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by PopMatters Staff

3 Mar 2009

Our very own Evan Sawdey just got off the radio moments ago, sparring with Blender’s Joe Levy on WYNC’s Soundcheck in a smackdown session on U2’s No Line on the Horizon, which we gave a 6 yesterday. Check out the broadcast and U2’s appearance last night on Letterman playing “Breathe” off the new record.

U2
No Line on the Horizon smackdown on WNYC [streaming]

by Jer Fairall

3 Mar 2009

Tinted Windows is a power-pop supergroup made up of the odd-until-you-really-think-about-it crew of Taylor (the middle one) Hanson, Fountains of Wayne tunesmith Adam Schlesinger, former Smashing Pumpkin James Iha and Cheap Trick drummer Bun E. Carlos. Lead single “Kind of a Girl” is a brain-implantingly catchy pop treat, all crunchy guitars, glam-rock fuzz and an achingly melodic singalong chorus. They’ll be at SXSW on March 20, with their album dropping, via S-Curve, on April 21.

Tinted Windows
“Kind of a Girl” [stream]

by Sarah Zupko

3 Mar 2009

MSTRKRFT have a very busy March ahead of them. The Canadian group releases their latest album Fist of God on March 10th for the iPod set and March 17th for those of us who still like to play CDs on our stereos. It’s a dance-heavy set and features a long list of hip-hop luminaries among the collaborators, including Ghostface Killah, E-40, Freeway, Lil’ Mo, N.O.R.E., and R&B man John Legend. They’ll be dropping by Jimmy Kimmel Live on March 18 and playing a long list of March and April tour dates (listed below) in March and April culminating in an appearance at Coachella.

TOUR DATES
05-Mar Cholula, Mexico - lAniversio Bombay w/Felix Cartal
06-Mar Monterrey, Mexico - Nueva Leon w/ Felix Cartal
07-Mar Mexico City Plaza - Condesa w/Felix Cartal
13-Mar Phoenix Myst - Bird Peterson
14-Mar Denver - Ogden Theater w/Felix Cartal, Bird Peterson
19-Mar San Francisco - The Independent w/Felix Cartal
20 Mar Dallas - Pontiac Garage at the House of Blues
21-Mar Austin - SXSW
28-Mar Miami (WMC) - Ultra Music Festival
28-Mar Miami (WMC) - Louis @ Gansevoort
03-Apr New York - Webster Hall w/The Bloody Beetroots, Bird Peterson
04-Apr Baltimore - Sonar
09-Apr Toronto - Koolhaus w/Crookers, The Bloody Beetroots, Steve Aoki
10-Apr Philadelphia - Theater of Living Arts)
11-Apr Montreal - Metropolis w/Felix Cartal
18-Apr Indio - Coachella

by Thomas Britt

3 Mar 2009

Although conveniently placed within the garage-rock revival earlier this decade, The Soundtrack of Our Lives has proven to be a consistently good modern rock band with reverence for classic rock masters but a style all its own. With singer-shaman Ebbot Lundberg leading the way, the band returns to the United States in support of double-album Communion, available March 3.

This live version of “Second Life Replay”, a song from the new album, features mystical lyrics, a harmonica interlude, and a galloping third act—business as usual for this group of musicians borne from Union Carbide Productions. See them in a city near you this month.

TOUR DATES
09 March 2009 Paradise Rock Club, Boston
11 March 2009 Music Hall of Williamsburg, New York
12 March 2009 Bowery Ballroom, New York
13 March 2009 Double Door, Chicago
15 March 2009 The Independent, San Francisco
16 March 2009 Troubadour, Los Angeles

 

by Diepiriye Kuku

3 Mar 2009

I was 31 before the lyrics to the 1987 chart-topper Pleasure Principle meant anything to me. When the song debuted, I was already a staunch Janet Jackson fan. I was the first in my seventh grade class to be able to do Janet’s famous head-bop from the song’s video- moving her neck left and right, framing her head with her right hand under the chin then the profile. Janet wore plain black pants and a T-shirt, and full kneepads for the shoot. There is even a website dedicated to the cryptic markings on JJ’s tee, and calls this clip “a perfect blend of music and motion designed to ensnare its target in a very specific way.” Alone, she danced on an equally stripped down set to showcase the most baadasssss moves since, well, her brother.  In stark contrast to the highly ornate, narrative big-budget videos that would characterize successive albums and especially the Rhythm Nation 1814 Film, Pleasure Principle- the sixth single off her 1986 album Control- was all about the dance.

