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2021

Have Yourself a Cooke-ian Little Christmas

benevolence are on display in a special wing of life’s museum. The wing is accessible all the year ‘round, but it attracts the most visitors during the season of Yule. There’s a soundtrack that doesn’t feature at the rest of the year—unless you fire up A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector and The Nutcracker in April, as I do—and everything just feels different. Good different.

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Curiosity Without Boundaries: An Interview with Kirk Hammett

Kirk Hammett lives according to, what he calls, “curiosity without boundaries.” The lead guitarist of Metallica provides an impressive, but unpretentious reminder that many observers of the heavy metal and hard rock juggernaut might forget: Despite their unlikely mainstream status, after selling more than 125 million records worldwide, Metallica navigates strictly according to their own cartography. On October 1st, I interviewed Kirk Hammett about the Black Album, his philosophy of creativity, and the often misunderstood identity of Metallica.

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J Dilla Donuts album cover

On the Legacy of J Dilla with Jordan Ferguson

In 2003, Stones Throw Records flew photographer Brian “B+” Cross out to Detroit to snap some promotional photos of J Dilla, who was then working on the Jaylib project. If you follow this sort of thing, you know these photos: the blue and orange ensemble, a pinwheel cap for the Detroit Stars, the city’s Negro League baseball team, cocked on the side of his head. Classic material. In one of these photos, Dilla’s flipping the bins at Car City Records. Now closed, Car City then was an institution in St Clair Shores on Detroit’s East side, just south of Clinton Township, where Dilla was living at the time.

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Sounding Okinawa

Guest post by Henry Johnson The Okinawan soundscape is distinct from other parts of Japan in many ways. Blending the sounds of its cultural heritage and popular culture, and often foregrounded within a touristic gaze, urban centres such as Naha and Koza sound Okinawa through live and mediated performance, as well as through much imagery

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The Sounds of Food

There are many sounds connected with food in Okinawa, just as there are the world over. Whether the sounds are heard during the food preparation process or during consumption, the soundscape of food in its broadest sense does much to connect cuisine and culture. 

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MP3 Killed the Rockstar: The Downfall of Guns N’ Roses

My 33 and 1/3 book on Use Your Illusion I and II is the only one of my seven books, as author or editor, to have no acknowledgment section. David Barker, who edited the series back then (2006), read the manuscript, accurately predicted that Guns N’ Roses fans would hate it, but said he liked it and we should go ahead and publish the thing. For a good stretch, it was the worst selling title in the series. The conceit, applying Nicholson Baker’s U and I, a book on John Updike that Baker wrote about his half-remembered take on Updike rather than undertaking new research, but here used to create a UYI and I based on my own blurry impressions, all but guaranteed that.

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Nenes to Nenez 30 Years On

In 2021, Nenez (using their recent romanized name with a “z” instead of a “s”) celebrated their 30th anniversary with the release of the indies album, Gajumaru. Founded in 1991, the group has seen a number of line-up changes, with three of the current quartet joining in 2019. The ever changing line-ups are comparable with groups such as the American all-women trio, The Three Degrees, which dates from 1963 and is a brand that continues to this day. Indeed,
brand Nenez (or Nēnēzu, to use the transliteration of their Okinawan name) has gone through several phases that have transitioned from a world music act of the 1990s to live-house entertainment in their most recent guise.

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