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Recess interviews: Cory Rayborn of Three Lobed Recordings

(09/20/17 1:07pm)

Cory Rayborn, Trinity ‘98, works as a business lawyer by day, but for the last 17 years he has also single-handedly run a record label out of his home in High Point, N.C. With Three Lobed Recordings, Rayborn has incubated a roster of experimental musicians that spans from Philadelphia to the Triangle area, and he’s remained close to his alma mater with an annual day show at Raleigh’s Hopscotch Music Festival co-presented by Duke’s radio station WXDU. I got on the phone with Rayborn to talk about his years at Duke and his experiences with Three Lobed. The following interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Duke Players parody 'The Glass Menagerie' in orientation show

(08/30/17 4:02am)

Along with “The Great Gatsby,” “Hamlet” and “Fahrenheit 451,” Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie” is a nearly inescapable element of most high school English curricula. The play, originally produced in 1944, centers around the story of Laura, a sickly and shy daughter obsessed with her collection of glass animals, whose mother Amanda seeks to find her a “gentleman caller” with the help of Tom, Laura’s brother. 

Is the festival bubble bursting?

(07/19/17 4:00am)

One of the first sights a visitor to the Shaky Knees Music Fest sees upon rounding the corner into Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park—after, of course, the high-tech security lines, lest someone smuggle in some outside food or drink—is an oversized Popeye’s chicken leg, placed conspicuously amid the various food vendors in the middle of the park. Walk a little further in and you’ll hear the cries of Coca Cola salespeople imploring you to grab an “ice cold Coke” on the way to your next show, just across from the giant selfie camera that ominously reads “smile, you’re on camera” underneath a graphic of a blinking, all-seeing eye. (Naturally, the whole display is sponsored by Ford.)

The art of the cover: 5 songs that improve on the originals

(06/21/17 4:00am)

The cover song, now such a staple of rock music, has had a complicated history, one entangled with the questions surrounding copyright law and the spread of musical ideas. In the mid-twentieth century—back when the common understanding of a "song" was wholly distinct from a definitive recording—the cover song was inseparable from its undertones of racism and cultural appropriation: major labels would release covers of songs by black artists, now performed by white artists, in order to compete with them on the charts, sometimes just weeks after the original single's release. Recently, covers have a markedly less cynical reputation, serving as homages to an artist's biggest influences. The choice of a song to cover is a telling one for a band, ranging from ironic, winking appreciation to a more experimental reinterpretation of past hits. And it's a good rule of thumb that a successful cover song must do something new with its source material—it must stand as an artifact all to its own. Many critics cite Jimi Hendrix's 1968 rendition of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" as a consummate example of a cover that transcends the original song. But beyond Hendrix, here are five covers that go above and beyond in their reinterpretation of the rock canon.

Finding the Gardens

(06/05/17 4:10am)

My first phone interview for the Chronicle was scheduled for 9 a.m. on a Friday morning. Taking pains not to wake my roommate barely a week into our living arrangement, I slipped out of my dorm and over to West Campus ahead of my first class. I set out for the quietest place I knew in my short time at Duke, somewhere I was sure not to be bothered at that hour: the Gardens.

Shaky Knees 2017: LCD Soundsystem and Slowdive take Atlanta

(06/05/17 4:12am)

The last year has been a good one for old artists looking to make a comeback. A number of the acclaimed acts of yesteryear thought to have called it quits for good are embarking on reunion tours, more-than-a-reunion tours and new music from the studio, perhaps taking advantage of the relative open range of the industry in a digital world. In this decade alone, we’ve seen the returns of My Bloody Valentine, The Jesus & Mary Chain, The Avalanches and A Tribe Called Quest, to name a small few.

Moogfest 2017: Hannibal Buress and Flying Lotus talk music, creative process

(06/05/17 4:00am)

On Moogfest’s third day in Durham, Flying Lotus joined comedian Hannibal Buress and DJ Tony Trimm for a conversation about the producer’s creative process and multi-faceted career. Just two nights prior, Buress had surprised fans with an appearance before Talib Kweli’s headlining set Thursday. His unexpected stint in Durham capped off the festival Sunday with a stand-up set at Motorco Music Hall, and he provided Saturday’s conversation a jolt of levity and comic relief. Joined by Trimm, who also co-hosts Buress’s podcast “The Handsome Rambler,” Buress’s quick wit drove a brief yet entertaining talk that felt more like a conversation between three friends than a formal discussion.

‘Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return’ in the age of TV reboots

(04/26/17 4:07am)

After years of whispers, rumors and a hefty Kickstarter fund, “Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return” dropped onto the screens of Netflix subscribers everywhere April 14. The original series from which it was born, “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” became a cult classic in the 1990s with its simple premise: Put three people in a theater with an awful movie, and watch them make fun of it. (To give an idea of the show’s ironic universe, these three people—one human and two robots, specifically—just happen to be aboard a spaceship controlled by mad scientists who use dreadful B-movies as a form of torture.)

Moogfest, a celebration of music and technology, prepares for second year in Durham

(04/19/17 4:05am)

“One doesn’t hear much talk of synthesizers here,” the electronic music pioneer Robert Moog said of western North Carolina, shortly after moving there in 1977. Coming from the urban bustle of New York City, this was a major change of scenery for the inventor—one that, to his estimation, enabled him to better understand the electronic music scene from the outside in.

Recess interviews: The New Pornographers' Carl Newman

(04/26/17 3:59am)

The New Pornographers play at Raleigh's Lincoln Theatre May 1, fresh off the release of their seventh album “Whiteout Conditions.” It’s the first album by the indie group to be written entirely by frontman Carl Newman, and it’s also the first without Dan Bejar, lead singer of Destroyer. The Chronicle talked to Newman about the new record and the political climate that influenced it. The following interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Who is Will Ye? A conversation with Duke’s 'meme guy'

(04/12/17 4:01am)

Finding a picture of Will Ye is a difficult task. The first-year student, who in his short time at Duke has amassed something of a cult following through the Facebook meme-sharing group “Duke Memes for Gothicc Teens,” has made invisibility a defining feature of his online presence. His profile video, a blurry childhood photo that alternately gyrates and zooms in on itself in a dizzying, infinite loop, has taken on iconic proportions within the group. For those who don’t know him personally, it’s the only evidence of a human behind the prolific sharing.

A moment of appreciation for the much-maligned compact disc

(03/08/17 4:58am)

In today’s music market, listeners are often presented with a false dichotomy between two formats. On one hand, there is streaming. The now-ever-present product of the Internet that, despite the questions surrounding its ethics, has quickly succeeded both MP3 downloads and physical purchases as the most popular source of music for casual and serious listeners alike. On the other hand, there’s the analog counter-revolution, whose most observable result has been a Crosley turntable in every college student’s dorm. I find myself attempting to identify either as a forward-looking music fan in a digital world or as a purist still intent on building my record collection in the face of an industry that has left its values behind.