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Friday, Apr 18, 2014
When a fire starts to burn, right? And it starts to spread, right? Then it's time for another edition of Counterbalance. This week it's electronic time with a critically acclaimed UK hit from 2013.

Mendelsohn: I’ve often complained that electronic music receives the short-shrift when it comes to the Great List. Oddly enough, that isn’t necessarily true. Electronic music has a strong presence on the list — if you manage to make it into the depths, far removed from the top 200 (or 500 for that matter). In reality, there is typically one electronic album that hits in the top ten each year and as a result, there is a decent amount of electronic music scattered throughout the list. Last year was a good year for electronic music to gain critical mass. There were four electronic albums in the top 25 from the Acclaimed Music website — Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories (5), Disclosure’s Settle (10), the Knife’s Shaking the Habitual (12), and Boards of Canada’s Tomorrow’s Harvest (19). The only new name on that list was Disclosure so that’s the record I picked, hoping that it wasn’t going to be an hour of static bursts and the digital renderings of robot copulation.


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Wednesday, Apr 16, 2014
These guitar-based indie pop titans release a delightful new album, discuss the greatness of Tusk, and find a correlation between Macbeth and BASEketball.

When We Are Scientists first began making waves in the press with their second album With Love and Squalor in 2006, the group wound up being pegged as one of the most prototypical indie rock groups out there: a trio that played quirky-smart guitar rock songs that sounded like fellow power-pop enthusiasts the New Pornographers with maybe a bit more caffeine and a few rays of sunshine rubbed off the sheen. The group could get goofy, but they never played up the comedy too deliberately.


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Monday, Apr 14, 2014
With the second track of The Beach Boys Today!, we get a solidly written song reminiscent of the group's earlier singles: sophisticated but digestible and fun.

If opening The Beach Boys Today! with a cover of “Do You Wanna Dance” was intended to show off Brian Wilson’s skills as a producer and arranger, then following it up with “Good to My Baby” was meant to remind us where his band came from. It’s not that “Good to My Baby” isn’t musically exciting or complex, but of all the tracks on Today!, it’s the most similar to the beach Boys’ early music. So, just like covering a popular song provides a reference point to see their creative arrangements, the familiar songwriting on “Good to My Baby” acts as a reference point to compare the more innovative songs on the album against


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Friday, Apr 11, 2014
Oh Lord, don't let them drop that atomic bomb on me. At least not until we've had a chance to talk about a 1962 masterpiece by composer Charles Mingus. Counterbalance delivers the jazz this week.

Klinger: Back when we first announced our shift away from the numerical constraints of the Great List, we both bemoaned the list’s overall rock-centric nature, which left little room for other genres, including country, folk, hip-hop, and (most notably for me) jazz. Well, buddy, here’s our chance. The album I’ve chosen to get a little more jazz into these proceedings — Charles Mingus’ 1960 Atlantic release Oh Yeah — isn’t considered especially canonical (it clocks in at No. 2653 on the Great List, so I would have been well into my 70s by the time we got to it). But I’m forcing you to listen to it because I think that it’s one of the albums I would hand off to a rock person who wants to get into jazz but isn’t sure quite how.


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Wednesday, Apr 9, 2014
Simultaneously invoking the age of the pharaohs and propagating hip-hop futurism, the Egyptian Lover was a stalwart of the West Coast pre-gangsta scene.

Way before gangsta rap became the dominant and domineering style in the region, California’s hip-hop flavor of choice was electro. In stark contrast to ‘90s gangsta rap’s recycled P-Funk grooves and obsession with street authenticity, the more style-conscious West Coast electro of the 1980s looked to European synth innovators like Kraftwerk and, with keyboards and drum machines in tow, melded post-disco innovations with rap bravado to create a slick and sleek brand of futurist dance music. Unfortunately, this pivotal era of West Coast hip-hop is often ignored, both by broader musical histories and even some of the artists themselves who have a certain image they’d like to maintain (if you really want to listen to some of Dr. Dre’s best work, I’d recommend seeking out the tracks he cut in the ‘80s with the decidedly un-gangsta World Class Wreckin’ Cru).


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