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by Alistair Dickinson

25 Jun 2010

As a tween, my middle-school’s playing field was located next to the local “Alternative School”. The oft-repeated joke amongst my ska-punk loving classmates was that rather than signifying that it was a special institution for kids expelled from the mainstream education system, the “Alternative” adjective meant that everyone who went there was “forced to listen to Bush all day long”.

Bush, the big-in-the-U.S.A. British rock band fronted by Gavin Rossdale, pretty much disappeared from the radio within the next couple of years, but at the time they were the epitome of the post-grunge “alternative” rock bands that—to my friends’ jaded 12-year-old minds at least—seemed to ape old-fashioned cock-rock more than it did Kurt Cobain. (I’ll always wonder what the old crew thought of Rossdale’s 2008 more-saccharine-than-“Glycerine” solo track “Love Remains the Same”?)

Well now Bush is back, reforming for their first shows in eight years and a new album, Everything Always Now. The first single, “Afterlife”, is currently streaming on their website (though it looks like you’ll have to make the potentially humiliating step of declaring your love for Bush on Facebook to listen to it). The sound is a little different, but mainly because this song seems to be influenced by current rock-radio mainstays like Nickelback and Lifehouse. All you “Greedy Fly” lovers out there feel free to check it out at the link below…

“Afterlife” [streaming]

by John Garratt

24 Jun 2010

Muhal Richard Abrams will earn the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2010 Vision Festival. Indeed, the man has achieved much in his lifetime. As a pianist and composer, Abrams seems to be one of those monoliths who has transcended the mundane trappings of the human experience in music. As a collaborator, he has rubbed elbows with contemporaries who are (the only appropriate term I can think of) true originals: Henry Threadgill, Roscoe Mitchell, Malachi Favors, and Anthony Braxton, just to name a few. As a co-founder of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), who knows how many careers he launched and lives he’s touched. Yet you won’t see him getting hounded for autographs in a Starbucks. Perhaps that’s a good thing? and Bad Plus leader Ethan Iverson have the full scoop on Muhal Richard Abrams’ forthcoming accolades along with free MP3s to get your motor running. Pianist Jason Moran seems to have an affinity for the album Sightsong.

[download MP3s]

by Maria Schurr

24 Jun 2010

Crystal Castles have released an official video for “Celestica”, from their PopMatters-approved release Crystal Castles. The video is comprised mostly of shots of singer Alice Glass wondering through a graveyard and idling in the grass while looking coldly stunning. So, it’s not exactly a video for those who like big expensive special effects, then. Whatever your budgetary preference, it can be agreed that the song itself is a perfectly chilly antidote for this steamy summer season.

by John Garratt

24 Jun 2010

Earlier in the year, I was smitten with one of my new assignments; the debut album Creesus Crisis by a Calgary avant-garde trio called No More Shapes. I loved the shambolic nature of this certain music that didn’t seem to have a name. And not because its creators where trying to be esoteric, but because it just seemed to fall out of the sky that way. It was naturally weird.

I ran down the rabbit-hole with that one. Their label, Drip Audio, has some truly special talent on their roster including Peggy Lee (the cellist, not Ms. Fever), Butcher/Müller/van der Schyff, and my new personal favorite Inhabitants. Their latest album A Vacant Lot is so indescribably rich and odd, so very startlingly… ah, hell, I’ll just say it… original, that I easily would have given it at least an eight if it were one of my assignments. In a few words, this quartet is able to push their sound to wherever their muse fancies, making cascading trumpets and billowy guitar feedback sound like mere child’s play.

Many thanks to the Drip Audio rep who directed my attention to Inhabitants. Hopefully I can bring more people to their attention.

by L.B. Jeffries

23 Jun 2010

Appreciating this clip from Everyday Shooter takes some explanation if you’re unfamiliar with how the game works. Everyday Shooter is an emergent music game, which means that the normal beeps and pews have been replaced with sound effects meant to compliment the background track. Everytime the glowing dot hits something with a bullet, a unique guitar note is struck. Keeping everything musically coherent is very difficult and even the most talented designers opt for House music or techno to make the work easier.

Everyday Shooter is unique in this already small genre because it draws on inspirations like Steve Reich’s Electronic Counter-Point along with a hefty amount of Don Caballero. The music is almost entirely electric guitar, performed by programmer and designer Jonathon Mak. Some tracks work better than others depending on your tastes, but all are designed conceptually as songs because of how rigidly you have to play to have much chance of survival. For that reason the game is brutally difficult. Each level is its own track and designed completely differently from the other. Enemies do not repeat, you have to study each level individually and figure out how to win. By doing so, the level’s song starts to make more sense and come together the more you play. The video is from the last level. It’s a moody and cathartic guitar solo, which is appropriate considering how hard it is to get to this point in the game.

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