By Hiram Lee, 29 April 2013
Legendary country singer George Jones died in Nashville on April 26. A remarkable performer, Jones was a significant figure in American popular music during the second half of the 20th century.
By Zac Corrigan, 16 April 2013
South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas has grown from a local independent music showcase into one of the largest music festivals in the world. This is the second article on the 2013 festival.
By Hiram Lee, 10 April 2013
Singer Cleotha Staples of the popular gospel, folk and R&B group the Staple Singers, died recently at the age of 78.
By Zac Corrigan, 9 April 2013
South by Southwest in Austin, Texas has grown from a local independent music showcase attracting some 700 registered attendees in 1987 into one of the largest music festivals in the world.
By Nick Barrickman, 25 March 2013
Rapture Kontrolle is the eighth studio instrumental album by hip hop/electronic producer/song writer Fat Jon the Ample Soul Physician (born John Marshall in 1969), released in 2012 on Ample Soul Recordings, under the alias Maurice Galactica.
By Zac Corrigan, 9 March 2013
The latest album from Robert Hood is a collection of a dozen instrumental renderings of the decline of the artist’s hometown.
By Fred Mazelis, 2 March 2013
A musician who became world-famous more than half a century ago, Van Cliburn had a career that was noteworthy, even if he never achieved the potential that seemed possible in his youth.
By Fred Mazelis, 28 February 2013
The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra is an ensemble that brings together Palestinian and Israeli musicians in concert halls around the globe.
By Matthew Brennan, 23 February 2013
Channel Orange, the debut from Frank Ocean, was one of the more intriguing albums released in 2012.
By John Andrews, 11 February 2013
Donald Byrd, a trumpet master associated with the post-bebop jazz that emerged in New York City during the 1950s and 1960s, died last week at the age of 80.
By Hiram Lee, 6 February 2013
The latest album by the popular R&B singer.
By Matthew Brennan and Hiram Lee, 29 December 2012
World Socialist Web Site music writers pick their favorite pop and jazz releases of 2012.
By Kapila Fernando, K. Ratnayake and Peter Symonds, 20 December 2012
What was unique about Ravi Shankar was the breadth of his interests, willingness to experiment and passion for making classical Indian music available to the world.
By Zac Corrigan, 13 December 2012
Death Grips are a trio from Sacramento, California, composed of vocalist MC Ride (Stefan Burnett), percussionist Zach Hill and producer Andy “Flatlander” Morin.
By Hiram Lee, 10 December 2012
A significant figure in postwar American culture, Brubeck’s classic 1959 album Time Out sold a million copies, the first jazz album to hold that distinction.
By Fred Mazelis, 6 December 2012
American composer Elliott Carter reflected the trajectory of Western classical music in the past century.
Nirvana’s Nevermind re-issued by Sony/Universal
By Nick Barrickman, 5 December 2012
In late 2011, a re-mastered edition of the seminal album Nevermind by pop-punk band Nirvana was released, marking the work’s 20th anniversary.
By Nick Barrickman, 7 November 2012
Traveling Man is a collage of 24 instrumental compositions created by the artist while he stayed in the given locales—mainly large metropolitan areas around the world.
By Jeff Lusanne, 16 October 2012
A new, self-titled album by Brooklyn-based afrobeat band Antibalas offers a welcome blend of exciting, skilled musicianship and socially critical lyricism.
By Hiram Lee, 1 October 2012
British singer-songwriter Nick Lowe performed in Louisville, Kentucky, last week, the fifth stop on a fall tour of the United States.
By Verena Nees, 12 September 2012
A memorable concert took place 70 years ago when Dmitri Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony was performed in the city of Leningrad, which had been besieged by German troops for more than a year.
By Zac Corrigan, 4 September 2012
Oneohtrix Point Never’s Replica and Far Side Virtual from James Ferraro have much in common: both albums were released in the autumn of 2011 by prolific experimental musicians from New York.
By Clement Daly, 28 August 2012
This year marks 100 years since the birth of American folk singer Woody Guthrie. The anniversary has become the occasion for commemorations and conferences held throughout the US, as well as the opening of a new museum and archive.
By James Brewer, 27 August 2012
An amazing story documents the popularity of the music of Sixto Rodriguez in South Africa, music virtually unknown in the US.
By Hiram Lee, 23 July 2012
Country music icon Kitty Wells died July 16 at her home in Nashville, Tennessee.
By Fred Mazelis, 15 June 2012
The Delaware Symphony Orchestra is the latest musical institution to announce that financial problems have forced drastic cutbacks.
