Music

Anwen Crawford reviews 'Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl' by Carrie Brownstein

Anwen Crawford
18 December 2015

Sleater-Kinney, an American rock trio, are closely associated with the cities of Olympia and Portland, in the Pacific Northwest. In the mid-1990s, when Sleater-Kinney formed, the region was home to a thriving, if somewhat puritan, independent music scene, one in which participants prided themselves on their distance – both geographic and cultural – from the main ... More

Michael Shmith reviews 'Sinatra' by James Kaplan

Michael Shmith
18 December 2015

Just in time for the Frank Sinatra centenary – 12 December should be a gazetted public holiday – comes the thumping second part of James Kaplan's monumental biography. Taken together, Volume I – Frank: The Voice (2010, 786 pages) – and its behemoth successor, Sinatra: The Chairman (979 pages), comprise a formidable and scrupulously detailed ... More

Michael Halliwell reviews 'Charles Mackerras' edited by Nigel Simeone and John Tyrrell

Michael Halliwell
26 November 2015

Ask any opera singer from the last fifty or more years who their favourite conductor is, and a substantial number would plumb for Charles Mackerras if they had enjoyed the privilege of working with him. There were always more flamboyant conductors – Karajan, Bernstein, Abbado, and others spring to mind – and certainly many enjoyed more immediate name recognition ... More

John Allison reviews 'My Life with Wagner' by Christian Thielemann

John Allison
25 November 2015

'This has been an eventful year for Christian Thielemann, the self-styled Dirigent-Überall of German conductors. After several seasons of speculation about his next career move, in June he lost out on becoming chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic but almost simultaneously landed the music directorship of the Bayreuth Festival. That post at the Wagner ... More

Felicity Plunkett reviews 'M Train' by Patti Smith

Felicity Plunkett
25 November 2015

The writer is a conductor, opines the 'vaguely handsome, intensely laconic' cowpoke who speaks to Patti Smith as she lingers at 'the frame of a dream'. His words shape Smith's days. 'It's not so easy writing about nothing,' this companion tells her, and she scratches these words over and over onto a wall in her home with a chunk of red chalk.

Writing about n ... More

Jon Dale reviews 'Another Little Piece of My Heart' by Richard Goldstein

Jon Dale
30 October 2015

Richard Goldstein, one of the first rock critics, has always occupied a weird place in the history of music criticism. His memoir could have sat uneasily as an attempt to justify and reconcile his position, but instead, Goldstein taps into a strangely confessional vein, tracing his history from the Bronx to the Ballroom, finding his home at the More

Michael Halliwell reviews 'The Oxford Handbook of Opera' edited by Helen M. Greenwald

Michael Halliwell
30 July 2015

Orpheus – composer and singer of his own song – is regarded as the founding figure of opera. One of the most arresting images of Orpheus is of his death – his dismembered head on his lyre floating down a river, still singing. Opera’s history is dogged by its own death wish; the art form has been pronounced dying, or even dead almost from its inception, yet z ... More

'Sound Bridges: A Profile of Gurrumul' by Felicity Plunkett

Felicity Plunkett
27 May 2015
In April 2011 the Australian edition of Rolling Stone featured a cover photo of Yolngu multi-instrumentalist and singer Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu ... More

Des Cowley reviews 'Possibilities' by Herbie Hancock

Des Cowley
29 April 2015

In the opening pages of his memoir, Herbie Hancock recounts an onstage episode in Stockholm in the mid-1960s, when he was playing with Miles Davis. In a few brief paragraphs, he sums up Davis’s genius as only a musician deeply conversant with his music could. It is this sort of privileged entrée into Hancock’s musical world that makes Possibilities a wor ... More

Peter Kenneally reviews 'Blue Note' by Richard Havers

Peter Kenneally
27 March 2015

A four hundred-page Thames & Hudson hardback stuffed with photographs? A coffee table book, you might think. And you would be right, since this is a history of the most famous label in jazz – with no discography. But it is gorgeous, full of great images, the design matches the label’s style, and the book tells Blue Note’s history well for the lay ja ... More

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