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Posts by: Max Gray

Song of the Day: “Burn the Witch”

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Radiohead is no stranger to anxiety. A tense tone—like a taut cord reverberating—runs through the high-energy opener “Burn the Witch,” from their latest record, A Moon Shaped Pool. Thom Yorke’s delicate wail floats over the brazen guitar and strings as the tempo speeds up and the anxiety mounts. His allusions to the Salem witch trials remind listeners that Radiohead has commented […]

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Weekend Rumpus Roundup

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First, Chip Livingston recounts his transformational experiences with Reiki and alternative healing practices in the Saturday Essay. A shocking recording of a tarot reading empowers Livingston to feel hope again for his ailing lover, Ash, who is HIV positive. Then, Livingston learns a new way of healing at a Native American conference that complements his […]

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Song of the Day: “I’m Glad You’re Mine”

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The Reverend Al Green’s fifth album, I’m Still In Love With You, appears at the top of many critics’ rankings, including that of the Village Voice‘s longtime writer, Robert Christgau. And for good reason. The second track of this mesmerizing record is the silky smooth, organ-punctuated “I’m Glad You’re Mine.” Green’s drummer, Al Jackson, Jr.—who built his reputation […]

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Weekend Rumpus Roundup

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First, in the Saturday Essay, Kate Lebo looks back at her Seattle neighborhood, Ballard, in 2007, before gentrification. Recalling details about her neighbors’ homes lead Lebo to reevaluate a particular time in her life, as well as to experience nostalgia for a version of Ballard that no longer exists. Then, Debra Monroe takes aim at victim blaming […]

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Song of the Day: “One Mo’ Gin”

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In the pocket. It’s the only way to describe the slithery pulse of the bass and rhythm section in D’Angelo’s slow ballad “One Mo’ Gin,” off his explosive soul album from 2000, Voodoo. D’Angelo—otherwise known as the mild-mannered Michael Eugene Archer—keens with loneliness and nostalgia on “One Mo’ Gin,” layering his buttery falsetto over the […]

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Song of the Day: “Other People”

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In 2004, the indie group known as Beach House considered calling itself “Wisteria.” But once they “stopped trying,” according to guitarist Alex Scally, their ultimate name choice floated to the top, and “it was perfect.” Scally’s ability to let go and embrace the moment is a vital piece of the dreamy, atmospheric pop that he creates with vocalist and sole bandmate, […]

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Weekend Rumpus Roundup

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First, in the Saturday Essay, Laura Da’ laments the near-eradication of the Shawnee language. Da’ provides a litany of broken treaties, each one an “artifact of unimaginable suffering,” and attempts to redefine the treaty for herself in today’s world. Then, industrious author Christine Sneed talks to Floyd Skloot in the Sunday Interview. Sneed looks back on […]

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Song of the Day: “Bugs Don’t Buzz”

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“I feel like [music] can serve functions that used to be served by things that were religious,” says electronic musician Devon Welsh. Compelling words from one half of the art pop duo Magical Cloudz, whose 2013 record Impersonator communicates a pious respect for the creative process. Welsh’s sentiment becomes more complicated when we listen closely to the darker lyrics […]

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Weekend Rumpus Roundup

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First, in the Saturday Interview, Penny Perkins speaks with Ramona Ausubel about Ausubel’s latest novel, Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty, her previous collections, and “the ways that stories change the real chemistry of the world.” Then, Jeff Lennon reviews Cynthia Cruz’s “swirling” fourth poetry collection, How The End Begins. A well-chosen order helps to keep the […]

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Song of the Day: “You Never Know”

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Wilco’s long career, beginning all the way back in 1994, has taken a lot of twists and turns. The band’s identity has morphed at least a few times along the way, but the first single from their eponymous seventh studio album reached number one on the Billboard Triple A chart in 2009. The single, titled “You Never […]

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Song of the Day: “Chan Chan”

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The original Buena Vista Social Club was a members-only group that formed in Havana, Cuba, during the first half of the 20th century. The club became a cultural nexus for the city, drawing in musicians and artists who would perform at its events. Though widespread changes in Cuban society after the Revolution of 1959 resulted in […]

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Weekend Rumpus Roundup

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First, the “luminous” poetry of Circe Maia takes center stage in the Saturday Interview. Chip Livingston talks to writer and teacher Jesse Lee Kercheval about her ongoing work translating Uruguayan poetry, much of which is written and performed in Montevideo, where “everyone is connected in one way or another.” Meanwhile, Brandon Hicks pokes fun at didactic barflies […]

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Song of the Day: “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?”

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Mournful is the best way to describe Leadbelly’s voice in the song popularized by Nirvana on their live album, MTV Unplugged in New York. While Nirvana’s version captured the attention of audiences, the original lament was recorded by a canonized blues artist whose given name was Huddie William Ledbetter. “My girl, my girl, where did you go,” keens […]

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Weekend Rumpus Roundup

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First, Michael Wasson’s imagistic prose poetry fills the Saturday Essay. Wasson’s dreamlike narrative describes a first day of school from his childhood. Wasson recalls the teacher taking attendance, calling out, “who’s missing?” The question launches a lyrical investigation of the author’s memory and identity. Then, Julie Marie Wade reviews the poetry collection Ghost/Landscape, a successful collaboration between Kristina Marie Darling and John […]

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Song of the Day: “Sweet Virginia”

