

Nota Bene #92: Echoblowcation

A few things for you NB readers: Continue reading

Nota Bene #79: Quantum Roger and Zombie Ginger

Lovely jubbly, innit? Continue reading

TunesDay: S&R felicitates the Carnatic sax

Via John Coltrane, Indian music helped free jazz. Then jazz returned the favor.

“Saxophone exponent Kadri Gopalnath [was] felicitated by the Padma Sarangapani Cultural Academy on Monday for ‘igniting the spirit of Carnatic music across frontiers, languages and ideologies.’. . . Mr. Gopalnath had masterfully integrated the saxophone, an instrument basically used in the lighter realms of Western music, into a highly classical music like Carnatic, V.V. Srivatsa, vice-president, Music Academy, said.” [Emphasis added.]
— The Hindu, 2006

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King Hip is no more: Joe Zawinul, 1932-2007

A music giant has left us. Josef Erich “Joe” Zawinul—who established a new school of music with Miles Davis and led the seminal Weather Report with Wayne Shorter, Jaco Pastorius, et al.—passed away Tuesday in his beloved Austria, appropriately in Vienna, the “city of musicians.” He visited this planet for 75 short years and, had I my druthers, would have had 75 more productive seasons before his exit.

“Joe Zawinul belongs in a category unto himself — a European from the heartland of the classical music tradition who learned to swing as freely as any American jazzer, and whose appetite for growth and change remains insatiable,” wrote Richard Ginell, in a thoughtful career overview. Continue reading

S&R succumbs to Listmania! Name the 10 greatest American musicians ever

The author of this post, who usually writes about national security and nuclear deproliferation, has decided that, for one day, he’d fiddle while Rome burns. No more immune to the passion for lists than any other American, he presents you, after a brief meditation on the phenomenon, with one of his own.

“Listmania” rules on Amazon. David Letterman’s Top Ten List is a long-time fixture on TV. Rolling Stone magazine has devoted issue after issue to best songs and greatest albums and guitarists. has even posted Top 10 Pop Artists for the Terminally Uncool. Continue reading