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Wednesday, Jul 16, 2014
In a better world, "The Way Love Used to Be" would rank alongside "You Really Got Me", "Waterloo Sunset", and "Lola" as one of the Kinks' crowning achievements.

Actually, it does reside in that rarefied space—just not according to your average listicle on the subject or the band’s “greatest hits”. “The Way Love Used to Be” is a ghost classic mainly due to its undistinguished release history, appearing first on the soundtrack to Percy, a 1971 British comedy about “the world’s first penis transplant”, and then two years later on The Great Lost Kinks Album, an odds-and-ends collection that was discontinued in 1975 after Ray Davies initiated legal measures against Reprise Records.


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Monday, Jun 30, 2014
Seventeen new songs plus notes to sizzle up the summer fun.

Summer is finally here. Fire up the BBQ and get out those picnic blankets, along with this playlist of new tunes from recent releases to provide the perfect soundtrack. This compilation of 17 songs is culled from a bounty of new music out of the West Coast, especially San Francisco (Waters, Papercuts and the Fresh and Onlys), plus an international mix from across the pond, especially the UK (Eno*Hyde, the Horrors, Damon Albarn and Jimi Goodwin). Listen up and see what catches your ear.


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Thursday, May 15, 2014
While there are obvious downsides to the kind of discography that the Beach Boys have assembled -- it's dense, lengthy, and larded with inconsistent results -- one of the payoffs deserves special mention: those moments of discovery.

You’re half-listening to 20/20, the Boys’ so/so 1969 release, and you’re more-or-less resigned to the lead track, “Do It Again”, doubling as the high point. Then Side Two rolls around, and you find yourself totally caught off guard as beauty strikes in the restful, baroque pop form of “Time to Get Alone”. If you’re unacquainted, change that. “Time to Get Alone” is a dream, right on down the line from Carl’s feathery lead vocal—and the way it contrasts with the up-and-down crunch of the waltz backdrop—to the sumptuously layered arrangement of the chorus to the immaculate production job to the unadorned coda (which is from the extended version; see below).


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Wednesday, Apr 23, 2014
Seventeen new songs with notes to welcome spring at last.

With spring finally making an appearance, there’s plenty of news songs for another playlist thanks to the constant renewal of the music scene. Bands such as Cage the Elephant, Wye Oak and Real Estate are back with album releases along with Future Islands and Lost in the Trees. Female voices abound on this playlist, from Annie Clark of St. Vincent and Kelis, to Courtney Barnett, Sharon Van Etten and Monica Birkenes of Mr. Little Jeans.  Also check out new music from veteran bands Elbow and Maximo Park, along with indie heavyweight Beck.


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Monday, Apr 7, 2014
“Rape Me” was intended as a razor-sharp anti-rape anthem, an emblem of the feminist messages Kurt began channeling during the last two years of his life. That's not how it was taken.

Several years after Kurt Cobain died, I went to Sam Goody with a $20 bill and came home with In Utero.


I was 11, maybe 12. “Rape Me” was my favorite. I blasted the track and asked my parents what “rape” meant. They thumbed through the lyric booklet, frowned at the fetuses dotting the cover art, and quickly confiscated the disc to a bedroom closet, where, some weeks later, I happened upon it and reclaimed it in secret. Forbidden art is alluring art, and In Utero has been my favorite Nirvana release ever since. I already owned Nevermind, but In Utero was different—scarier, sharper around the edges. At least in part, that was because of “Rape Me”.


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