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A couple weeks back, after a bit of an absence, I wrote a review.

See, I just wanted an excuse to post a South Park clip, although everybody knows that Randy Marsh has convincingly overtaken Cartman as being the funniest character on the show.

No, no, it wasn't me – it was a SPOOKY GHOST!

All tangents aside, the review covered Digital Daggers’ debut EP, entitled Human Emotion. Sonically, it sounds a bit like Frou Frou meets Boards of Canada. The group is comprised of Andrea Wasse (The Weekend, not to be confused with newcomer artist The Weeknd) and Space (he of many hats, including his solo effort, Memento, and Kevin Martin & The Hiwatts), the band has garnered a bit of buzz from their covers of “New York New York” (Liza Minelli, Frank Sinatra) and “Head Over Heels” (Tears for Fears), not to mention their original tunes being spotted in various television shows (“Surrender” on ‘One Life to Live;’ “No Easy Way” on ‘Nikita’).

Today, I wanted to highlight the title track, which is my personal favorite from the EP.

Digital Daggers – “Human Emotion”

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Never again with your human emotions
I won’t take the hate from your heart
I’ll take my chances outside of your kingdom
You know when I stop I won’t start

I long to be where the stars still shine brightly
You know they won’t breathe where…

I miss big ideas. I lament their loss, in fact. I miss the sweeping gestures once made that attempted to understand oneself, a body of people, humanity as a whole, the very world entire. I was not around for these grand ideas (or, at least not in the intellectual capacity I possess now), yet I feel moved to write in elegiac prose as if I mourn the loss of something very dear. Before falling into a vast pit of hyperbole, I will make clear exactly what I mean by a ‘big idea’ through examples. Hegel’s dialectic is a big idea; Marx’s proletariat is a big idea; Freud’s archive is a big idea; Spivak’s postcolonial readings of Victorian texts are a big idea; these are attempts to explain the metanarrative of the human condition, the human struggle, the way in which the human acts and thinks and why. I do not necessarily lament the passing of the ideas themselves—any good close reading of these ideas reveals there many contradictions and faults—but rather I miss the attempt implied by these ideas. It seems to me that in our great postmodern idiom we have narrowed ourselves into a tautological spiral of refining and redefining and infinitely categorizing these ideas into sub-ideas and sub-sub-ideas. It is a phenomenon that is plaguing the music community as well, and this is what I lament the most.

I am not, nor am I attempting to, bringing anything new to the discussion at this point. Anyone who…

“Knock knock.”
“Who’s there?”
“Jonathan Brightman from Buckcherry.”
“Jonathan Brightman from Buckcherry who?”
“Jonathan Brightman from Buckcherry and I’m suing you.”
“No, seriously, who the fuck are you?”

I wasn’t there for the first email exchange between Jonathan Brightman – ex- of sentimental LA hard rockers Buckcherry and, since 2008, of sentimental LA hard rockers Black Robot – and Waterford’s finest punk rock duo, since 2006, Black Robots. But if I had been there, I imagine that’s someway along the lines of how it would have gone.

As a matter of fact, I jest. I wasn’t there, but thanks the wonders of leaked email correspondence, I do have an exact transcript of how it went down – and it wasn’t all that different to the hilarious children’s joke outlined above.

A few short weeks ago, Irish two-piece Black Robots were contacted by Brightman’s Black Robot – their web manager, to be precise – to inform them that their names were too similar and that his trademark was being infringed. They were told in no uncertain terms that they had been reported to Facebook, MySpace, etc. and that they would be well-advised to begin the process of changing their name before their pages were deleted.

A subsequent email by Brightman referred to this as “courteous gesture.” This seemed odd to me because I, too, in my time as Sputnik editor, have received similarly courteous gestures that have left with…

White people.

In a culmination of all that is funny about “Average Homeboy,” “The Renewed Mind is the Key,” Jon Lajoie, cults, children, epilepsy, urine, old men dressed as God, and ponytailed Aryans, comes “Pee Pee.”

I think I’ve said all that needs to be said here.

John Legend posted a cover of Adele’s hit song “Rolling in the Deep” for instant download to his Soundcloud page on Wednesday evening. The cover is entirely a capella, and continues to rise Legend’s stock in my book. The harmonies are smoky and perfectly minimal, setting the perfect tone for Legend’s famously soulful pipes to belt the song’s memorable melody.

Mike Posner also has a cover floating around, but no one cares.

