Silence, Redefined

Silence

noun si·lence \ˈsī-lən(t)s\

  1. A lack of sound or noise

Or,

  1. The sound of an empty school after the last student or teacher or cafeteria supervisor has left for the day.
  2. The sound of a house that was expecting its occupant to come home today, but they didn’t.
  3. The sound of someone who would like to speak, would like to shout even, but can’t breathe.
  4. The sound of a group of people, standing still, heads bowed, candles lit, wax dripping, thoughts sent upward.
  5. The sound one person not raising his voice against the systemic oppression of another person.
  6. The sound of a taillight, flickering out.
  7. The deafening quiet that immediately follows the crack of gunfire.

 

Interstellar Blues

An indescribably small percentage of musicians can say that their music is etched into a solid gold record that’s hurtling through interstellar space at 39,600 miles per hour towards the star, Gliese 445, some 17.6 light years away from earth.

Blind Willie Johnson is one of those musicians. Continue reading “Interstellar Blues”

Flash Review: Cobi

Since I have declared the theme of this month Minnesota May on Mishmash (say that ten times fast), I bring to you today a new artist hailing from the great state who has just released a new single. Cobi Mike (who goes by just Cobi), has been met with commendable attention on his third ever single as a solo artist. And for good reason. “Don’t You Cry For Me” is like the beautiful, beautiful love child of Hozier and AWOLNATION…with a touch of gospel. Intrigued? You should be. Continue reading “Flash Review: Cobi”

A Soundtrack to Midwestern Roadside Oddities

I was born just early enough to remember life without YouTube, Spotify, and 30-second iTunes previews. In that era, if you wanted to listen to music without paying for it, you had to hear it on the radio or borrow a friend’s CD.

And if you did want to buy music, you had to ask yourself things like: “Do I really love Avril Lavigne enough to buy a whole new album without hearing it first based on the fact that I like the song ‘Sk8er Boi’?” It was a risk.

But it was also fun.

Continue reading “A Soundtrack to Midwestern Roadside Oddities”

In Defense of Pop

Pop music is a funny genre. Firstly, because “Popular Music” unlike “Jazz” or “Teutonic Thrash Metal” doesn’t really have specific musical or lyrical characteristics. It’s defined almost entirely by culture and time: what’s currently popular.

Seen more as a commercial enterprise than a creative one, Pop is often belittled by ~more serious artists~. The mass-marketed junk food of the music world. “All Pop sounds the same.” Scoff the hipsters as they sip black coffee from a mason jar, some Alt J vinyl spinning in the background.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Alt J. Sometimes I drink my coffee black. I am occasionally that hipster. But let’s be honest. A lot of alternative music sounds the same too. It happens in every genre.

Heck, every Blues song follows the same exact 8- or 12-bar chord progression. It’s what makes it Blues. Yet Somehow there is great Blues. And there is also crappy Blues. HOW?! You may ask. It’s almost as if genre is not a good determining factor of the quality of music.

I have certainly fallen into the trap of disparaging an entire genre of music. I really don’t like reggae. Or at least I thought I didn’t, until I realized that the Arthur Theme Song, AKA the beloved soundtrack to my childhood, was written and performed by none other than Ziggy Marley, prominent reggae artist and son of the legendary Bob Marley. I was enlightened. Humbled. Inspired to revisit my childhood aardvark friend.

Miles Davis said it best: “Good music is good no matter what kind of music it is.”

Ok, so now that that’s out of the way. I want to talk about some new pop.

Continue reading “In Defense of Pop”

Grab Your Boots and a Tambourine!

A few strums of an acoustic guitar. “HO!”

A few more strums. “HEY!”

And pretty soon you’re merrily singin’ and shoutin’ and stompin’ your boots whilst waving your straw hat and tambourine in the air with your folksy friends on the front porch. That’s what the aptly titled song, “Ho Hey” by The Lumineers feels like.

Continue reading “Grab Your Boots and a Tambourine!”