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by Crispin Kott

26 Apr 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.

by PopMatters Staff

26 Apr 2010

Ethiopian-born and Bay Area-dwelling Meklit Hadero is one of those restless, creative souls that was literally born to be an artist. Easily straddling the musical worlds of African music and California artsy singer-songwriterdom, Hadero has worked for years within the San Francisco arts community. Her record label (Porto Franco Records) describes her perfectly: “If Joni Mitchell were East African and met Nina Simone for tea in San Francisco’s Mission District, she might end up sounding like Meklit Hadero.” Her full-length debut album, On a Day Like This… was released just last week and in this video you can sample the tune “Abbay Mado”, as well as get a glimpse of her creative process through a brief interview segment.

Porto Franco Records is offering up half of On a Day Like This… for free download in exchange for your email address. You can pick up those MP3s via the widget below.


by Mike Schiller

26 Apr 2010

Atlus looks to continue its recent hot streak with its first PS3 release since the wildly celebrated controller smash-fest that was Demon’s Souls. 3D Dot Game Heroes, like most of the Atlus game library, is a niche game, though it may well have a wider potential audience than Demon’s Souls or Shiren the Wanderer did; the appeal here is in an unabashedly retro approach to a game that could only have happened in the current generation.

3D Dot Game Heroes is something of a remake of NES classic The Legend of Zelda, though the pool of references it pulls from is far wider than that; quick comparisons can be made to just about any RPG/adventure game from the 8-bit era, with a particular emphasis on Dragon Warrior and a decided knack for the sort of intentionally awkward localization that marked the era. While its adventure is appealing and compelling in a “remember when” sort of way, though, it’s the character creation facilities of 3D Dot Game Heroes that are sure to provide the lasting appeal. 

After all, I may not have known prior to 3D Dot Game Heroes what it would look like if Bionic Commando‘s Super Joe wielded a sword that could grow to 10 times his size, but now that I do, I don’t know how I ever lived without it. Here’s a video offering a taste of those capabilities, complete with the silly sense of humor that the game handles so deftly.

by Maria Schurr

26 Apr 2010

If the 30 coolest people on the planet (30 because that is how many most likely remain) were to be ranked by awesomeness, innovation, and talent, PJ Harvey would have a strong showing in the top three. Because of this, Harvey can render whatever setting she finds herself situated in ineffably cooler, even when that setting involves an autoharp, “Istanbul” by the Four Lads (made famous by They Might Be Giants), the studio of a politics-focused BBC chat show, and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Need evidence? Just watch this video of Harvey performing the new song, “Let England Shake” below.

In an interview appearing on the same show, Harvey tells host Andrew Marr that half of her new album was written on the autoharp. Hey you, all thumbs indie kid: get your fill of autoharping now, because pretty soon that instrument will be untouchable.

by PopMatters Staff

26 Apr 2010

Junior Boys lend their remixing talents to “Odessa” off Caribou’s recent release Swim. Timothy Gabriele said this about the tune in his recent review: “Swim seems mostly to focus on wronged females who must either ‘swim’ or drown. Foremost is ‘Odessa’, the lead single and definitely one of the most defiantly eccentric of the bunch. The song is about a woman who is ‘tired of crying and she’s sick of these lies / She’s suffered him for far too many years of her life’ and is now ‘Taking the kids / Driving away’. The main hook is a processed vocal sample somewhere halfway between a dolorous weep and a ghostly moan. Its pairing with persistent bass, colorful keyboard rolls, cowbell tings, and microfunk accents seems mismatched at first, but the song grows on the listener after repeated spins. It has the tendency to recall the first time one hears the off-putting tenacity of Japan’s ‘Still Life in Mobile Homes’ opening up Tin Drum. Its conjunctions sound too aberrant to be pop proper until one adjusts him or herself outside of the conservatism of a 50-year radio model.”

//Mixed media

Notes, Hoaxes, and Jokes: Silkworm's 'Lifestyle' - "Ooh La La"

// Sound Affects

"Lifestyle's penultimate track eases the pace and finds fresh nuance and depth in a rock classic, as Silkworm offer their take on the Faces' "Ooh La La".

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