Marginal Utility
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When shopping nirvana shrivels away like the mega mall growing incrementally smaller behind you at the end of a long day, and buyer's remorse begins gnawing at your nerves, and you begin to fret the futility of it all, Rob Horning's blog, "Marginal Utility", steps in to stimulate your woefully neglected neocortex. Read, laugh, weep, but above all: realize. You'll feel smarter again in no time.
More Recent Features

20 Feb 2003 // 1:00 AM

Daredevil (2003)

It's unlikely that this gloominess accounts for Daredevil's big success. There are any number of plausible explanations -- the 'Sexiest Man Alive' and his J. Lo glow, the promotional blitz, the Marvel machine. No matter. Bring the pain.

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20 Feb 2003 // 1:00 AM

Dark Blue (2003)

This is a scary city, where scary figures hang out on scary corners and slouch with scary insouciance. No wonder the cops are tense.

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19 Feb 2003 // 1:00 AM

Unknown Quantity by Paul Virilio

A work of mourning -- mourning for a humanity, an earth which has lost control through globalisation, through the irresponsibility of power-crazy politicians and businessmen.

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19 Feb 2003 // 1:00 AM

She’s Not There by Mary-Anne Tirone Smith

It is sparkling, sophisticated and heady -- and more than a little addictive.

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Our Votes, Our Guns: Robert Mugabe and the Tragedy of Zimbabwe by Martin Meredith

An intense extrapolation of the crises that have sullied Zimbabwe over the last three decades.

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Old Gods Almost Dead: The 40-Year Odyssey of the Rolling Stones by Stephen Davis

Deserves a spot on every bookshelf (Stones fan, or no Stones fan). And to the gentlemen of the Rolling Stones we have this to say: Thanks, and for our sake, please keep rockin'.

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19 Feb 2003 // 1:00 AM

The Fall by Simon Mawer

Has little to do with mountain climbing and a lot to do with the general situation of humankind.

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18 Feb 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Paul van Dyk: Global

The kind of techno music called trance, in the hands of Paul Oakenfold and other similar artists, is incredibly unpopular right now with a lot

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	The Violents: Rebecca’s Morning Voice

Anni Poppen, Aimee Rickman, and Sally Mundy of the Violents know you don’t need to trash a mall or wear a snarl to be

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18 Feb 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Sigur Rós: (  )

Rarely has the controversial (to reviewers and critics, at least) and variously-attributed adage—“writing about music is like dancing about architecture”—seemed more appropriate than

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18 Feb 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Lou Reed: The Raven

“The angels haggard and wanUnveiling and uprising affirmThat the play is the tragedy ‘Man’And its hero the Conqueror Worm.” > As I write this review,

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18 Feb 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Tom McRae: Just like Blood

Northern poet Simon Armitage’s “Say Say Say” is addressed “to those in the dark, at the back”. Tom McRae evidently views himself as one

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18 Feb 2003 // 11:00 PM

	El Guapo: Super/System

There’s a buzz fuzzing throughout El Guapo’s debut release on Dischord Records. Equal parts klezmer jazz, experimental dance-rock, fractured synth-pop, and cocktail noir,

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	The John Entwistle Band: Left For Live Deluxe - The Complete Live Performance

In the days following the tragic and untimely passing of the Who’s John Entwistle, classic rock radio stations aired numerous tributes to the legendary

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	The Donnas: Spend the Night

They’re cool, they’re photogenic, they get a ton of video air time, and their single “Take It Off” is immensely catchy. They are

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18 Feb 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Jesse Davis: The Setup

Whatever happened to the archetype of the “cool” jazz musician? Y’know, the black-tie-and-sunglasses-clad hepcat who could charm your date away from you in the

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18 Feb 2003 // 11:00 PM

	The Dons: Dawn of The Dons

Don Mogill has a rare natural ability to craft finely melodic guitar-driven pop songs with sweet harmonies that are easy on the ears. These songs

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18 Feb 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Capital City: Am I Invisible

In music writing we give a lot of credence to the idea that a geographic area can be identified with a particular musical style. The

