Music

Picaresque by The Decemberists

Picaresque by the Decemberists

An unseen beast trumpets mightily. There is a slight pause, then the drums approach, rolling across the sonic landscape. Picaresque, The Decemberists' densely-textured folk pop album, begins.

You Don't Know Me But You Don't Like Me by Nathan Rabin

You Don't Know Me But You Don't Like Me by Nathan Rabin

You Don't Know Me But You Don't Like Me documents Nathan Rabin's journey into two vastly different but equally mocked musical fan bases. Phish and Insane Clown Posse are about as far away as you can get from each other in terms of sound, lyrics, and subject matter. The one thing that they do have in common is that their fans have very few qualms about conscious-altering substances.

That's how Rabin finds his ticket in. He's been going through some issues lately—actually he's been going through issues his whole life. Lower-class with a foster-home upbringing, Rabin managed to carve a niche for himself in Chicago writing for the A.V. Club, a cultural review publication that belongs to The Onion. Despite that success, it certainly cannot help to be diagnosed bipolar, which is exactly what happened to Rabin on his journey.

The Modern Scholar Series

From Here to Infinity by Michael D.C. Drout

We are all about lifelong learning at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library, and we hope that you are, too. Whether it is through our collection or our classes and events, we offer ways to educate for so many different types of learners. I learn best by listening, so one of my favorite methods of acquiring new information is though our Modern Scholar audio courses.

Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! by Devo

Are We Not Men? We Are Devo!

Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! Even the title of Devo's debut album shows that this band has a lot of strangeness to unpack. A New Wave quintet from Akron, Ohio, Devo dresses in industrial jumpsuits with goggles and plastic flowerpot helmets on their heads. Stay with me.

The band's main argument and name is based on the idea that human civilization has reached its peak and is actually devolving. I'll let you be the judge of that claim, but I still highly encourage you to check out this incredibly rocking, highly danceable album.

Songs for Drella by Lou Reed and John Cale

Cover to Songs for Drella

Rock music provocateur Lou Reed passed away this week at age 71. Best known for his work with the proto-punk band The Velvet Underground, Reed supplied tough, gritty lyrics while John Cale offered up a dissonant musical journey unlike any heard at the time. Reed and Cale went on to make some transcendent solo albums as well, but my favorite collaboration of theirs will always be Songs For Drella.

Punk: The Best of Punk Magazine by John Holstrom and Bridget Hurd

Punk: The Best of Punk Magazine by John Holstrom and Bridget Hurd

Punk: The Best of Punk Magazine follows the history of New York City's Bowery music scene with actual reprints of the homemade zine's existence from 1976 to 1980. What's captured on these black and white pages is an anti-movement—a reaction against the well-intentioned but ultimately toothless peace and love ethos of the late 60's.

New York was a dump, seemingly destined for ruin. Rock music was gasping for air, trying to find sustenance from the softly vacant likes of Toto, Bread, or Seals and Crofts.

John Holstom and Legs McNeil did not expect things to improve. But when they heard a new band called the Dictators, a change started to manifest. The Dictators wrote songs about hanging out at burger joints, drinking Coca-Cola for breakfast, and being "Teengenerates." It was stupid enough to also be absolutely brilliant, and it encapsulated Holstrom's and McNeil's lives like no other music they were hearing at the time.

The Tradition Masters by Odetta

The Tradition Masters by Odetta

Being dubbed "The Queen of Folk" is no small feat. Having Martin Luther King, Jr. give you that title is something else entirely. That is how strongly affecting the music of folk pioneer Odetta is.

The Tradition Masters is a collection of Odetta's most invigorating traditional songs. Born in Birmingham in 1930, Odetta Holmes helped to embody both the Civil Rights and the Folk Revival movements of the 1950's and 60's. One could say that she was in the right place at the right time, but that would fail to credit her heart-stopping talent as a musician and vocalist.

Baby's in Black by Arne Bellstorf

Baby's in Black by Arne Bellstorf

Baby's in Black drops you into a smoke-filled club in Hamburg. Despite the German locale, the band on stage is wailing in English about doing the "hippy hippy shake". Everyone's moving except for the bassist, who looks cooler than James Dean.

The band has been playing for hours, and they will continue for several hours more, as per their contract. They pop pills to stay awake for that long. The group is the Beatles. The year is 1960. The bassist is Stu Sutcliffe.

How Music Works by David Byrne

How Music Works by David Byrne

How Music Works offers many answers to a question that I had never even asked. Now that I've read it I wonder, "How could I have gone so long without this information?" Musician and writer David Byrne crafts such an enticing collection of essays, dropping factoids and anecdotes along the way, that I was equally informed and entertained.

More of a blend of personal experience and hypothesis than a hard-line course in objective facts, Byrne tackles nearly every conceivable aspect of the art form: venues throughout history; the creative process; collaboration; recording; and business.

Rip-offs and Tributes: A Look at Derivative Works

picture of copy machine

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  Isn’t that how an article about derivative works is supposed to begin?  We only ask because there are probably other articles out there on this topic that begin the same way.  Whether or not we admit it to ourselves, 100% true originality in the case of media like books, film, music and games is practically unheard of.  That’s not a bad thing; works that build on one another can be some of the richest experiences imaginable.  On the other hand, some people are just lazy and rip-off other, greater works.