Musicians tend to attract quirky nicknames, and more than a few of them stick for life. Louis Armstrong was Satchmo, Coleman Hawkins was Bean, Charlie Parker was Bird, and Lester Young was known as Prez or Tickle Toe. Sometimes they take over an artist's identity. When Furry Lewis was asked in the 1970s how he came to be known as "Furry", he responded that he couldn't remember anymore. In this mix, I'll go through five of my favorite musicians with cool sobriquets. Of course, I'm leaving a lot of people off of this list, but here are a few of the really outstanding ones.
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Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter

Huddie Lead Belly LedbetterHuddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter was a crucial figure bridging blues music and folk music. Bob Dylan joked that he's probably the only convicted murderer to record a popular children's album. Born in 1888, Lead Belly was in and out of prison for much of his life for a murder and an attempted murder, yet his musical talents earned him repeated pardons. He was a human jukebox, able to play in numerous different styles based on what his audiences wanted and was proficient on six-string guitar, twelve-string guitar, and the accordion. When John Lomax "discovered" him, he secured release his release from prison and employed him as a driver while Lead Belly established himself in the New York musical scene. He became famous rather quickly, and he toured Europe before his death in 1948. His records have been reprinted numerous times since then, and he has been covered by rock acts from Creedence Clearwater Revival and Bob Dylan to Nirvana. Lead Belly's nickname has numerous possible explanations, none of them definitive. One theory held that he was shot with a shotgun in the stomach and survived -- a possibility given his violent life. Another theory is that he earned the nickname drinking the homemade liquor inmates offered him in prison. Among his most famous songs, "Midnight Special" stands out and has been covered numerous times. "Goodnight Irene" is another song he helped to popularize. Finally, "Boll Weevil" is another great Lead Belly song about the Boll Weevil epidemic that ravaged the cotton-growing regions of the South.1 Lead Belly - "Midnight Special" [audio:/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Lead-Belly_Midnight-Special.mp3|titles=Midnight Special] Lead Belly - "Goodnight Irene" [audio:/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Lead-Belly_Goodnight-Irene.mp3|titles=Goodnight Irene] Lead Belly - "Boll Weevil" [audio:/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Lead-Belly_Boll-Weevil-Song.mp3|titles=Boll Weevil]  
tUnE-yArDs - Water Fountain Music Video tUnE-yArDs - Water Fountain Music Video
An appropriate follow-up to our feature on Experimental Music on Children's TV, Nor-Cal powerhouse Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs leads listeners into similar notalgic territories with the music video for "Water Fountain". With the aid of director Joel Kefali, the group explores nostalgic backdrops of children's television shows, incorporating everything from dance routines and 8-bit animations to Peewee's Playhouse-style puppetry and hoaky scientists. In the Q&A below, Kefali speaks to the ease of working with Garbus and company as well as the benefits of mixing media.
tUnE-yArDs - Water Fountain Music Video tUnE-yArDs - Water Fountain Music Video
"Pop music shouldn't always get a bad rap," says Top Pops!, a recurring selection of indie pop highlights across a selection of styles, updated every month to keep you on your dancing, shaking toes.
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Mirah - "Radiomind" (Absolute Magnitude Recordings)

