Monday, July 27, 2020

Playlist: March through July

  • Steven Wilson—The Future Bites (upcoming, 2021)
  • Tim BownessLate Night Laments (upcoming 2020)
  • Bob DylanRough and Rowdy Ways (2020)
  • BraidsShadow Offering (2020)
  • Sarah JaroszWorld on the Ground (upcoming 2020), Song Up in Her Head (2009)
  • Dua Lipa—Future Nostalgia (2020)
  • Ed O'Brien (EOB)Earth (2020)
  • Elbow—Live at the Ritz (2020)
  • Flock of Dimes—So Much Like Desire EP (2020)
  • Laura Marling—Song for Our Daughter (2020)
  • Rustin' Man—Clockdust (2020)
  • Four Tet—Sixteen Oceans (2020)
  • David Bowie—Is It Any Wonder (2020)
  • Joe Satriani—Shapeshifting (2020)
  • Tim Bowness/Peter ChilversModern Ruins (2020), California, Norfolk (2002)
  • Pearl Jam—Gigaton (2020)
  • Porcupine TreeAll new live digital releases on (2020)
  • Richard BarbieriPast Imperfect/Future Tense EP (2020)
  • Israel NashLifted (2018)
  • John Paul WhiteBeulah (2016), The Hurting Kind (2019)
  • Braids—Native Speaker (2011)
  • RadioheadIn Rainbows Limited edition box set (2007)
  • In Tua NuaVaudeville (1987)
  • Joni MitchellDog Eat Dog (1985)
  • Peter Gabriel—Plays Live! (1983)
  • SupertrampFamous Last Words (1982)

    Hello, it's been a while...

    Hello, it's been a while...

    It's felt like it, too - the pandemic has made the last four months feel like a year....

    There hasn't been a dull moment when it comes to writing stories as the chief culture writer for The Christian Science Monitor.

    One thing I've missed, though, is getting out and about to report stories in person. The last story I did shoe-leather work for was a piece about how the pandemic hurt Chinatowns across the world first. A few months later, when the shutdowns began to ease, I helped report another restaurant story about the difficulties of reopening eateries. I also drove to Rhode Island for a story about how drive-in cinemas are more popular than ever, not just for movies but as concert venues. (Meanwhile, the future of cinema-going remains uncertain.)

    But my first proper get-out-of-the-home office story was a look at how street artists have responded to the protests in the wake of George Floyd's death. The story profiles five artists across the US and I got to visit Boston's Rob "ProBlak" Gibbs to watch him at work painting the mural in the photo above. Read the whole story here.

    During the height of the pandemic, I wrote about how it's impacted musicians who rely on touring to make a living I interviewed the last musician I saw perform, an Americana songwriter named John Paul White who was previously part of the duo The Civil Wars with Joy Williams. That show was just two or three days before everything shut down and the show wasn't full because some people were already staying home. 

    Speaking of Americana, I got to chat with Jonathan Wilson for a second time (I previously interviewed him for The Boston Globe) about his new album Dixie Blur, a venture into classic Americana and country. 

    I also penned an article about how the coronavirus proved challenging for the founder of a unique, one-man record label

    For a change, I got to review a book - Val Kilmer's absorbing memoir.

    A far more fraught assignment was a look at how the racial protests have led to upheaval of newsrooms across the US - including my own.

    Want an inspiring and uplifting read? Among the articles I wrote during the height of the virus are stories about how neighbors have helped each other during Covid-19 and how one man is helping to blanket the homeless in San Francisco

    I also wrote a magazine cover story about the how the virus inspired some people to reach out estranged family members. That one seemed to move a lot of readers. It was certainly a buoyant experience to talk to people about healing relationships that had seemed permanently broken.