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by Joseph Fisher

23 Jul 2010


Photo: Daniel Coston

In 2004, the apotheosis of Robert Pollard finally happened. Now that
the “classic” Guided By Voices lineup is readying itself for a reunion tour, critics, fans, bloggers everywhere will no doubt by thrown into fits of religious ecstasy, gushing endlessly about visions of the afterlife during performances of “I Am a Scientist”. It is baffling that Bee Thousand (1994), which contains merely one song (out of a staggering 20) that clocks in at over three minutes, has been able to transfix the indie community for 16 years.

What is equally baffling is the way that “lo-fi”—as aesthetic, as ethic, as style—continues to be constructed as the absolute mark of musical authenticity. Even though GBV are widely considered to be the lo-fi alpha and omega, that has not stopped the praise from being piled on contemporary bands as diverse as Wavves, A Place to Bury Strangers, LCD Soundsystem, Times New Viking, and Girls for working, essentially, in accordance with Pollard’s Commandments. All of which raises the question: how can lo-fi be authentic if it is clearly an appropriation of someone else’s aesthetic?

by Crispin Kott

22 Jul 2010


Ever since their foppish heroes burst in the scene in the early ‘80s, fans of Duran Duran have long been derided by “serious” music fans as unsophisticated nitwits in thrall to a band built on a platform of flashy videos, high cheekbones, and a sense of style which wavered between pure androgyny and cut-rate drag queen.

But all was never as it seems, especially where it regards Duran Duran. Witness the response to the band’s former label, EMI, which sorta-kinda acknowledged an error in a recent deluxe reissue of Duran Duran’s seminal debut in the Ask Katy section of the band’s official website…

“It has come to our attention that some fans have suggested that the mastering on the recently reissued editions of Duran Duran and Seven and the Ragged Tiger is incorrect. Mastering is always subjective, and we acknowledge that the mastering on these versions is different to that of previous remasters, however that does not necessarily make it wrong. We have received both positive and negative comments about the mastering which is usual for any project – although those that don’t like the sound of these new records are by far in the minority. We will always take on board constructive criticism and act upon it, where we believe it appropriate, and we respect the opinions of the fans. However, in this case there have been some personal comments about the mastering engineer that were highly offensive, wholly inappropriate and unjustified.

“There is a glitch due to tape deterioration in the camera clicks at the very start of ‘Girls on Film’ on the Duran Duran album. Whilst this glitch is not ideal, as it is in the camera clicks and not within the main body of the music, there are no plans to replace any discs.”

by Nathan Pensky

21 Jul 2010


Rufus Wainwright

“Word painting” is a technique in which the music of a song reflects or expands upon the meaning of the accompanying lyric. First used by the Madrigals of Renaissance Italy, word painting is used today mostly in musical theatre and film scores.

In a musical, if a character stands center-stage, spreads his arms, and belts out a life-affirming chorus about “making it to the top,” and the score’s tempo slows down, the melody hits a high note, or the strings swell to culminate in a cymbal crash, this is word painting at its most quintessential. Two great moments of word painting in pop music are Elliott Smith’s “Waltz # 1” and Rufus Wainwright’s “Vibrate”, which both use long, sustained notes to elaborate on the explicit meaning of their lyrics.

by Jessy Krupa

20 Jul 2010


“Momma Miss America” is another instrumental track on the McCartney album, as the only voice heard is that of an engineer announcing that this is take one of “Rock ‘n’ Roll Springtime”. That title was soon changed, as what was to become two separate songs “ran into each other by accident and became one”. Made up as McCartney went along, it was recorded entirely at his London home.

McCartney’s only recent involvement with the song is its inclusion on The McCartney Years box DVD set. (It is used as background music on Disc 2’s “Chronology” menu.) However, as I previously said about “Hot As Sun/ Glasses”, “Momma Miss America” has also been used as bumper music on PBS’ History Detectives TV series.

by Michael P. Irwin

19 Jul 2010


Countless sums of money are spent worldwide every year on advertising, constantly bombarding us everywhere we go. Whether it is on television, radio, in print, or online, every day we see ads that encourage us to buy one product or another. I do have to admit that every so often the pitch works, and I find myself spending money on something that I don’t really need, but that I do really want. I’m not talking about buying any of the products, though—I’m talking about buying the music that I’ve heard used in the commercials. Whether it’s a current hit or an old classic, advertisers have been using pop music in commercials for decades, and have been doing so more and more in recent years. 

One such instance that will forever stick in my head was the use of Van Halen’s “Right Now” in the ad campaign for Crystal Pepsi in the early 1990s. In fact, the commercial was even shot in a similar style to the music video, complete with the “Right now…” statements:

I really wasn’t a fan of Crystal Pepsi (or of Sammy Hagar-era Van Halen), but the two will be forever intertwined in my mind. Crystal Pepsi disappeared from the shelves in 1993, and I didn’t even get the For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge album until a few months ago. However, there have been a few instances since then when hearing a song in a commercial has made me say to myself, “I need to find out who that band is and get their album immediately”.

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Kiasmos: 26 May 2015 - Rough Trade NYC (Photos)

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