Mirah: a staple of female indie rock of the early aughts, especially in the Pacific Northwest. Mentions of her have fallen off in the recent past, but with her latest record, Changing Light, Mirah steps solo back into the limelight after nearly five years of shying away from it. The sentiments are complex, as evidenced by album singles like "Radiomind", which expresses both lightness and weightlessness, and "Oxen Hope", which delves into doubts and heartbreak. Yet all might seem well, when we hear her sing the words she sings in "Radiomind":
"Now all the days and nights that I'm dreaming I get to breathe the breath you're breathing It's been a long way back to believing someone Can love me and the radio of my mind
Changing Light will be self-released on May 13th, 2014, via her own label, Absolute Magnitude, with support from her own home, K Records.  
Sometimes words can take on more profound meaning when spoken by complete strangers, and regardless of whether this is the intention behind the music video for Cloud Boat's "Carmine", this is indeed the effect. Directed by Chris Toumazou, this video is executed in a simple laundromat setting and carried by the lipsyncing of a number of ordinary yet expressive characters, which seem to lend weight to the emotional gravitas of Tom Clarke's vocals. Cloud Boat consists of Sam Ricketts and Tom Clarke, and their upcoming record, Model of You, comes out July 8th on Apollo Records.
Shy Girls - Voyeur's Gaze Music Video
Talk about perfection in voyeurism! This music video for Shy Girls "Voyeur's Gaze", directed by Tony Lowe and featuring Chez Deep drag collective's Bailey Stiles, is a one-take that's all about the setting. Drawing inspiration from Russian webcam rooms, its aesthetic combines those cyber antics with the lives and times of many a boy-crazy teenage girl, to create a hazy wonderland full of stuffed animals and soft pastels. Read on, as Tony Lowe and Bailey Stiles give some words about self-love and empowerment.
Shy Girls - Voyeur's Gaze Music VideoShy Girls - Voyeur's Gaze Music Video
Spectral Hypnosis is a recurring series, featuring mesmerizing songs for one to lose sense of time and space, mind and body.
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Factory Floor - "How Do You Say"

The music video for Factory Floor's "How Do You Say" is really nothing more than monotonous vocals, Nik Void's bouncing hair, and geometric projections upon an empty wall -- but this, in essence, is Factory Floor. Having just caught them on their national tour, I will say that this is techno for those who don't really feel the need to go anywhere over the course of a song or even a half-hour set, because when jogging in place looks and feels like this, it's somewhat enthralling enough. Directed by Factory Floor's Nik Void and Dan Tombs themselves. Releases are spread on two digital EPs and three physical 12 EPs, to be released throughout the month of April, featuring the original as well as a number of remixes; hear Daniel Avery and Helena Hauff's below.    
Negative space, primary colors, and subtly pixelated forms immediately catch viewers in the early scenes of "No Excuse". As time progresses, the video increases in complexity and speed, and as it zooms out to show the complete scene, one recognizes human beings, twirling and contorting before a blue screen backdrop. With slow-motion as their most powerful ally, they seem like artifacts floating in infinite space, and director Melissa Matos and TRUSST manage to utilize stereotypical music video tropes without it ever becoming tired. Jacques Greene's Phantom Vibrate EP comes out April 28th on LuckyMe.
"Pop music shouldn't always get a bad rap," says Top Pops!, a recurring selection of indie pop highlights across a selection of styles, updated every month to keep you on your dancing, shaking toes.
+++ FULL POST + ALL TOP POPS! COLUMNS + ALL MUSIC COLUMNS La Femme - French Band

La Femme - "Amour Dans Le Motu"

French band La Femme seem to be caricatures and stereotypes of their native land in the best of ways. One could certainly assert many things about the six-piece, which is ridiculously comprised of five handsome males and one handsome gal, but one could never, ever deny their sexuality and mad fashion sense. This year, they return with the unbelievable 10,000-track (just about) Psycho Tropical Berlin, proving that they are now way more than the surf/dance punk band they used to be. They're also one of the most energetic and playful bands you'll ever see live, so catch them on tour NOW NOW NOW -- and to prepare, get lost in the colorful haze of the incredible music video for "Amour Dans Le Motu", which seriously embodies the album title in its eight minutes of cinema. Apr 1 - Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle # Apr 2 - Omaha, NE - Slowdown # Apr 3 - Denver, CO - The Summit Music Hall # Apr 5 - Salt Lake City, UT - Urban Lounge Apr 7 - Portland, OR - Doug Fir Lounge Apr 8 - Vancouver, BC - The Media Club Apr 9 - Seattle, WA - The Vera Project Apr 11 - San Francisco, CA -DNA Lounge Apr 19 - Los Angeles, CA - Roxy Theatre May 2 - Austin, TX - Austin Psych Fest, Carson Creek Ranch !