Home Read News Next Week in Music | Jan. 17-23 • New Books

Next Week in Music | Jan. 17-23 • New Books

Merle Haggard, Mac Miller and Mozart. Avicii, Aphex Twin and American songswriting. Echo and The Bunnymen, Elephant 6 — and everything else on next week’s reading list. Turn the page:


The Hag: The Life, Times, and Music of Merle Haggard
By Marc Eliot

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Merle Haggard was one of the most important country music musicians who ever lived. His astonishing musical career stretched across the second half of the 20th century and into the first two decades of the next, during which he released an extraordinary 63 albums, 38 that made it on to Billboard’s Country Top Ten, 13 that went to #1, and 37 #1 hit singles. With his ample songbook, unique singing voice and brilliant phrasing that illuminated his uncompromising commitment to individual freedom, cut with the monkey of personal despair on his back and a chip the size of Monument Valley on his shoulder, Merle’s music and his extraordinary charisma helped change the look, the sound, and the fury of American music. The Hag tells, without compromise, the extraordinary life of Merle Haggard, augmented by deep secondary research, sharp detail and ample anecdotal material that biographer Marc Eliot is known for, and enriched and deepened by over 100 new and far-ranging interviews. It explores the uniquely American life of an angry rebellious boy from the wrong side of the tracks bound for a life of crime and a permanent home in a penitentiary, who found redemption through the music of “the common man.” Haggard’s story is a great American saga of a man who lifted himself out of poverty, oppression, loss and wanderlust, to catapult himself into the pantheon of American artists admired around the world.”

Bunnyman: Post-War Kid to Post-Punk Guitarist of Echo and the Bunnymen
By Will Sergeant

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “This is the true story of one small boy, me, Will Sergeant, navigating the ’60s and ’70s, a woolly-back (hick) spawned one drunken night on the outskirts of a Nazi-pocked and battered Liverpool, growing up with the spectre of WW2 still creeping about most adults’ padlocked minds. I trudge on into a piss-wet 1970s, just as the pustules of teenage years approach popping point. It is a heady time of power cuts, strikes, flying pickets, bread shortages, skinhead gangs, IRA bomb scares, nuclear war fears, rock gigs, glam clothes, drowned motorbikes, explosives, dead-end jobs and the usual school lessons of chicken strangulation. With the help of music, I manage to navigate myself through the sinking sand of prog-rock and into the safety of punk. My boots still muddy with a bad attitude, I head into the winter of discontent to become a post-punk trailblazer worshipped all over the world as a god. Well, an inventive and influential guitarist of some note at the very least.”

Endless Endless: A Lo-Fi History of the Elephant 6 Mystery
By Adam Clair

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Years after its release, Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea remains one of the most beloved and best-selling albums in all of indie music, hailed as a classic so influential as to be almost synonymous with the ongoing vinyl revival. But despite its outsized impact, a question looms even larger: why did frontman Jeff Mangum, just as the record propelled him to the brink of music superstardom, choose instead to disappear entirely? The mystery has perplexed listeners for decades — until now. In barely two years, Neutral Milk Hotel rose from house-show obscurity in Athens, Georgia, to widespread hype and critical acclaim, selling out rock clubs across the country and gracing the tops of numerous year-end best-of lists. But just as his band was reaching the escape velocity necessary to ascend from indie rock success to mainstream superstar, Mangum hit the eject button. After the 1998 release of Aeroplane and a worldwide tour to support it, Mangum stopped playing shows, releasing new music, or even doing interviews. He never explained why, not even to his friends or colleagues, but thanks to both the strength of Aeroplane and his vexing decision to walk away from rock stardom, Neutral Milk Hotel’s impact only grew from there. In Endless Endless, Adam Clair finds the answer to indie rock’s biggest mystery, which turns out to be much more complicated and fascinating than the myths or popular speculation would have you believe. To understand Mangum and Neutral Milk Hotel and Aeroplane requires a deep dive into the unconventional inner workings of the mercurial collective from which they emerged, the legendary Elephant 6 Recording Company. Endless Endless details the rise and fall of this radical music scene, the lives and relationships of the artists involved and the colossal influence that still radiates from it, centered around the collective’s accidental figurehead, one of the most idolized and misunderstood artists in the world, presenting Mangum and his collaborators in vividly human detail and shining a light into the secret world of these extraordinary and aggressively bizarre artists.”

Tim: The Official Biography of Avicii
by Måns Mosesson

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Tim Bergling was a musical visionary who, through his sense for melodies, came to define the era when Swedish and European house music took over the world. But Tim Bergling was also an introverted and fragile young man who was forced to grow up at an inhumanly fast pace. After a series of emergencies resulting in hospital stays, he stopped touring in the summer of 2016. Barely two years later, he took his own life. Tim: The Official Biography of Avicii is written by the award-winning journalist Måns Mosesson, who through interviews with Tim’s family, friends and colleagues in the music business, has intimately gotten to know the star producer. The book paints an honest picture of Tim and his search in life, not shying from the difficulties that he struggled with.”

Most Dope: The Extraordinary Life of Mac Miller
By Paul Cantor

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Malcolm James McCormick was born on Jan. 19, 1992. He began making music at a young age and by 15 was already releasing mixtapes. One of the first true viral superstars, his early records earned him a rabid legion of diehard fans — as well as a few noteworthy detractors. But despite his undeniable success, Miller was plagued by struggles with substance abuse and depression, both of which fueled his raw and genre-defying music yet ultimately led to his demise. Through detailed reporting and interviews with dozens of Miller’s confidants, Paul Cantor brings you to leafy Pittsburgh, seductive Los Angeles, and frenzied New York, where you will meet Miller’s collaborators, producers, business partners, best friends, and even his roommates. Traveling deep into Miller’s inner circle, behind the curtain, the velvet ropes, and studio doors, Most Dope tells the story of a passionate, gifted young man who achieved his life’s ambition, only to be undone by his personal demons. Most Dope is part love letter, part cautionary tale, never shying away from the raw, visceral way Mac Miller lived his life.”

