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Friday, Nov 21, 2014
When I'm a-walkin' I strut my stuff and I'm so strung out. I'm high as a kite and I just might stop to check out the 304th most acclaimed album of all time. A 1983 acoustopunk bellwether is this week's Counterbalance.

Mendelsohn: I couldn’t tell you when I got a copy of the Violent Femmes’ self-titled debut. I don’t even know where I bought it or why (it probably had something to do with “Blister in the Sun”). I don’t even recall listening to this album all that much. But going back to it for this week’s edition of Counterbalance, I realized that I had done an adequate job of internalizing the record. And then I had something of an epiphany as it dawned on me that the Violent Femmes may have very quietly been one of the most important rock bands of the 1980s, if not the past quarter century. Not so much for the band’s surprisingly varied catalog of material but for their legacy and the idea that a three-piece acoustic punk band is a viable vehicle for rock music. They are one rock band in a long line of rock bands who celebrated the simplicity of pop music from the fringes, attacking convention with a mix of humor and violence.


What’s your take, Klinger? Is the Violent Femmes’ debut worthy of its No. 304 ranking on the Great List?


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Wednesday, Nov 19, 2014
Mark Springer's Piano is an album to remind listeners of the possibilities on offer when one is open to chance and emotion.

Possibly the only punker during the UK’s post-punk revolution in the early ‘80s to have a serious understanding and appreciation of Chopin and Stravinsky, Mark Springer was always an outsider amongst the outsiders. As a member of Rip, Rig and Panic, a post-punk band that melded the incendiary attitude of punk with the free-flowing good vibes of funk and jazz, Springer added to the proceedings the unlikely element of classical music. His unusual contributions made him at once an appreciated and welcome colour in the dreary landscape of post-punk, as well as an alienated affiliate.


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Tuesday, Nov 18, 2014
For its third and fourth tracks, Broken arms itself with a bludgeoning wall of sound, followed by silent, creeping dread

The drifting ambiance that fills out the closing seconds of “Wish” is a brief respite before the Broken EP continues on with its rage-fuelled march with “Last”. Take heed and prepare yourself before pressing the “Play” button: “Last” is loud. A seemingly impossibly huge wall of guitars slams against the ears the instant the song starts, and the onslaught scarcely relents until the track finishes.


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Friday, Nov 14, 2014
This week's Counterbalance serenades the weekend squire who just came out to mow his lawn. A pop-psych delight, or the only choo-choo train that was left out in the rain the day after Santa came? Let's find out.

Klinger: I’m just going to come right out and say it: The Monkees’ fourth album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd.. is a great album. I realize that the Monkees have never gotten their due as one of the all-time great pop acts. I get that the fact that they were formed to star in a TV comedy will forever be held against them. I even understand that when they do receive grudging praise from “serious” rock snobs, it’s more likely to be for their previous album Headquarters (mainly because they played most of the instruments themselves). I don’t care. Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd.. is a great album, and one that I listen to with surprising regularity.


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Thursday, Nov 13, 2014
Dizraeli, Boho-hip-hop ranter and raver, has built up a steady following with his homespun grooves and twitchy raps.

As someone who has been willing to stir up a lot of shit, British rapper Dizraeli has been setting teeth on edge since his politicized hip-hop masterstroke Engurland (City Shanties) back in 2009. That album gave listeners a taste of the rapper’s ramshackled hip-hop, which fused elements as disparate as folk, Africana, spoken word, turntablism, and boho jazz.


A known wild card onstage (the artist once set a number of cars on fire for public amusement), Dizraeli is also in a minor movement of rappers who make strong appeals for social awareness, bridging the wide gap between the hedonistic throw-downs of club bangers and the invectives of social protest. His previous effort (with his band the Small Gods), explored the world outside his UK homeland after a trip to the Middle East region. An attempt to traverse cultural boundaries and dismantle stereotypes about “othered” cultures, Moving in the Dark (2013) no less captured the imagination with its message of social compassion and homebrewed grooves that were cooked and baked like homeopathic remedies.


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