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by Allison Taich

7 Dec 2010

Le Concorde’s fourth studio album House (October 2010, Le Grand Magistery) has set 2010’s mark for contemplative pop, bursting with catchy hooks and California sunshine. House neatly presents love, memories and personal metamorphosis over a bed of keyboards, synthesizer, drum machine, and muffled guitar. The music itself features candy coated synthpop glistening with a topcoat of ‘80s New Wave. 

The slick and vibrant House was composed by the heart and soul of Le Concorde, a.k.a. Stephen Becker. Becker (singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist) crafted House’s earnest pop around migrating from the Midwest to the West Coast. In applying his personal journey, Becker embraced the pliable essence of modern pop music with clean layers of synthetic musings. PopMatters took a moment to get to know Becker with an old-fashioned round of 20 Questions. After listening to Becker’s music it is fitting to hear him gush about intellect, humanism, and urban culture.

by Corey Beasley

6 Dec 2010

When asked to clarify the “meaning” of “Jesus Christ Was an Only Child”, Isaac Brock once said, “It’s not true. He had a brother” .

The guy doesn’t like interviews, sure. Still, it’s a dumb question. Songwriters, more than artists in any other medium, are forced again and again to expound upon the meaning of their works. Does this line of questioning indicate something about our attitudes toward pop music? Do we, even after all this time, not trust pop music to speak for itself? Are we anxious that, ultimately, pop music is devoid of any real insight or grand artistic sentiment, unless its purveyors can somehow point us—outside of the songs, themselves—toward the light?

Whatever. If it’s anyone’s, it’s our job—not the artists’—to write about what it is that songs, or paintings or films or sculptures or buildings, communicate to us. “Jesus Christ Was an Only Child”, for its part, is one of the more opaque tracks on The Lonesome Crowded West (what to make of those lines about “internet cash”?). The emotional tenor comes through, per usual, strong enough: anger, frustration, a nihilistic twinge of humor. Musically, the song indulges Brock and co.’s taste for Americana. Modest Mouse had already broken out the banjo and fiddle for earlier songs like “Mechanical Birds/Make Everyone Happy”, and the band will go on to do it with more frequency, tossing in some New Orleans-style brass, on later tracks like “Satin in a Coffin”, “The Devil’s Workday”. and “King Rat”. Here, Brock abuses an acoustic guitar while guest musician Tyler Reilly lays down a suitably country-fried fiddle accompaniment. These stylings never seem mere affectations—Brock’s already established his blue-collar voice with enough authority to warrant the experimentation, and the thin layer of grit that spreads itself over the recording doesn’t hurt, either.

by Jason Mendelsohn and Eric Klinger

3 Dec 2010

Klinger: Well, well, look who’s back, Mendelsohn. It’s your old arch-nemesis Bob Dylan! This time, though, I think you’ll find that the tables have turned. This isn’t the logy, substance-addled Bob that you summarily dismissed a few weeks ago. This is the lyrically focused, razor-sharp, other-substance-addled Bob you’re dealing with. And I challenge you to find fault with this LP, my friend.

Mendelsohn: I’m not even going to try to pretend to find fault. I like this album mostly because I like this version of Bob—the rest of them, not so much. Also, Highway 61 is a full half-hour shorter than Blonde on Blonde. There is a whole lot less Bob on Highway 61, which makes loving Bob that much easier. And despite the fact that Highway 61 is one fun album (and it is), I can only take about an hour of Bob before his lyrical riddles turn from amusing to annoying. I still have no idea what he’s talking about. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but . . .

“And Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot are fighting in the captain’s tower, while Calypso singers laugh at them and fishermen hold flowers”.

Seriously, Bob? WTF?!

Klinger: Oh, honestly, Mendelsohn—it’s like you’re not even trying. Obviously Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot are Dean Rusk and Robert MacNamara, the Calypso singers represent the Viet Cong and the fishermen are the Catholic Worker Movement. Any schoolchild can tell you that.

by Timothy Gabriele

2 Dec 2010

In late 1975, as legend has it, an angry young punk named John Lydon used to gallivant around town in a Pink Floyd T-shirt over which he’d inscribed the words “I Hate”, causing the shirt to inadvertently read “I Hate Pink Floyd”.  Oddly enough, the man who would take the first press photos of Lydon’s future band the Sex Pistols was probably the same one who designed the image on that T-shirt (not to mention a controversial window display at Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren’s SEX shop, where Lydon would often loiter).  Even more unlikely is the fact that the same man would soon after join a band that was far more extreme in its art-terrorist tendencies than anything punk would ever conceive.  Not only that, the same band expanded the musical palette in far vaster directions than punk ever would.

On November 24th, the world of music lost an immeasurable talent in the form of one Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson.  In his absence, music seems to already be a less interesting place, sonically, visually, and conceptually, but the outpouring of grief on Twitter of just about every musician that matters illustrates just how vast his influence spread and how his spirit lingers on in much of the vanguard music being made today.

by Jacob Adams

1 Dec 2010

OK, so it’s that time of year again.  Along with the blinding strings of lights, creepy elf window displays, and other symbols of commercialism gone wild come the dreaded holiday playlists.  Weary of Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas” for the 567th time?  I know I am.  So, I humbly offer the following “alternative playlist”, a collection of songs with a positive bent promoting peace and goodwill towards all men and women and embracing the joy of life.  As you get together with your family and friends, consider spinning some of these tunes.  You can consume this list without overdosing on nauseating sentimentality.

//Mixed media

Because Blood Is Drama: Considering Carnage in Video Games and Other Media

// Moving Pixels

"It's easy to dismiss blood and violence as salacious without considering why it is there, what its context is, and what it might communicate.

READ the article