Straight No Chaser Sound Bites: A Cappella, Cocktails, and Cuisine
By Straight No Chaser

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “With 15 years in the music business, eight albums, and more than 1.5 million concerts tickets sold, Straight No Chaser treasure two things: family and food. Straight No Chaser Sound Bites features a collection of their favorite food and drink recipes combined with behind-the-scenes stories as they welcome their fans into the family. Formed in 1996 at Indiana University, Straight No Chaser’s story has been replete with twists and turns. Sound Bites deliciously recounts members’ memories of moments from an unlikely yet wonderful cascade of events that propelled forward their career of creating music, touring, and becoming part of countless family traditions. Steve, Jerome, Charlie, Randy, Walt, Mike, Jasper, Seggie and Tyler each offer their own (sometimes contradicting) stories of their adventures, as well as sensational recipes for cocktails, such as the Honey Lavender Greyhound, Grapefruit Jalapeño Cilantro Shrub and SN-Tini, and foods, including Choose Your Own Adventure risotto, Great Grandma Erma’s Apple Crisp, SNC M&C, Momma C’s Fried Chicken ― and many more. Straight No Chaser Sound Bites invites the group’s many fans, old and new, to celebrate the harmony of music, food, and drink in their own homes.”

Christian Death: Only Theatre of Pain: Photography by Edward Colver
By Christian Death, Nico B & Edward Colver

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Christian Death are an American deathrock band formed in Los Angeles in 1979 by Rozz Williams. Williams was joined by guitarist Rikk Agnew of the band Adolescents, with James McGearty on bass guitar and George Belanger on drums. This lineup was responsible for producing the band’s best-known work, their 1982 debut album Only Theatre of Pain, which was highly influential in the development of the style of music known as death rock as well as the American gothic scene. During this time legendary L.A. punk photographer Edward Colver befriended the band and shot Christian Death at a dozen of the band’s concerts in the L.A. area during a six-month period in 1981 and 1982, as well as photographing Rozz at his family home with the band (which was later used for the back cover of Only Theatre of Pain), and a session of iconic images at a cemetery in Pomona. Nico B edited an oversized hardcover book of Ed’s photos capturing those rare and never-before-seen moments, as well as the story of early Christian Death as told by Colver, surviving band members and others through new, exclusive interviews.”

You’ve Got So Many Machines, Richard!: An Anthology of Aphex Twin Poetry
By Rishi Dastidar & Aaron Kent

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “How do you explain a mystery? This opaque mythology is something that pervades a lot of the poems here, inspired by the sideways, the askew, the fables of Aphex Twin. This isn’t intended to be a discovery of who Aphex is, nor necessarily what he means to the contributors, rather an attempt to introduce the mythos and aura of Richard D. James. You won’t get to know Aphex Twin better through these poems, but you will be intrigued, all over again. The most emotional of musicians, this Aphex Twin anthology provides a reminder that brain and heart can get pulled at by the unexpected as much as the nostalgic familiar.”

Tania León’s Stride: A Polyrhythmic Life
By Alejandro L. Madrid

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Acclaimed composer, sought-after conductor, esteemed educator, tireless advocate for the arts — Tania León’s achievements encompass but also stretch far beyond contemporary classical music. Alejandro L. Madrid draws on oral history, archival work, and ethnography to offer the first in-depth biography of the artist. Breaking from a chronological account, Madrid looks at León through the issues that have informed and defined moments in her life and her professional works. León’s words become a starting ground — but also a counterpoint — to the accounts of the people in her orbit. What emerges is more than an extraordinary portrait of an artist’s journey. It is a story of how a human being reacts to the challenges thrown at her by history itself, be it the Cuban revolution or the struggle for civil and individual rights. Nuanced and multifaceted, Tania León’s Stride looks at the life, legacy, and milieu that created and sustained one of the most important figures in American classical music.”

Great Lives in Graphics: Mozart
By Button Books

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “You may already know that Mozart was a child prodigy, but did you know that he had a pet starling? Or that his letters are full of rhyming poo jokes? Great Lives in Graphics reimagines the lives of extraordinary people in vivid technicolor, presenting 250+ fascinating facts in a new and exciting way. It takes the essential dates and achievements of each person’s life, mixes them with lesser-known facts and trivia, and uses infographics to show them in a fresh visual way that is genuinely engaging for children and young adults. The result is a colorful, fascinating and often surprising representation of that person’s life, work and legacy. Using timelines, maps, repeated motifs and many more beautiful and informative illustrations, readers learn not just about the main subject of the book but also about the cultural background of the time they lived in.”

American Popular Song: The Great Innovators, 1900-1950
By Alec Wilder

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “When it was first published, Alec Wilder’s American Popular Song quickly became a classic and today it remains essential reading for countless musicians, lovers of American song, and fans of Alec Wilder. Now, in a 50th anniversary edition, popular music scholar Robert Rawlins brings the book fully up-to-date for the 21st century. Whereas previous editions featured only piano scores, the format has been changed to lead sheet notation with lyrics, making it accessible to a wider readership. Rawlins has also added more than sixty music examples to help complete the chapter on Irving Berlin. One of the most fascinating features of the original edition was Wilder’s inventive use of language, often revealing his strong and sometimes irreverent opinions. By and large, these have been left the way Wilder wrote them, but now also feature footnotes that clarify, elucidate, and even correct. moreover, a new chapter has been added, discussing several songs and composers including Duke Ellington and Fats Waller that Wilder might have well included but was not able to.”