Janet’s success followed her elder brother’s chart-dominating, pop precedent-setting albums Off the Wall and Thriller by only few years. Moreover, when her turn came, she took over the scene just as quickly as Michael had done as a solo artist. Stretching decades from 1982’s Thriller, every kid in any dance school around the country learned sequences from Joe and Elizabeth Jackson’s kids. By the end of 1987, even drag queens abandoned dresses for tights and jeans in order to do Janet’s now infamous run, jump, balance and leap, landing from a chair.

Janet was neither the queen nor the princess, and certainly not a dominatrix of pop music (read Madonna’s Erotica, circa 1990). By the mid- to late ‘80s, grounded in Paula Abdul’s choreography, Janet had moved beyond trendsetter to ‘norm establisher’ in popular culture; she was in control. Little Ms. Penny from Goodtimes was more than just a starlet shaking her tits-n-ass for some coins. Nevertheless, she would play that card years later at the Superbowl, absorbing all the oxygen from the short list of other high profile celebrities set to perform that day in the Superdome. As comedienne Sommore says, “does anyone even remember who sang the national anthem that year?” Rather, Ms. Jackson (‘cause I’m nasty) genuinely remains true to her heritage as entertainers- a virtual clan of griots.

The Best things in Life are Free

One of my mother’s best friends took me to see the Rhythm Nation 1814 Tour, and it was all that! Naturally, I had purchased the cassette months earlier, and had memorized every word to every song, including the B-side non-hits, and knew the moves from those classic videos. I could croon every twist and turn of Janet’s Soul ballads like Someday is Tonight, which, upon a close listen, tone for tone approximates the heart wrenching melismatic orgasm of her brother’s Lady in My Life. At that tender pre-pubescent age, my vocal range could match that of any Jackson’s. Rhythm Nation 1814’s rich album notes included lyrics to every song, which is of great importance when confronting head-on topics that the news chooses to ignore like racism, sexism, war, oppression and the legacy we bequeath to our youth. In State of the World, Janet wrote/performed:

To feed the baby before he starts to cry/No rest, no time to play/15, the mother is a runaway/No time for dreams or goals/Pressure is so strong/Her body she has sold so her child can eat/What is happening to this world we live in/In our home and other lands

Of the myriad of pop artists that talk about sex, few regard the topic from this, frank and not so uncommon perspective. Many artists simply will never go there.

That rock on your finger’s like a tumor

Janet so neatly does Black music, infusing the old with the new into a finely crafted message of active contemplation and hope for the future. I always appreciate when artists come clean about their influences and tastes; as a people we pay so little attention to our history. Michael Jackson regularly thanked James Brown, publicly testifying to copying his moves while watching him as a child entertainer.

As a budding young dancer, I scoured through every available resource to learn about big band leader Cab Calloway and acrobatic dancers The Nicholas Brothers- all truly wicked entertainers from the Harlem Renaissance who made cameo appearances in Janet’s video Alright. The popularized remix of this hit paired Janet with Heavy D, fashioning the R&B/Hip-Hop duo that others still follow. One only need witness LL Cool J and Total, Ja Rule and J-Lo, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Mariah and well, just about every other thug. Control paved the way for New Jack Swing, of which Mary J. Blige would later become its queen.

It was Control that would lay the foundation for all danceable pop music to follow. Beyond just stealing and sampling funk and disco beats, Janet’s lyrics and image covered much, much more than fanatical love and hardcore sex. Janet’s next project, Rhythm Nation 1814, was an action-packed album that not only gives ample treatise to social ills, but also incorporates entertainers that influenced Janet, on top of contemporary dope beats. Most certainly, this left little room to brag about wealth, though I suppose growing up at 2300 Jackson Street, one grows accustomed to such riches.

Like Beyoncé, Janet can pay her own fare, “It’s not the first time I’ve paid the fare,” she says, “Thank you for the ride.” She’s an Independent Woman. Yet, unlike savoring the ability to ‘buy your own’, eschewing, as she says in Pleasure Principle, “part-time bliss” for “happiness,” Janet asserts: “I’m not here to feed your insecurities. I wanted you to love me … My meter’s running I’ve really have to go!” She is interested in more than just goods. Despite the Jackson trail-blazers, so much of today’s pop encourages independent women and girls to leave love aside, opting for a cheap, material upgrades, or be Bossy, turning the tables and becoming somebody’s Suga Mamma. Today’s divas simply wallow in their own insecurities, victims of the perpetual lust for pleasure in material bliss.

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