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by Steve Jansen

1 Jun 2012


Like Halley’s Comet, Glasgow’s the Blue Nile tend to come around so rarely it seems like they’re perpetually in a state of being discovered. Likewise for their occasional orbits, it’s tough to tell whether they’re genuinely preeminent, or just create a stir for being so mysterious.

Personally, with the exception of the timelessly sublime “Tinseltown in the Rain”, I’ve found myself leaving the Blue Nile more often than I’ve taken to them. However, “Mid-Air”, the lead single from head Nile man Paul Buchanan’s latest album of the same name, is justification alone for his four-year absence.

by Evan Sawdey

31 May 2012


If Justin Pierre is anything, it’s self-deprecating.

Fans of the songs he’s made as the frontman for Motion City Soundtrack know full-well the power of cutting one’s self down to size. When he sings about falling asleep to episodes of Veronica Mars, it doesn’t stand out as a cheeky pop culture reference as much as it does describe a very specific kind of loneliness that speaks to a very specific generation—a reference with is embedded with experience almost as much as it is astute observation. Even on the song “Radio, Radio: Are You Getting This?” from his 90s-rock side-project Farewell Continental, there features a long breakdown wherein the band gives voice to their own harshest critic (“I guess you can’t love everything,” the narrator sighs). So even when the band is running their own festival, working with the likes of Ric Ocasek and Fountains of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger over the course of the same album (in that case, 2007’s Even If It Kills Me), or having their last album—2010’s magnificent My Dinosaur Life—get hailed as the Album of the Year by Alternative Press, you know full well that their success isn’t getting to their heads: it’s only keeping them that much more grounded.

by Sarah Zupko

30 May 2012


Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page get the attention as the major guitar gods, as do a plethora of other superb rock musicians, but a humble, blind guitarist from the little town of Deep Gap, North Carolina playing an acoustic guitar in flatpicking style is arguably one of the finest guitarists of the 20th century, right there alongside Django Reinhardt. Not to diminish the abilities of rock’s greatest axes, but as pretty much any guitar player will tell you, electric guitars are easier to play than acoustic ones and the stacks of amps and effects pedals can make a mid-range talent sound far better than they actually are. With an acoustic, there’s no room to hide. It’s just you and the strings and those strings don’t lie.

by Steve Jansen

29 May 2012


George Harrison once said he didn’t recognize Beatle George. Newspaper reporters can only nail so much truth, not least for the limited glean of timed interview slots, after which informed guesswork as a kind of excusable act of fiction must fill in the gaps. Hence, George was and will forever remain in the picture—certainly as foundation—but Beatle George outgrew the source, becoming an endlessly canvassed product of hive-expectation. It happened to all of the Beatles, as it does all stars that achieve universal, celestial acclaim. They become cubistic: there were too many side to their profiles for them to be real.

by Allison Taich

29 May 2012


If you crave haunting melodies shaded with dark shadows, looped vocals and looming organs, I suggest you tune your ears to Bone and Bell. Hailing from Chicago Bone and Bell is the music and art of Texas-born singer/songwriter Heather Smith. Originally a solo effort Smith recently expanded her project into a quartet. Together as a full band Bone and Bell are releasing their second EP Organ Fantasies. Organ Fantasies is four tracks of melancholic complexities bound by layers of Smith’s delicate vocals and rhythmic subtleties. In a mere 11 minutes Bone and Bell create an arcane world exotic eccentricities, bound to leave you still with wonder. Bone and Bell’s Organ Fantasies came out on 7-inch vinyl and as a digital download on May 25.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

Culture Belongs to the Alien in 'Spirits of Xanadu'

// Moving Pixels

"The symbols that the artifact in Spirits of Xanadu uses are esoteric -- at least for the average Western gamer. It is Chinese culture reflected back at us through the lens of alien understanding.

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