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New York’s legendary punk-rock venue CBGB used to bill itself as the “Home of Underground Rock since 1973.” But while the Lower East Side club served as the launching pad for numerous underground bands, the venue itself was, like most venues, located at street level.

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In early 1971, rock critic Sandy Pearlman suggested to the Long Island band Soft White Underbelly that they change their name to Blue Öyster Cult. Pearlman and fellow producer Murray Krugman turned BOC into “intellectual hard rockers” through cryptic lyrics and collaborations with Patti Smit…

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We are just a few weeks into the new year and the creativity keeps flowing. There will be a full year of material coming out, and it excites me! It may very well be 2021, but if you listen to the newest album from Voltaic, it will make you feel like you’re in another place in time. 

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Given the rapid-fire acceleration of whatever it is we’re going through at this moment in history, it’s anyone’s guess what America’s collective mood will be from hour to hour, much less week to week.

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Judging by the number of live albums appearing in the last weeks of 2020, it felt as though musicians were worried about stimulus checks arriving and hoped for quick revenue. Not that many were superfluous. For The War on Drugs, Live Drugs (Super High Quality) represented the first non-bootl…

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The year 2020 is behind us and 2021 is starting to look promising. Congress has included the Save Our Stages Act in the newest stimulus package. The bill, signed by President Donald Trump Dec. 27, allocates $15 billion in funding for venues, bars and theaters affected by the pandemic, and es…

Lana Del Rey’s book/CD release of poems unleashed a torrent of spoken-word and literary recorded works in late 2020. The best of show goes to Mary Halvorson’s Code Girl ensemble, usually noted for exploring jazz frontiers. In Artlessly Falling (Firehouse 12) vocalist Amirtha Kidambi tries he…

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So it’s already time for a 2020 wrap-up! I’d say this has been a pretty interesting year, right? A worldwide pandemic, the nation fighting against racial injustice, and a very interesting presidential election. Throughout time, there has always been music to create the soundtracks of our tim…

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Neither war nor pestilence can keep Guided by Voices from releasing three or four albums of new music a year, a remarkable percentage being top-notch power pop. The new Styles We Paid For (GBV/Rockathon) opens with the unforgettable minor-key riff of “Megaphone Riley” and never lets up. The …

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Given that nearly all country songs, virtually all Irish songs and literally all Tom Waits songs are, by definition, drinking songs, you might think that would be enough. But no, the thirst for melodies that meet the special needs of booze-swilling louts like ourselves is far too great.

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The one redeeming factor of the COVID-19 pandemic is that we are all going through this. Oftentimes when we feel pain or sadness, it’s easy to feel alone and like we are the only ones feeling that way, even when countless others are feeling the same thing. This is one case where the whole wo…

Just as Dylan, Lady Gaga and The Weeknd were snubbed in recent Grammy nominations, some famous musicians have launched new studio works to collective shrugs. For every Fiona Apple getting showered with praise, there’s a Killers, Blitzen Trapper or Struts left forgotten. Fans of The Killers m…

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’Tis the season for giving! There are, fortunately, many groups and organizations that get food, toys and clothing to those in need. One thing that often gets overlooked when people donate is menstrual hygiene products. Clothes, toys and food are all very helpful and of course that should no…

Every music genre had much richer representation in 2020 than listeners had any right to expect. Even improvisational noise had a banner year, though new releases from Magik Markers, The Dead C and Nels Cline Singers feature unexpected melodic currents. The shift is most evident in Magik Mar…

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Given distribution problems and physical media’s growing unpopularity, there was no reason to expect box sets to figure in holiday gift lists. Yet 2020 offers a rich mix, though sometimes a bit too rich in price. The most unusual offering is Bobby Bare Sings Shel Silverstein Plus (Bear Famil…

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With COVID-19 exposures at an all-time high, some venues have been rethinking how they are operating. The Black Sheep recently went down to being open just four days a week. They are now open Thursday through Sunday from 6 to 10 p.m. They have also added a new outdoor seating area to allow f…

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For many musicians, this has been a time full of inspiration to create in ways they haven’t before. The process of putting out a full release can often be a lot to handle. It takes planning release dates, artwork, concepts, pressing, and the list goes on. Sometimes artists just want to get t…

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Since disco music is seeing an unexpected revival in a year with no dance floors, Australian diva Kylie Minogue inevitably made an appearance. Her November release, aptly titled Disco (BMG), doesn’t disappoint, if little depth is expected. Minogue has never been known for powerful vocals, bu…

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There is no better time than now for metal music. Death, destruction and overall bleak times; pair that with thundering drums and walls of amplifiers and you’ve got yourself some material! Several bands locally have been releasing new work lately, and it’s all worth a listen.

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In 13 years of marriage, Elvis Costello and Diana Krall rarely have released new music on similar cycles. But Costello’s new Hey Clockface (Concord Records) arrives mere weeks after Krall’s This Dream of You (Verve), and both are among the two artists’ best works. Costello recorded portions …

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The best part about having a good music scene is that it brings so many people together to help one another. Whether it’s for booking events, fundraising or just overall support, the Colorado Springs music community is there to help. Ours has been helping recently and is still in need of mor…

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Rumors of a Bruce Springsteen/E Street Band reunion have circulated for five years, but The Boss played bait-and-switch with a new solo album, Western Stars, and a Springsteen on Broadway soundtrack. Now, the great reunion arrives in the stunning Letter to You (Columbia), underscoring Spring…

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It’s no secret that live music is practically nonexistent at the moment. That hasn’t stopped artists from creating though. In fact, it has helped provide motivation. This has been a time for bands to focus on writing new material, recording and getting it out to the world.

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I’m a sleeping dog, but you can’t tell / When I’m on the prowl, you’d better run like hell.” So sings the Velvet Underground’s John Cale in “Fear Is a Man’s Best Friend,” an assertion that few dogs or psychiatrists would likely agree with.

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Now that the world is locking down for a pandemic winter, we’re complaining about the crowded summer festivals we missed, but also those happy pop summertime anthems. But 2020 didn’t leave us completely barren. The Salt Lake City foursome, The Aces, dished out 14 tunes that sparkle in Under …

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When I chatted on the phone with singer-songwriter Jeremy Facknitz during a few free moments before he resumed full-time dad and home-school duty on top of his prolific musical efforts, you’d never have guessed it was so early in the morning. Of course, Facknitz had been through a musical we…

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Before the pandemic hit, Boston’s Darlingside was slated to be a headliner at MeadowGrass. The foursome’s new album Fish Pond Fish (Thirty Tigers) perfects the unique blend of vocal harmonies, acoustic instruments and electronica Darlingside polished over three previous albums. There’s enoug…

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I’m sure everyone knows the conventional wisdom surrounding half measures, which, depending on the moment and angle, could apply to the many asterisks tacked on to the opportunities for live music... efforts to preserve independent music venues still caught in limbo... measures to combat the…

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It’s never easy to shut down a festival that brings $355 million into your city each year. So it came as a shock to the music world when, on March 6, Austin Mayor Steve Adler declared a state of disaster, leaving SXSW Festival organizers no choice but to call off an event that earned the cit…

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Ever since her country-punk freshness redefined the genre with the song “Steve Earle” in 2011, Lydia Loveless has demonstrated how to create the optimal mix of heartache, surliness and resilience. For her fifth album Daughter (Honey, You’re Gonna Be Late Records), her first in four years, sh…