Milo Miles

Milo Miles is Fresh Air's world-music and American-roots music critic. He is a former music editor of The Boston Phoenix.

Miles is a contributing writer for Rolling Stone magazine, and he also writes about music for The Village Voice and The New York Times.

Music
12:00 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Golem Ain't Your Grandparents' Klezmer

The New York City band Golem describe their music as punk-klezmer. Music critic Milo Miles says that on the group's new album, Tanz, they mange to find new ways to balance urban irreverence with folk tradition.

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Music Reviews
12:47 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Fight Sound With Sound: Grateful Dead's Arena Combat

Dave's Picks Volume 9 features a 1974 Grateful Dead concert played in Montana.
Courtesy of the artist

The same week that Neil Young introduced his Pono music player designed to spark a huge boost in audio fidelity, I listened for the first time to a recording of a Grateful Dead concert I attended almost 40 years ago. And I realized that passions about good-sounding music go through cycles. Today, the lo-fi medium is MP3s through earbuds.

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Music Reviews
1:15 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Before He Joined Congress, A South African Janitor's Disco Past

Penny Penny.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 2:12 pm

The appearance of Penny Penny's Shaka Bundu in the American market is welcome not only in itself, but also as a sign of a larger trend. Five or six years ago, it was clear the music business was going into long-term sales decline, and I was certain that a prime victim of that would be African pop. The established imports of the '80s and '90s would be available as MP3 downloads, but surely new discoveries and reissues would slow to a trickle, if not cease altogether. I'm grateful that that has simply not happened.

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Music Reviews
10:04 am
Mon November 25, 2013

Will The Real Llewyn Davis Please Stand Up?

Dave Van Ronk at the 1968 Philadelphia Folk Festival.
Diana Davies Courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways

Originally published on Mon November 25, 2013 11:15 am

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Music Reviews
1:32 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

Europe Swings The Body Electric

The members of Caravan Palace are practitioners of electro-swing.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 2:46 pm

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Music Reviews
10:40 am
Tue July 16, 2013

Sylvester: 'Mighty Real' Disco Star Deserves A Modern Spotlight

Sylvester's 1978 album Step II resulted in a couple of smash singles, "Dance (Disco Heat)" and "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)."
Fantasy Archives

Originally published on Tue July 16, 2013 1:29 pm

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Music Reviews
7:48 am
Thu May 30, 2013

Festival Au Desert: Music Of Peace Not Silenced By War

Tartit performs at the Festival au Desert.
Chris Nolan Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri May 31, 2013 6:20 am

Long ago, one of my college history professors hammered home a durable truth: "If you love art," she said, "you should hate war." Because some art is always among war's victims.

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Music Reviews
9:02 am
Mon February 4, 2013

Yo La Tengo: Decades In And Far From Fading

Yo La Tengo's new album is titled Fade.
Carlie Armstron Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon February 4, 2013 10:19 am

Yo La Tengo wouldn't seem to be very rock 'n' roll, given that it's a very stable and long-lasting operation. Since 1991, the lineup has consisted of a married couple — drummer Georgia Hubley and guitarist Ira Kaplan, along with bassist James McNew — and all three play additional instruments as needed. Yo La Tengo has been with the same label, Matador, since 1993. But if the band lacks rock dramatics, I would argue that it knows as much about the modes and manners of rock 'n' roll as anyone who has ever played the music.

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Music Reviews
10:57 am
Wed December 19, 2012

Tunes To 'Work Hard, Play Hard, Pray Hard' To

Music by guitarist Fields Ward appears in the new collection Work Hard, Play Hard, Pray Hard: Hard Time, Good Time & End Time Music, 1923-1936.
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 6:32 pm

The first thing to note about the collection of old-timey music Work Hard, Play Hard, Pray Hard is that it resulted from a record-discovery event that happens less and less often, and soon will likely never happen again. The music was recorded between 1923 and 1936. Most of the sides on the set are taken from 78s collected by the late Don Wahle of Louisville, Ky., and rescued from Dumpster destruction in 2010 by compiler Nathan Salsburg. Nineteen of the songs have never been reissued. Piles of moldy vinyl left behind by the deceased were once commonplace. No longer.

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Music Reviews
9:34 am
Thu November 8, 2012

Samuel Yirga Ushers In A Golden Age Of Ethiopian Music

Samuel Yirga plays Ethiopian standards with a voracious talent that helps him savor each musical flavor.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri November 9, 2012 9:09 am

Ethiopia enjoys a rich tradition of enticing music, filled with asymmetric rhythms set to a haunting, five-note scale and sly double-entendre lyrics in the Amharic language. It's a shame that, for Western listeners, a full, clear picture of Ethiopian music has been elusive.

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Music Reviews
10:06 am
Tue September 25, 2012

Analog Players Society: A Party Cooked Up In A Studio

The Analog Players Society was assembled by a producer and percussionist in his mid-30s who calls himself Amon.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue September 25, 2012 10:58 am

Albums made by collections of professional studio players once had a bad reputation with the traditional rock audience. Such works were supposedly arid and chilly — more like the results of a board meeting than the recorded adventure of an organic group of fabulous friends. Some music fans may still feel that way, but they are few. Nowadays, a tight-knit gaggle of session musicians like the Analog Players Society gets points from traditionalists simply because the music is made by flesh and blood.

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Music
10:14 am
Tue July 31, 2012

Boban i Marko Markovic: Irresistible Party Music

Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar performs onstage in 2008.
Roger Kisby Getty Images

A dozen years ago, if someone told me that one of the liveliest, most inventive party albums of the year would come from a band originally associated with wedding celebrations and beer festivals, I would have been all, "Yeah, sure, you bet." If it was further explained that the band's roots were much closer to polka than rock, funk or hip-hop, I would have responded, "Don't push it." But nowadays, I'm familiar with the Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar, whose retrospective Golden Horns will lighten the heart and lift the feet as surely as anything you'll hear in 2012.

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