John Legend – Rolling in the Deep (Adele Cover) by johnlegend

Believer have released the second track from their upcoming album, Transhuman. The song is called “Mindsteps” and it is the final track on the album. Whether you’re a long time fan or just curious, you should really check out the other song released for this album, “G.U.T.” — Go Here.  I say that because “G.U.T.” is already a large enough departure from the band’s typical technical thrash style, but it’s not nearly the change that “Mindsteps” is. “Mindsteps” is a change in so many ways that it’s hard to even know where to begin. To begin with, it is easily one of the most laidback songs in the band’s history. The riff is a start/stop semi-proggy thing that is accompanied by warm synths and the occasional undulating synth. As if that wasn’t enough, the vocals have entirely changed from the nasally rasp that has been employed on every Believer song (if you don’t count the opera vocals). I won’t ruin it for anybody, but I will say that they’re really damn good.

“G.U.T.” had me curious about what this album would sound like due to the slight vocal departure and the less thrashy musical direction, but “Mindsteps” has thrown me for a loop. Believer is a great band that seems to be able to pull off whatever they do and if Transhuman ends up being a straight forward, progressive metal album that has more in common with Devin Townsend (or something similar) I believe they can do that

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EPs | 50-31 | 30-11 | 10-1

10. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

[Myspace] // [Review]

The Suburbs suffers the same fate as its predecessor Neon Bible, and that is basically that it isn’t Funeral. But outside of its failure to live up to the unreasonably lofty expectations of the band’s debut, this is yet another triumph for Arcade Fire, a band that has basically stamped its name as one of the most important musical acts of our generation. The Suburbs fuse the band’s trademark grandiose nature with a sound that is geared more towards straight-up rock than it is indie, but the results of this album rest more within minor details than they do in Arcade Fire’s overall sound (which most of us have already become aware of and accustomed to). The subtle backing vocals of Régine Chassagne, the alternation in phrasing structures, the increased presence of synthesizers, and the surprisingly large role that the basslines play in establishing a groove all make The Suburbs an album worthy of high acclaim in its own right. 

The Suburbs serves as something of a bridge between Neon Bible and Funeral. It shows momentary flashes of what made Funeral such a landmark album, but also maintains a great deal of the sleek, sometimes even Bruce Springsteen-like moments on Neon Bible. But if there is one…

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I’m really not sure what to think of the new Justice song, which premiered in an ADIDAS commercial you can check out below. It definitely has a killer beat, and I like that the French electro duo is sticking to the sound that made them one of the preeminent voices in the dance explosion of the late ’00s. But it does kind of sound like they just made a point of throwing as much random shit into the song as possible. To be fair, however, it does make more sense in the context of the commercial (which is awesome, by the way). Look for a probable extended mix of the tune on their upcoming album later this year.

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30. The Flashbulb – Arboreal

[Myspace] // [Review]

On Soundtrack to A Vacant Life, Benn Jordan seemed like he was on the verge of death. All but consumed by emotion, bleak and foreboding, his 2008 LP was intriguing in its dark soundscapes and irking ambience. Flash forward to 2010, and is The Flashbulb coming back to life. Infused with energy and spunk, Arboreal is an active listen. The artist mixes up a cascading string movement, a little melancholy piano piece, and a choppy electronic sample simultaneously, and the outcome is more organic, perhaps, than the clear-cut emotional platitudes of Vacant Life. The transitions, like always, are holy. Jordan’s ability to create beauty from a chaotic mess of disparate elements has never been this forthright, as he weaves and bends together the many aspects of the music like an artisan. Long-hailed as sit-down, concentrate, absorb-with-tender-ears kind of music, The Flashbulb manipulates this axiom of the genre into an album teeming with life. Some longtime fans expressed surprise, disgust even, at Benn Jordan’s new artistic aims; but I couldn’t be happier that The Flashbulb has found a new spring in its step, and is crafting more impressive music to complement this newfound atmosphere. - SeaAnemone

29. Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me

[Myspace] //…

BBC’s Radio 1 premiered another new Fleet Foxes song set to appear on their forthcoming album Helplessness Blues. It’s not quite the warm, sprawling title track released a month ago, but further establishes that Helplessness Blues will be more of the same good old folk that made everyone fall in love with their debut album. I’m usually one to criticize a stagnant sound, but personally, I’ll never tire of Robin Pecknold’s voice.

Fleet Foxes – Battery Kinzie by One Thirty BPM

First off, let me apologise for the title: this isn’t the new DragonForce material you’ve all been eagerly awaiting.

It is, however, the UK power metal band’s Guitar Hero-fuelled hit ‘Through the Fire and the Flames’ limberly transposed to the marimba, with a little extra percussion courtesy of the boxy hitty thing that’s just out of picture but is eagerly fingered by the short-sighted man in the orange beanie.

With Activision having taken decision to end its Guitar Hero franchise, could Rock Band’s next move be to corner the fake music market completely with a marimba upgrade? There’s no evidence to suggest that they will, but nor is there evidence to suggest they’ve ruled it out completely, so we’re going to have to file this one under probably.


