Posts by: Guia Cortassa

Album of the Week: Molly Burch’s Please Be Mine

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Torch songs, i.e. “sentimental love songs, typically one in which the singer laments an unrequited love,” were once the flagship of every respected crooner: with sultry lonesomeness, a smooth voice would dance above the elegant orchestra accompaniment, singing of lovers lost or unreciprocated romance.

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Album of the Week: Sinkane’s Life & Livin’ It

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Take a musician born in London, raised for a time in Sudan, and relocated to Ohio at five years old. Have his parents make him listen to Bob Marley, and let him eventually discover great Afrobeat like William Onyeabor, and Pharoah Sanders’s legendary saxophone.

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Album of the Week: Sampha’s Process

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After collaborating with the likes of Beyoncè, SBTRKT, Jessie Ware, Drake, Kanye West, Frank Ocean, and Solange, 28-year-old British singer, songwriter and producer Sampha has finally released his first solo album, Process, via Young Turks.

A significant and evocative title, anticipating the changes happening as listeners work through the LP’s forty minutes: the personal growth Sampha undergoes in taking his meditations on life and loss out of his bedroom and into the studio, crafting a moving and heartfelt urban soul album.

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Album of the Week: Allison Crutchfield’s Tourist in This Town

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Allison Crutchfield has been making music her whole life: with her twin sister Katie first, then in bands like P.S. Eliot, Bad Banana, and Swearin’, founded with her former partner.

Now, Crutchfield has just released her first solo album, Tourist in This Town, via Merge Records.

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Album of the Week: Cherry Glazerr’s Apocalipstick

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Clementine Creevy is a nineteen-year-old girl from Los Angeles with a vision: having a career in music in a society that “would deem that a prodigious girl can’t be in a progressive rock band while also being in complete control of its creative vision, business plan, and social messaging.”

This is how Cherry Glazerr was born.

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Album of the Week: The Flaming Lips’s Oczy Mlody

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“When asked (about our newest album Oczy Mlody) what does your new stuff sound like..?? My current response has been that it sounds like Syd Barrett meets A$AP Rocky and they get trapped in a fairy tale from the future.” It’s Wayne Coyne himself, penning those words in the official press release for his Flaming Lips’s newest album, Oczy Mlody, out last Friday from Warner Bros.

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Album of the Week: Christine Ott’s Tabu

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tabuAfter many years of touring it as a ciné-concert performance, Christine Ott finally found a home for her Tabu, releasing it on Gizeh Records for its Dark Peak Series.

In it, the French musician, who worked with Yann Tiersen and Radiohead, among others, reworks the score and soundtrack for F.

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Album of the Week: Childish Gambino’s Awaken, My Love!

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cgAmidst writing, producing, and starring in the FX series Atlanta and being cast to portray a young Lando Calrissian in an upcoming Star Wars installment, Donald Glover took some time to return to his Childish Gambino persona and has released one of the most interesting album of 2016.

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Album of the Week: Jay Daniel’s Broken Knowz

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broken-knowzWhen it comes to musical legacies, Detroit’s is singular: talking about “Detroit sound” can refer to a jump into Motown’s soul vibes or a dive into the roots of techno’s hammering basses, two apparently distant and antipodal hearts that have more in common than we might think.

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Album of the Week: Alex Izenberg’s Harlequin

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If you were asked to name a Los Angeles solo musician who published his notable, kaleidoscopic debut album—made of orchestral arrangements, train noises, great melodies, and experimental cut-ups—in his mid twenties, after years and years of writing, chances are high you’d properly answer “Van Dyke Parks.” But now, there’s another artist who fit this description: Alex Izenberg.

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Literature Tricks or Political Threats?

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So familiar have the aesthetic conventions of horror become that it is increasingly difficult to distinguish “real” Halloween movies from parodies. Something similar has occurred in our political life.

At the New York Review of Books, Christopher Benfey shares a brief history of collisions between humor and horror in Western literature (and American politics).

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The Other Half

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By forcing blue-state liberal types to reckon with a demographic they had long dismissed as a punch line—low-income, uneducated whites in economically depleted regions—he [Donald Trump] awakened them to the fact that the groovy progressive social values they had assumed were a national fait accompli were actually only half the story.

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Voting Across the Pages

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The political becoming local and, in effect, personal, is what I think we saw playing out all across Columbia last week.  If Ocosingo War Diary teaches us anything, it’s that what might seem like an obvious choice—ending a war of 52 years—from the global perspective actually might be quite a bit more complicated when the social fabric of a place is taken into consideration, especially the intergenerational baggage that’s asked to be unpacked when particular regions—some more resentful of the FARC than others—are asked to simply move on from the violence they and their families have experienced for generations.

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Where Our Favorite Stories Lived

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Particularly in the case of children’s writers, some part of me might hope that these tourist sites will be living manifestations of beloved stories, of stories that seemed like physical locations, places to escape, as real as real life. Maybe it has something to do with seeking to make literal the metaphorical experience of being lost in stories, of meeting again characters who seem three-dimensional, flesh and blood, like old, good friends, like a part of me.

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Profiling the Princess of Darkness

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The four books Gaitskill produced over the next two decades, all of them rife with sexual violence and self-destruction, cemented her reputation as the “Princess of Darkness”—as did her much-discussed past. Gaitskill, who was born in Kentucky and raised in Michigan, ran away as a teenager, was briefly institutionalized, worked as a stripper and call girl, and wrote publicly about her own experiences with rape and abuse.

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Telling, Not Showing

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As I processed a dominant Euro-American writing pedagogy from the perspective of an aspiring fiction writer and an immigrant critic of color, I couldn’t stop wondering: are we, in 21st-century America, overvaluing a sight-based approach to storytelling? And could this be another case of cultural particularity masquerading itself as universal taste?

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Catapulting Humor into Your Writing

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Following the recent announcement of its merger with Counterpoint Press, Catapult is starting a new season of writing workshops!

And, our own Funny Women Editor Elissa Bassist is among the featured instructors, teaching a two-day masterclass in humor writing, during which “each student will brainstorm, outline, write, and workshop a successful shortish parody/satire or die trying.” The course begins on September 24—head over to Catapult’s website for further info and to sign up!

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California Tales

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San Francisco filmmaker Jenni Olson has just released her new film, a cinematic essay titled The Royal Road. Made up of historical research material and lyrical, personal monologues, the film is “a primer on Junipero Serra’s Spanish colonization of California and the Mexican American War alongside intimate reflections on nostalgia, the pursuit of unavailable women, butch identity and Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo—all against a contemplative backdrop of 16mm urban California landscapes, and featuring a voiceover cameo by Tony Kushner.”

Head over to Vimeo to see the entire movie, and watch the trailer after the jump!

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Notes on Craft

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Supposedly, the most-common question for a writer is , “Where do you get your ideas?” but in my experience, it is actually, “Do you outline?” I don’t outline, but I do fill notebooks with scribbled thoughts about where the story is and where it should be, and over the years I’ve realized that these pages inevitably take the form of a hybrid between potential plot moves and an editorial note on the existing material, as if I’m offering feedback on a student’s manuscript, or another writer’s work, rather than my own.

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