Dusty's Cultural Curiosities

Crescent City Rewind

A few weeks ago my friend Sal lamented that he would miss his annual pilgrimage to JazzFest this year. (Thanks, economy.) I thought at the time, who cares, we've got plenty of culture right here in the Big Apple. Plus I'd spent a long JazzFest weekend in 2004 the year prior to Hurricane Katrina's devastation. But as I rewind through this past weekend in New Orleans as part of the collective that descends annually to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, I was struck by the undeniable and infectious vibe of the event. Read more »

"Bottom of the River" - Delta Rae

Terrific new Americana blues stomp from this Durham, North Carolina sextet just signed to Warner Brothers. Their debut, Carry the Fire, will be released on June 6th.

"Rescue Me" - Gemma Ray

A wonderful new femme-pop tune from the critically lauded U.K. songstress. Animated video for "Rescue Me" taken from the album Island Fire. Directed by Lucy Dyson and Joseph Jensen.

Sprung! Favorite New Rock Singles for Early Spring 2012

Here's eleven of my favorite new rock tunes for your early spring listening pleasure. Take your allergy medicine and enjoy the melodic sunshine, people.

"Eskimo Kiss" The Kooks Junk of the Heart (Astralwerks)

Not sure why my fellow critics insist on dropping the "sounds like The Strokes" tag on these Brits. And some scribes have whined they aren't "edgy" enough. So what. I hear more of The Kinks and The La's as reference points. And to me, that's much better company if you love more pop in your rock. Case in point, the infectious ear candy of "Eskimo Kiss," my pick hit from their latest long player (LP). Currently on tour in the U.S. of A. Read more »

Auditorium's Nights Worth Living Preview

Today's a big day, at least in Spencer-land...Spencer Berger AKA Auditorium has finally released his new EP, NIGHTS WORTH LIVING.  If you'd like to hear a free stream of his earnest folk-pop effort (think unplugged Arthur Lee's Love) and/or share it with any other music lovers, here's the link: 


Trust me, he's one of my favorite young artists and worth the effort. It's only a matter of time before more music fans will be held captive in much larger music venues.

The Minutes - "Secret History" - Free MP3

Tired of the same old alternative crap? Get yourself right with this hard-charging Dublin-based punk rock trio of Mark Austin (Vocals, Guitar), cousin Shane Kinsella (drums), and Tom Cosgrave (bass). They invested in some serious vintage amplification, honed their skills playing every dingy basement and back alley bar in Ireland that would have them, and have cemented a reputation as gig-thirsty monsters with tunes to match their impressive swagger. Audience interaction resembling the energy of hand to hand combat became the trademark of their shows and won them support slots with Supergrass, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and The Von Bondies. Their self-titled EP will released on February 14th via Model Citizen Records.

Download their infectious, blistering punk-rock stomp "Secret History" right here.

Some Music That Slipped through the Culture Cracks

As is the case every year, I start reading year-end lists posted by trusted peers/journalists and discover I've missed plenty of deserving culture. With the glut of films, music, theater, TV shows, books, et al. on numerous websites, TV screens, bookshelves, and periodicals, it's fairly easy. Truth be told, in addition to P.J. Harvey's much-deserved kudos, other women singers/songwriters/bands really stepped up their game this year, making many top ten year-end lists, and I missed out on discovering some of them. With that in mind, here's some additions to my 2011 year's end list. Read more »

Bah! Humbug? Grab Some New Music, Books, and Films!

Seems like the major labels will continue to mine the nostalgia angle with the hope that they can squeeze a few more ducats from aging music fans everywhere. Fine by me, if the music merits the "super-deluxe-never-before-heard-or-seen" treatment. And since I've been sucked into that black hole with the Dead, Stones, Rush, Hendrix, Jesus & Mary Chain, et al., I've missed some amazing music and culture this past year. No excuses now as I cram a full year's worth of culture down my gullet before Christmas. You can check out more of my favorite culture from 2011 in these Spring, Summer, and Fall articles.

