Posted inArts & Culture

Billy Bragg

In the grand leftist tradition of angry young geeks ranging from Antonio Gramsci to the Clash, British folk antihero Billy Bragg explores the tension between individual creation and collective consciousness by diving headfirst into the contradiction. Caught between punk anger and folk romanticism, between impersonal skepticism and the human touch, Bragg–whose hilariously self-effacing live performances […]

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Living Colour

Can the Rainbow Coalition beat the Rambo Coalition at its own game? If the funky metal titans in Living Colour have their way, the answer may be yes. If Living Colour’s debut album, Vivid, is your first exposure to the snap, crackle, and atomic explosion of guitarist/idea man Vernon Reid, you might be tempted to […]

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Burning Spear

Like Moses, Marcus Garvey, and Bruce Springsteen, Winston Rodney believes in a Promised Land. Rodney, who is better known in reggae circles as Burning Spear, has drawn upon Garvey’s themes of African repatriation to create some of the most haunting and uplifting music I’ve ever heard. Spear’s best music builds slowly and captures all the […]

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Billy Bragg/Michelle Shocked

If the term “folk music” still makes you think of baby boomers getting bleary-eyed over Peter, Paul and Mary, you probably haven’t been listening to Billy Bragg or Michelle Shocked. Sounding vaguely like Phil Ochs and Woody Guthrie filtered through the Clash, Billy Bragg sets his tough agitprop and coarsely moving ballads against an electronic […]

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Kinsey Report

Every time some professional genius declares that blues music is officially dead, someone with new ideas and hot licks comes along to cancel the funeral. One of this year’s best reasons to believe is the Kinsey Report, the brother act from Gary, Indiana, whose brand of progressive blues is as progressive as it is bluesy. […]

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Alex Chilton

Since Alex Chilton walks a thin tightrope between earnestness and sarcasm, poise and chaos, art and trash, rock and roll, he would make the perfect guest on the David Letterman show if Letterman were cool enough to ask him. Since he probably won’t, I’ll fill in with a top-ten list of Things to Expect at […]

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They Might Be Giants

On the other hand, they might be geeks. They Might Be Giants is two endearingly nerdy guys from Hoboken who enjoy messing with accordions and drum machines almost as much as they enjoy messing with your mind. You expect songs with titles like “Youth Culture Killed My Dog,” “Everything Right Is Wrong Again,” and “Alienations […]

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Robyn Hitchcock & the Egyptians

Reality is for people who just can’t handle Robyn Hitchcock. He’s been making records that are fantastic in both senses since his early tenure with England’s Soft Boys, whose dark and lovely Underwater Moonlight sounds vaguely like the Beatles undergoing psychoanalysis. His more ethereal Egyptians can out-Sgt. Pepper any band of Beatle wannabes when they […]

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Silos

Since their fiddle-fortified tone poems evoke corn silos more than missile silos, you could get pretty suspicious by paying attention to written descriptions of the way these wide-eyed urban cowpokes get their country kicks. After all, after George Bush in overalls stumping for the farm vote, the last thing this country needs is a mannered […]

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Scruffy the Cat

Years of hard work and harder gigging have made Scruffy the Cat one of Boston’s best bands. But they remain one of its best-kept secrets. Maybe it’s because their clever, unpretentious songcraft isn’t scruffy enough for membership in Boston’s garage-revival fringe (the DMZ/Lyres school) and isn’t catty enough for membership in its experimental art fringe […]

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Feelies/Eleventh Dream Day

If this meeting of perpetually nervous, thinking guitar bands doesn’t turn into the best twin bill of the season, I promise to eat my entire collection of Velvet Underground albums. You might identify the Feelies as the cooler-than-cool group from the reunion scene in Jonathan Demme’s Something Wild, the artistic pinnacle of North Jersey nerd […]

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Tav Falco’s Panther Burns/Sapphires

If your objection to Dirty Dancing is that it’s just not dirty enough, don’t miss the chance to see two purveyors of sweat-soaked primal raunch get scuzzy and fuzzy on one double bill. The suavely unkempt Tav Falco, who resembles a used-car salesman stepping out of a John Waters film festival, is the rockabilly equivalent […]

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Joe “King” Carrasco y Las Coronas

Clown prince turned clown revolutionary, crossover geek turned crossover dream, Tex-Mex dance fiend Joe “King” Carrasco has come a long, long way. Earlier this decade, the self-anointed king of “nuevo wavo” would take the stage in mucho-stupido cape and crown and play fun, forgettable Farfisa-driven party riffs. You’d go home, feel a sudden craving to […]

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The Pogues

Welcome to my nightmare. As a toddler, I dreamed about a hideous gap-toothed pirate, flanked by seven stranded castaways, who burst forth in unspeakably rowdy choruses and snarled about things I coudn’t bear to say. Everyone I knew told me that the pirate was a bad man; I also knew that, strangely and inexplicably, he […]