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Thursday, Mar 5, 2015
This week in metal brought a much needed injection of creativity into black metal and the 30th anniversary of a classic yet underrated metal album.

In late 2014, Machine Head was all set to launch a big North American tour alongside Finnish heavy hitters Children of Bodom and rising Dutch band Epica to coincide with the release of the highly anticipated new album, Bloodstone & Diamonds. It had all the makings of a successful tour; after all, Children of Bodom easily sell out venues on their own, so to have them opening would only make the demand for tickets even higher. But less than three weeks before the tour was set to begin, Machine Head pulled the plug on the entire thing, apparently because the new album wasn’t even finished yet. That rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, especially those in the Bodom and Epica camps, who had gone through a tremendous amount of preparation and paperwork to bring the European bands to North America. Bodom frontman Alexi Laiho took to Facebook to express his displeasure, Machine Head’s Robb Flynn responded, and things got very ugly very quickly.


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Thursday, Mar 5, 2015
Any traveler can relate to Earthbound's emphasis on mundane items and limited space, especially those with sinus infections.

Tragedy struck early this week. Afflicted by a particularly annoying cold, I willed myself out of bed and towards a day at work. My calendar was a solid stripe of back to back meetings, my email inbox a teetering tower of Monday-morning emergencies. As I settled into my seat on the train and tried to pretend the screeching metal noises were soothing violins, my itchy throat grew sore. I reached into my bag and my heart sank. I had left my cough drops at home.


After a few wistful moments of starting at the emergency door release lever, I decided to think about Earthbound. I was in the middle of an inventory crisis, something with which Ness and his friends were also very familiar.


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Wednesday, Mar 4, 2015
Bobby Womack is one of the many artists Van Morrison selected to re-interpret his classic songs for his new duets album.

In the vein of Ray Charles’ classic collaborative album Genius Loves Company, Northern Ireland songwriter Van Morrison has teamed up with a host of musicians for his forthcoming album Duets: Re-Working the Catalogue. Unlike Charles, however, who took songs from the pop, jazz, and blues standard repertoire, Morrison selected singers that he felt would best offer new interpretations of his own songs. Those who stepped up to the plate include Michael Buble, Steve Winwood, Natalie Cole, Mark Knopfler, Taj Mahal, Joss Stone, and his daughter Shana Morrison.


The newest cut to be released from the duet sessions is Van Morrison and Bobby Womack’s take on “Some Peace of Mind”, taken from Morrison’s 1991 LP Hymns to the Silence.


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Wednesday, Mar 4, 2015
The final installment of PopMatters' six week series on the UK up-and-comers of the Rua concludes with an upbeat number about moving on and being confident in oneself, "I'm OK".

For the past six weeks, PopMatters has debuted video track-by-track breakdowns of the music of the Rua, an all-sibling trio comprised of 22-year old Roseanna Brown (voice and guitar), 24-year old Alanna Brown (piano and backing vocals) and 19-year old Jonathan Brown (violin, guitar, vocals and backing vocals). With their emotive and often epic brand of pop, the Rua have already made a splash in their native United Kingdom with their debut LP Essence. In just two short weeks, that record will make its way stateside.


In this final look behind the scenes of Essence, the trio explains a bit about the song “I’m OK”, an appropriately upbeat and forward-looking way to end this exclusive look at the music of Essence.


Tagged as: pop, rock, the rua
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Wednesday, Mar 4, 2015
As the silent era was ending, Hollywood turned out slick, predictable, pleasingly made entertainments punched out of perfect formulas. Two examples, The Cossacks and Why Be Good?, are newly available from Warner Archive.

The Cossacks is allegedly based on Leo Tolstoy’s novel, but Frances Marion’s adaptation is pure Hollywood. The Cossacks are described as “simple as children”, a society where the men go off to fight Turks and come home to carouse while women work the fields. The chief, called the Ataman (Ernest Torrence), is ashamed to have a “woman man” for a son. Lukashka (John Gilbert) lounges at home with his shirt open, helps his mother lift heavy burdens, and doesn’t bother going to war. It’s just a phase. When his manhood is humiliated sufficiently by the whole village, he proves himself in the latest skirmish by killing ten Turks and discovering blood isn’t so bad.


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