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Wednesday, Aug 27, 2014
by PopMatters Staff
For those interested in acquainting themselves with alternative rock's rich and diverse early years, Sound Affects has assembled this '80s alt-rock primer.

In 2014, alternative rock is a standard fixture of the musical landscape. This is an era where Coldplay regularly placing near the top of the pop charts, Foo Fighters and Red Hot Chili Peppers filling stadiums, Radiohead and Arcade Fire racking up Grammy Award nominations, and Nirvana essentially being begged to be honored by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are normal, even expected, occurrences. One not even need look beyond PopMatters itself for confirmation, for like any other current critical publication online or off-, a sizable percentage of new rock releases reviewed will originate from the alternative/indie spectrum due to sheer volume and the ubiquity of the style.


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Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014
This Sheffield duo takes great care to craft new types of songs on every album, and also tell us that the soundtrack to Sister Act 2 just may be the greatest album ever made ...

Charles Watson and Rebecca Taylor get bored with their own music pretty easily.


That’s not to say they don’t love it or love crafting it or refuse to play older songs at shows, no. However, in their short lifespan, this Sheffield duo have made notable changes to their sound from album to album, as the clap-and-stomp folk-rock of 2010’s Yeah So is notably different from the irreverent, more fleshed-out full-band workouts that made 2011’s great Paradise what it was. Perhaps even more impressive than their discography has been their incredibly notable videography as well, which has featured everything from impressive Daniel Radcliffe cameos to their viral “Two Cousins” concept, stunning in its simplicity but effective nonetheless.


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Monday, Aug 25, 2014
Their last song is a bit of a party-ending lark (a cover of Petula Clark's "Downtown"), but cooling down is just the move needed to close out one of the greatest pop albums in history.

For an album as giddy, raw, punkish, fun, and overall exciting as The B-52’s is, it is actually somewhat fitting that the final song on it isn’t only a cover, but also a stripped down, laid-back, celebratory send-off to one of the finest discs in the history of pop music.


Clocking in at just under 40 minutes, part of what made The B-52’s so special was the fact that while the band certainly borrowed tropes from B-movies, vintage shops, and forgotten New Wave 45s to create a universe that was all its own, it wound up creating an album that was musically well-considered and very assertive (sometimes even downright aggressive) with lyrics that were offbeat, wacky, and hinting at real human emotions when you weren’t distracted by their bizarre turns towards the sci-fi. Outside of “There’s a Moon in the Sky (Called the Moon)”, where the song’s title proves better than the song itself, The B-52’s is truly one of the greatest pop albums ever made. The B-52’s were never able to fully recreate the magic captured here (and boy howdy did they try sometimes), but after introducing us to their own unique and strange world with such unbelievable conviction, closing with a Petula Clark cover just seems absolutely fitting.


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Friday, Aug 22, 2014
Gonna drive past the Stop 'n' Shop with the Modern Lovers' masterpiece on. Roadrunner once. Roadrunner twice. I'm in love with rock 'n' roll, and I'll be out all night. From 1976 (but recorded in '71 and '72), this week's Counterbalance is a cult classic.

Klinger: Of all the characters we’ve encountered during the course of our Counterbalance excursion, few are as singularly odd as Jonathan Richman, lead singer of the Modern Lovers. Part incurable romantic, part frustrated outsider, Richman wrote an album of songs that were occasionally edifying and occasionally unnerving, but always brutally honest. His band played with an aggression that was right in line with the burgeoning punk/New Wave scene (future Cars drummer David Robinson and Talking Head Jerry Harrison are heard here), and at one point the group was signed to Warner Brothers. And then Richman turned his back on everything.


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Thursday, Aug 21, 2014
Making the big dumb rock gesture isn't always the cool thing to do. But a good musician always knows when it's best to do it anyway.

In Noisey’s British Masters interview series, there is an exchange from the episode spotlighting once-and-future Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr that delights me to no end. When asked what the impulse behind his laying down a fist pump-inducing solo on the Smiths single “Shoplifters of the World Unite” was, the normally anti-rockist Marr first searches for the right words, then simply admits it felt right to just go for it (well, his actual phrasing was far more blunt—the curious can view the footage for his uncensored phrasing below). Marr then expresses his joy at watching a YouTube video featuring some long-hair dude rocking out to the solo in question (“It was worth it just for that guy’s response”), and goes on to state he never took a shine to heavy metal, only to then immediately recount the time the Smiths (“That’s everybody in the band”, he relishes emphasizing to the interviewer) went to a Van Halen concert. Fixating mainly on Eddie Van Halen’s pleased-to-be-here approach to performing, Marr recalls, “It was so brilliant to see someone sort of carried away by, like, dumb-ass rock ‘n’ roll, you know, and how brilliant he was.”


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