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“Tryin’ to stop the waves behind your eyeballs,” Mick Jagger sings on “Sweet Virginia,” a determined country shuffle off their seminal 1972 record, Exile On Main Street, an album frequently mentioned on Best Of lists and widely hailed as one of the most influential of the century. The next line, “Drop your reds, drop your greens […]

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Weekend Rumpus Roundup

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First, in the Saturday Interview, Tyrese L. Coleman talks with author Leslie Pietrzyk about her award-winning 2015 collection, This Angel On My Chest, and its relationship with real life events. The author explains her approach to writing about personal tragedy, which is “to write the ‘true’ things until the truth wasn’t as interesting as what I could make up.” Meanwhile, in […]

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Song of the Day: “Luv N’ Haight”

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Sly and the Family Stone’s anarchic album There’s a Riot Goin’ On, released in 1971 following several tumultuous years in America, has been called “blunt and unflinching” and “very much informed by drugs” and “paranoia.” While the funk group’s creative dynamo, Sly Stone, had indeed been sidelined by drug abuse for months, his disillusionment with the […]

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Weekend Rumpus Roundup

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First, Michelle Marie Wallace chats with two Bay Area writers-turned-visual artists, Cristina García and Truong Tran, in the Saturday Interview. García and Tran share their inspirations and the impetus that led each to make visual art after spending many years developing their writing. Next, Jeff Lennon reviews Thomas Lux’s “terse” new collection, To the Left […]

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Song of the Day: “Party Down”

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Soul guitarist Willie Hale is perhaps most widely-known for his head-bopping contribution to Betty Wright’s hit song, “Clean Up Woman,” and maybe just as widely recognized for his nickname, Little Beaver. He apparently received the nickname in honor of his prominent teeth. Little Beaver earned a reputation as a talented session musician in the 60s […]

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Weekend Rumpus Roundup

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First, in the Saturday Essay, Terese Marie Mailhot considers the strange and tragic ways life wounds Native American women. She remembers running away from her home, the reservation. “Native women walk alone from the dances of their youth into homes they don’t know for the chance to be away,” she writes. Meanwhile, Brandon Hicks considers alternative […]

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Song of the Day: “Don’t Save Me”

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Male siblings seem to dominate many famous musical groups. Examples range from contemporary bands like Kings of Leon and The National to household names like The Jackson 5, The Beach Boys, The Allman Brothers, The Isley Brothers and The Neville Brothers. So it’s about time the ladies earned a bit of the spotlight. Though the sisters in HAIM—Este, Danielle, and Alana—grew up playing […]

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Weekend Rumpus Roundup

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First, in the Saturday Interview, Randall Tyrone talks with writer Keith Newton about his innovative chapbook, A Week of Kindness, which reflects Newton’s fascination with surrealist Max Ernst’s 1933 “collage novel” Une semaine de bonté. Newton shares thoughtful views on organized religion, art as a response to fraying societal bonds, and his childhood and adolescence as a member of a cult. Next, […]

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The Rumpus Interview with Becky Tuch

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Becky Tuch discusses founding The Review Review, motherhood, creativity, and the future of literary magazines.

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Song of the Day: “Everything In Its Right Place”

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“Yesterday I woke up sucking on lemon,” sings Thom Yorke in the enthralling first song from Radiohead’s groundbreaking 2000 album, Kid A, which Rolling Stone called the “weirdest Number One album of the year.” Take what you will from Yorke’s reference to lemons—their bitterness, the possibility of making lemonade out of them—but the message in the title […]

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Weekend Rumpus Roundup

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First, in the Saturday Interview, Tyrese L. Coleman talks to Tara Laskowski about her new collection, Bystanders. Laskowski, editor of SmokeLong Quarterly and an experienced flash fiction author, discusses the writing process and her motivation for creating a more traditional collection focused on the act of being a witness. Meanwhile, Brandon Hicks pokes fun at government […]

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Song of the Day: “Modern Soul”

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James Blake’s voice sounds like it belongs to a man twice his age, with twice the vocal maturity. The 28-year-old’s highly anticipated new album, The Colour in Anything, follows a series of atmospheric and haunting singles, beginning with 2011’s head-turner “The Wilhelm Scream,” found on Blake’s self-titled debut album. “Modern Soul,” from The Colour in Anything, showcases the artist’s producing abilities. […]

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Weekend Rumpus Roundup

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First, the irreverent Eaton Hamilton recounts her history with pulmonary illness in gripping detail in the Saturday Essay. Hamilton, an aspiring animal researcher, discards her educational goals when the reality of her condition is revealed. Paralleling her story to the macabre qualities of the vampire bat, she takes a clinical approach with her descriptions. “This essay is not […]

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Song of the Day: “Heavenly Father”

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Justin Vernon, the songwriter and front man for inimitable indie group Bon Iver, has had a busy few years. Aside from curating his second homegrown Wisconsin music festival this year along with The National’s Aaron Dessner, he’s also performed in several high-profile collaborations with Kanye West, been parodied by Justin Timberlake on SNL, and starred in an ad for […]

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Weekend Rumpus Roundup

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First, in the Saturday Essay, Ben Wirth looks back on New Year’s Eve 1999 with mixed feelings. Hope, apprehension, wonder, and naiveté color his memory—along with cultural landmarks like Fight Club, MTV, and Conan O’Brien. And Patrick James Dunagan observes the benevolent merging of the “creative” and the “scientific” in his review of a retrospective anthology of the […]

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