Mia Doi Todd: Cosmic Ocean Ship (City Zen) - I was struck by her otherworldly vocals after copping her major label debut in 2002. Her ninth effort picks up where her critically acclaimed 2008 self-released effort Gea left off. And it's quite apparent that her time on the road opening for Jose Gonzalez informed the vibe on these worldbeat-infused folk-rock tunes. Perhaps we can expect a full-on collaboration sometime soon? Read more »


New Autumn Classics

All the leaves are nearly brown, skies sometimes gray, there's a slight chill in the air, and my ears and eyes have been quite busy. A touch of melancholia and a satchel full of dreams yet to be realized. Winter is just around the corner. A hint of summer still lingers in the late afternoon sun. Walks in the park with the dog, shared playlists on Spotify providing the soundtrack. I remain an ever faithful servant to smart culture's demands.

"Cicadas and Gulls" Feist Metals (Cherrytree) - Canadian singer/songwriter Leslie Feist displays her chops in full maturity on her third CD. So much to enjoy, yet I'm continually drawn to this evocative, simple double-tracked voice and acoustic guitar folk song. I suspect it fully captures my current mood. Read more »

Rock Star!

One of the coolest things about Macworlds past was always Steve Jobs' Apple keynote address at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. In 2007, I had the grand fortune of running the podcasting symposium for Macworld. That opportunity afforded me a "golden" ticket to witness Mr. Jobs in person was certainly something I will always cherish.

Being in the hall was exciting as any rock concert I've ever attended, and that includes seeing Led Zeppelin in '74 and The Clash in '79. Jobs was magnetic and dynamic in such a low key cool geek dude kinda way. The crowd was drinking the Koolaid by the buckets. (They had in the past, they would in the future.) After wowing us with the iPhone, a device that changed the mobile handheld device for eternity, he rolled out John Mayer to play! Kudos to the marketing crew at Apple for targeting the geeks that would wave Apple's products and aps flags long and wide. Hell, I was a brand barker proud and true before. After that monumental keynote? Forever. Read more »

"Old Friend" - Caveman - Free MP3

A fab new track from Brooklyn's own Caveman; a pastoral folk-rock blend melding the best elements of Band of Horses meets R.E.M.'s rock-pop majesty. Their 10-track CD and vinyl debut drops on Novemeber 15th, and digitally on September 13th. With opening slots for White Rabbits, Ed Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, The War on Drugs, et al., it won't be long until they start headlining shows in a town near you.

In the interim, download "Old Friend" by clicking on this link. Read more »

Catchin' Late Summer Culture, Chicago & Akron Style

Back from my two-week culture tour of the Midwest and I'm bursting with things to share. My impressions of Chicago have changed dramatically. Perhaps it's my age, or my desire to live in a city where the staggering architecture is cleanly and lovingly displayed, devoid of tacky neon, obtrusive signage, and ugly facades that would block their unencumbered vantage, thus allowing them to be witnessed in all of their man-made glory. But beyond the clean sidewalks and way friendly pedestrians and workers is a modern city that beckons to culture-savvy travelers far and wide. Read more »

Hey, Kids Rock 'n' Roll...

I'd not been to the I.M. Pei-designed seven-story pyramid that houses the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland for at least six years. With my family traveling to Akron for a long summer visit, it was inevitable that I'd make the short journery north to take in the history of rock. Well, the caveat being, not the entire history of rock as it continues to be wriiten, but the inductees into this American-based Hall of Fame since the first class of 1986. Hard to believe the museum itself opened on September 2nd, 1995. (The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation was born on April 20, 1983.). It's easy to spend a full day in the museum taking in the exhibits, artifacts, and movies.  Read more »

Waiting for Salvation

Rango (Paramount Pictures DVD)

The hyper-realism of animation has afforded moviegoers such a rich tapestry of narrative possibilities that we should not be surprised that we are moved by sentimental toys, slick talking foxes, or existential lizards.

Don Quixote, Chinatown, Hunter S. Thompson's Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, and Clint Eastwood's High Plain Drifter all factor into Johnny Depp's character in the animated modern-day Western Rango. A world worth absorbing on the big silver screen and/or DVD. Read more »

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