Music

Hot Snakes is a rock 'n' roll band. Just the name alone — Hot Snakes — sounds like a weathered 45 from the Nuggets proto-punk era, when no one really knew what they were doing. When John Reis started Hot Snakes with Drive Like Jehu bandmate Rick Froberg in the early 2000s, that felt like the M.O.: plug in and play as loud as possible. In 2005, they broke up.

I have a soft spot for Yo La Tengo's curiosities, like the cloudy bossa nova shimmy of "How To Make A Baby Elephant Float" or the spelunking drones and gurgling rock improvisations heard on The Sounds Of The Sounds Of Science, which soundtracked a series of underwater documentaries.

We're dang near a quarter-century into the new millennium and George Clinton is still out here slingin' gut buckets of funk. At this point, the good Dr. Funkenstein is more than a living institution; he's half-man, half-amazing.

Beach Boy Brian Wilson has always urged folks to love their alma maters, but now he has an extra reason to let his own colors fly.

The original lineup of The Beach Boys — including brothers Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson along with their cousin Mike Love and friend Al Jardine — are among the notable alumni of Hawthorne High School in Los Angeles County, Calif. On Jan. 15, Brian Wilson visited his alma mater, Hawthorne High School in Hawthorne, Calif. (He hashtagged his visit #betruetoyourschool, natch.)

A story for the "slipped right by us" file: Michael Davenport, a former bassist for turn-of-the-century pop-punk stalwarts The Ataris, was indicted in December by the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Southern District of Illinois of allegedly defrauding an astounding number of people — some 100,000, in every U.S. state (and the District of Columbia) — of $27 million over a period of seven years. Davenport and a co-worker were scheduled to be arraigned in East St. Louis, Ill., on Wednesday.

When The Decemberists release I'll Be Your Girl on March 16, it'll be the band's eighth album — part of a 17-year career that's taken listeners through everything from wry folk to ambitious rock opera. If I'll Be Your Girl's first single is any indication, Colin Meloy and his band have used their new record as an opportunity to try new things and hit a few reset buttons along the way.

Edwin Hawkins' "Oh Happy Day" was an accidental hit. The song, a gospel-style rework of an 18th century hymn, starts with a jazzy drum beat and a kind of blues pop piano groove. Dorothy Morrison, who sings lead on the recording, remembers at first, the pop feel got a lukewarm reception from the church.

"At first the reaction was, 'Well, we're not sure,' " Morrison says.

By 1938, clarinetist Benny Goodman was already known as "The King of Swing" — the leader of the most popular dance band in America at a time when swing jazz was America's most popular music. But nobody knew how it would be received in Carnegie Hall, America's temple to classical music.

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