Paul Williams on the enduring magic and no-longer-lost music of Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas

Paul Williams helped build the sound of the 1970s, penning hits for The Carpenters and Three Dog Night before picking up a Grammy and an Oscar for his contributions to the Barbra Streisand-Kris Kristofferson version of A Star Is Born. In 1976, he traveled to the United Kingdom to tape a guest appearance on The Muppet…

Jamila Woods’ final performance of Heavn was one of 2018’s best live shows

Any dyed-in-the-wool Chicagoan will tell you that the summers make sticking out the nearly six-month winters worth it (whether or not you believe any of us is up to you). All the memories of scraping layers of ice off our windshields and trudging through puddles of slushes melt away on the first 80-degree stretch,…

The best electronic albums of 2018

Psst—even if you don’t listen to electronic music, every record you’ve ever heard is electronic music. The truth of this sophism is deepening as electronic instruments and idioms overtake every genre. Euro-pop arpeggios twist through country radio. Modular drones whir through folk. Synth rock, once a subgenre, now…

The best country albums of 2018

From one angle, the country music narrative in 2018 was distinguished by consistency. Bebe Rexha and Florida Georgia Line’s easygoing soul-twang confection “Meant To Be” spent a staggering, record-setting 50 weeks atop the Hot Country Songs chart, while the vast majority of award winners and chart-toppers are all…

Earl Sweatshirt locks in on the uncompromising Some Rap Songs

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Earl Sweatshirt’s 2015 album I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside is one of the best rap albums of the decade, but it was a grower, claustrophobic and dissonant. Some Rap Songs aims higher and makes you work harder. That blurry cover and demurring title are no feint; he’s buried in the mix, his voice fighting against…

Here’s how you’re damaging your ears—and what you can do to protect them

One of the central storylines of A Star Is Born is Jackson Maine’s (Bradley Cooper) struggle with hearing loss and tinnitus, made worse by the fact that he’s a musician who performs live concerts and exposes himself to loud sounds on a daily basis. While most of us aren’t famous musicians playing shows every night,…

Fruit Bats sign to Merge, release surreal short film for “Getting In A Van Again”

Eric D. Johnson was stranded. When he called the The A.V. Club from a rental-car counter in Atlanta, the facility was fresh out of cars, bringing a sudden halt to a long day of travel for the singer-songwriter who’s been recording under the Fruit Bats moniker since 1997. Johnson was stranded, but not without support:…

Solange and Anderson Paak lead our 21 most-anticipated albums of November

Often the last big records of the year arrive in November, making it a fair bet that Solange’s “imminent,” highly anticipated fourth album will drop in the next few weeks. There are also promising new efforts on the horizon from Anderson Paak, Dead Can Dance, Cupcakke, Josephine Foster, and Jeff Tweedy, plus exciting…

Beyond “Monster Mash”: 60 minutes of killer tunes for your graveyard smash

Halloween is on a Wednesday this year, which means that all but the most dedicated creeps will be throwing their Halloween parties this weekend. And while it’s tempting to just put “Monster Mash” on repeat and wait for someone to call you out on it, you want your guests to stick around through the witching hour, right?

One of punk’s true originals, Germfree Adolescents is as fresh today as it was in 1978

On her 2007 album How To Win!, stand-up comedian Maria Bamford tells a joke about her mother telling her she looks “mentally ill” without makeup. “Now, when I go home, I’m certain to wear thick green eyeshadow and a line of lipstick around my lips,” Bamford says, before asking in a quivering voice, “Baby look pretty…

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