‘American Fiasco’: Bearing a title that inspires thoughts of international intrigue, this podcast led by Roger Bennett of NBC’s soccer-centric “Men in Blazers” examines a fascinating national disaster: The U.S. Men’s National Team’s promising but ultimately disappointing 1998 World Cup campaign. Filtered through Bennett’s dryly funny, deeply passionate lens, this fiasco feels like a prequel to the poor decisions that led to U.S. soccer’s still-smarting crash out of qualifying for this year’s tournament, but for football fans looking to fill their ears between Premier League matches or the MLS playoffs, it’s a fascinating listen.
Ambrose Akinmusire’s ‘Origami Harvest’: You may have heard albums that have touched on jazz, hip-hop and classical-adjacent new music, but none of them have merged them in such an arresting, unexpected fashion as the latest from this 36-year-old artist. A thought-provoking and timely mix of boom-bap rhythms, string interludes and vivid spoken word passages (courtesy of Kool A.D. of Das Racist) alongside Akinmusire’s restless trumpet, which arcs through all of the above to affirm or underscore each message and movement, the expressive music collected here ventures further than any other this year.
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: All due respect to Cleveland — a city that frankly could use a few breaks given its recent fortunes in the sporting world — but it remains a mystery why each year brings a new class of pop artists into its fold and moments later brings more arguments over whether they belong there. While it may be easier than making the effort of relying on the radio to provide a song you can argue with your friends about, how is an institution built to cast judgment over multiple musical styles that are supposed to be against such judgments still tricking people into caring about its decisions in 2018?