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.

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Music Reviews
10:59 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 12:19 pm

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
12:57 pm
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 8:32 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
11:34 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 11:09 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
12:06 pm
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 12:58 pm

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
12:14 pm
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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Music Reviews
11:38 am
Thu June 7, 2012

Paying Tribute To San Francisco DJ Cheb I Sabbah

Cheb i Sabbah.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sun June 10, 2012 7:53 am

Cheb i Sabbah's life traces an almost fairy-tale perfect path through the evolution of what's now called world music. Born in Algeria in 1947, he absorbed the Judeo-Arabic Andalusian music of his local culture before he joined the '60s rebellion and became a 17-year-old DJ playing soul 45s in Paris. By the end of the decade, he'd moved to New York and become friends with trumpeter Don Cherry, famous for his association with Ornette Coleman and a pioneer in the concept of multicultural music.

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Music Reviews
11:27 am
Mon April 30, 2012

A Sure-Footed Collection Of 'African Blues'

Originally published on Mon April 30, 2012 5:18 pm

I have to hand it to the Putumayo label. Since it started as a soundtrack-provider to a clothing store in the early '90s, the operation has placed racks of CDs with friendly-primitivist art by Nicola Heindl into Starbucks and Whole Foods everywhere. Putumayo is as responsible as anything for making music buyers ask "Where's the world music section?" in shops or online.

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Music Reviews
10:10 am
Thu April 19, 2012

From Dominican Roots, Bachata Is Here To Stay

Joan Soriano.
Alicia Santistevan

Originally published on Thu April 19, 2012 10:39 am

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Music Reviews
7:22 am
Thu March 1, 2012

Hugh Masekela: Wedding Songs That Don't Sound Blue

Hugh Masekela.
courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue March 27, 2012 7:50 am

In 1968, Hugh Masekela was not quite 30 years old and though he was in exile from his homeland of South Africa, he seemed ready to become at home on the American jazz and pop markets. That summer, he had scored a number one single, "Grazing in the Grass." A year earlier, he'd been one of the few international performers at the 1967 Monterrey International Pop Festival and had appeared in its D.A. Pennebaker documentary. Yet strangely enough, over the next 45 years Masekela never quite found his sweet spot.

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