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Katy Henriksen

KATY HENRIKSEN is the music editor for the Rumpus,

Hats, Staircases, and the Mystery of Fact

Reading The Ongoing Moment is like sitting down with Geoff Dyer to coffee at a corner diner just after accompanying him to a recent survey exhibit of 20th century American photography.

Politics: Celebrity of War

Well before Moazzam Begg was released in January 2005 from Guantánamo Bay, after spending three years in U.S. custody as an enemy combatant, he was portrayed in the play Guantánamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom (reviewed in the October 2004 Rail). While Begg couldn’t even talk to other detainees, actors were playing out his story on stages all over the world.

First Thought, Best Thought: Baby Dee Returns to Her Music

Dee had given up on music and had taken a different route in her hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. Her involvement in music began as a child when she took classical piano lessons. Later she found work as a music director for churches, released two full-length albums, and performed in a wide variety of circumstances. “I wanted to stop being an artist and I just sort of wanted to live like a regular person might live if they weren’t constantly filtering their life through this thing they call art, you know,” she explained over coffee at Rapture Cafe & Books, formerly the Karova Milk Bar, on Avenue A. “So I had my own tree business and did tree work for about four years.”

Indie Americana

More experimental than traditional, a number of recent releases have little in common except the wide-open spaces and haunted universes conveyed within.

Outsider Looking In DANIEL JOHNSTON: IS AND ALWAYS WAS (Eternal Yip Eye)

No discussion of Daniel Johnston’s music seems to be complete without liberal use of the terms “lo-fi,” “outsider artist,” or “mental illness.” Then there’s always the mention of his “sincerity.”


An image of a burning horse could be a symbol of many things, but with those self-devouring flames it’s a perfect metaphor for the combustible world of husband-and-wife collaborations.


“Chirpy,” “naive,” “dainty,” “breezy,” and “precious” are all words that were once heaped on in oversized portions to describe the sounds of Phylactery Factory, the first album 25-year-old Casey Dienel released as White Hinterland.

The End of the End-of-Year List

I do not consider myself a record collector. Stats are mostly lost on me. In other words, please don’t ask me to be your partner in trivia because you think I’ll be a huge asset when it comes to the music category: Despite the fact that I write a lot about music, I won’t be much help.

SHARON VAN ETTEN: Serendipity and Survival in Brooklyn

Sharon Van Etten’s New York story is serendipitous (a word she brought up multiple times to describe her trajectory) and could make a person jealous if it weren’t for her earnest and generous nature. When I caught up with her via phone she was running an errand somewhere in New Jersey in preparation for touring

Visitation Rites

I first heard I Feel Tractor at Matchless in 2005, less than a year after I’d moved to Greenpoint from Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Folktronica, or What Good is a Label?

In a micro-trended, niche-market-driven world, musical genres and subgenres are becoming more and more finely labeled to convey the multitude of options listeners have when seeking out new music.

The Rebirth of the Pool

There are four distinct views from within McCarren Pool. West through the giant archway stands the Russian Orthodox Church with its luminous domes.

Califone: Roots for the Twenty-First Century

Tim Rutili of Califone is used to being asked about the band’s uniquely American sensibility. Roots, after all, play a major part in their sound—their new album is titled Roots & Crowns. But these roots aren’t just American; the album title is actually an allusion to a novel by Robertson Davies, a Canadian writer with a long white beard and an aversion to word processors.

Burned-Out Factories, Hem, and the Brooklyn Pastoral

In December of 2004, my husband and I moved into a four-story, pre-war walk-up with unpolished wood stairs and aluminum-tiled ceilings on a two-block street in Greenpoint.

Newer, Weirder America:

While the media are busy hyping the latest addition to the freak folk movement, P. G. Six continues to churn out carefully wacky quasi-folk-infused musical experimentations that are not so easily classified. Slightly Sorry is the one-man band’s fourth studio album and the first to be released on Drag City.

The New New York Songstress

The New York songstress is not so easily defined. Breaking out of genres, blending formerly opposing sounds, she absorbs everything around her to invent a style that is completely distinct and as vast as the city itself.

Getting Down to Essentials

Although You Follow Me clocks in at under forty minutes, these ten delicately crafted first-person narrative songs have a staying power. “I didn’t want it to sound like a little record. I wanted it to sound really kind of forceful,” Nastasia said. From the pacing velocity of “I’ve Been Out Walking” through the closing notes of “I Come After You”—a dramatic, tiny little epic of a song—there’s not an extraneous note to be found on the album. With only a guitar, drums, and a single voice, Nastasia and White have crafted a sparse epic where tenderness, fury, and despair mesh seamlessly.

Indie Baroque

The cover of Les Ondes Silencieuses, the latest release by French experimental musician Colleen (neé Cecile Schott), features a black and white illustration of her playing the viola da gamba in an enchanted forest at night; inside she’s depicted playing the spinet.

The Thrill of Confinement: Bonnie "Prince" Billy

Will Oldham was in Oahu when I called him from my home in Fayetteville, Arkansas. “I brought my mother here for the harshest month of February,” he explained. I heard the coo of exotic-sounding birds in the background, which made for an awkward juxtaposition against the buzzing chorus of chainsaws outside my window.


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2023

All Issues