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Wednesday, Mar 5, 2014
Let them entertain you: here are ten songs of Queen at its hard-rocking and overblown best.

The UK’s Official Charts Company recently announced that Queen’s 1981 Greatest Hits collection is the first album in Britain to sell over six million copies. That figure, if you notice, also makes Greatest Hits the best-selling record in British history. To put that feat in perspective, note that the album outpaces popular works by fellow British royalty the Beatles (at number three on the country’s all-time sales list with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band), Oasis (number five with (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?), and Pink Floyd (number seven for The Dark Side of the Moon). Even global superstars ABBA (number two), Michael Jackson (numbers six and nine), and Madonna (number 11) can’t best that.


Queen has long been considered a national treasure in its home country, but in other places (namely, the United States) the group has had to gradually allow its legacy to grow large enough to help it escape the dismissals of critics and earn it its proper place in the rock pantheon. Sniffed at for its penchant for campy bombast, its flights of fancy, and its brazen showmanship, history has proven those qualities to be among the band’s virtues. Look no further than 1985’s Live Aid extravaganza to see how Queen measures up in the wider scheme of music—it took the stage the same day as scores of other rock and pop icons, and in 20 minutes mopped the floor with the lot of them.


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Monday, Mar 3, 2014
Anathema goes for a more straightforward (though no less involving) approach on the seventh track from Weather Systems.

Looking back over the previous six tracks on Weather Systems, you’ll notice several exceptional examples of how Anathema uses the chaotic imbalance of nature to serve as a metaphor for the spectrum of human emotion. However, the record also has several great songs that stray from this idea, such as “The Beginning and the End”. In fact, it’s the first entry since “Untouchable Pt. II” to do this; however, this lack of overt thematic connection, as well as its relatively clear-cut approach, doesn’t damage its power or relevancy in the collection. Really, it’s one of the most plaintive and riveting pieces the group has ever crafted.


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Friday, Feb 28, 2014
Keep that list of who to thank in mind, and don’t forget the rich ones that are kind. A critically acclaimed 2013 LP from New York indie rockers is this week’s Counterbalance.

Note: For those of you keeping score at home, Counterbalance has stepped away from the most acclaimed albums of all time and is instead examining the role of critical acclaim more broadly, using a wide range of albums as examples. Do not be alarmed.


Mendelsohn: The last couple of years have been fun and educational, Klinger. We spent over four years digging through the Great List — we made it through 160-some entries and now we are going to switch it up for a while with our own picks. Freed from the shackles of the Great List, I didn’t really know what to do so I returned to my new music addiction. Truth is, I’ve been away too long. I have no idea what’s hot but I wanted something I new. So I just went to AcclaimedMusic.net, home of the Great List, and checked out the Best Of list for 2013. I recognized some names, found some new things, and saw a couple of albums I had already picked up this year (I still snuck in a new record or two, even if I was supposed to be faithful to the Great List).


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Thursday, Feb 27, 2014
For the second month of 2014, we have big comebacks from B.A.P., Sunmi, CNBlue, and Girls' Generation! The music videos give us everything from sexy vampire dancing to broken mirrors, to extended mockumentaries. But how do the songs hold up against the exciting first month of the year?

After the exciting start to the year, K-pop calmed down a bit in February. But despite the smaller amount of big releases, there were definitely some stand-out songs, so let’s check out a few:


 

B.A.P. - “1004 (Angel)”


After debuting in January of 2012, six-member boy band B.A.P. (Best Absolute Perfect) has finally released its first full-length album, First Sensibility. The lead single from the album, “1004 (Angel)”, came out on February 3rd and remained one of the most interesting songs/videos throughout the whole month. The song is more of a rock/pop style for the group, which tends to lean towards EDM and hip-hop, but it works surprisingly well for the boys, who really get to show off their vocals here. “1004 (Angel)” is a melodramatic song of lost love, with lyrics like “The reason I live is you” running throughout. But with its infectious hook and dance rhythm, it’s hard to not enjoy.


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Wednesday, Feb 26, 2014
A coffee house fixture in Los Angeles, Beck nearly got lost in the deluge of alt-rockers with his left-field hit "Loser". Then his follow-up album put him in the category of musical visionary. Ranging from barely-contained chaotic works to seamless masterpieces, here are his ten best efforts.

When “Loser” broke in 1994, alt-rock was still sorting through the deluge of acts major labels pounced on in the post-Nirvana landscape. If anyone predicted they could tell which acts were going on to lasting careers (e.g. Radiohead, Sheryl Crow) and which acts were destined for footnote ‘90s relic status (e.g. Soup Dragons, Candlebox), they were lying.


That’s what made Beck‘s biography so intriguing. On first listen, “Loser” was as much a novelty song as Deadeye Dick’s “New Age Girl”. But repeated listens of his breakthrough album Mellow Gold showed an artist who sounded like he took all of the signature sounds of Los Angeles (punk, Latino-infused rock, hip-hop, and folk) and put them in a slow cooker and turned it on “low” for about 12 hours.


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