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Thursday, Mar 20, 2014
Ted Gioia's piece "Music Criticism Has Degenerated Into Lifestyle Reporting" spread like wildfire, and Jody Rosen's response was equally compelling. While the debate rages on, these two critical titans are highlighting a changing of the critical guard that is happening slowly and begrudgingly.

If you somehow didn’t know Ted Gioia’s name before his article on the Daily Beast, “Music Criticism Has Degenerated Into Lifestyle Reporting”, started spreading around like wildfire, then you most assuredly do now.

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Tuesday, Mar 18, 2014
When you take the Skygreen Leopards' frontman and place him with the prolific indie god Ben Chasny, what do you get? Stories about Settlers of Catan, drunk-tank philosophy, and a great new band called New Bums, we discover ...

New Bums may very well be the quietest supergroup in all of history.

On one end, you have the lo-fi acoustic strums of Donovan Quinn, best known for his homespun rock group Skygreen Leopards, who have been quietly releasing brilliant albums since 2001. On the other hand, you have Ben Chasny, who is known for his band Six Organs of Admittance and his other band Comets on Fire and his other band Rangda and—well, you get the idea. Chasny has proven himself adept and adjusting his indie-centric style towards whatever situation calls for a new flush of energy, and when he got together with Quinn, a little group called New Bums emerged.

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Monday, Mar 17, 2014
“Internal Landscapes” forces you to reflect on those you’ve lost, not just in terms of their absence, but in terms of what you shared with them when they were alive.

Over the past seven weeks, I’ve explored how and why Anathema’s latest opus, Weather Systems, is the most beautiful and touching album I’ve ever heard. Every one of its first eight sections is a luscious commentary on the sorrows and hopes that affect the human spirit. Be it the vast power of “The Gathering of the Clouds”, the universal truth of the “Untouchable” duo, or the crushing duality of “The Storm Before the Calm”, Weather Systems proves its immeasurable worth with each declaration. However, none of these efforts match the overwhelming emotion, reliability, and magnificence of the record’s last track, “Internal Landscapes”. A final reflection on the bond we shared with those who’ve left us, it’s among the most powerful pieces of music I’ve yet experienced. In fact, it’s one of only two songs that have literally left me frozen in place, speechless and shedding tears (the other being “Heartattack in a Layby” by Porcupine Tree).

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Friday, Mar 14, 2014
You know I'm bad at communication, it's the hardest thing for me to do. And it's said, it's the most important part that relationships will go through. So let's just listen to this pop record — it's this week's Counterbalance.

Mendelsohn: It’s no secret that I have a soft spot in my heart (or head) for well-executed pop music. So when I pulled up the best of 2013 list on, I was pleasantly surprised to find Haim’s Days Are Gone hovering just outside of the top ten. Haim, for the uninitiated, are three sisters, Este, Danielle, and Alana, who hail from California and have been playing music together for most of their young lives (the oldest sister, Este, is 27). These young ladies got their start as part of a family rock group, playing cover songs with their parents at local events. Este and Danielle then went on to spend some time in various other projects including a stint in a prefabricated pop group and various backing roles for a who’s-who in the indie rock world. With the addition of youngest sister Alana to the roster, these ladies finally got around to doing the proper rock group thing and released Days Are Gone.

Full disclosure time — this is probably the last time I will ever listen to this record. But for the past couple of weeks, it has snowed non-stop in my locale and Days Are Gone is about as close to sunny SoCal as I can get so I will take it. And honestly, it’s hard to dislike this album, Klinger. It is a studio masterpiece and a rolling call book of nearly every pop music convention to grace the airwaves for the past 40 years. I am simultaneously thrilled and sort of disgusted that I am thrilled by this record. But before I put down this guilty pleasure, I wanted the chance to subject you to its unrelenting effervescence. You told me last week that you like effervescent pop. Is this effervescent enough for you?

Tagged as: counterbalance, haim
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Thursday, Mar 13, 2014
The man who sampled the Clash's "Straight to Hell" for M.I.A. teams up with his heroes and Frank Ocean to bring summer to your speakers a few months early.

Now here’s a pleasant surprise. A few days ago the Converse sneaker company unveiled a collaboration between producer Diplo, R&B it-boy Frank Ocean, and Clash members Mick Jones and Paul Simonon as the latest offering in its “Three Artists, One Song” single series. There have been eight previous installments in the series—all of which I have admittedly glossed over—but something primal about seeing those names in the marquee made me want to immediately investigate the results.

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