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Friday, Feb 27, 2015
Something I learned today: Black and white is always grey. And this week's Counterbalance takes a look at a 1984 turning point in punk. Turn on the news for the 219th most acclaimed album of all time.

Klinger: In 1984 I was this close. I had discovered R.E.M. and Elvis Costello, and I was aware enough to know that there was a whole world out there beyond my heartland classic rock. Theoretically, with one quick turn to the left, I could have immersed myself in this whole underground scene, typified in my mind by albums like the Replacements’ Let It Be and the album I’ve chosen for this week’s Counterbalance, Hüsker Dü s double-LP conceptual magnum opus Zen Arcade. That’s not without regret.


I can only imagine how differently I might have turned out if I had spent more time cracking the code of Zen Arcade instead of trying to figure out the Who’s Quadrophenia. There’s certainly enough going on with this album to have kept my adolescent brain occupied, and I’m pretty sure that if this had been the expression of my teen angst I might have gone into my adulthood with a much different outlook. As it stands, I’m left to ponder this massive monolith of an album from a decidedly more analytical point of view. There’s of course so much to take in, and much of it is buried under that low-fi wall of noise. Lyrics are buried, guitars are muddled, and yet the whole thing still feels to me like a portal into some place that I very much want to be. Is this making sense, Mendelsohn?


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Friday, Feb 27, 2015
Valiant Hearts wants to show us that war isn’t caused by super villains, and their defeat changes nothing in the grand scheme of things. However, the presence of a super villain in the story still detracts from the harsh reality the game wants to explore.

Valiant Hearts and Never Alone are what I would call docu-platformers—puzzle-platforming games that seek to educate the player on some aspect of history or culture. As such, they share a striking similarity in approach. They purposefully avoid being literal or realistic, instead cherry picking certain aspects of World War I or Iñupiaq culture that can be easily integrated into the typical puzzle-platformer gameplay. They then use collectibles to expand upon those gameplay moments.


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Thursday, Feb 26, 2015
The Brooklyn duo Bob and Martha came together "an explosive firework of creativity and kittens". One spin of their newest tune, "We Leave", makes it evident that description is no exaggeration.

Bob and Martha are not actually Bob and Martha; the actual names of the duo are Aparna Muralidharan and Dan Bonsignore. According to their press materials, they both met and starting recording music in “an explosive firework of creativity and kittens”. Upon listening to Bob and Martha’s new EP, Middle Babies, it becomes clear that description is no mere use of adorkable rhetoric. Especially on tracks like “We Leave”, which you can exclusively stream below, the band’s brand of lo-fi, charming pop more than lives up to the image of a firework of kittens. Add this up with the animal costumes the group wears on the cover of Middle Babies and you’ve got yourself one twee pop outfit with a sense of humor and childlike wonder about their music.


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Thursday, Feb 26, 2015
Smoky and nocturnal, the title track off of the New York City-based Allies for Everyone's Bunker EP is a sharp blend of catchiness and moodiness.

Synth-pop bands are a dime a dozen these days—hell, maybe even less than a dime at this point. One might say that the Brooklyn/New York City synth and indie scene has hit its economies of scale moment, if it hadn’t done so already. For that reason, when an artist or band pulls off a particularly memorably catchy take on synth-pop, it’s hard not to notice. Such is the case for Allies for Everyone, a project by the New York City musician Brian Suarez, whose new EP Bunker displays both pop smarts and the textural prettiness that many bands of his ilk fall far short of. The EP’s title cut particularly stands out; with a great hook, an earwormy three-note ostinato, and layers upon layers of atmospheric synths, it’s a track that does what good synth-pop should do.


“Bunker” now has an equally atmospheric music video to accompany it, featuring plenty of smoky visuals that enhance the already distinct nighttime mood of the tune.


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Thursday, Feb 26, 2015
Sometimes, the Academy Awards a consolation prize of sorts for getting it wrong in a previous year. Here are 10 examples of this phenomenon.

When she took the stage last Sunday evening to pick up her first ever Oscar trophy, Julianne Moore was beaming. It was a face that felt the entirety of the event, matched with a meaning for those who’ve followed her career since she was a Frannie and Sabrina Hughes on the CBS soap opera As the World Turns. After five nominations and several more defining roles, Moore had finally earned the highest honor in her craft. Everyone was happy. Most wondered why it took so damn long.


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