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18 Feb 2003 // 11:00 PM

	The Bees (aka A Band of Bees): Sunshine Hit Me

When one thinks of pop music infused with jazz, dub, funk, and South American rhythms, a shed on a tiny island on the south coast

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	Styx: The Best of Styx (20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection)

A&M’s Millennium Collections continue to confuse. Documented on the apparent hundreds of silver-sleeved CDs lulling about in record stores are such folks

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16 Feb 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Kicking Harold: Space Age Breakdown

If you can remember back to the dim and distant days of 1996, you may well recall a band called Kicking Harold. Bursting out of the

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	Ahmad Jamal: Olympia 2000

Back in the 1950s, Miles Davis told the world “I live until Jamal makes another record,” and during the mid-‘50s he insisted that his

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	The Go-Betweens: Bright Yellow Bright Orange

I first learned about the Go-Betweens from an article by Jonathan Lehman that ended up in Da Capo’s Best Music Writing 2001 called “Not a

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	Carissa’s Wierd: Songs About Leaving

If you live in Seattle, like I do, chances are you’re fairly sick of hearing about Carissa’s Wierd. There was a time about

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	Ry Cooder & Manuel Galbán: Mambo Sinuendo

The success of the Buena Vista Social Club project headed up by US guitarist Ry Cooder has become rather a cottage industry now, with everyone

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16 Feb 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Christmas Decorations: Model 91

Christmas Decorations are a duo comprised of Steve Silverstein (a.k.a. Madame Estrella—his improvised rock nom de stage—and writer for Tape Op

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16 Feb 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Canyon: Empty Rooms

I hope Brendan Butler and the Canyon boys were trying to be funny on the press release for their latest dark and dreary album, Empty

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	Burnside Project: The Networks, The Circuits, The Streams, The Harmonies

When you’re an indie-rock musician and start becoming so interested in non-rock styles like drum ‘n’ bass and hip-hop that you yearn to include

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16 Feb 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Arkestra One: self-titled

I guess I can understand what compels the creators of electronic and sample-based music to add vocals to their sound. Instrumentals are all well and

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	Gary Wilson: Forgotten Lovers

Music is a little something like autobiography. No other art form has kept such a stranglehold on the notion of “artist”, or championed that the

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13 Feb 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Pipas: A Cat Escaped

A Cat Escaped, the new CD from London-based international pop duo, Pipas, is 10 tracks of blissful, summery dance-pop. Theirs is the kind of sound that

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13 Feb 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Kelly Osbourne: Shut Up

If only I had picked up Kelly Osbourne’s debut album Shut Up when it was released this past November, I am certain it would

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13 Feb 2003 // 11:00 PM

	The O’Jays: Love Songs

Coming straight out of the Philadelphia sound in the early ‘70s, the O’Jays scored a series of hits records and songs. The core trio

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13 Feb 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Nas: God’s Son

Imagine, if you will, you are Jay-Z. It’s early December (2001) and you are getting’ ready to celebrate your birthday with a large group of

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	Machito & His Afro-Cuban Orchestra: Mambo Mucho Mambo: The Complete Columbia Masters

The influence of Cuban music on jazz is now generally recognized, and any number of names comes readily to the mind of jazz aficionados when

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	Melochrome: This Is Motion

One of the problems with a music genre like dreampop is that to the average consumer with an untrained ear, most of it sounds more

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13 Feb 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Little Wings: Light Green Leaves

The attempt to convey intimacy through recorded music is a fraught, paradoxical affair. The moment of intimacy, the time in which the musician and the

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13 Feb 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Janis Joplin: The Essential Janis Joplin

Nowadays, major labels regularly and repeatedly reissue the same music, hoping to ring up additional sales of the same recordings. Often, they accomplish this by

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13 Feb 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Boy George: A Night Out With Boy George

In the spirit of lazy music journalism, two things need to be mentioned immediately. The first has to do with the artist behind this release:

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13 Feb 2003 // 1:00 AM

Not since shaggy haired, indie rockers stormed their local thrift shops for ironic ringer tees and mesh hats has a retro fashion hit the streets with such a force.

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13 Feb 2003 // 1:00 AM

The Quiet American (2002)

That the U.S. imagines itself in the position to take unilateral decisions that affect the rest of the world is as much a function of the nation's founding myths (all that 'city on a hill' business, represented in Pyle's notion that he can save Phuong) as it is its economic might (Pyle's knowledge that he can support Phuong).

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The Other Network - PopMatters Film Review
)

Driven by instant gratification and a bottom line ethos, the networks have all but abandoned the cause of great TV comedy.

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13 Feb 2003 // 1:00 AM

Lockdown (2000)

Takes its political and ethical subjects seriously.

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13 Feb 2003 // 1:00 AM

Lost in La Mancha (2002)

Even in the midst of chaos and catastrophe, Gilliam's drive to create fantastic worlds can be as damning, and as appealing, as Quixote's.

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The Hidden Wars of Desert Storm (2000/2002)

Radioactive poison is a legacy of laissez-faire capitalism's most guilty indulgence.

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13 Feb 2003 // 1:00 AM

The Guru (2002)

Offers a cagey take on cultural influences and intersections.

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13 Feb 2003 // 1:00 AM

Daredevil (2003)

The good news is that Johnson's Daredevil follows Marvel's disability politics.

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13 Feb 2003 // 1:00 AM

Deliver Us From Eva (2003)

In the she's-such-a-bitch scenes, Gabrielle Union reveals a completely wonderful comic timing.

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12 Feb 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Ms Jade: Girl Interrupted

In the world of female rap, where appearance and crew affiliation are as vital to success as actual talent, it is rare to find strong

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12 Feb 2003 // 1:00 AM

After the split of John Squire’s post-Stone-Roses band, The Seahorses, he has been buried away in his country house in the North of England

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12 Feb 2003 // 1:00 AM

Sleater-KinneyPhoto Credit: Cori Taratoot QuasiPhoto Credit: Cori Taratoot In the top left-hand corner of the United States, Sleater-Kinney is roots music. And tonight in Portland

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12 Feb 2003 // 1:00 AM

After a salsa DJ set, three piece Parts and Labor began with a soft intro which quite expectedly launched into a noisy barrage of a

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12 Feb 2003 // 1:00 AM

My City is lost, burnt to ash and I, now, a wandering, faceless ghost within the cold confines of its canyons. After the 1990s, the

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The young starlets rocketed from obscurity to celebrity overnight also seem likely to return to obscurity, carrying the embarrassing ignominy of their brief TV fame, with them.

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Underground USA: Filmmaking beyond the Hollywood Canon, Edited by Xavier Mendik and Steven Jay Schne

Hollywood moulded some of the most promising filmmakers into mainstream clones.

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Sifting Through the Madness for the Word, the Line, the Way by Charles Bukowski

'Regular people' can read and appreciate Bukowski. I doubt scholars will find a distinct identity in each successive volume of his posthumous work, but that doesn't seem terribly unusual to me.

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Our Land Before We Die: The Proud Story of the Seminole Negro by Jeff Guinn

Records the tale of a people who are at the intersection of the two groups most terrorized and abused during American's colonial and post-colonial history.

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12 Feb 2003 // 1:00 AM

Ignorance by Milan Kundera

The story is interesting in the cultural context the author provides but, ultimately, it fails to satisfy on a deeper level.

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12 Feb 2003 // 1:00 AM

I Want That!: How We All Became Shoppers by Thomas Hine

As I sit here in a fabulous new pair of striped, sparkly, 1972 polyester pants and a furry-collared shirt with dachshunds racing across the sleeves, I wonder what my shopping habits say about me in the context of these words from cultural critic Thomas Hine's newest book.

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Genuine Authentic: The Real Life of Ralph Lauren by Michael Gross

It doesn't really matter whether you believe he's a fashion genius or the world's luckiest tie salesman, because anyone who has read the book on Ralph Lauren knows that he's both, in addition to something else: an ice-cold businessman with a heart of steel.

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The Bitch in the House: 26 Women Tell the Truth about Sex, Solitude, Work, Motherhood, and Marriage

The bottom line is: at this moment in history, a somber one, to say the least, when there are so many serious global and national issues and egregious injustices to be addressed, does the American woman really want to be bitching (yes, bitching) about who does the dishes.

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	Various Artists: Now That’s What I Call Music, Volume 11

That the tricksters at Universal have released no less than 11 Now That’s What I Call Music compilations since October of 1998 indicates just how rapidly

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Joe Zawinul: Faces & Places

As a composer, Zawinul somehow manages to incorporate exotic elements from the music of other cultures into his work without relying on clichés.

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	Zelienople: Pajama Avenue

Murky and mysterious, Chicago’s Zelienople are a band that creates atmospheric music that swims somewhere in the lower depths of pop, jazz, and instrumental

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Andy Partridge: Fuzzy Warbles, Vol. 1 / Fuzzy Warbles, Vol. 2

For fans of Andy Partridge and his music, these first two Fuzzy Warbles are a wonderful way to pass the time until the next official XTC release.

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	Morphine: The Best of Morphine 1992-1995

Few bands have ever managed to create so much out of so little, with a formula so deceptively simple. Three guys, with three instruments: drums,

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11 Feb 2003 // 11:00 PM

	The Kahumoku Brothers: Sweet and Sassy

Explaining Hawaiian slack key guitar is relatively simple. Take a guitar, pick a melody on the high strings, play a bass line, and use the

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11 Feb 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Ed James: Poprocket

Ed James is a one-man pop music machine, and he’s not afraid to admit it. No, really, he’s not. It says right here

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11 Feb 2003 // 11:00 PM

	The Folk Implosion: The New Folk Implosion

“The present-day composer refuses to die!,” claimed the avant-garde Edgar Varesé in 1921. Forty-five years later, a young Frank Zappa took his words seriously, printed them

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11 Feb 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Free: The Best of Free: The Millennium Collection

DEEP PURPLEThe Best of Deep Purple: The Millennium Collection(Mercury) by John Dougan free-best.jpg :. e-mail this article:. print this article:.

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11 Feb 2003 // 11:00 PM

	The Clean: Anthology

If I were a more ambitious man, I would save the first part of this review for a White Paper that I would sell to

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10 Feb 2003 // 1:00 AM

Martin Bashir's effort to catch Jackson out, to expose even the slightest craziness, was evident from the outset.

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10 Feb 2003 // 1:00 AM

When it comes to major events, the dedicated news channels have become increasingly reliant on centering their broadcasts on provocative imagery.

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When Michael Jackson calls Tony Mottola 'devilish' or dangles his baby, the media grind into high gear for weeks.

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10 Feb 2003 // 1:00 AM

Footballers’ Wive$ / Serious and Organised

Events at Earl's Park tend to be broadly soap operatic.

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10 Feb 2003 // 1:00 AM

The Office

The humor [of 'The Office'] is as dry as vermouth; next to it, the 'Dilbert' comic strip is 'The Man Show'.

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Oz

10 Feb 2003 // 1:00 AM

Oz

No other fiction show has offered such a frighteningly realistic look inside our nation's prisons or so openly debated their moral and social obligations.

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10 Feb 2003 // 1:00 AM

American Idol 2

During the first episodes this season, Cowell was, in his own words, 'bored,' which made him rather boring to watch.

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	Lee Ann Womack: Something Worth Leaving Behind

The photographs of country star Lee Ann Womack decorating the album cover and inner sleeve of her latest release, Something Worth Leaving Behind, are obviously

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	Supertramp: Crime of the Century / Crisis? What Crisis? / Even in the Quietest Moments / Breakfast

Give a little bit MORE of your love to them. Because they’ve been re-mastered, you know . . . When it comes to today’s generation of

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	The Snitches: Star Witness

There’s a special difficulty in reviewing a record that’s not clearly within the bounds of music that you enjoy, a record that, subjectively

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	Parliament: Funked Up: The Very Best of Parliament

In the 1970s, nobody in the entire universe ruled funk like the inimitable George Clinton did. During that decade, the former Motown staff writer alternated

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9 Feb 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Pearl Jam: Riot Act

For years now, Pearl Jam has sought to escape the arena-rock pigeonhole they found themselves in circa 1992. Derided by Saint Cobain, a leader of the

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9 Feb 2003 // 11:00 PM

	The Mayflies USA: Walking in a Straight Line

Third time’s the charm? The first release from the Chapel Hill-based Mayflies USA was actually a self-titled EP that emerged on Clancy Records in 1997,

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	Steve Morse Band: Split Decision

Steve Morse is probably best known as guitarist for the Dixie Dregs, an outfit that combined elements of Allman Brothers southern rock with the high-flying

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9 Feb 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Lo-Hi: Say It More

“Turn it up!” So demands Hollis Queens at the start of Lo-Hi’s latest album Say It More and its opening track “Runaround”. Frankly, it’

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	Chris Thomas King: A Young Man’s Blues

In most circles, Chris Thomas King is currently best known for his role as Delta bluesman Tommy Johnson in the Coen Brother’s film O

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9 Feb 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Hot Hot Heat: Make Up the Breakdown

Yes, it’s true, the most famous band from Canada is Rush. But don’t hold that against Hot Hot Heat. While the prog-rock trio

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	His Name Is Alive: Last Night

His Name Is Alive is one of those bands who sound is “for the times” but who never dabble with the latest technology or gadgets

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	Various Artists: Acuarela Songs 2

 VARIOUS ARTISTS Acuarela Songs(Acuarela)US release date: 29 October 2001UK release date: Available as import by Dave Heaton various-acuarelasongs.jpg :. e-mail this article:. print

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	Various Artists: The Best of Motown 1980s, Volumes 1 & 2 (20th Century Masters: The Millennium Coll

You don’t have to be a professional music critic to know that Motown’s decade of greatest glory was the 1960s. They had the

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	David S. Ware Quartet: Freedom Suite

In 1956, Sonny Rollins was one of the best-known tenor saxophonists in jazz, having recorded and released two wonderful and classic jazz albums, Saxophone Colossus and

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	Kitty Wells: The Best of Kitty Wells: The Millennium Collection (20th Century Masters)

The Millennium Collection is often a hit and miss affair. Artists who have more than a dozen memorable songs or hit singles often have single

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6 Feb 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Vitesse: You Win Again, Gravity!

If you’re between the ages of 21 and 40, there’s a good chance you’ve been forwarded one of those “You know you’re a

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6 Feb 2003 // 11:00 PM

	Sinéad O’Connor: Sean-Nos Nua

Sinead O’Connor has always done what she wanted to. For anyone in the music industry who’s made more than one album, that’s

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	Bob Marley & The Wailers: Rastaman Vibration: Deluxe Edition

It’s difficult to approach Bob Marley’s legacy with any sense of objectivity. While there’s no denying the infectious positivity of his music

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6 Feb 2003 // 11:00 PM

	The Music: self-titled

I had a dream about The Music. No: I had a memory. It was the middle of last year, when a devious Capitol Records intern

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6 Feb 2003 // 11:00 PM

	K-Ci & JoJo: Emotional

With rumors circulating about a Jodeci reunion release dropping later this year about as rampant as alcohol/drug related arrests in the Bush family, you

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6 Feb 2003 // 11:00 PM

	John Creamer & Stephane K: Bedrock Remixed and Compiled

Maybe it’s that I’ve gotten older and the club kid in me doesn’t want to dance the way it used to when

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	Chitlin Fooks: Did It Again

About 10 years ago, that beautiful country chanteuse K.T. Oslin sang a song called “I Don’t Remember Your Name (But I Remember You)” for

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More Recent Features
//Mixed media
//Blogs

Truth and Other Restrictions: 'True Detective' - Episode 7 - "Black Maps and Motel Rooms"

// Channel Surfing

"Series creator Nic Pizzolatto constructs the entire season on a simple exchange: death seems to be the metaphysical wage of knowledge.

READ the article