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The Listening Room: Records, Podcasts and More

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Stephanie Leigh Hall

Playing for Change


Now calling the Gulf Coast home, this songbird is full of bluesy notes and southern twang. In between songs about love and life, two stand out the most to me. “The Burn,” with its jazzy, waltz-like rhythm that transports you to a smoky speakeasy, captures an authentic vintage vibe without leaning on tropes. And the closing song, “Move Over,” an acapella anthem with a simple rhythm, has roots deeper than recorded music history. Welcome to the area, Stephanie—can’t wait to hear what you do next.

– Nikki Hedrick

Nervous Pulp

The Fuzzy Orange EP

Pensacola alternative rockers deliver with their spunky debut EP. A culmination of styles and influences makes Nervous Pulp both unique and a little difficult to accurately describe. The Fuzzy Orange EP is a great moment for the new band as they work towards their goal of a full-length release. If you like high-energy, funky grooves and rock that’s a bit off the beaten path, give this band a spin.

– Nikki Hedrick


Maya Beiser, Ambient Orchestra

Bowie Cello Symphonic, Blackstar

Islandia Music

David Bowie passed away four years ago, a few days after the release of his final album, Blackstar. The album picked up a couple of posthumous Grammys, but Bowie might have appreciated Maya Beiser’s tribute even more. Cellist and composer Beiser has been described as “avant garde,” making her a perfect interpreter for the work of Bowie, himself an artistic adventurer and innovator. This album is a track for track “reimagining,” and it’s amazing to hear how finely a cello can evoke Bowie’s distinctive, often hypnotic, voice and style, while never lapsing into imitation. Think of it as Bowie Distilled.

– Bruce Collier



Kiwi jr., Football Money

Della Mae, Headlight

Bill Fay, Countless Branches

Pond Diver, Flashbacks. Straight outta Florence, Alabama, and soulful as hell.

Marcus King, El Dorado

Bombay Bicycle Club, Everything Else Has Gone Wrong

Pale Saints, The Comforts of Madness (30th Anniversary)

Carolyn Sampson – Minnesota Orchestra – Osmo Vanska, Mahler 4

– Chris Manson


On the first 2020 episodes of M*A*S*H Matters, co-host and longtime cast member Jeff Maxwell (Igor) welcomes the great Loretta Swit for a fascinating two-parter, in which the former Margaret “Hot Lips” Hoolihan shares behind-the-scenes anecdotes and somehow manages to work in a brief master class in acting.


It’s essential listening for fans of the TV series, as well as anyone who appreciates spending quality time with someone who loves animals, is passionate about her craft, and comes across as a genuinely kind soul.


PASTE used to be a print publication—they notably featured local singer-songwriter Gileah Taylor on one of their sampler CDs about a decade ago—but now exist solely in the digital universe. And they flood my inbox with about a dozen emails every day.


The PASTE Podcast is blessedly short—about half an hour and change—and I enjoyed the first episode of the year. PASTE’s editor and TV correspondent rave about Schitt’s Creek, the Eugene Levy-Catherine O’Hara comedy series that finally found a huge audience on Netflix, and now I feel compelled to catch up.


Elsewhere, two youngish gals gush about 2020’s upcoming music releases—they’re of the Fiona Apple-P.T. Anderson-Strokes can do no wrong stripe, but their enthusiasm comes off as genuine. The podcast closes with a live in-studio performance by the band American Authors, whose new tunes are pretty good.

– Chris Manson



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