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

 
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Sunday, