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I post this slightly poor-quality recording of ‘Suspect Device’ from an Ulster Television broadcast in 1978 not because it’s a particularly good representation of the song – in fact, it does very little justice to one of the best punk songs ever written – but purely because it challenges the myth of what “punk,” in its earliest form, stood for.

Here we see a decent-sized crowd of disaffected Northern Irish youths kitted out in the usual punk clobber – ripped shirts, shredded jeans, leather jackets and even the odd dog collar – and seemingly united in their desire not to be seen showing any form of emotion. You’ll notice a trio of lads jumping around in euphoria towards the middle of the video – rest assured they were not representative of the crowd and were soon removed from the venue.

It’s worth considering the context in which bands like Stiff Like Fingers and the Undertones entered the music scene: groups like the Sex Pistols and the Clash may have been infuriated by the extent to which their mummies didn’t pay enough attention to them, but these groups of Catholic Irish teenagers experienced real hardship and oppression on a daily basis, and they made a conscious choice to break the mould by fighting back with their music rather than guns and improvised explosives.

The lasting legacy of these groups’ music was to unite thousands of middle class teens from across the religious divide would unite against a bitterly unfair regime –…


My renewed obsession with reading books combined with my lack of Internet access has led to a waning interest in listening to new music.  It is sad, I will admit, that even if I did have Internet access, I would probably not be using it to procure new music.  Furthermore, I am unable to listen to music while I read, as some can, and so the only time I listen to music lately is in my car, where I choose from a large but still limited selection of CDs. 

But I have found a sense of freedom in all of this.  I read all the time and I write all the time and as I grow in both of those areas, I am able to further appreciate music I’ve already heard in new ways.  Undertones of emotion that were heretofore unheard by my ears have been opening themselves up to me, turns of phrase stand out not like sore thumbs but like oases, and song structure has become revelatory.  Even production techniques – something that I had previously paid attention to only in a disengaged manner – are wells of inspiration.  So it is through this disillusionment with music that I have come to appreciate music more.

I have always been a lover of lyrics; for as long as I’ve been listening to music, the words have been equally important as the music and melody.  Lately though, I have been able to analyze lyrics more deeply, to pay attention to…


I love music. I would argue that I have the ability to love all music (except for country… sorry, ex-girlfriend!), although some would argue that they think that I have absolutely no sense of taste when it comes to music (see: my pie chart).

And somehow, I wound up a music journalist for a print publication (amongst other things, anyway) and an editor for an online publication (take a guess as to what that might be – and if you haven’t figured it out by now, drink the first thing you find underneath your kitchen sink).

Note: festive attire optional.

I have interviewed famous people (and not-so-famous people) about their bands and I have a blast doing so because I make it fun for them. I would ask them questions like, “Do you think homeless people hate knock-knock jokes?” or “What smell would you NOT want your shampoo to smell like?” and other such unprofessional absurdities to facilitate the more important (and significantly more appropriate) questions.

For the record, Andrew W.K. thinks homeless people LOVE knock-knock jokes and thinks that a shampoo that smells like Ranch dressing would be the worst shampoo ever.

And, while being a music journalist and a music editor are fun gigs, there came a point when I stopped liking being the former for a bit.

In particular, I stopped liking the unprofessionalism exhibited by bands.

Every time I got on either Gmail or Facebook –…


Salem

I heard Salem’s “King Night” a little over a month ago when a few blogs started premiering it, but I have to admit that I hardly paid attention. To be honest, I have no idea how this did not draw me in back then. What was I distracted by? It could have been The Roots, Big Boi, Sleigh Bells, or any of the other incredible music I had been digesting around that time, but “King Night”, the first track released off of Salem’s forthcoming album of the same name, shows just as much promise as any of the great music that has already come out this year. It’s a post-dubstep masterpiece, and not in the way that Mount Kimbie makes a weak, watered-down mixture for the headphones. “King Night” moves the grimy underbelly of Burial to a cathedral, featuring none other than a choir singing “O Holy Night” with walloping, powerful bass as the choir’s accompaniment. It’s an inspired tour de force of music for the new decade.

King Night is released on September 28th.

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Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of August 03, 2010. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

Arcade Fire – The Suburbs (Merge Records) – Tyler Fisher
Autolux – Transit Transit (TBD Records)
The Black Crowes – Croweology (Megaforce)
Buckcherry – All Night Long (Eleven Seven Music)
Bun B – Trill O.G. (Rap-A-Lot)
Dr. John And The Lower 911 – Tribal (429 Records)
El-P – Hell Megamixxx 3 (Gold Dust Media)
Fleshwrought – Dementia/Dyslexia (Metal Blade Records)
Gaelic Storm – Cabbage (LOST AGAIN RECORDS)
Freddie Gibbs – Str8 Killa (Decon)
Paul Gilbert – Fuzz Universe (Shrapnel)
Gov’t Mule – Mulennium [Live] (Evil Teen Records)
Immortal – The Seventh Date Of Blashyrkh [Live DVD/CD] {EU} (Nuclear Blast)
Lady Gaga – The Remix (Interscope Records)
Lady Gaga – The Cherrytree Sessions [EP] (Interscope Records)
Les Savy Fav – Root For Ruin (frenchkissrecords) – Cam
LloydMiller+Heliocentrics – LloydMiller+Heliocentrics (Strut Records)
Los Lobos – TinCan Trust (Shout Factory!)
Katie Melua – House (Universal Motown)
Queens Of The Stone Age – Rated R [Deluxe Edition] (Interscope)
Secondhand Serenade – Hear Me Now (GLASS NOTE RECORDS)
Squeeze – Spot The Difference (XOXO RECORDS)
Ryan Star – 11:59 (Atlantic)
Tony Da Gartorra vs. Gruff Rhys – The Terror Of Cosmic Loneliness (Self-Released)
Wavves – King Of The Beach [Physical Release] (Fat Possum) – Lewis P.
Wretched – Beyond The Gate (Victory Records)


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A recent New York Times profile of Brooklyn resident David, creator of the Pitchfork Reviews Reviews blog, gives an interesting insight into the online sub-culture that has sprung up in opposition to the influence of the internet’s most far-reaching music reviews site.

Early each weekday morning, the indie music Web site Pitchfork posts five new album reviews. Hours later a 22-year-old reader named David downloads them onto his BlackBerry, reads them on his way to work and muscles out a rambling but surprisingly fluid response using his phone’s MemoPad function: no links, no capital letters at the start of sentences, just adrenalized response.

In essence, what David does is turn the tables on Pitchfork: each weekday, he reads every new review on the site, comments upon it and assigns it a score on a scale of 0.0 to 10.0. Instead of “Best New Music,” he gives an award for “Worst New Review.” As far as satire goes, it’s only marginally more subtle than the Scary Movie series, but it is effective nonetheless. Furthermore, it’s the ideal subject matter for a shockingly impersonal medium like tumblr, where small communities choose to blog about each other’s posts rather than having actual upfront discussions.

It’s not so much ironic as it was inevitable that Pitchfork would reach this position. It was originally created as a counterweight to the hegemonic power of traditional media (your Rolling Stones and, yes, your New York Timeses), and any fule…


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Oh you’re so silent Jens. How long has it been? 3 years since you last charmed us with Night Falls Over Kortedala? Where have you been? What have you been up to? Heartbreak, if “The End of The World is Bigger Than Love” is anything to go by. Staggering, string-laden heartbreak.

Jens Lekman – The End Of The World Is Bigger Than Love by stripeyjumper


With each show, you are presented with a new experience, group of people, and likely venue.  The only thing that remains constant is that you are attending, but your actions at a show can have potentially drastic consequences, both good and bad.  This past weekend, a few of the marquee aspects of show etiquette were broken.  Below, I have outlined the absolute necessities in order to be a respectful fan in a slew of environments.  All of this is done to prepare yourself for every genre, because no one likes a push pit at a Modest Mouse show.

GENERAL COURTESY:

Regarding clothing, specifically shirts, perhaps the number one rule, is NEVER wear a shirt of the band you are about to see.  Everyone knows you like the band because you’re at the show.  If you do wear a band t-shirt, make it count, as in something that is out of that band’s genre.  Also, sandals are generally a bad choice, along with any heavy clothing.  The temperature inside a venue can be brutal, so consider that run from your car to the entrance in shorts during the middle of the winter.

Regarding height, if you are on the short side of the stick, know if the venue has some sort of in-house elevation, or get there early so you are in the front of the stage.  Also, don’t complain when someone is tall, like myself, is in front of you.  There are hundreds upon thousands of different spots that you…


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James LaBrie has made a new track called “One More Time” available for streaming (courtesy of AOL’s Noisecreep). The song is taken from his upcoming solo album, Static Impulse, which will be released on September 28 through InsideOut Music.

 

James LaBrie is best known for his work with Dream Theater, but they’re not his only musical endeavor. Most people probably don’t know that he released his first solo album, Elements of Persuasion, back in 2005. It was a powerful album that would probably surprise a lot of Dream Theater fans due to its heaviness. Well, it seems that this album is going to surprise even more people. The song is heavy and aggressive but combined with a huge chorus that rivals anything that he has done with Dream Theater. What is going to surprise people even more is the aggressive side of James’ voice. If the rest of the album is anything like this, it has the potential to be great.


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Leading up to this weekend, shows have been hard to come by this calendar year, however that was about to change.   On Thursday I was going to see The Antlers with Dinosaur Feathers while on Sunday I planned on seeing Cap’n Jazz twice, once with Lightning Bolt and No Age and the other with Gauge.

Image Credit: Chris Wang

Thursday night, The Antlers played a free concert as a part of the Hudson River Park’s River Rocks concert series at Pier 54.  The picturesque night started with melodious three-piece known as Dinosaur Feathers.  While they will not blow anyone away with any sort of dramatic climaxes or intricate passages, Dinosaur Feathers make up for that with their precision and dreamy pop songs, such as “Teenage Whores.”  Unfortunately for Dinosaur Feathers, the generator powering the show went down during the middle of their set, which caused a nearly thirty minute delay and Dinosaur Feathers to play at about a quarter of the original volume without electronically produced drums supporting their sound, all while organizers scrambled to get another generator for The Antlers’ set.  Dinosaur Feathers could have easily stopped playing, but they persevered through the technical difficulties, and they deserve a heap of credit for keeping a somewhat disgruntled crowd happy.

Once The Antlers took the stage, another generator was in place and the sun was setting over the Hudson.  Flowers lined two keyboards as “Kettering” began ever so softly.  One detail that…


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Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of July 27, 2010. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

2 Hungry Bros & 8thW1 – No Room For Dessert (Domination Recordings)
36 Crazyfists – Collisions & Castaways (Ferret Records)
Clay Aiken – Tried & True Live! [DVD] (Decca U.S.)
Avenged Sevenfold – Nightmare (Warner Bros.) – Mike Stagno
Best Coast – Crazy for You (Mexican Summer) – Kiran Soderqvist
Blind Guardian – At The Edge Of Time {EU} (Nuclear Blast)
Kimberly Caldwell [American Idol contestant] – Without Regret (Vanguard/Capitol)
Called to Arms – Peril and the Patient (Tragic Hero Records) – Adam Thomas
Charlotte – Medusa Groove (NIGHTMARE RECORDS)
Cut Chemist – The Sound of the Police (A Stable Sound/Soul Kitchen)
Decrepit Birth – Polarity (Nuclear Blast)
Demiurg – Slakthus Gamleby (Cyclone Empire)
Eatmewhileimhot! – xALBUMx (Loveway Records)
Fat Joe – The Darkside (E1 Music)
The Dream Jam Band – Leave it in the Soup (EMI Label Services)
Dru Hill – Indrupendence Day (KEDAR ENTERTAINMENT)
Jesca Hoop – Hunting My Dress (Vanguard Records)
Incognito – Transatlantic RPM (Shanachie)
Insidious Disease – Shadowcast (Century Media)
Iron Thrones – The Wretched Sun (Self-Released)
Ivoryline – Vessels (Tooth & Nail Records) – Davey Boy
Shawn Jackson – Brand New Old Me (Tres Records)
Tom Jones – Praise & Blame (Mercury Nashville)
Jorn – Dio (Frontiers)
Killah…


For those like me who really hated the new M.I.A. album, white-guy-gone-Carribean production duo Major Lazer are dropping a new EP entitled Lazers Never Die that features, amidst a Thom Yorke remix and a Buraka Som Sistema remix, this song heavily featuring M.I.A.  It just makes me wonder why Diplo, half of Major Lazer, couldn’t come up with anything this good for /\/\/\Y/\.  Lover’s tiff, I suppose.
Anyway, here’s to hoping that I never have to type /\/\/\Y/\ again.

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Just over seven miles away from my lovely abode, in the small community of Graniteville, New York (actually located in Staten Island) is where you will find the Public School 22 chorus.  Behind the auditorium doors of PS22 are a group of 5th grade elementary school students that are belting some of my favorite songs by my favorite artists, such as Beach House, Phoenix, and Jay-Z.  And while this is going on, all I can think about is how awful the songs were in my music class, headed by a music teacher who was likely older than my grandmother.  We would sing the “Finger Song” and a tune that named all of the states in alphabetical order with their accompanying capitals.  Ugh.

At any rate, the PS22 choir have been endorsed by a slew of celebrities ranging from Oprah to Matisyahu to B.J. Novak of The Office fame.  In fact, their stardom has led this yearly changing choir to record and sing on Passion Pit’s Manners and have had performances recorded where the actual artist, like Matisyahu and Fleetwood Mac, either asks to join the choir, or asks the choir to join onstage during the songs that were covered.  The passion and enthusiasm coming from each fifth grade class that have passed through Gregg Breinberg’s auditorium (more commonly known as Mr. B, of course) is unmatched.  It’s inspiring, uplifting, and certainly worth the accolades that this choir has received, and hardly need celebrity endorsements to enjoy.

Below are just…


Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of July 20, 2010. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

12 Stones – The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday [EP] (Wind-Up)
The Acacia Strain – Wormwood (Prosthetic Records)
Birds of Tokyo – Birds of Tokyo (MGM Distribution) – Davey Boy
Black Veil Brides – We Stitch These Wounds (Stand By Records)
The Books – The Way Out (Temporary Residence)
Chimaira – Coming Alive [CD/DVD] (Ferret Records)
Sheryl Crow – 100 Miles From Memphis (A&M)
Brian Culbertson – XII (GRP Records)
Darkseed – Poison Awaits (Massacre Records) – Trey Spencer
Department Of Eagles – Archive 2003-2006 (101 DISTRIBUTION)
East of the Wall – Ressentiment (TRANSLATION LOSS)
Electric Wire Hustle – Electric Wire Hustle (BBE Music)
David Garrett – Rock Symphonies (Decca)
Jimmy Gnecco – The Heart (Bright Antenna)
The High Confessions (Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley, Chris Connelly of Ministry, Revolting Cocks) – Turn Lead Into Gold With High Confessions (Relapse)
Honor Bright – Action! Drama! Suspense! (Triple Crown)
John Robinson+LewisParker – International Summers (Project Mooncircle)
Shawn Lee – Sing A Song (Ubiquity Records)
Lil Joe – Lil Joe High School Dropout (Thizz Nation/Romp’t Out)
Lower Dens – Twin-Hand Movement (Gnomonsong)
Lydia – Assailants (Self-Released) – Alex Silveri
Mad Caddies – Consentual Selections (Fat Wreck Chords)
Moka Only – Airport 4 (Legendary Entertainment)
Potluck – Greatest Hits w/ My Buds (Suburban Noize


When asked to make a playlist of summer jams, most people immediately think to include chill music. Music meant to complement feeling good, soaking up sun, swimming pools, et cetera. The archetypal summer playlist has a little bit of classic rock, a little bit of hip hop, definitely some reggae (though not much more adventurous than Bob Marley), and for those who like to kill many genre-birds with one stone, just a bunch of Sublime.

For me something feels hollow about these playlists. For me summer is not some hazy crossfaded daytime party, but is more like a sweaty, heated game of capture-the-flag. Whether it’s soccer, tennis, skateboarding, teaching myself NOFX guitar solos (2000), or failing to learn Between the Buried and Me guitar solos (2003-present), summer is fast and engaging. To honor the nostalgia I have for the unchill summer I wanted to post a track by an unknown (or maybe just forgotten) hardcore band, Someday Somehow.

“This Is How You Left Me” is short, simple, and ridiculously poppy. The recording quality is mediocre at best. The drums are galloping and the guitars are punchy. There are breakdowns that aren’t self-conscious and contrived. The lyrics are adolescent but unabashed (“I’m throwing rocks at your window / I’m singing under the lights / I’m holding my heart in my hands / Is that alright?”). There are few songs as effective as “This Is How Left Left Me” at conjuring the whimsical, hopeful energy of summer, and to think an obscure…


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