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The Best of the Less

Cliff Chenfeld, who is a Co-CEO of Razor & Tie and Kidz Bop and a contributor to Huffington Post, offers a list of almost 50 pieces of music — the term “album” seems more and more antiquated — that he liked this year.

The tips are good, I’m sure. This part of his intro is particularly interesting:

There is an amazing amount of good music being made now, probably more than ever. However, I wish more great music was released. The turbulence of the music business has led to fewer opportunities for major mainstream success and has caused artists to focus on maintaining a loyal on-line audience. There are a number of incredibly talented artists who are probably reluctant to write for a broader audience because of fear of alienating their loyal fan base. We could use more ambitious artists who want to make powerful, memorable music for the larger public.

In a way, this echoes the rationale behind this site (though I tend to deal with older material): The way music is distributed today leads to fewer serendipitous accidents in which folks stumble upon music they love. Indeed, the list itself is a case in point: I doubt that many people would recognize more than a handful of the artists Chenfeld mentions.

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Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.