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Dazzling musical moments of an otherwise terrible year.

Nobody had a good 2020, but if you want to know who had it really bad, talk to a working musician. Already squeezed to the limits by a combination of pernicious forces, artists had their primary revenue stream cut off at the knees this year. Unable to tour (and by extension, sell merch) it was an incredibly rough year to be someone who writes songs for a living.

And yet...

In the midst of a compounding catastrophe, our balladeers and troubadours, producers, players and vocalists managed to pull another rabbit out of a bag many considered empty. 2020 has been…

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Genre implosion, teenage devotion.

You hear it first at a house party.

It’s that liquid dusk of adolescence, where cliques coalesce quickly. Binge drinkers on the balcony, smokers in the backyard. In the parents’ study, the early adopters are figuring out how to fashion a bong from a Gatorade bottle. And here in the bedroom, where the only functioning Hi-Fi system is, are the rockers.

You’re not sure if you’re a rocker yet. One foot in either camp, seeing what the girls gravitate towards. Always the crowd pleaser, trying on 50 Cent for size one minute, skipping over to Red Hot Chili Peppers the…

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Our uncertain future of self-curation

I have a recurring nightmare in which all of my Spotify playlists have been deleted.

As someone who’s been fanatic about recorded music since he could request CD singles for his 9th birthday, this makes some semblance of sense. Music fans of my generation have witnessed more seismic changes to formats — in less time — than any before us. It took about twenty years for society to move from tapes to CDs, but only half of that for us to go through mp3 players, Napster, iPods, iTunes and streaming services.

Growing up, our family’s electronics drawer was filled with…

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‘Blood makes you related. Loyalty makes you family.’

Sacred texts are really just stories we tell each other, codified through conversation over thousands of years, so there’s no reason to believe the same won’t happen with Fast & Furious. In Judaism, the Old Testament is roughly diced up into five segments before we bow out and hand over the torch to Christianity. Fast & Furious realistically makes it to seven films before the wheels start to fall off, but even the early demise of the group’s metaphorical Jesus doesn’t stop them meting out biblical battles (F8 & The Furious, 2017)…

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One thing I enjoy about being someone that works with musicians is that this is an industry could innovate its way out of a paper bag. It’s been at the forefront of digital disruption for decades, faced multiple threats to its entire existence and still managed to survive. The people that work in music are not only the most passionate, but also some of the brightest.

But here’s the thing: live and recorded music are different — and always will be. We’re currently in the midst of a new golden age of mechanical exploitation; the streaming boom, deep back catalogues…

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Photo credit: Benedikt Frank for BRICK Magazine

Finding home with Africa’s ARIA-winning first lady of hip-hop

The vast multitudes of Sampa The Great sit cross-legged in a meeting room at Ninja Tune’s South London office, sipping lemon tea to preserve her voice. Formerly known as Sampa Tembo, this swarm of spirits has become many things to many people since leaving her native Botswana. Her identity, history and soul have been pinned down and scrubbed over so many times that it’s sometimes hard to know who wrote which words first.

It is these many Sampas that make Sampa The Great, a title she conferred upon them at the grand age of seven in her childhood Zambia. “I…

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The running joke in our family is that having had and recovered from Covid-19 has given us a superpower — now we would like to use it

This piece was originally published on Guardian Australia.

We were supposed to be getting married today. We came back to Australia from the UK for our big moment. Right now, we’re finding other things more exciting. Unable to walk down the aisle or even leave the house, driving ourselves to St Vincent’s hospital for our coronavirus PCR tests is as wild as it gets around here.

For those fortunate enough not to have had one of these yet, imagine a cotton bud being rammed up your nose, somewhere close to the region of your brain. Now multiply that by your…

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the sirens, they aren’t coming for me
4am lie awake but it’s easy to see
through the crumbling darkness
who their quarry is likely to be

the sirens, they pierce the flesh and mind
leave me twitchy, jittery all of the time
cropdusting dopplers wax and wane
stoking a fear undefined

the sirens, they’re coded in binary
angels of death shriek, they swoop over me
hungry only for firstborn sons
owned and raised by the streets

the sirens, they signal your colour’s a crime or rather it isn’t if you’re talking ‘bout mine a pigmented wheel of fortune odds stacked…

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The One Song of The Year, 2019.

Hard work gathering them all together, but somehow, he managed to do it. The invitations couldn’t be sent by post; he didn’t know where half of them actually lived and besides, asking for addresses would seem suspicious. And so he did as he’d always done, showing up at their places of work with crisp envelopes, freshly licked, sealed and smoothed over again, delivered directly into their hands.

He’d written each name in thick black script using a Sharpie he’d stolen from an office he didn’t remember working at. Covered them in festive stickers from the post office like he was…

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The tunes that brought us closer in a year full of division

2019 has been an out of control, raging bin fire of a year, both politically and environmentally. As it staggers to a close, it seems like the first time many of us are actively worried about what the next year holds. But in the wake of all this wanton and catastrophic destruction of our democracies, our planet and our belief that Tarantino still makes good films, comes a glimmer of hope.

Music has not been this good for years. Freed of significant industry debt, creatively buoyed by new formats and unpredictable release schedules, 2019 proved to be the year that…

jonathan seidler.

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