By Hiram Lee, 8 June 2012
Legendary guitarist and folk singer Doc Watson died May 29 in North Carolina.
By James Brewer, 26 May 2012
Booker T. and the M.G.’s bass player Donald “Duck” Dunn, died suddenly while on tour in Tokyo on May 13.
By Dorian Griscom, 25 May 2012
The German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau was renowned for his interpretations of Schubert, Schumann and Brahms songs, but his repertoire included opera and oratorio as well.
By James Brewer, 23 April 2012
After 14-year bout with cancer, Levon Helm, the drummer and singer of The Band, dies in New York.
By Hiram Lee, 31 March 2012
Earl Scruggs, a pioneering figure in Bluegrass music and an innovator on the 5-string Banjo, has died at the age of 88.
Ani DiFranco's “¿Which Side Are You On?”: a “radical” artist openly embraces Obama and the Democrats
By Jeff Lusanne, 15 March 2012
“¿Which Side Are You On?” by independent American folk artist Ani DiFranco, is an album that raises significant issues facing artists today—above all, how to view society critically.
By Aidan Claire, 1 March 2012
Chewing on Tinfoil is a five-piece punk and ska band from Dublin.
By Hiram Lee, 13 February 2012
American popular singer Whitney Houston has died in Los Angeles at the age of 48.
By Dorian Griscom, 31 January 2012
Gustav Mahler is among the most widely listened to of classical composers. Last year, which marked the 100th anniversary of his death, witnessed concerts, new recordings, lectures and exhibitions celebrating his life and music.
By Paul Bond, 26 January 2012
Etta James had an instantly recognisable voice, sinuous, tender and harsh in equal measure. She died a few days short of her 74th birthday.
By Hiram Lee, 24 January 2012
Influential R&B musician Johnny Otis, best-known for the hit dance record “Willie and the Hand Jive” died January 17 at the age of 90.
By Hiram Lee, 20 January 2012
Jazz group 3 Cohens have returned with Family, the third album to feature this ensemble of sibling musicians since their debut in 2004.
By Paul Bond, 5 January 2012
The longtime sideman for Chicago blues great Howlin’ Wolf, Hubert Sumlin, died last month at the age of 80.
By Matthew Brennan and Hiram Lee, 31 December 2011
The past year produced few meaningful efforts in the field of pop and rock music. Only a handful of works stand out.
By Hiram Lee, 31 December 2011
Some of the more interesting jazz albums of 2011.
By Hiram Lee, 28 December 2011
Jazz drummer Paul Motian, a member of the classic Bill Evans Trio of the early 1960s, died recently at the age of 80.
By Hiram Lee, 7 December 2011
American singer-songwriter Tom Waits has returned with his first album of new material since 2004’s Real Gone.
By Nikolai Barrickman, 20 September 2011
Wu-Tang Clan’s debut album, widely considered a hip hop classic, is a landmark in both the development and the decline of the genre.
By Hiram Lee, 30 August 2011
Soul singer and songwriter Gene McDaniels, composer of “Compared to What” and other protest songs, died July 29 at the age of 76.
By Richard Phillips, 25 August 2011
Randy Newman, who began his career in the late 1950s, still continues to write and perform his ironic vignettes, political satires and poignant love songs.
By Hiram Lee, 27 July 2011
Pop singer and media sensation Lady Gaga has returned with her third album, Born This Way.
By Hiram Lee, 22 June 2011
Clarence Clemons was the longtime saxophonist for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.
Best known for “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”
By Matthew Brennan, 11 June 2011
Gil Scott-Heron, the African-American poet and musician best known for his song “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” died May 27 at the age of 62.
By Hiram Lee, 9 May 2011
Folksinger Hazel Dickens, who often sang about the struggles of coal miners in Appalachia, died April 22 in Washington, D.C.
By Fred Mazelis, 7 May 2011
A recent performance of Gustav Mahler’s Ninth Symphony, his last completed work in that form, highlighted the role of the Juilliard School in New York City’s classical music scene.
By Hiram Lee, 2 April 2011
After more than a decade together, the members of the rock band White Stripes have announced their break-up.
By Hiram Lee, 1 February 2011
Country singer Charlie Louvin, one half of the influential duo The Louvin Brothers, died on January 26 at the age of 83.
By Nikolai Barrickman and Hiram Lee, 19 January 2011
How I Got Over is the latest album from veteran hip hop group The Roots.
By Kevin Martinez, 12 January 2011
Of all the musical acts that came out of America and Britain in the late 1960s and early 1970s, none were more surreal and musically ambitious than Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band.
