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Wednesday, Dec 12, 2012
PopMatters spotlights a few additional 2012 albums that didn't quite crack the Best 75 list.


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The Coup

Sorry to Bother You

(Anti-)

Review [20.Nov.2012]


The Coup
Sorry to Bother You


A previous album was called Party Music, but this takes parties to the next level, with the funk grooves and shout-along anthems of the year, while amping up the revolution talk for our Occupy era. They’re cutting through the lies they were taught at school, invading boardrooms, plotting takeovers, exposing the hypocrisy of the war on drugs (in a kazoo-punk jam, no less) and marching in the streets, then knocking back a few Long Island iced teas to celebrate. Above and beyond all the rebellious noise, Boots Riley has honed the poetry in his songs, bringing the detailed imagistic writing of a Leonard Cohen or Joni Mitchell to hip-hop. Handclaps, twilight-time string arrangements, revenge fantasies, art theory (they choose David Siqueiros over Andy Warhol) and a good old-fashioned posse cut unite under the fabric of grassroots, populist, visionary music.—Dave Heaton



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Wednesday, Dec 12, 2012
PopMatters spotlights a few additional 2012 albums that didn't quite crack the Best 75 list.


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The Vaccines

Come of Age

(Columbia)

Review [16.Sep.2012]


The Vaccines
Come of Age


They literally don’t make ‘em like that anymore. Just a year after their much-touted debut, What Did You Expect From the Vaccines?, the English quartet delivered this follow-up. Come of Age didn’t completely replace the short, sharp indie rush of the debut. It did, however, build on it, adding a greater variety of styles without sacrificing the hooks. It also served as a coming-out party for guitarist Freddie Cowan’s thrillingly off-kilter playing. Justin Young’s romantic observations continued to combine aw-shucks demureness with a commanding voice. With a work rate from a bygone era, the Vaccines proved coming of age doesn’t have to mean growing stale.—John Bergstrom



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Tuesday, Dec 11, 2012
PopMatters spotlights a few additional 2012 albums that didn't quite crack the Best 75 list.


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Leonard Cohen

Old Ideas

(Columbia)

Review [30.Jan.2012]



Leonard Cohen
Old Ideas


Assuming his position as a sad world’s Poet Laureate, Leonard Cohen’s Old Ideas was his best collection in years, a stark moment of proof that the singer truly is like the finest of wines—better with age. From the haunting low croons of opener “Going Home” to the playful, relatively upbeat nature of “Different Sides”, these 10 songs have more references to death and sex than three seasons of HBO’s The Wire. He isn’t breaking new ground any more than he’s using it as a placeholder for the victory lap that this record is. That doesn’t mean the work suffers. “Banjo’s” darkness is wry and beautifully selfish while “Crazy to Love You” is as romantic as the singer has ever been. And at seven-plus minutes, “Amen” sits next to “Dress Rehearsal Rag” as one of his longer, more breathtakingly hopeless journeys. Leonard Cohen is 78 years old now, so who knows if we’ll get another set of all-new material while he’s still able to don that derby on stages around the world. Though if Old Ideas does end up being his musical swan song, it’s hard to imagine two better ways to say goodbye: Sad and sexy.—Colin McGuire



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Tuesday, Dec 11, 2012
PopMatters spotlights a few additional fine 2012 albums that didn't quite crack the Best 75 list.


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Cat Power

Sun

(Matador)

Review [4.Sep.2012]


Cat Power
Sun


The electronics on Sun would seem to separate it from the rest of Cat Power’s oeuvre, but the synth and drum kit just highlight the mysteries that have always surrounded her lyrics, which feel like the torn-off pages of a diary you find on the street. The album starts with an ethereal cry for help on “Cherokee” and ends channelling Spirit Animal Iggy Pop on the massive “Nothin But Time” and promising that “I’m a lover, but I’m in it to win”, among other things. There’s a focus on Sun, all drums, pianos, everything feels like they’re driving towards the same place, one of confidence and a dogged belief that hard work, corny as it may sound, pays off: “You ain’t got nothing on time, and time ain’t got nothing on you.” And given the fact that Chan Marshall has bankrupt herself making Sun, there’s not a better statement in support of artistic creativity you could make then picking this up. Just buy it, goddamn it.—David Grossman



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Monday, Dec 10, 2012
PopMatters spotlights a few additional 2012 albums that didn't quite crack the Best 75 list.


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Lana Del Rey

Born to Die

(Interscope)

Review [2.Feb.2012]



Lana Del Rey
Born to Die


Let’s hope that the audacious insults hurled at Lana Del Rey for coming from a privileged background and having the audacity to change her name and take a second chance at a music career (because god knows you only get one shot) have ceased. Because quite frankly, Born to Die is a pretty spectacular album, misunderstood most by those who have absolutely no clue what making a record entails. English-major critics abound at her dark pop sensibilities, but it’s the lurid love affairs and ‘60s-style torch song crack addict delivery that really elevates Born to Die above it’s shiny pop veneer. There’s something dark and undercutting in Born to Die’s best tracks. “National Anthem”, “This is What Makes Us Girls” and the title track are unsettling bits of storytelling from a vivid and mesmerizing performer who manages to create little films with each and every track. Lines like “He said to be cool but, I’m already coolest / I said to get real / ‘Don’t you know who you’re dealing with?’ / ‘Umm, do you think you’ll buy me lots of diamonds?’” from the superb “National Anthem” are delivered with all the irony that we fault others for not having. It’s refreshing to see someone push racial and sexual boundaries in such a interesting way, and I, for one, can’t wait to see what she’s going to do next.—Enio Chiola



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