“A Crow Looked At Me” is a masterpiece, but one that I wish didn’t have to exist. On 9 July 2016, Geneviéve Castrée, singer of Ô Paon and author of graphic memoir Susceptible, was killed by pancreatic cancer.


Sunshine Theater played host last week to a brief but righteous concert by Alaska's favorite alternative-blues-chill-vibe-hip-hop-rock quintet Portugal. The Man.

An unusual name, I know.

Despite falling trap to Danger Mouse's music box in 2013, Portugal established themselves unique by having an profound work ethic (releasing an album almost every year since 2006) and utilizing melodies so catchy that ramming one's head into a brick wall may just be the only way to free oneself from their grasp.

It’s no secret that Billie Joe Armstrong and Green Day have an active political voice. “American Idiot,” the title track on the group’s 2004 album explicitly states, “I’m not part of a redneck agenda.”

This was back in 2004during the Bush administration, so you could imagine how the band feels now.

Following the presidential election in November, the band performed a song off their new album “Revolution Radio,” “Bang Bang,” at the American Music Awards. Vocalist Billie Joe Armstrong tweaked the lyrics and repeatedly chanted, “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA!” This after the KKK had endorsed the president-elect.

On his second album, the California-based garage rock musician Ty Segall puts together an album that serves less as a venture into new territory than as a comprehensive culmination of his music to this point, jumping genres at the drop of a hat.

I don’t know how Segall has time to sleep. He spends so much time recording and putting out album after album under the Ty Segall name and touring said music, in addition to his vast collection of side projects and bands. He is without a doubt among indie rock’s most prolific songwriters.


To CARE, in Solitude

The Neighborhood House is beautiful, but anonymously so. Built in Grand Rapid’s quiet Eastown neighborhood by early 20th century Dutch immigrants, it stands small and unassuming in white and green.

At the time of its construction, handsome streetcars ran just a street across on Wealthy, sending weekenders to ride rollercoasters and ferries on Reed’s Lake. This was long before General Motors paid the city to demolish the streetcars after the war, long before the white flight of the ‘60s, and the gang wars of the ‘90s, and the ongoing white gentrification of the 2010s.

Album Review: Within the Ruins refuses to fizzle out with 'Halfway Human'

Western Massachusetts band Within the Ruins has come a long way from their massive, rhythmic metal albums of the early 2000s. With each new record they’ve released, the group has made strides in the genre, transforming a brutal deathcore atmosphere into melodic and highly technical progressive metal.

Their most recent release, “Halfway Human,” sees the band exploring unfamiliar territory with old techniques to forge an album that, while true to style, incorporates the risks and experiments they’ve taken throughout their musical career.

Album Review: '÷' continues Ed Sheeran's evolution

Ever since the release of “+” in 2011, Ed Sheeran has emerged as a profoundly influential solo artist. Coming from his humble roots as a travelling musician in England to filling stadiums around the globe, Sheeran has earned fame with his earnest songwriting style and unique “one-man band” performances, but it’s his studio albums that showcase his true creative potential.

Last week, Sheeran released “÷," the highly anticipated follow-up to 2014’s “X.” He took his creative process in a new direction this time around.

Album of the Week: Clarence Clarity's 'No Now'

Real quick, right off the bat: This album is messed up, man. You are guaranteed to have never heard anything like it. On that fact alone, it’s worth your time.

British experimental funk-pop producer Clarence Clarity released his debut album “No Now” two years ago in March 2015. This debut release was preceded by two extended plays: “Who Am Eye” in 2014 and “Save Thyself” in 2013, both of which showcased Clarity’s skewed, genre-bending production aesthetic.

Clarence is a relatively new addition to the record label Bella Union, the same house that promotes artists like folk aesthetes Fleet Foxes, post-rock titans Explosions in the Sky and the electro-washed pop act Beach House.

Best Original Score: A breakdown of the Oscar category

The agony and helplessness of “The Queen of Camelot” would not have haunted the audience without the painlessly hopeful sounds orchestrated by Mica Levi in “Jackie.”

The giddy limerence between Sebastian and Mia would not have had viewers dancing in their seats, at least not without the same romantic, calculated beats, if not for the involement of Justin Hurwitz in “La La Land.”

As for “Lion,” Saroo’s journey couldn't have been a cultural phenomenon if not for the tragic, yet promising theme, spearheading the rest of the alluring soundtrack.

Jazz and the Language of Music

Many people have described music as the universal language, one that has the power to transcend cultural barriers and relay messages purely through sonic means.

Why is it that music is able to put forth what often cannot be said by words? Simply put, both music and spoken language rely on the same sets of principles in order to achieve their goals. Music carries forth pure emotion, and is not bogged down by things like phonetics.

A person who does not speak English in any sort of sense can hear an American folk song and probably point to the emotion in which the tune carries. Similarly, somebody who doesn’t speak any Spanish can hear a Spanish folk song and understand the emotion it's trying to convey.

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