Berfrois

Lil Peep’s Last Day

Lil Peep’s Last Day

It was five hours before showtime and Lil Peep was in the back of his tour bus, getting high with two young fans...

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The Boss at 62

The Boss at 62

From The New Yorker: Nearly half a century ago, when Elvis Presley was filming “Harum Scarum” and “Help!” was on the charts, a moody, father-haunted, yet uncannily charismatic Shore rat named Bruce Springsteen was building a small reputation around central Jersey as a guitar player in a band called...

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Is the Pied Piper of R&B having a laugh?

Is the Pied Piper of R&B having a laugh?

R. Kelly in his video for “Echo”, 2009 From The New Yorker: In his twenty-year exploration of the limits of the R. & B. sex ballad, R. Kelly has often toed the line between satiric and satyric. In his song “Sex Planet,” he made the obvious joke about Uranus;...

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Joel Gn on AKB48

Joel Gn on AKB48

Some of the members of AK48B by Joel Gn AKB48 is an all-girl idol group from Japan that has, with no lack of controversy, impacted the entertainment scene ever since its inception in 2005. To date, the group has more than a hundred members divided into four main teams,...

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Row C, Table 12

Row C, Table 12

Mobile Flea Market on Schillinger Road, Mobile, Alabama From Oxford American: Joe sells records at the Mobile Flea Market on Schillinger Road.  Row C, table 12; Saturdays and Sundays (but not before noon). “Psychedelic” Joe as most people know him. An increasingly squiggly Moby Grape tattoo on his arm, 8...

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Theresa Runstedtler on Jack Johnson

Theresa Runstedtler on Jack Johnson

by Theresa Runstedtler In a recent post on SBNation, Bomani Jones compared Money May (Floyd Mayweather) to Jack Johnson: Mayweather has basically taken the persona of a great counterpuncher from a century ago, Jack Johnson, and modernized it. He’s impenetrable in the ring and insufferably flashy outside of it....

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(You Gotta)

(You Gotta)

The Beastie Boys, New York City, 1986. Photograph by Lynn Goldsmith From The Smart Set: There’s a straight lineage from Run-DMC’s “Peter Piper” to the Beastie Boys’ “Brass Monkey” on License to Ill. In fact, the Beastie Boys sampled directly from “Peter Piper” on another song from License to...

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David Beer: Music Genres Unhitched

David Beer: Music Genres Unhitched

I’ve just spent a few minutes trying to understand a new music genre called seapunk. I’m baffled. Then again music genre is baffling. It would seem that where we once had relative simplicity, we now have something much more vital and chaotic. So what is happening with music genre?...

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Throw Your Blows

Throw Your Blows

Those personal catastrophes that we can’t reconcile with ourselves despite the anguish they cause are the subject of much of serious modern art. Art returns over and over to the personal tragedies that remain with you, to the lacerations of the past that never heal, but with a resignation...

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Seduce Police Virgins

Seduce Police Virgins

by Justin E. H. Smith Amateur neo-Kremlinologists will by now have heard of Pussy Riot, a league of masked anarchist feminist punks who, until recently, could be spotted around Moscow performing their music, uninvited, in public spaces. Their career was cut short when two of their members were detained...

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‘Pop songs are deeply monological’

‘Pop songs are deeply monological’

The Human League by Enrique Lima Although this seems self-evident it’s worth explaining. As Bakhtin long ago observed, novels are heteroglossic. That is, although one consciousness or voice may dominate narration, the novel is compelled by its own philosophical-formal orientation to include other voices. I’ll mention just a couple...

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Nicholas Rombes: Punk

Nicholas Rombes: Punk

Mark Perry, the founder of one of the earliest punk fanzines Sniffin' Glue, has said, “Although was entirely connected to the hippy politics, it was entirely the natural progression of hippies' 'anti-establishmentism,' I think. You couldn't wear bells and flowers to freak the powers out anymore and there...

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Patti Smith was aiming at once higher and lower than Paul Simon or Jim Morrison…

Patti Smith was aiming at once higher and lower than Paul Simon or Jim Morrison…

Patti Smith at Jim Morrison’s grave, Paris, 1976 From The New York Review of Books: I first heard of Patti Smith in 1971, when I was seventeen. The occasion was an unsigned half-column item in the New York Flyer, a short-lived local supplement to Rolling Stone, marking the single...

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America’s Beethoven

America’s Beethoven

If we are to believe the Beethoven mythology, which is based mostly on his letters and reports from his inner circle, Beethoven had an unshakeable sense of his own importance.

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Holly Watkins: Deep Music

Holly Watkins: Deep Music

An Overgrown Mineshaft, Carl Gustav Carus, c. 1824 by Holly Watkins When a friend says to you that she finds a piece of music deeply moving, you might assume she is referring to some intensely personal experience rooted in her unique psychological makeup. What’s more, you may sense that...

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’57, ’62, ’67, ’70, the mid-’70s, ’90

’57, ’62, ’67, ’70, the mid-’70s, ’90

The history of music is marked by a few, fleeting, magical moments: 1957 in New York jazz, 1962 in Liverpool, 1967 in San Francisco, 1970 in Detroit, the mid-’70s at CBGB ,1990 in Seattle.

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Dmitri Tymoczko: Geometric Listening

Dmitri Tymoczko: Geometric Listening

Four note chords by Dmitri Tymoczko Two hundred years ago, there were no CDs or MP3s and the primary way to preserve your music was to write it down. Not surprisingly, notated composition was a culturally central activity: Roughly 20,000 people are said to have attended Beethoven’s funeral, a non-negligible...

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