Current DJ: Jenny West: Music For Chameleons
Nirvana In Bloom from Nevermind (DGC) Add to Collection
Chicago by way of Nashville duo Vesper have just released Years and to coincide with a new single are debuting a video directed by local product and current Los Angeles resident Ellie Pritts.
Years has just been released on vinyl (with eight color variants) on Chicago’s own Shuga label, the record’s digital release is April 18, and the pair have a record release show at The Empty Bottle on Tuesday April 16 with Zigtebra and Big Syn also on the bill.
Zachary and Samantha say they “met through an overlapping circle of friends and adoration of animals” and started collaborating on music soon after meeting. Both grew up in artistic households, with Zachary being the son of a songwriter and theater director and playing in what he describes as “awful punk band” Muckraker during high school and Samantha started performing in musical theater and taking ballet when she was five and eventually took guitar and piano lessons and learned other genres of dance.
When asked if it’s a fair assessment that the songs on Years have a disconnect between the sometimes bouncy music and the serious subject matter of the lyrics, they both agree wholeheartedly. Zachary likes to describe Vesper as “the saddest songs you can dance to...I’m not a sad person per se; but we’ve both recognized hardships as a way of life. Instead of moping around, we use it as fodder.”
by Josh Friedberg
Higher Ground: Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Curtis Mayfield, and the Rise and Fall of American Soul by Craig Werner
Craig Werner is one of the most perceptive music historians and critics of the last three decades, and Higher Ground—the follow-up to his highly acclaimed 1998 book, A Change is Gonna Come: Music, Race & the Soul of America—delves deeply into the work of Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, and Curtis Mayfield. The book’s analysis appealed to me as a huge fan of music, history, and African American Studies, and with the passing of Aretha, now is an especially useful time to revisit the ideas in this book.
by Josh Friedberg
Woman Walk the Line: How the Women in Country Music Changed Our Lives, edited by Holly Gleason
I’ve read a few books on country music, but none has touched me as much as the 2017 collection of personal essays, Woman Walk the Line: How the Women in Country Music Changed Our Lives. Editor Holly Gleason compiles an impressive range of voices to discuss the female country artist that means the most to them, and the results do not disappoint.
Gleason writes in the introduction of country as “in many ways women’s music,” accommodating and welcoming a range of women uncommon “in any other genre.” The book makes a solid case for this claim, with working-class heroines and Ivy League graduates, visual magnets and pre-televisual icons, some who wore their biographies on their sleeves and others who shrouded their lives in mystery, heterosexuals and LGBT people, and whites and women of color all sharing space and changing lives.
by Paige Miner
There were a few things that puzzled me when I first arrived in France in late May. First are the massive amount of roundabouts - they make up almost every intersection here, and there are about 30,000 in the entire country of France. Meanwhile, I can count on one hand the amount I know of in my home state of Illinois.
Among the things that I didn’t expect were the tiny dollhouse-sized mugs of espresso after every meal, and never quite knowing what to expect when ordering off of a menu in a language I barely speak. But as I hopped into my rental car -- stick shift only, mind you, which I left to my father to drive -- it was only natural for me to start fiddling with the radio.
After working for four years in radio while in college, I learned the ins and outs of the American radio industry. I can recite laws and regulations for radio in the States, and list radio stations I have loved and grew up with. As a self-proclaimed radio geek, the medium fascinates me.
In my new series, International Jukebox, I will explore how American and Anglophone music affects non-Anglophone listeners, how to discover new radio stations and music in a new culture, and how listening to new music improves a language, and finally, a playlist for all your language-learning needs.
Words and Pictures by Bradley Morgan
In April, I took a trip to Cuba. I have some friends who had visited and I consulted with them when I was planning my trip. They told me about all the fun they had and gave me recommendations on how to make the most of the trip. Going to Cuba just sounded so exciting and carried a certain level of danger, intrigue, and sex appeal because it is such a taboo for Americans. This trip, for me, would be an opportunity to further understand my identity as an American and my relationship with a world unknown to most Americans.
It is very easy to travel to Cuba. You can fly directly from the United States (I flew out of Miami) and obtaining a tourist visa is as easy as entering your credit card information on a travel site. A visa is obtained by making a specific declaration of your intended visit whether it is for education, to visit family, journalism, or whatever else. What declaration you make in this process determines what is legal and illegal for you. For me, my declaration was to support the Cuban people. This meant that I had to spend at least six hours a day going to places and doing things that benefited the people and not the government. This meant not staying in hotels, going to museums, and not lounging at the beach all day.