By James Brewer, 29 December 2010
Renowned blues musician Mose Allison recently spoke to WSWS reporter James Brewer about his career and his music.
By Nikolai Barrickman, 15 December 2010
A review of Connected, from hip-hop group The Foreign Exchange, an album regarded by many as an alternative rap “classic.”
By James Brewer, 22 November 2010
Jazz and blues artist Mose Allison’s musical career spans over fifty years. He is still well worth listening to.
By Hiram Lee, 3 November 2010
Elvis Costello once again returns to traditional Americana music with his latest release, National Ransom.
By Shannon Jones, 18 October 2010
Members of the Cleveland Orchestra are planning to join striking DSO musicians at an October 24 support concert.
13 October 2010
Roger Waters, of Pink Floyd fame, is currently touring North America and Europe with The Wall Live. A reader discusses Water’s music and his evolution.
By Nikolai Barrickman, 17 September 2010
Splitting Image is the final album from underground rapper Kam Moye, more popularly known as Supastition.
By Sybille Fuchs, 26 August 2010
In the last week of July, the celebrated German poet Heinrich Heine was bestowed a very dubious honour, as his bust was placed in the “Teutonic” Hall of Fame built by King Ludwig I of Bavaria, which Heine had himself ridiculed.
By Hiram Lee, 24 August 2010
Jasmine, the new album from pianist Keith Jarrett and bassist Charlie Haden, reunites the two artists who had not recorded together for three decades for a moving album of standards and love songs.
By Andrew Lawrence, 7 August 2010
Described as an international project from hip hop musicians in various countries, Beyond Borders by rapper Soulstice and producer SBe fails to live up to the claims.
By C.W. Rogers, 25 May 2010
“Midnight Souvenirs,” the latest album from Peter Wolf, is his seventh solo record since his days as front-man for the J. Geils Band and the first since 2002’s widely acclaimed “Sleepless.”
Singer, actress dead at 92
By John Andrews, 13 May 2010
Lena Horne’s death in a New York City hospital last Sunday, less than two months shy of her 93rd birthday, is an occasion not only to review her remarkable show business career, but also to consider the conditions during which that career unfolded.
By Hiram Lee, 3 May 2010
Indie Rock band Spoon’s latest album Transference is a welcome addition to the group’s already impressive catalogue of recordings.
By Dwight Stoll, 5 April 2010
If the Felice Brothers’ album Yonder Is The Clock’s receiving the award for Country album of 2009 from the BBC came as a surprise, it was only because the group is hard to define as a country band.
By Hiram Lee, 24 March 2010
Alex Chilton, former lead singer of the Box Tops and Big Star, died on March 17 at the age of 59.
By Jesse Werner, 10 February 2010
Jazz drummer Ed Thigpen, best known for his work with the Oscar Peterson Trio, died in mid-January at the age of 79.
By Hiram Lee, 8 January 2010
The latest album from veteran rock group Sonic Youth is a disappointing work, the least interesting effort from the group since their much heralded return to form with 2002’s Murray Street.
By Paul Bond, 10 November 2009
The British folk music record label Topic has recently published a 7-CD and book set, Three Score and Ten: A Voice to the People, to mark its 70th anniversary.
By C.W. Rogers, 6 November 2009
The Monsters of Folk is a collaborative “supergroup” composed of Conner Oberst and multi-instrumentalist-producer Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, and singer-songwriter M. Ward.
By D. Lencho, 10 October 2009
Latin American music lost one of its greatest exponents with the death of Argentinean singer Mercedes Sosa last Sunday. The singer’s career, which spanned over five decades, came to fruition during one of the most critical periods in the continent’s history.
By Tony Cornwell, 19 August 2009
As well as being a beautiful player who never sacrificed musical ideas for flashy displays of technique, Les Paul was responsible for key advances in musical recording techniques.
By Tony Cornwell, 7 August 2009
The most remarkable feature of Gurrumul, the recent first album by Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, is this blind Australian indigenous singer’s extraordinary voice.
By Fred Mazelis, 9 July 2009
The crisis facing the New York City Opera says a great deal about the current state of so-called “high” culture, those sections of the performing arts that are not always or even mostly profitable.
By David Walsh, 8 July 2009
A collection of performers, preachers and politicians entertained or addressed a crowd of some 20,000 people in the Staples Center for slightly more than two hours.
By Hiram Lee, 26 June 2009
PJ Harvey and John Parish recently gave a remarkable performance in Covington, Kentucky, while touring in support of their new album A Woman a Man Walked By.
By Hiram Lee, 12 May 2009
Hip hop musician Madlib pays tribute to fellow hip hop producer James Yancey, who passed away in 2006.
