Kathleen Hanna, mother of the riot grrrl scene of the 1990s, is the titular subject of this biographical documentary that blends archival concert footage and old and new interviews. The Punk Singer is an engaging and provocative portrait of the artist. Hanna’s rise from feminist spoken word poet to leader of one of the decade’s most explosive and important bands is bumpy, exciting, and often inspiring. You’ll hear about her friendship with icons like Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon and the late Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, as well as her marriage to Beastie Boys‘ Adam Horowitz. But most compelling is her harrowing account of being diagnosed with Lyme Disease—an illness that threatened to end her career.
Check It Out
If the seemingly interminable polar vortex and belated start of spring has you pining for sunshine and summer tunes, check out The Only Place, the second album by neo-surf rock duo Best Coast. The entire thing is a love song to California, to beaches and babes, and to the beauty of young love and heartache. Sing along with Beth Cosentino as she declares “we wake up with the sun in our eyes…” to help jump start your own magical summer.
Songs of longing, songs for the socially active mind, songs of joy – Michael Franti and Spearhead bring them all on their latest album, All People. Franti began his music career as an angry punk, but through the years, the anger has turned to even deeper attention to lyrical detail, giving hope against – rather than only railing at – the wrongs of the world. Is it reggae? Is it rap? Is it pop? Whatever it is, All People’s celebratory, optimistic songs want to make you smile. Most people know Michael Franti and Spearhead through their last album’s smash hit “Say Hey (I Love You)”, but there is much, much more to explore in this upbeat, empowering band.
If you are a fan of The Beatles, then you will definitely want to pick up the graphic novel Baby’s In Black. Working closely with Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutcliffe’s girlfriend, Bellstorf packs an emotional punch with black-and-white drawings that detail “the lost Beatle’s” short but impactful time with the band.
In 2012, blues guitarist and singer Buddy Guy was honored by the Kennedy Center for outstanding contributions to American culture. Buddy Guy was a member of Muddy Waters’ band, house guitarist at Chess Records, and a pioneer of Chicago blues. Check out the album Living Proof to hear his signature sound.
A teenage girl clambers up a steep embankment and pulls herself over the guardrail of a twisty mountain road. She has awoken from a blackout, and the last thing she remembers is being on a school trip — a trip that ended in a tragic bus crash a full four years earlier. The Returned, a French series which emerges as a masterwork in eerie storytelling, purposely uncoils the accounts of those who mysteriously appear as if they have never been away. Inspired by the film Les Revenants, this fits easily in the current trend of stories which explore the dead returning, but none other does so with the same lyrical melancholy, the effect of which is enhanced by expert framing of tableaus and a haunting Mogwai score.
It’s February, and love is in the air – or, maybe you just need a bit of heat to get rid of the winter chill. Turn up the temperature with Sinatra Love Songs, a gathering of Blue Eyes’ best tunes to Romeo and Juliet to. But there’s more! If you can’t get enough of Sinatra crooning at your heart’s door, try Seduction: Sinatra Sings of Love, too. Good ol’ Frank will sing of how it’s “Witchcraft” that he’s a “Prisoner of Love”. Then, if you still need more ideas of who to soundtrack your heart to, check out the Library’s Music for Lovers list!
Mountains of Sorrow, Rivers of Song is Amos Lee’s fifth studio album. This powerful album is a mix inspired by folksy, bluesy, and even some funky influences. Whatever your mood, there is something to like here. From the title song to “Chill in the Air” you can’t listen to this without big feelings.
There is a beauty that is uniquely winter, whether it be snow-dusted landscapes or the crystallized branches of exposed trees. Maestro Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky was inspired to give voice to the season in the wordless poetry of Symphony No. 1 in G minor, Op. 13: “Winter Dreams”. As performed by the Prague Symphony Orchestra, life is given to swirling winds, hushed silver skies, and the brisk exhilaration of chilled temperatures. Certain movements showcase lush, full melodies that create the ethereal mood evoked in the title, while others invite the instruments to playfully dart back and forth like animal tracks in the snow. Warm your ears with music that will whisk away any lingering grumbles about winter ills.
Enticed by a friend’s recommendation, I discovered the operatic group Il Divo. Wow! What powerful voices and what a full orchestral sound supports this talented quartet of male singers. If you like dramatic, deep music like Andrea Bocelli, but also enjoy pop music, try Il Divo, their first, self-titled album.