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Music

Chuck Johnson's music always finds the calm at the center of the storm. He's best known for his hypnotic, yet lyrical, solo guitar work, but for his new record Balsams Johnson meditates on — and through — the lush ambiance of the pedal steel.

World Cafe has a pair of brothers and a pair of cousins — plus one — in the studio today. Together, they're Melbourne's Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever. In this session, we chat about the band's Cinderella story: It went from late-night bedroom jams to signing a record deal with its dream label, Sub Pop.

The Holy Circle makes dark synth-pop that's velvet to the touch — and a sonic sawblade to the core. After last year's EP, Terence Hannum of the experimental metal band Locrian and his wife Erica Burgner-Hannum of Unlucky Atlas were joined by drummer Nathan Jurgenson (Screen Vinyl Image). The Baltimore trio's self-titled debut album finds that space between Ultravox's synthetic melodrama, Jesu's heavy shoegaze and The Knife's cold, yet sensual, vocal melodies.

There are no clear-cut earmarks of success in independent music. Perhaps there shouldn't be: When bands find themselves inspiring attention beyond their basement-show aspirations, what looks good externally could chip away at the heart of something pure, something free of traditional capitalistic pressures.

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band turns 50 next week — so what's been done to celebrate one of the greatest records ever? They've remixed the entire album! The word "remix," in fact, may not capture the scope of the project — it's more like someone rebuilt a pyramid with fresh bricks. But a question remains: Why would anyone do so? I traveled to New York to meet Giles Martin, who spearheaded the project, to find that out.

earthsongs.net

  Ojibwe artist Annie Humphrey, daughter of author Anne Dunn, grew up on the Leech Lake Reservation in Northern Minnesota. Learning guitar from her father at a young age, Annie taught herself to play the piano and was writing songs by age ten. Before becoming a mother, visual artist, or career musician, she joined the Marines and also graduated from the San Marcos, California Police Academy. When she decided to focus on music, her children were her biggest inspiration, motivating her to make a living so she could support her family doing what she loved.

Apart from from Buddhist temples, parts of Japan sure do look like Central Illinois. At least that's the story sweetly told in director Chris Strong's video for "My Instincts Are The Enemy," where Japanese and Japanese Americans sing along to the song while bowling, making noodles and getting tattooed.

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