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50. Kylesa – Spiral Shadow

[Myspace] // [Review]

In the decade that they have been together, Kylesa’s story has been one of constant improvement, and in this sense, Spiral Shadow doesn’t disappoint. Although they retain the sludgy hardcore energy that made them good in the first place, the band has added new psychedelic dimensions to its sound which are fully utilised here. This is also without a doubt their most accessible offering yet, and some of the material – particularly ‘Don’t Look Back’ – hints that they may continue down this path in the future. The records highlights, however, come when the band does what it does best, such as the hard-hitting and direct ‘Tired Climb’ and the psychadelic tangle of the title track. If they continue on their ascent, Kylesa’s next moves will certainly be worth monitoring. – AliW1993

49. The Roots – How I Got Over

[Myspace] // [Review]

How I Got Over is a hip-hop album that carries a strong sense of purpose.  Too many artists focus on the negative aspects of growing up “on the streets”, such as drugs, domestic abuse, murders, theft, etc.  However, The Roots use their status within the genre (as well as their own history rising above the challenges…

The Users’ Top Albums of 2010 feature is currently underway. If you missed it, feel free to check out 100 – 51 and the top 10 EPs — with more to come.

Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of March 22, 2011. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

Agnostic Front – My Life My Way (Nuclear Blast Records)
A.M. Breakups – The Cant Resurrection (Backwoodz Studioz)
Artillery – My Blood {EU} (Metal Mind)
Art vs. Science – The Experiment (Independent)
Belong – Common Era (Kranky)
Binary Park – Worlds Collide (Metropolis Records)
Born of Osiris – The Discovery (Sumerian Records)
Edwyn Collins – Losing Sleep (Downtown Records) – Joseph Viney
CunninLynguists – Oneirology (RBC Records)
DJ Deadeye – Substance Abuse (Brick Records)
Duff McKagan’s Loaded – The Taking (Indie Europe/Zoom)
William Fitzsimmons – Gold in the Shadow (Nettwerk Records) – Jared Ponton
The Flaming Lips and Neon Indian – The Flaming Lips and Neon Indian (Self Released)
Green Day – Awesome as Fuck (Reprise)
The Haunted – Unseen (Century Media)
Jennifer Hudson – I Remember Me (Arista)
Imperia – Secret Passion (Massacre)
Negura Bunget – Focul Viu (Prophecy) [CD/DVD] {EU}
Panic! At the Disco – Vices & Virtues (Decaydance/Fueled By Ramen)
Pharoahe Monch – W.A.R. (We Are Renegades) (DUCKDOWN RECORDS) – Jared W. Dillon

EPs | 50-31 | 30-11 | 10-1

10. Pariah – Safehouses

[Myspace] // [Review]

For all the comparisons Pariah’s music has bought him, Safehouses manages to stand on its own two feet as something refreshingly joyous; its a romanticized nostalgic look back at a more colorful period that ever so slowly gave rise to a genre so now drenched in filth and grime. Almost too simple to be so ingenious, Pariah has crafted six impeccably explosive tracks to be explored and analyzed to the point of exhaustion, which at the conclusion will only reveal one more gifted musical engineer whose only want was to craft beats to express his admiration for music as a whole. The flawless switch between different feels and styles reveals an expert touch sorely lacking in many of his contemporaries and reveals just how far Pariah has come since last year’s single ‘Detroit Falls’ – the fact that the same man who, with just that one track typed on his resume has released this, one of the most unassuming yet addictive EPs of the year, is no less than astounding. Obliterating the dense subsonic pandemonium of dubstep and replacing it with an idm fairytale like lushness, Pariah has shown that he is an artist to keep an eye on. – Deviant

09. James Blake – Klavierwerke

I write this blog with one arm pinned behind my back.

That’s not the premise of some crazy St. Patrick’s Day drinking game. I’ve a trapped nerve in my neck and it really fucking hurts, and this is the only way I can relieve the pain and function with some level of normality. This is inconvenient in multi-fold ways: it’s the festive season, I have lots of writing do and (as previously discussed) it really fucking hurts. Yet I couldn’t let my ancestor’s (I know priests are nominally celibate, but then as now they were randy fuckers, one and all) feast day pass by without comment.

With the possible exception of the Jewish people, there is no nation that has relied as much on emigration and the diaspora to shape its traditions, and what we now know as St. Patrick’s Day is inextricably linked to the experiences of Irish emigrants across the world, particularly in the United States. More than that, Irish culture in general – and music in particular – has fed back and forth into American folk tradition for almost as long as the free world has been populated by we vulgar Europeans.

While the standard picture of Irish emigration has always been of the poor, tattered masses making their way across the ocean on “coffin ships,” the reality has always been more complicated. During the US Civil War, Ireland was an active recruiting ground for both the Union and Confederate armies, with almost 200,000 Irish taking…


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