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Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014
In honor of the band with the most U.F.O.s and robots, here are the ten best Flaming Lips songs based on all things science fiction.

Wayne Coyne and Co. recently released their version of the Beatles’ epic Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, but titled their version With a Little Help from My Fwends. “Fwends“ are what the Flaming Lips call the pals that bring their musical talents to records like 2012’s The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends. The collaboration included a diverse mix of musicians, including Kesha, Nick Cave, and Yoko Ono. On this album, the line up features acts like Moby, Foxygen, My Morning Jacket, Jay Mascus, and, surprisingly, Miley Cyrus. The even bigger surprise is that Cyrus’s duet with Coyne on “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds“ is what keeps the album from being a total free-form freak-out.


This is not to say the parade of eccentricity that is the Flaming Lips isn’t brilliant. It’s just that when that eccentricity is kept within the confines of the band, it’s a lot more dazzling. There are few bands that would attempt to pull off a project like covering an entire Beatles classic, but then again this isn’t the first time the Lips have attempted such a feet. In 2009, they covered Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon with the assistance of Henry Rollins, Peaches, and Stardeath and White Dwarfs. The result was an offbeat rendition of the original, replete with singing saws, coughing, panting, and howling.


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Monday, Nov 24, 2014
"Happiness in Slavery" is a standout from Nine Inch Nails' early output not for its confrontational nature, but as a showcase for Trent Reznor's acumen as a musician and a producer.

“Slave screams!” As with “Last”, the fifth (officially listed) track on Broken goes straight for the jugular. A dense cacophony of earth-shuddering rhythms, scything guitar and keyboards, and savage screams, “Happiness in Slavery” is tied with “Wish” for the title of the EP’s standout song, and is probably its most recognizable.


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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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