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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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Wednesday, Aug 20, 2014
If you were a child of the '70s, you no doubt grew up hearing these tunes slipping out your parents' eight-track player and car radio. The songs on the list are sappy, high-drama love ballads -- and for that they're being celebrated

“Easy listening“, “adult contemporary“, “elevator music“: these dirty words have been used to describe some of the songs on the following list. In their defense, these songs came out in the ‘70s, which was the height of the soft rock revolution, yet some of the songs have their roots in rock and R&B, and transcend the time period they were released in. And those songs that don’t? Oh, well. As Paul McCartney said: “Some people wanna fill the world with silly love songs. And what’s wrong with that?”


If you were a child of the ‘70s, you no doubt grew up hearing these tunes slipping out your parents’ eight-track player and car radio. The songs on the list are sappy, high-drama love ballads, and for that they’re being celebrated. However, the songs aren’t only about love and breakups; they also represent a simpler, more carefree time for a generation getting older and perhaps nostalgic.


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Tuesday, Aug 19, 2014
Few can deny that Swift is a talented songwriter, but there are only so many times she can attack her "haters" before that trope feels as worn as a months-old US Weekly still sitting on the top of your toilet.

In the much-hyped media event revealing Taylor Swift’s big new single, not only did Swift announce that her new album will be called 1989, but also shared with us that this is the “first documented, official pop album” that she’s made.


So, forget all the country purists who called her a sell-out for the Max Martin co-pen “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” or the dubstep-indebted “I Knew You Were Trouble” or MOR pop mainstay “22” (all from her last album, 2012’s Red)—this album here is her real shameless attempt to become a pop star! It’s documented, even! Official! Notarized! With witnesses!


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Monday, Aug 18, 2014
Sorry, Tommy Tutone: the B-52's had you beat at this a long long time ago.

Sorry, Tommy Tutone: the B’s got ya beat.


The penultimate track to the B-52’s’ seminal debut album, the follow-up to the somewhat more dramatic lyrical leanings of “Hero Worship” proves to be something that is firmly in Fred Schneider’s carnival-barker wheelhouse, even though the whole band (save Cindy Wilson) wound up writing it. It is a goofy party-rocker that has a surprising amount of punk energy, even if the guitar distortion is kept to a minimum.


Opening with the tapped-out drum beat that corresponds with Fred, Kate, and Cindy shouting out the titular phone number digit-by-digit, and then the song breaks into its surprisingly simple structure: two strummed major chords on repeat. Ricky Wilson’s strum pattern helps give the song verve, with several well-placed down-strokes adding a bit more rhythm and personality to the proceedings, but once the chorus hits, he adds in one more note into the mix, still keeping the riffs raw and agile, the momentum never stopping.


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