CFP: The Legacy of Radiohead's 'The Bends' 20 Years On [Deadlines: 29 Jan / 12 Feb]

 
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Friday, Dec 12, 2014
No one man should have all that power. The 97th most acclaimed album of all time is living in that 21st century, doing something mean to it. Counterbalance has a listen.

Mendelsohn: Let’s talk about Kanye West. First order of business — yes, he is complete tabloid fodder. The tantrum-throwing, mic-snatching, Kardashian-marrying Kanye West is a freak of nature. The man went on TV and called out a sitting president for not being a compassionate conservative. Then, a few years later, Kanye gets called out by another sitting president for acting up on national TV. Kanye is some sort of a spacial anomaly that sucks up public attention — a black hole (or just an asshole).


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Thursday, Dec 11, 2014
A list of some Christmas-themed music by indie artists for your lonesome holiday nights.

Christmas music is built on duality, a lopsided mix of saccharine falsity and genuine emotion. For every decent tune we don’t mind hearing every December, there’s more than a few others that make us want to overdose on spiked eggnog. But Christmas is about taking the good with the bad, the head with the heart, and the joy and humility of the season.


Classic Christmas tunes have dominated the charts for far too long, so don’t expect to see any of these ten tunes cracking radio playlists any time soon. In fact, some of these songs aren’t even about Christmas specifically; just more about the feeling of longing and nostalgia that accompanies the memories of bygone Christmases past. Some evoke happiness in their desperation, and some call despair to the forefront and parade it about. All are reflective and more than a bit downtrodden, so fair warning to those whose emotional state is perilous enough on frozen winter nights. But if you open your heart and let the good of the season in, there are more than a few songs that surface around Christmastime that can illuminate the beautiful and spiritual side of an otherwise commercially-ridden holiday. Here’s hoping you can identify with some of the purity put forth by these indie artists.


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Tuesday, Dec 9, 2014
The first of two hidden tracks on the Broken EP delves into the dark past of some New Wave heroes.

Anger and frustration distilled into EP form, Broken certainly has no contenders for the title of the most direct Nine Inch Nails record. Yet the trim tracklist on the back cover doesn’t tell the whole story. Like Nirvana’s Nevermind, Broken is another early 1990s release that updates the oddball surprises that could be found on vinyl runout grooves for the CD age.


In the case of Broken, simply refrain from pressing the “Stop” button once “Gave Up” concludes and you’ll notice something odd: the CD player track numbers will increase second by second in complete silence. Once your media player reaches track 98, the first of two “hidden” cuts will emerge, a trudging cover of “Physical (You’re So)”.


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Friday, Dec 5, 2014
The 498th most acclaimed album of all time was born in the desert, came on up from New Orleans. Captain Beefheart's startling 1967 debut album is this week's Counterbalance.

Klinger: The Great List, that mathemagical compendium of the critical hive mind that has served as our Counterbalance launch pad, offers a number of challenges to those who dare traverse its terrain, but I’d wager that no album is as fraught with peril as Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band’s Trout Mask Replica. Even those who now love the album often say that they found its off-key, off-beat, off-kilter ramblings to be completely impenetrable. And you and I certainly had our share of trouble wrapping our heads around it. Even so, it still sits solidly within the canon — statistically speaking, it’s the 59th most acclaimed album of all time. And maybe it’s my own inability to enjoy Trout Mask Replica that sent me digging into some of the Captain’s other works, and what led me to his debut album, 1967’s Safe As Milk. And call me a philistine, but Safe As Milk is, to my ears, vastly preferable.


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Thursday, Dec 4, 2014
The previous month in K-pop saw veteran artists go solo, rookie groups continue their hot streak, interesting collaborations, and a ton of solid music. It wasn't the most innovative month for the industry, but a lot of great execution regardless.

AOA – “Like a Cat”


“Like a Cat” is AOA’s third comeback this year, but that doesn’t mean we should expect anything new from the group. After the success of “Miniskirt”, the act’s collaboration with hit-maker Brave Brothers, FNC Entertainment and the girls have gone with the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” method and continued to put out essentially the same song as a title track three times this year. Fortunately, it’s a pretty good song. Brave Brothers has become a bit of a parody of himself, relying on the same musical tropes and production techniques in his songs, but you can never deny that the end result is successful. “Like a Cat” has a strong groove and an undeniably catchy melody. Like many of his other songs, including AOA’s “Miniskirt” and “Short Hair”, “Like a Cat” features a prominent wordless vocal hook in the chorus that, as lazy as it is compositionally, is just irresistible. He does change it up a little here, though, by utilizing processed guitars instead of the jazzy organ chords he normally uses to drive the song.


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