Arts & Culture

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Depending on who you are and how your heart is built, you might know this modus operandi well: it's easier to be nice to other people than to yourself. If that's an idea you can relate to, you'll find something in common with Erika Wennerstrom. She says each song on her new album Sweet Unknown is a mantra about being kinder to yourself.

It's getting easier to find top-notch, handcrafted whiskey, bourbon, vodka, and other spirits made in the U.S. With more than 1,500 craft distillers across the country, the American spirits movement is on the rise, and in Vermont, the industry is booming.

Over the past 15 years, the number of licensed distilleries in the Green Mountain State has increased nearly tenfold: from just three to more than 24, according to Vermont's Distilled Spirits Council.

In the annals of American culture, Kendrick Lamar's unprecedented Pulitzer win in music for DAMN. will stand alongside a recent influx of hip-hop firsts: Jay-Z's 2017 induction into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame, LL Cool J's 2017 Kennedy Center Honors and the entire slew of artists who — to paraphrase a George Clinton classic — helped paint the White House rap during Obama's presidency.

Crank "Up The Street" to a volume that shakes the dust from your creaky bones. Made stiff from years of rock and roll neglect, you are now redeemed by the nasty howl and stomp of Rat the Magnificent. Hallelujah and hot damn.

Wyatt Cenac knows his aesthetic, and his aesthetic seems to be "PBS in the 1970s."

The logo of his new HBO series Wyatt Cenac's Problem Areas looks precisely like the public television of a couple decades ago, with its friendly-looking sans serif lowercase letters in earthy colors. The set is the same way, looking much like one that a host might have wandered around to talk about the beginnings of the world or the ways of the penguin.

Just a year ago, after sifting through almost seven-thousand video entries to the Tiny Desk Contest, we discovered Tank and the Bangas. The band would go on to win the Contest and the response was one of overwhelming joy. The way this New Orleans group blends hip-hop, R&B, poetry, jazz and rock is unlike anything I'd seen before and I wasn't alone.

If you grew up in Texas, chances are you've heard the old joke about the man teaching his son about good manners. "Never ask a man if he's from Texas," the father said. "If he is, he'll tell you. And if he's not, there's no use in embarrassing him."

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Nandi Rose Plunkett is a seeker. As frontwoman of synth-pop outfit Half Waif, Plunkett writes songs that travel profoundly inward — asking questions about who we are and how we relate to each other — over beds of electronic instrumentation that expand and recede like ocean tides. There is a darkness that cuts through Half Waif's songs, hinting at a searching that is often born of loss and struggle.

First Listen: Liz Brasher, 'Outcast'

21 hours ago

Getting to know a new artist's music can feel like falling in love. One's senses are awakened, and every nuance is noted and internalized. When it comes to Liz Brasher, this is especially true, as each layer brings forth new things to ponder. There is, first, the remarkable instrument of her voice, which can deliver a power-pop howl as easily as it croons a stormy country ballad. Then the guitar captures you, at once crunchy and percussive.

Many years ago, at a party where I was very drunk, I asked a much-desired woman of my friendly acquaintance what it was like to be pretty.

Fifty years ago, Johnny Cash performed at Folsom State Prison in Folsom, Calif. The January 1968 concert and live album it produced, At Folsom Prison, helped revitalize Cash's career, inspiring him to testify for prison reform and cementing his reputation as a voice for the downtrodden.

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