By Hiram Lee, 11 May 2009
Pianist Krystian Zimerman spoke out against US military activity in Poland and the Middle East during an April concert in Los Angeles.
“Shutting Detroit Down”: Country singer John Rich sings about the crisis, but also spreads confusion
By Hiram Lee, 22 April 2009
Country singer John Rich’s populist song “Shutting Down Detroit” takes on the Wall Street bailouts, mass layoffs and home foreclosures. At the same time, he hangs out in right-wing circles.
By Kenny Crucial, 3 February 2009
Philip Glass ventured to the Emory University campus for a performance of his opera Akhnaten and to receive an award from the university. Glass was honored for both his musical output and his contribution to previous events at the school.
By David Walsh and John Andrews, 27 January 2009
Robert Cavolina and Ian McCrudden’s documentary Anita O’Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer, about singer Anita O’Day, whose career spanned more than 50 years, presents a picture of an extraordinary woman: tough, resilient and enormously gifted.
23 January 2009
Attending a recent performance of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra brought home the reality of proposed cutbacks in funding. It also pointed to the hazards of a situation in which arts groups are dependent on corporate largesse.
By Fred Mazelis, 7 January 2009
Classical works by composers who died at the hands of the Nazis or who were forced into exile have been receiving increased attention. Conductor James Conlon has taken the lead in this project to rescue unjustly neglected or unknown work.
By John Andrews, 3 January 2009
Trumpeter Freddie Hubbard exploded onto the 1958 New York jazz scene at the age of 20. Over the next decade, he blew fiery “hard bop” with virtually all the greatest East Coast musicians and appeared on innumerable classic albums.
By David Walsh, 24 December 2008
This is more of a personal response to the death of poet Adrian Mitchell December 20 than an informed, much less scholarly, commentary. My encounter with his works took place several decades ago.
By Louis Girard and Hiram Lee, 15 December 2008
On the 30th anniversary of his death, the World Socialist Web Site offers a critical appreciation of legendary French singer Jacques Brel.
By D. Lencho, 13 December 2008
Two prominent vocal artists identified with the struggle against racial oppression—Miriam Makeba and Odetta—recently died within a few weeks of each other. They came of age and achieved fame in the 1950s and 1960s, decades of intense struggles.
By Hiram Lee, 4 November 2008
Jonathan Richman, formerly of The Modern Lovers, performed a remarkable set at Newport, Kentucky’s Southgate House.
Political and musical perspectives
By Kenny Crucial, 12 August 2008
Lollapalooza, August 1-3, Grant Park; The Pitchfork Music Festival, July 18-20, Union Park
By Hiram Lee, 21 July 2008
American singer, songwriter and guitarist Stephen Malkmus is approaching his twentieth year of making music. Best known as the lead singer and principal songwriter of the influential indie rock band Pavement, which got its start in Stockton, California, in 1989, Malkmus began his solo career when the group disbanded after 10 years of recording together.
By Kenny Crucial, 14 June 2008
World premiere of Concerto for Piano and Orchestraby Behzad Ranjbaran, performed by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Robert Spano, June 5, 7 and 8
By Hiram Lee, 18 March 2008
Country singer Shelby Lynne spent a decade in Nashville creating music for a hostile and restrictive recording industry. Between 1989 and 1999, she made several albums of country-pop essentially no different from the other various products coming out of the alleged “country music capital of the world” at that time. As Lynne told the New York Times in an interview published earlier this year, “I got to Nashville and was told what to record, what to wear.” This was not the sort of atmosphere in which a young artist could flourish.
By Peter Kloze, 26 January 2008
Objective events have a way of catching up with even the most subjective of individuals. Trent Reznor, founder and leading member of the industrial rock group Nine Inch Nails (NIN), is one of the more introspective and self-analyzing artists in modern popular music, yet, like everyone else, he is not and cannot be exempted from the force of events.
By Graham Beverley, 19 January 2008
Sincere and developed artistic content in popular music remains a fringe phenomenon in both mainstream and ‘underground’ or independent music.
By John Andrews, 4 January 2008
Accolades poured in after the Christmas Eve announcement of Oscar Peterson’s death on December 23 from kidney failure at his home in Mississauga, a suburb of Toronto, at the age of 82.
By Verena Nees, 18 December 2007
For 60 years the role of the renowned Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra during the period of Nazi power has remained in obscurity. In Hitler’s Third Reich the orchestra was known as the “Reichsorchester” and functioned under the control of Joseph Goebbels as part of his notorious Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda.