Arts & Culture

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Gabriel Garzón-Montano is one of the most promising new artists of 2017. His full-length debut on Los Angeles label Stones Throw, Jardín, is a solid listen from front to back, and his sexy, soulful songs have been a favorite on KCRW's airwaves. He and his drummer performed our current favorite, "Crawl," live in our studio.

SET LIST

  • "Crawl"

Photo: Larry Hirshowitz/KCRW.

Whatever else you might say about the themes of La La Land — that it's a film about the ins and outs of young romance, or the pros and cons of creative ambition, or the movie musical as a renewable art form, or the culture of Hollywood, or the state of jazz (more on that in a sec) — you'd have to acknowledge the line it draws between illusion and disillusion.

adamrafferty.com

Finger-style guitar players can run the gamut of genres - from rock to jazz , R&B to country and even classical.  Guitarist Adam Rafferty has a knack for being able to put his own distinctive stamp on many of those genres.

"I pick songs where I feel comfortable with the melody and I know they're winners," says Rafferty. "If something's got a great melody and a great grove, it's a winner."

On Wednesday, as protesters near the Dakota Access Pipeline began to break down their shelters and leave the area, Brooklyn singer Holly Miranda released a song, a cover of an obscure late-'70s science-fictional folk song, that she'd been working on for two months in support of those leaving.

What's in a name? A lot, according to a new study from researchers at Ryerson University and the University of Toronto, both in Canada.

From its very beginnings, country music has scarcely lacked for songs about Jesus — you could fill several box sets with them and barely scratch the surface. But thanks to rising Texan alt-country songsmith Jason Eady's "Barabbas," the shadowy figure whose presence is crucial to Christ's tale is getting a rare shot at the spotlight.

Bad stand-up comedy is, for everyone involved, a special kind of hell. There's really nothing worse than the awkwardness that ensues when a comic bombs in front of a restive audience at an open-mic night, half of whom have been dragged there against their will in the first place. Great comedians have made enduring art and even changed society; all bad comedians have ever done is made people hurry out of a bar with their gin-and-tonics half finished.

Buried somewhere in the fathoms of YouTube is a recent clip of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, apparently filmed with a smartphone in Santiago de Cuba. The band, synonymous with the ebullient spirit of New Orleans, is playing a staple of its book, Professor Longhair's "Go to the Mardi Gras." What's notable about this version of the song, from December of 2015, is the punchy assist provided by some Cuban percussionists, who fall right into step with its second-line groove.

If you've found yourself with little taste for sniping in recent days and a serious thirst for entertainment that's satisfying and warm, you're not alone. I've heard this from an awful lot of folks in the last couple of months. And while there are lots of places to go to find what you're looking for if this is the headspace you're in, one place is the terrific Charleston season of Top Chef that's about to wrap up. The penultimate episode is Thursday night, and the finale is in a week.

For nearly 20 years, Little Big Town's members have plugged away through label troubles, divorces and the death of loved ones, but they've never endured a lineup change.

For nearly a century, people have reported mysterious epidemics of permanent paralysis in rural regions of Africa. In 1990, Hans Rosling a Swedish epidemiologist and pop-star statistician, who died of pancreatic cancer earlier this month, linked the malady to cyanide in the staple crop, cassava.

I got carsick reading Stephen O'Shea's The Alps, much of which involves navigating one "neurotic noodle of a road" after another as he twists his way up and down mountains in pursuit of the highs and lows of Alpine history. Reading about his umpteenth hairpin turn, I found myself whining, "Are we almost there?"

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

An air of nonchalance hangs over Talaboman's debut album. To read producers John Talabot and Axel Boman describe their collaboration, there's not much to it: just "a Catalan and a Swede talking blip blop until we felt that we had something worth saying." As for which thematic platitudes might best describe that "something," the underwhelming admissions — "a journey to reach our subconscious," to "push imagination," "open your mind," the realization that "love is all this world needs" — all make a decent case that sometimes the "blip blop" should speak for itself.

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