Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

 
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Friday, Apr 25, 2008
by PopMatters Staff
Denmark's Fashion has been around since 2003, but the group only recently made their North American debut at SXSW this past March. Look for their US debut record this summer on Epic Records. You can check out a preview EP on iTunes now.

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
Tough one, but I think Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was the last one that really got to me.


2. The fictional character most like you?
The nameless narrator of the book Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk. Obviously, it later on became a Hollowood box office hit movie. So, if you´re too lazy for the book just watch the movie, because it still hits a sore spot in almost everyone. A clver way of sticking it to “the man” and I am all for that.


3. The greatest album, ever?
Live After Death by Iron Maiden, a concert recording from Los Angeles at the peak of their carrer in ´85 with a bunch of songs from a brilliant back catalogue. That album always takes me back.


4. Star Trek or Star Wars?
Star Wars for sure. I am an official memeber of the Hyper Space community at StarWars.com so I am almost religious about that. My apartment is overflowing with Star Wars gear. I used to play Star Wars Trivial Pursuit once a week a few years back. We stopped because we all knew all the questions by heart.


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Wednesday, Apr 23, 2008
by PopMatters Staff
Nada Surf's Ira Elliot really loves the Beatles and blood sausage.

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
The Road by Cormac McCarthy.


2. The fictional character most like you?
Shaggy from Scooby-Doo. Screech, unfortunately.


3. The greatest album, ever?
Abbey Road dude. C’mon.


4. Star Trek or Star Wars?
Trek. No, wars. That’s a tough one. There’s lots of great treks but only two great wars. Feel me?


5. Your ideal brain food?
Blood sausage.


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Tuesday, Apr 22, 2008

“Come on Baby Say Bang”
by Jane Vain and the Dark Matter


All You Pretty Boys and Girls are all breaking my heart/ They all look so cool that I can hardly tell them apart/ They’re all looking for a little love, power, and control


Let’s stamp the night with vigor/ Whose guns are bigger?/ You can put yours right between my eyes honey/ If you promise to pull the trigger


There are so many admirable turns of phrase and mood in this song that it’s hard to pare them down to a just a few. The nihilistic confidence of the female narrator seethes with equal parts flirtation and crosshair curses. “Stamp the night with vigor” has to be one of my favorite ways of saying “let’s have a good time” because it’s so territorial and domineering as if to say we should cattle brand the evening so that every claim to joy has our signature at its root. Vigor also sounds like such an aristocratic adjective, reeking of equestrian competition and absinthe poured through a slotted spoon onto a sugar cube. As a curmudgeon, I love songs that manage to be blow out clouds of toxic disdain while keeping the rhythm hip-swiveling, finger popping, the very portrait of antiseptic coolness. I reminded of the Kills in the way that the song’s narrator undercuts each compliment with an insult, noting the beauty of the crowd, the homogeneous, robotic beauty. She also impugns any motives that they might have for being fans in the crowd in the first place, noting that the admiration we have for musicians is just as much love as it is a desire to see them fail for failing to fulfill us as passive participants in the performance. Top that off with some good old fashioned suicidal ideation, in the line begging for someone to show the depth of their bravado by putting a bullet hole between her eyes and you have a track that’s a tangle of seduction, snare and psychosis. For a song that sounds like a lilac strewn stroll through a Renaissance Fair, it is indeed a dark and disturbing world.


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Monday, Apr 21, 2008

Many thanks to Sasha Frere-Jones for posting what has to be one of the funniest satirical riffs about women in music that I’ve ever heard.  Erykah Badu is one of music’s most inspiring musical figures for me, in part, because she remains oblivious and impervious to musical fads and the pressure for seasoned artists to reinvent themselves.  There will never be “Honey” the Hot Chip Redux.  With the proliferation of bands who throw together singles and blow up based on a few myspace demos, it’s refreshing to see such a painstaking craftswomen meticulously mold something that still aspires to the much maligned and increasingly elusive category of “art”.  You can pretty much read her satirical statements in this video as line for line refutations of all the criticism directed at her.  I like that Badu can be powerful, sexy, difficult and sophisticated without doing, as she puts it, “ho” shit.  Not to mention, as evidenced by this video, she has the big picture, in all its grotesque proportions, on point.


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Friday, Apr 18, 2008

This is really just an excuse to play a track from Estelle’s sophomore album, Shine, one of the year’s best pop soul records. Shine is as infectious as my worn through copy of Lauren Hill’s debut, before she picked up a guitar and decided to join the ranks of the tortured and sermonizing. It’s not the ideal track to pick (for that see the Cee-Lo collab “Pretty Please”), especially since Kanye’s flow consistently deflates his musical surroundings and his “moon/June” rhymes are fairly low hanging fruit. Actually that’s an overstatement, Kanye’s rhymes are, more often than not, of the “moon/moon” variety. As a video, it lacks coherent art direction and narrative, especially in the split-screen montages of various typical American boys, all of whom look like they’re doing ads for the Gap’s new edgy urban Ivy-leaguer line. Sure, black and white is always carries a certain entry-level morsel of cool cache, but for this song it’s cold and comparatively drab. The only part that captures some of this song’s buoyant Summer energy comes from the disconnected dance play between Estelle and her shadow, which provides sexy liquid movement in a video with static pictures of men backdropped with the kind of white void you’d expect from a near death experience. She’s too vibrant to be framed by such McArty deserted space that could just as easily sell a parka, a cheeseburger or Windsong perfume. And, if you can get John Legend in the video, why not have him pick up Kanye’s half of the duet.  Just saying.


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