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Monday, Sep 8, 2014
An exceptionally intricate, intelligent, gripping, and ambitious track, "Jesus of Suburbia" also did a fantastic job of setting up the story, characters, and social commentary that makes this LP so great.

As I mentioned in the introductory installment of this series, Green Day’s American Idiot has often been compared to the Who’s 1973 conceptual opus, Quadrophenia, and it’s not difficult to understand why. After all, both records’ narratives center on rebellious teenage males whose punky individualism puts them at odds with social conventions, familial expectations, peer pressures, and romantic expectations. In other words, the protagonists of both records are sick of the bullshit that surrounds them, and they even develop alternate egos to help deal with the banality and overwhelming uncertainties of everyday life. Furthermore, both records contain rambunctious multifaceted suites in which each stylistic change represents a new emotion or perspective. Although the entirety of American Idiot contains examples of these connections, the second track, “Jesus of Suburbia”, does it the best. Broken into five distinct movements, the piece is a tour de force of catchy melodies, invigorating momentum, emotional timbres and progressions, and most importantly, wonderful transitions.


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Friday, Sep 5, 2014
You reach out and into the absence and gasping. The vastness grabs you like an alien embrace, your face to the face of this week's Counterbalance, in which we look at the Dirty Projectors' 2012 indie hit. Foolish, we know, but we're about to die.

Klinger: I don’t recall what exactly led me to pick up Rise Above, the Dirty Projectors’ radical 2007 reimagining of the Black Flag album Damaged. I was never that much of a Black Flag fan, and I think I had only read a review or two of the Dirty Projectors before I took the plunge. I’m awfully glad I did, since Dave Longstreth and his group have consistently produced music that’s equal parts challenging and exhilarating. I’ve been a big fan of the way the group structures its songs so that it’s hard to tell exactly when a wave of noise is going to overtake the arrangement, while still maintaining a surprising sense of melody. Swing Lo Magellan (2012) might be my favorite of theirs, with a series of undeniable hooks lying below the slightly off-kilter surface.


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Wednesday, Sep 3, 2014
They started with an "EP a month" gimmick that actually proved how good they were at songwriting, and to celebrate their first new album in five years, tell us all about Winston Churchill.

For Dark Oceans, a label that’s been completely unafraid of exploring the dark psyche of the modern indie rock landscape, the signing of a band as poppy and joyful as Bishop Allen may at first seem a bit unusual.


However, this long-running project that was initially formed by Justin Rice and Christian Rudder have been making waves ever since their debut album Charm School in 2003. What initially brought them to national attention was their 2006 effort wherein the band recorded a fully-produced EP every month for the course of that year, filled with soaring harmonies, jangle-pop guitars, and a wry sense of wit and wisdom. The best from those sessions helped form their 2007 effort The Broken String, which started the band’s fruitful collaboration with Dead Oceans.


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Tuesday, Sep 2, 2014
A decade later, Green Day's politically charged concept album remains one of the best, most important records of its era. The newest Between the Grooves series examines it in detail, starting with its mission statement title track.

Prior to 2004, few people would classify the music of Green Day as particularly sophisticated, intellectual, or thematically mature. Sure, “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life),” with its poignancy, fragility, and beautiful orchestration, quickly became the introspective acoustic ballad of a generation, and fun singles like “When I Come Around” and “Basket Case” were amongst the catchiest mainstream songs of their era. However, for the most part the ‘90s saw Green Day dominating the airwaves as little more than a premier punk rock group. The band emblemized a contemporary take on the rowdy counterculture retaliation of ‘70s icons like the Clash, and while it did an excellent job of it (don’t get me wrong), no one ever expected the trio to branch out of its preset genre limitations stylistically, conceptually, or technically.


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Thursday, Aug 28, 2014
(Dedicate one to the ladies...) This week's Counterbalance found the simple life ain't so simple, when it jumped out on the road. We're taking a look at Van Halen's 1978 debut album, which we're told is living at a pace that kills.

Mendelsohn: The one thing I liked about working from the Great List before the Counterbalance revamp was the weekly marching order. Didn’t matter what it was, whether or not we liked it, we were going to listen to it and have a little back-and-forth. Sometimes it was a drag. But mostly, the Great List offered up some interesting listening material. Looking down the list, it was pretty easy to tell who was going to stand behind specific albums. We are nothing if not predictable. But every now and then we would get to an album and more than anything I just wanted to know what you had to say about it.


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