Music

Beginning with the Beguine: Dances Named in Popular Song

From the time it began to flourish on record and on the big screen in the 1930s, to the present day and inescapably beyond, popular music has tapped and swayed to the tune of songs about dance. Less often, songs have not only been about dancing – cheek to cheek or buttock to groin – but have given their name to…

Behind the Song: Charles Mingus – ‘Goodbye Pork Pie Hat’

Charles Mingus wrote ‘Goodbye Pork Pie Hat’ as an elegy for the pioneering jazz saxophonist Lester Young, who died in March 1959, two months prior to the recording sessions for what would become Mingus Ah Um. A darkly elegant ballad with a lone dissonant note full of pathos and pain, it contrasts sharply with the exuberant gospel of ‘Better Git It…

Great Album Covers: Mingus Ah Um

From the buoyant gospel of ‘Better Git It In Your Soul’ and the mournful grace of ‘Goodbye Pork Pie Hat’ to ‘Fables of Faubus’, a caustic protest song inspired by the Little Rock Nine and the ongoing effort to right the wrongs of segregation, Mingus Ah Um is one of Charles Mingus’s most diverse and accessible albums. It was recorded…

Culturedarm’s Songs of the Month (February 2016)

Kedr Livanskiy – ‘Razrushitelniy Krug (Destructive Cycle)’ Prefacing her debut EP January Sun – which arrived 19 February on 2MR, the label founded little over a year ago by Mike Simonetti, formerly of the Portland and Los Angeles-based synthpop and Italo-disco label Italians Do It Better – the middle of January saw Kedr Livanskiy release ‘Razrushitelniy Krug (Destructive Cycle)’. The name of the project is Russian…

Daily Visual 25.02.16: Anohni Shares Oscars Open Letter

The documentary Racing Extinction, directed by Louie Psihoyos – whose previous film The Cove, which investigated Japanese dolphin hunting, won the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2010 – looks at the ongoing mass extinction of species at the hands of human beings, considering global warming and the acidification of the seas as a result of greenhouse gas emissions, the illegal…

Culturedarm’s Songs of the Month (January 2016)

Laura Gibson – ‘The Cause’ After a string of critically acclaimed albums, If You Come to Greet Me and Beasts of Seasons followed by La Grande, which was released on Barsuk and City Slang back in 2012, the Oregon-born singer-songwriter Laura Gibson packed up and moved to New York City, planning to complete an MFA in Creative Writing at Hunter College. But in…

Behind the Song: David Bowie – ‘Subterraneans’

‘Subterraneans’ is the closing song on what has become perhaps David Bowie’s most critically acclaimed album: Pitchfork placed Low at number 1 on their ‘Top 100 Albums of the 1970s’, on Q’s list of the ‘100 Greatest British Albums Ever’ Low was Bowie’s highest entry at number 14, and while elsewhere it vies with Ziggy Stardust and Hunky Dory, and occasionally Station to Station and “Heroes”, Low is the constant,…

David Bowie Top Ten Songs

David Bowie’s death on Sunday in New York transmitted the rarest of shocks, its announcement rudely waking those of us in the UK, disrupting sleep patterns across the US, and disorienting admirers the world over. After suffering a heart attack midway through the Reality tour in 2004, he had stepped back from public life: his last live performance, alongside Alicia Keys at the…