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The Music Issue returns! Inside this delectable year-end issue, you’ll find Mimi Lok on the Jungian references behind K-pop’s biggest group; Fernando A. Flores on a bizarre invented history of funerary violinists; and Rob Curran on the Malian folk star attempting to save his country’s rich musical traditions. There are also far-reaching interviews with PJ Harvey, Rhiannon Giddens, Jeremy Gaudet, and Ryan H. Walsh, as well as shorter—but equally pleasurable—conversations with Natalie Merchant and the Houston Rockets’ own Victor Oladipo. Plus, Stu Horvath listens to dungeonsynth, Lol Tolhurst looks back on the ’80s goth scene, and Paul Collins recounts the “deep and profound” history of kazoo orchestras. You’ll also find regular features reworked for thematic consistency, with contributions from Nick Hornby, Carrie Brownstein, and Niela Orr; musician trivia from Carl Newman of the New Pornographers; album reviews; and more!

Don’t miss this issue’s special companion soundtrack: Believer Radio. Hosted by our contributors, and produced by Claire Mullen, these sixteen hour-long DJ sets delve into the music discussed in the issue in greater detail. Listen to them all at

Table of Contents:

Resurrector: Glitter
by Niela Orr

Stuff I’ve Been Listening To
by Nick Hornby

Close Read: Magby
by Mike McGonigal

Ask Carrie
by Carrie Brownstein

by Thao Nguyen

“A Brief and Annoying History of Kazoo Orchestras”
by Paul Collins

A Short Interview with Natalie Merchant
by Lauren LeBlanc

“ The Art of the Ruse”
by Fernando A. Flores
What inspired one writer to fabricate an entire genre of dreary violin music, including its bloody five-hundred-year history

Sound: Foghorn
by Benjamin Anastas

Schema: Family Band Family Tree
by Justin Carder and Sunra Thompson

The Process: Lol Tolhurst
by Gray Tolhurst

“Playing from the Keep”
by Stu Horvath
How an authentically underground genre of black metal became widespread among fantasy game soundtracks.

Rhiannon Giddens
interviewed by John Lingan

“The Desert and the River”
by Rob Curran
When artistic expression is outlawed in Malian towns, musicians grow beards and seek refuge at the home studio of Vieux Farka Touré, successor to one of the greatest electric guitar players of all time.

PJ Harvey
interviewed by Melissa Locker

a new poem by Megan Fernandes

“In Search of Wholeness with BTS”
by Mimi Lok
Joining the ranks of K-pop’s biggest fandom, where questions of identity and belonging are intimately connected to the writings of Carl Jung

“Understanding K-pop Generations”
by Aku Ammah-Tagoe

Jeremy Gaudet
in conversation with Ryan H. Walsh

One-Page Reviews
Short reviews of album releases, featuring Anaïs Duplan on Loraine James, Ricardo Frasso Jaramillo on Amor Muere, Casey Jarman on Meat Joy, Emma Ingrisani on Dolly Parton, and Gabriel Bump on Jamila Woods 

Victor Oladipo
microinterviewed by Alan Chazaro