Posts by: Guia Cortassa

Album of the Week: Harriet Brown’s Contact

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Hailing from the Bay Area and now based in Los Angeles, Harriet Brown is the self-proclaimed champion of “romantic funk,” a realm where Prince is king and Sade is queen. His debut Contact, just released by Innovative Leisure, is “a concept album about communication and the contact we purposely, accidentally and inherently struggle to make between friends, lovers and strangers, be them human or otherwise.”

Drawing inspiration from the late 1980s American funk and early 1990s British R&B, Brown composed, arranged, co-produced, and performed all the album’s tracks without any sense of nostalgia, updating familiar sounds to fit with the current cultural climate, “sexual and sensitive, ambiguous and androgynous.”

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Album of the Week: Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN.

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With rumors and speculation about another new record dropping on the second Coachella weekend flying, Kendrick Lamar’s fourth studio album DAMN. (out via TDE/ Interscope) has already established itself as an instant classic.

Lamar, who prefers to identify as musician and a writer rather than a rapper, called his album “Very urgent.” DAMN.

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Album of the Week: Arca by Arca

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In 2012, after leaving their homeland Venezuela for New York City and then London, Alejandro Ghersi began playing music under the stage name of Arca. A former child star, Ghersi has collaborated with Bjork and Kanye West. Now, the twenty-six-year-old producer and composer is releasing their third, eponymous album—the first via XL Recordings, and the first to feature Ghersi’s compelling vocals, breaking their long streak of producing extremely experimental, instrumental works.

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Album of the Week: Tei Shi’s Crawl Space

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Tei Shi is Valerie Teicher—born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, raised between Bogota, Colombia, and Vancouver, Canada, she now lives in New York after graduating from Boston’s Berklee College of Music. Her new album, Crawl Space, out now from Downtown Records, is her coming-of-age diary transposed into music.

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Album of the Week: Jay Som’s Everybody Works

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Jay Som is the musical project of San Francisco singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Melina Duterte. The moniker was found via an online baby name generator and means “Victory Moon.” Everybody Works is her sophomore release, out via Polyvinyl Record.

Writing, recording, playing on, and producing almost every bit of her new album, Duterte keeps her signature DIY approach—wedding lo-fi rock to hi-fi home orchestration, and weaving evocative autobiographical poetry into energetic punk, electrified folk, and dreamy alt-funk.

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Album of the Week: Nadia Reid’s Preservation

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“I remember recording the tracks, it was about 11 at night, and I felt almost transcendental, as if I was out of my body, singing these words to myself. That’s what these songs are: a confession to my future and past self.” So Nadia Reid introduces her sophomore album Preservation, out now on new British label Basin Rock.

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Album of the Week: Peter Silberman’s Impermanence

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“It’s not the notes you play, it’s the notes you don’t play.” This quote from Miles Davis is what inspired Peter Silberman during the make of his first solo album, Impermanence, out now via Transgressive.

Forced by a temporary hearing impairment to leave Brooklyn, Silberman learned to deal with silence and its ungraspable dimensions in a quiet place in upstate New York, slowly reintroducing even the softest sounds into his life bit by bit as time went by, making music whispering words with an acoustic guitar, and singing about his illness and recovery.

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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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