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An improvised-music summit offers contrasting experiences of community and austerity

The double album Houston 2012 captures a two-day encounter in October 2012 between English tabletop guitarist Keith Rowe and the experimental-music community of Houston, Texas. Rowe’s visit came about thanks to the initiative of Saint Louis double bassist Damon Smith, who lived in Texas at the time. While there Smith developed a strong working relationship […]

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Studio-born midwestern rockers Cumbie introduce their music to the world with their debut EP

Cumbie front man Aaron O’Neill says his three-piece isn’t a “real band”—they’ve only ever performed publicly once—but on their new self-released debut, EP, they rock like road-tested veterans. O’Neill started writing the record’s sleek, rowdy songs a couple years ago, when he lived in Saint Louis (he played in several bands there, including Shady Bug, […]

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Saint Louis rapper-singer Smino re-creates the fun of classic hip-hop mixtapes on She Already Decided “Mixtape”

When rapper-singer Smino self-released She Already Decided on April 20, he added “Mixtape” in scare quotes to the title on Soundcloud. In doing so, the Saint Louis native provided a sly history lesson for young listeners who’ve only ever referred to full-lengths as “projects.” A decade ago, hip-hop mixtapes provided a way for rappers to […]

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Saint Louis sludge lords Fister pick up the pace on No Spirit Within

Ten years in business, these Saint Louis-based sludge machines attempt the delicate task of balancing a what-you-see-is-what-you-get approach with the ability to surprise. Their 2011 full-length debut, Bronsonic, is a gnarly, bowel-troweling slab of noise that shows their utter commitment to punishing heaviness, though they do offer a sly wink with song titles such as […]