We at the Reader have compiled some of the best, biggest, and oddest music stories of the week.
“Weird Al” Yankovic and the strange tale of his celebrity
“Weird Al” Yankovic got famous parodying hit songs in the early 80s, and he’s outlasted many of the stars he lampooned to become a household name in his own right. [Washington Post]
Scientists said it, OK? Sharks like death metal.
Apparently at a distance its low rumbling sounds like a struggling fish? They should try some Impetuous Ritual or Grave Upheaval. [The Independent]
Puerto Rico’s FemFest brings together the women of experimental music in San Juan and Oakland
FemFest, a three-day series of shows this past weekend in San Juan, hopes to serve as a space for community, resistance, and catharsis for the women of the experimental scenes in Oakland and Puerto Rico—women who curator Alexandra Buschman says “don’t realize how good they are.” [Remezcla]
Downtown aldermen advance a push to ban street musicians from the Magnificent Mile and State Street
Aldermen Brendan Reilly (42nd) and Brian Hopkins (2nd) want to block street musicians from some of the most heavily trafficked areas of the Mag Mile and State Street, claiming that their presence makes it impossible for some people to sleep or work. Their ordinance just got an endorsement from a City Council committee, and the full council is scheduled to take a look at it on February 22—in a few months, if you notice that downtown is less musical, at least you’ll know why. [DNAinfo Chicago]
The legacy of Chicago jazz legend Oscar Brown Jr. continues to grow, despite complications, thanks to his family’s efforts
The work of Chicago jazz legend Oscar Brown Jr. has continued to resurface over the past year, more than a decade after his death. The South Side Weekly (where the author of this post is music editor) spoke to the people leading this revitalization effort, Oscar’s daughters Maggie and Africa Brown, about the ups and downs of bringing his music to light. [South Side Weekly]
So what’s the deal with vocaloids?
If you’ve spent some time in the anime-flavored parts of the Internet, you might’ve noticed computer-generated singers showing up, even receiving celebrity-style adulation—most prominently virtual teen-pop icon Hatsune Miku. These avatars are (loosely speaking) the personifications of programs called “vocaloids”: flexible, powerful voice-synthesis software that anyone can use to tap into a ready-made pop-star presence, to explore the gaps between “authentic” and “artificial,” or to confront even thornier questions about identity and transformation. It’s the future already, and it’s going to keep getting more complicated! [Bandcamp]