Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

 
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Monday, Apr 26, 2010

On April 26, 1980, Los Angeles punk band X released their debut. Named after the city which spawned them, the album was a definitive release which not only put the Los Angeles punk scene on the map, but also inspired countless other young bands to look beyond the standard aggro punk idiom.


Los Angeles was produced by Ray Manzarek, who not only contributed keyboards to some of its songs, but also made sure to throw in a tune by his old band, the Doors (“Soul Kitchen”) for good measure.


John Doe and Exene Cervenka were the acknowledged leaders of the group, writing the album’s eight original numbers and sharing vocal duties, but guitarist Billy Zoom and drummer D.J. Bonebrake were every bit as crucial to the band’s early sound.


If it’s not actually possible to hop into a time machine and relive the thrill of the early Los Angeles punk scene, perhaps this clip of “Los Angeles” from X: The Unheard Music will evoke some of its spirit.


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Thursday, Apr 22, 2010

Kids have been going bananas over Sunn 0))) for a few years now, when they’re not getting all worked up over the new High on Fire album or continuing to suck in bong-loads of Electric Wizard. Far be it from me to discourage such noble apotheosis, but considering how much this style of slow, sludgy heavy metal is indebted to the past, I’d say a little history is in order. Before forming Sunn 0))) (and starting Southern Lord Records), Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley were part of Burning Witch, which only survived for two 12” releases over a handful of years in the late ‘90s. In that brief period, they played an intestine-bursting performance on the now-defunct Seattle public-access show, 29 Live. Everything about this video is FTW: the searing feedback, the unapologetic thrash fashion, the low end somehow remaining brawny through the tinny VHS recording, and above all else, the agonized shrieking of vocalist Edgy 59 (who now spends his time imitating Trent Reznor for Sinisstar). Doom metal would get slower, heavier, and more sophisticated in coming years, but never would Sabbath riffs be as punishing or raw.


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Tuesday, Apr 20, 2010
Let's celebrate the musical life of the legendary Guru in video.

After slipping into a heart attack-induced coma late last February, hip-hop artist Guru succumbed to cancer yesterday. The legendary MC, whose real name was Keith Elam, somehow managed to sound both rough and smooth at the same time. In addition to his partnership with DJ Premier in Gang Starr, Guru spearheaded the 4-volume Jazzmatazz releases, which saw him collaborate with jazz musicians, other MC’s and artists from across a broad spectrum.


Guru’s alleged final handwritten message, released by producer Solar, included harsh words for DJ Premier.


“I do not wish my ex-DJ to have anything to do with my name likeness, events tributes etc. I had nothing to do with him in life for over seven years and want nothing to do with him in death. Solar has my life story and is well informed on my family situation, as well as the real reason for separating from my ex-DJ.” (NME)


But rather than speculate on what led to that tension, let’s instead celebrate the musical life of the legendary Guru.



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Tuesday, Mar 30, 2010
by Rafer Guzmán / Newsday (MCT)

The raunchy new comedy “Hot Tub Time Machine” isn’t exactly going for scientific accuracy: The key ingredient that allows the characters to journey through the space-time continuum turns out to be a can of Red Bull-style energy drink.


But time travel, no matter how seriously or comedically portrayed, never loses its power over our imaginations. It’s a device that allows us to break the most basic law of life: What’s done is done. Of course, sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. Here are 10 time-travel movies, ranked from the most realistic to the most ridiculous — which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.


 

1. PRIMER (2004)
PLOT: In a Texas suburb, two engineers accidentally create a time-travel device. Their first thought: stock market! Their next thought: everything else.


TWO-TIMING: In this low-budget but highly complex film, the heroes create doubles of themselves in a temporary, temporal loop. In other words: mind-boggling.


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Wednesday, Mar 24, 2010
by PopMatters Staff

Lennon and Dylan share a spot of nutty chit chat in the back of a taxi in 1966, clearly a bit inspired by an illicit substance or two. Of course, they “talk” about music and riff on Johnny Cash, while Dylan tries to convince Lennon that he should live in Texas. Funny stuff


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