Dusty's Cultural Curiosities

Adam Kritzer's 2009 Culture Recap

adventureland2009's cultural landscape has been a year of fresh faces mixed in with returning ones. Though there are many things I enjoyed this year, I'd like to take this opportunity to highlight a few specific people and releases that I believe will have a particular cultural impact well into the next decade. If you disagree, then please utilize the comments section below. Don't be a dick though. It's not that I'm wrong so much as we're both right.

Television:

Dexter was killer this year, as good as its first season, and featured John Lithgow in the most frightening role of his career. Read more »

Dusty's Culture Round Up for 2009

zenick-yearbookReasons to be cheerful in this bleak economy should be the celebration of the death of excess. We don't need to be fat and lazy and entitled because we happened to be born into one of the wealthiest countries in the world. The scales have been tipped. We need to refocus our attention on things that are significant in our lives. Even if culture seems trivial, it truly mirrors our times. And with that in mind, let me present my culture picks for 2009. Some of it may resonate with you, and some of it may appear gratuitous. Regardless, it helped soothe my muse.

Jeff Zenick - I collect outsider art AKA art brut; self-taught artists who've never perfected their craft in a formal university capacity. Folks like Howard Fintzer gathered loads of press back in the early '80s by rendering wonderfully unique LP covers for R.E.M. and the Talking Heads. Read more »

T-Model Ford - Free MP3

t-model-ford

Legendary blues artist T-Model is 80-something years old! His Mississippi driver's license says he's 84. His U.S. passport says he's 87. And he says he's 88. He started playing guitar based on Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, but T's only got one style: his own. T's illiterate, so no use in talking to him about tuning. They call it "open T" because it's his own unique sound.

To celebrate the release of his seventh album -- the entirely acoustic, live, one-take with no overdubs sessions -- The Ladies Man, on January 12th, 2010, here's the free MP3 of "Two Trains".

Pylon - Free MP3

pylon-bandArchitects of a sound in the early '80s unlike any of their contemporaries, Pylon still sounds unlike anything else out there. The B-52s and R.E.M. have both gone on record as stating that Pylon are one of the best bands in the county, and listening to DFA's re-release of their legendary sophomore effort Chomp, it's evident why Pylon is still regarded as an icon of the legendary Athens, GA scene.

Download the incredibly infectious "Beep" to hear the band at their very best, playing concentrated doses of post-punk that have inspired generations of followers ever since. And check their website for the music video of "Beep," edited by Pylon’s Michael Lachowski. It documents the band as they traveled the U.S. back in the day. (Photo: Laura Levine)

Clare and The Reasons - Free MP3

clare-reasons

Brooklyn group Clare and the Reasons is pleased to announce a west coast tour with the legendary composer/arranger/producer/songwriter Van Dyke Parks in February 2010. Parks collaborated with the group on their celebrated debut release, The Movie, and Clare and the gang are eager to join up with him once again behind the release of their new album, Arrow, out now on Frog Stand Records.

As the band prepares for tour, they are releasing a cover of Genesis' song "That's All" (now with more tuba!). Click on the link for the free mp3 download.

The Mother Hips - Free MP3

pacificThe Bay Area psych-rocker quartet The Mother Hips have just released their seventh full length effort, Pacific Dust. The Hips are excited to share their "California-soul" with fans all over North America.

To celebrate, the band is giving away this breezy, freewheeling track -- "Third Floor Story". Their U.S. tour began this week!

Little Dragon - Free MP3

little-dragonHailing from the burgeoning electro-pop scene in Gothenburg, Sweden, Little Dragon's carefully crafted second effort walks the line between experimental electro and giddy synth pop with enough infectious hooks to push the band from quiet underground sensations into the mainstream. Machine Dreams straddles different genres touching on R&B, Soul, Jazz, and Dancehall. To celebrate, the band are giving away this fab and infectious track -- "Blinking Pigs" -- from their new sophomore effort. Their U.S. tour begins today!
Read more »

The Climbers - Free MP3

the-climbers

UK-based singer/songwriter Sharon Lewis was brought to my attention by our Manchester-based scribe Rob Cochrane. She's just collaborated on a new track with The Climbers who have just signed to Willkommen Records for the release of their debut in March entitled The Good Ship.

To celebrate, the band are giving away this fab track, "Uncommom", from the record which features Dan Michaelson of Absentee and The Coastguards. A single will also be released this winter; details announced shortly.

The Sad But Wonderful Fan's Notes

fans-notesA Fan's Notes
by Frederick Exley (Vintage)

Ken Krimstein recommended this book for my holiday reading and I don't know whether to buy him a beer or punch him in the face. I can't remember the last time I read a book that caused such emotional discomfort, yet it both moved me and disgusted me. This fictional memoir from the pen of Frederick Exley (March 29, 1929 - June 17, 1992) was heralded an American classic by the likes of Kurt Vonnegut and James Dickey. Read more »

Rhys Chatham - Sacred and Profane

rhys-200-guitars

Rhys Chatham: A Crimson Grail for 200 Electric Guitars (Outdoor Version) (World Premiere)
8th August 2009 at Damrosch Bandshell, Lincoln Center, NYC

As music impresario Jim Fouratt presciently posted on his Facebook page yesterday, "You will be sorry if you miss this." And he was right. My god, did every music freak and fan show up last night at Lincoln Center's outdoor theater? Well, if you invite 200 guitarists and 16 bassists to play in your band and each one of them invited 6-10 friends -- plus all of the other cultural curious -- you will certainly get a formidable crowd. And as former Joe's Pub booker Bill Bragin has so effectively done since manning the post as director of public programming at Lincoln Center, he aims to please and inspire the culturally ravenous in New York City. Read more »

Landslide!

In these days of overexposed celebutards, this is a wonderfully uplifting story. Greg Breinberg, a 36-year old music teacher at P.S. 22 in Staten Island, has taught his 5th grade chorus contemporary songs, many they don't even know. This vid made its way to Stevie Nicks, who cried when she first watched it and invited the group to perform it before Fleetwood Mac's sound check at MSG. Enjoy, DW


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We Are What We Eat

food-incAmericans have become sick. Sick from the food that they eat; bad food, too much food, toxic food. We are being poisoned and bloated like the majority of the livestock and chickens that are overfed the same stuff -- corn -- and then sold to us to consume. It has become a vicious and despicable practice. And yet that's only one of the heinous crimes that Mr. Robert Kenner has exposed in his call-to-arms documentary FOOD, INC. There are many more being perpetrated on farmers and unsuspecting consumers everywhere. More to the point, our food has been hijacked by big business and we Americans need to take it back! Read more »

Africa Revisted

Just when you think you've seen it all, comes this extraordinary cover of the pop-rock band Toto's 1982 hit "Africa" by the Slovenian vocal (48 voices) band Perpetuum Jazzile. Before you start snickering, please take a few minutes to witness the majesty of human voices and hands. peace, Dusty

Burning Rings of Passion

ring-of-fire-poemsRing of Fire: Selected Poems 1972 - 2008
by Alessandra Gelmi (PublishAmerica)

It was a very late night at The Roxy in Chelsea in the early '80s. Madonna was set to perform one of her first live gigs to tracks. Alessandra and I stumbled into each other. My first New York muse; gorgeous and intellectually intimidating. Had the pedigree. Poetry in motion. Disconnected for years, she recently sent me her first published collection of selected poems. I opened and read. My memories were reawakened. Rekindled many of those early carefree New York mornings. Through the looking glass time machine. Read more »

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