It’s been four years since Santi White
(aka Santigold) dropped her stellar, genre-juggling debut. Some might
think that is a long layoff between albums, especially in a fickle
contemporary cultural landscape that moves quickly and without concern
for those who don’t try to keep up.
The theme of The Mercantile Library’s
Harriet Beecher Stowe Lecture series is “writing to change the world.”
Few writers live up to that idea better than Chris Abani, who was
imprisoned in his native Nigeria after the publication of his first
novel, 1985’s Masters of the Board.
Started as a one-woman project in 2006 by
New England native Merrill Garbus, tUnE-YaRdS is set apart via its meld
of Appalachian Folk (ukulele being the most obvious signifier) and
numerous African elements, none more visceral than Garbus’ versatile
vocal delivery, which alternates between low-key crooning,
honest-to-goodness yodeling and full-on wailing.
The visions are as fresh as the day they
entered my impressionable head. As a child weaned at the entertaining
teat of 1980s blockbusters like Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back, Ghostbusters and Back to the Future, I have a soft spot in my movie-snob heart for a good summer popcorn movie.
does Bob Marley — the man and his music — still resonant more
than 30 years after his death? That’s a question director Kevin
MacDonald tries to unpack in this straightforwardly rendered, often
fascinating documentary about the Reggae legend.
creates a place that seems hermetically sealed off from the rest of
the world — cinematographer Doug Emmett notably bathes the
proceedings in unnaturally bright light — a place that posits the
major problem in contemporary social life as “the tendency to
always seek someone cooler than yourself” without a whiff of irony.
St. Vincent’s music is rife with contradictions. Take the first song on the outfit’s most recent album, last year’s Strange Mercy,
which opens with this vague but provocative imagery, delivered by Annie
Clark — the band’s 29-year-old creative ringleader.
Sharon Van Etten began winning admirers with a pair of intimate, soul-bearing albums — 2009’s Because I Was In Love and 2010’s Epic
— that explored love gone bad via a voice that was so big and
expressive and sad-sounding that one feared for the woman from which it
Sleepy Sun has evolved from
precocious northern California Psychedelic upstarts to seasoned veterans
in the time it takes some bands to inhale a single bong hit. Coalescing in 2008, the Santa
Cruz, Calif., crew moved to their genre of choice’s creative and
spiritual birthplace, San Francisco, and quickly dropped a pair of