Listening to the Rain

A cat looks out a window at the falling rain

I grew up in rainy Seattle, and despite its reputation, Seattle is not the rainiest of cities. When it did rain back then, the world we all knew changed a little. It took some time to readjust. My dad would comment on how many car accidents there suddenly were and how “people forget how to drive” whenever it rains for the first time in awhile. The memory of this kind of sudden rain is tied to autumn for me, since Seattle had so little (if any) rain in the summer while I was growing up. 

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Italian Women Singers in the Beat Era

For those accustomed to the lushness of 60s French pop, Italian can take some getting used to. Its screeching string accents, midrange vibratos and operatic boldness can feel more Wall of Shrill than Wall of Sound. Still, I’ve always felt that there is something unique in its assertiveness and power lacking in ye-ye or schlager, two other European pop movements where women played critical roles. In his capacity as a staff arranger at labels ARC, RCA Italiana, and Ricordi, Ennio Morricone worked on many of these sessions, with the voices of Edda Dell’Orso and her Cantori Moderni, along with Alessandroni’s guitar, audible throughout. For teens, 7″ singles were the order of the day. Italian LPs were expensive deluxe products aimed more at the adult market. This list is biased and attempts to highlight a few lesser known Italian women singers at the expense of some very famous ones, such as Patty Pravo, Rita Pavone, Caterina Caselli, Wilma Goich, Gigliola Cinquetti, Isabella Iannetti, Ornella Vanoni, and Nada. Some of their best songs can be found on Ace’s Ciao Bella! compilation for those interested, which also contains many artists below. I’ve linked out to YouTube clips when possible.

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Pixy Liao & Her Art of Giving the Middle Finger to Heteronormative & Patriarchal Ideologies

Pixy Liao (Yijun Liao) is a Chinese Shanghai-born photographer, musician and multidisciplinary artist who resides in Brooklyn, NY with her partner and muse, Moro. Pixy holds an MFA in photography from the University of Memphis. She lived in Memphis for three years after coming to the U.S in 2006. During her tenure at the University of Memphis, Pixy met her partner and muse, Moro, who is Japanese and was majoring in jazz through an orientation for international students. She was immediately attracted to him and asked him directly if he wanted to model for her, thus blooming Pixy and Moro’s continued photographic series, Experimental Relationship (2007-present).

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Wooden Wand: interview

In recent years, I’ve spent a lot of time listening to the music of Wooden Wand, the alter ego of James Jackson Toth. I first stumbled upon Wooden Wand’s music after much ground had already been covered — my first exposure was actually through Catherine Irwin’s version of “We Must Also Love the Thieves,” on her excellent Little Heater record in 2012. Intrigued by the lyrics, I followed the thread back and discovered an extensive collection of material already available. Delving into the Wooden Wand discography can be somewhat overwhelming, due to its varied and extensive nature, consisting of multiple collaborations, compilations, singles, on a variety of labels. 

When describing Wooden Wand to someone unfamiliar, I often pause before starting with the well-trodden term “singer songwriter,” which is inadequate and inaccurate, especially as there is so much more to the body of work.  It’s a cliche, but Wooden Wand really doesn’t fit into any particular genre, with releases stretching from the countryish to the psychedelic. The voluminous and restless nature of Wooden Wand is reminiscent of the late Vic Chesnutt or of Howe Gelb — other artists, who appear to have an endless stream of new ideas and words, seemingly defiant of the music industry in their peripatetic and irrepressible need to create new work.  Like these artists too (or like Nick Cave or David Berman, whose recent death still comes as a shock), Toth has an ability to write a line that sticks with you for days as you unravel it in your mind, such as starting a song,“They suspended mail delivery on account of all the roving dogs, twice a week I go in to collect my bills”

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Noah Fence Interviews Raymond Gorman of That Petrol Emotion and The Everlasting Yeah

Noah Fence First off, Raymond, thank you for agreeing to let me interview you. Please tell me about growing up in Ireland, your musical influences. What led you to pick up and play the guitar?

Raymond Gorman Hi, no problem. I grew up in Derry in the north-west of Ireland – it’s the place where all the “troubles” kicked off. I had a completely loving and idyllic childhood until the age of 7, after that things became very turbulent and I witnessed a lot of violence, living through bombings and shootings in the city until I left to go to college at 18. 

I was sent by my parents to learn classical piano at an early age and took to it very easily. I could sight read and reached a pretty good level fairly quickly however my teacher was an epileptic and one day he had a proper fit and fell on top of me pinning me to the keys whilst I played. I was completely traumatised as a result (I thought he was dead) and unfortunately was unable to ever return to lessons. Bye bye classical. Hello pop music.

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The NEW Sounds of Summer

By: DJ Ducky / Jessie Stepan

We’ve all heard The Beach Boys. You can’t live in America, especially on the Western seaboard, without hearing at least ONE song by the golden-haired Californians. The Beach Boys are to surf music what The Beatles were to modern pop – the perfectors, the originals, a generations-spanning supergroup. For fans of surf rock, it’s easy to think of other names in the genre. Maybe you’ve heard of Dick Dale – the unofficial inventor of the musical subgenre, The Turtles, The Rip Chords, or The Surfaris. For those of you who may have only heard “Good Vibrations”, though, grab your puka (those are back in style now, you know), your suntan lotion, and buckle up for the surfari of a lifetime as I take you into the new millennium and give you a glimpse into the modern era of the surf rock genre. Long gone are the days of the soda fountain and little deuce coupe. I love the Beach Boys & co just as much as the next dad, but it’s time for a more modern spin on the classic sunset filtered, rose-colored tinge of Western beach tunes. Turns out you don’t have to be a Trey to take inspiration from the classic sounds of summer. So in no particular order I introduce you all to the NEW sounds of summer, surf, and shakas.

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Dub in Effect

Summertime. The portion of the globe, on which we reside, turns its cheek to the sun. The light is bright. Brighter sometimes than the eye can stand; hence, the sunglasses. The light is warm. The light is hot. I remain amazed at the energy contained in the light from the sun. Moving from a shady spot into bright sunlight, the increased warmth on my skin is instantaneous. The hairs on my arms stand up in the heat. All from an object so far away, so far overhead, producing such massive amounts of energy, that my comprehension of it is that of a middle school age brain. Somewhere along the growth path, age continued and my brain ceased to grow along with it. 

In addition to admitting that my brain is only so big, and can only deal with issues, ideas and problems related to its metaphorical size, summertime turns my thoughts to Dub music, a version of Reggae music, originating from the island of Jamaica. I suppose it is the association of an island and the sunlight. Cliched, sure; but I celebrate cliches. At least to myself, I admit to them freely.

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The Importance of Odion Livingstone Records and the Impetus of Decolonizing African Music

African and Asian musicians are often living subserviently working for a white privileged man practicing homogenous postcolonialism. For decades, and to this day, African and Asian music was/is controlled by European and American corporations of the global north who impose their capitalist structures onto the south. In England with EMI, this meant: 1) pushing their products into the south to inundate and influence the markets; and 2) investing in studio infrastructure in former colonies to record and market music regionally, with no real intention of allowing it back the other way to compete globally. More often than not, these local studios employed professionals who were connected to the music scene and could find and sign talent.

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