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NPR and black music

Posted by Christopher Shea  October 14, 2009 04:03 PM

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As a recent convert to (and an ambivalent fan of) the All Songs Considered podcast, despite its incorrigibly white-indie perspective,* I feel well qualified to judge this post by music critic Jody Rosen an absolute triumph.

When I listen to that podcast, I often have a fantasy that involves some sludge-metal band tramping into the studio, plugging in, and blasting Bob Boilen out of his Feelies-adoring trance. (Paging Baroness? Dethklok?) Carrie Brownstein, late of Sleater-Kinney, sometimes appears as a guest, and she succeeds in injecting not only wit but also some non-obvious, non-mellow song selections. (Example: Lightning Bolt.) Yet even her brand of sonic adventurism is, well, kinda white. Not that there's …

So does NPR dislike black music? Far from it, says Rosen. It fully embraces black music that fits comfortably within the DORF Matrix, a Rosen coinage. Read and learn.

Well-placed criticisms aside, you really should sample all of the streamed goodies at NPR.org/music, which include jazz and classical offerings, too. (Disclosure: I used to help write an NPR classical-music show, before NPR stopped doing classical music shows, and still know a few people there.)

*For those not up on the current white-indie canon, think: Bon Iver, Thom Yorke, The Mountain Goats, Radiohead, Built to Spill, Thom Yorke, The Flaming Lips, Arcade Fire, and Neko Case. Did I mention Thom Yorke?

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