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

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Tuesday, Apr 1, 2014
Dave Brockie forced GWAR fans to take absurdity very seriously. He gave hope to kids all over the world, suggesting that creativity, humor, and heavy metal might be infinitely more powerful than the stultifying, small-minded idiocy that they saw all around them.

I first came into contact with GWAR when I was about 13 years old. This would have been about 1993 when my friends and I somehow came across a copy of GWAR’s album America Must Be Destroyed in the only record store in the small town in Northern California where I grew up. This was the high era of grunge, and the music that we were listening to took itself very seriously. Like so many young kids, we looked to popular music for examples of the kinds of people we wanted to be. Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Smashing Pumpkins suggested the possibility of channeling our feelings of awkward pre-teen alienation into something cool, or at least fashionable.


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Monday, Mar 31, 2014
The often overlooked The Beach Boys Today! (1965) finds Brian Wilson and the rest of the band embracing the sophisticated musical experimentation we would later find on Pet Sounds while retaining the catchy accessibility of their early surf and car songs.

In the 1960s, there was a band that changed the way popular music was made forever. They challenged conventional ideas regarding harmony, form, and instrumentation in pop music. They innovated the way the recording studio could be used as an instrument just as crucially as a guitar or a piano. They stretched genres and blended styles while still churning out catchy hits that are as beloved today as they were when they were released. No, I’m not talking about the Beatles, I’m talking about America’s own: the Beach Boys.


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Friday, Mar 28, 2014
And I know you'll never believe I play this as though I’m all right. If life is but a dream, then wake me up. The latest from Queens of the Stone is this week’s Counterbalance.

Mendelsohn: There are a couple of things from my formative years that I still find myself drawn to, despite my better judgment. I’ve long since moved away from the shock rock, the gratuitous riffage, and mindless jabbering of so many of the hard rock, neo-hard rock, alternative rock, industrial rock, and metal bands whose posters used to hang on teenage Mendelsohn’s walls. And yet I sometimes find myself gravitating to those musical elements that, for better or worse, are a part of my musical history. Strike the right tone, bring the heavy guitar licks, and I might give you a chance. If your name happens to be Josh Homme, so much the better, because if it is, I will inevitably listen to whatever album you just made and, more often than not, I will like it — a lot.


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Thursday, Mar 27, 2014
Our K-pop roundups continue with another exciting month. We got the long-awaited return of 2ne1, the unexpected return of Super Junior-M, and a big debut from Toheart. 2014 keeps shaping up to be a strong year for K-pop.

March was an undeniably exciting month for K-pop. With 2ne1 returning around the same time as Girls’ Generation, the two popular girl groups went head-to-head on the charts and the music competition shows (and Girls’ Generation did a little bit better on both). In addition to that “rivalry”, March saw comebacks from Orange Caramel and Super Junior-M, as well as the debut of a new collaboration, Toheart.


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Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014
First Kate Bush announces her return to the concert stage, and then the Pixies get ready to drop their first album in over 20 years. It's been a surprising week in music news.

The last few days have seen some long-thought unlikely musical occurrences finally coalesce into reality. Last week, art rock diva Kate Bush announced she would break her 35-year-long absence from touring by holding a 15-date residency at London’s Eventim Apollo starting this August. Similarly, alt-rock icons the Pixies announced days later that long-mooted plans for a post-reunion album would finally be realized next month with the release of Indie Cindy.


Though these developments are surprising, they are not completely out of bounds of reason, like, say, a Smiths reunion. Even though she has not embarked on a proper tour since a grueling six-week jaunt in 1979, Kate Bush has never been averse to live performance in of itself, having undertaken the odd one-off gig here and there since then. As for the Pixies, word has been that the band has tried to release more new material since reconvening ten years ago, with bassist Kim Deal being the primary hold-out against the notion. Since she exited the group last year, two EPs of brand-new Pixies material have been issued in quick succession; the subsequent unveiling of an full album was only logical.


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