If you didn't find any new albums on iTunes or in your local music store earlier this week, it's because beginning July 10, new music around the world is being released on Fridays.
For more than 25 years, Tuesday has been the standard release day for new albums in America — a tradition Keith Caulfield, co-director of charts at Billboard, says had a lot to do with shipping in the pre-digital era.
One of the most outstanding and challenging new bits of music I've heard this year comes from Makeunder, the project of Hamilton Ulmer, an Oakland-based musician with a penchant for exploration. "Great Headless Blank" was the inspired track we played on All Songs Considered back in April, now it's the title track to Makeunder's latest EP, which we are proudly premiering here, along with track-by-track thoughts from Hamilton Ulmer.
For anyone more interested in Amy Winehouse's music than in her martyrdom, the most shocking images in Asif Kapadia's new documentary Amy may not be the ones showing her strung out and terrifyingly thin at the end of her short life, nor those capturing her turn into serious addiction in filthy, paraphernalia-strewn rooms she shared with her enabler and eventual husband, Blake Fielder-Civil.
For the 50th anniversary of the Grateful Dead's founding, the band will perform three shows — their last — in Chicago this weekend. According to Billboard magazine, the "Fare Thee Well" concerts will bring in an estimated $50 million. That's pretty impressive, considering that band's lead guitarist died two decades ago.
Classical pianist Simone Dinnerstein is just back from Havana, where she performed with Cuba's National Youth Orchestra. She is also working with young people back in her hometown, New York. One of her goals? To introduce students to the composer she's best known for performing — Johann Sebastian Bach. She's taking digital pianos into public schools in a program she calls "Bach-packing."
Understanding the recorded work of most popular musicians — from rock to hip-hop, jazz to country — typically means perusing their albums and singles. There are exceptions, such as rappers' guest appearances: You don't really understand Busta Rhymes' importance if you don't take into account his verse on A Tribe Called Quest's "Scenario," for example.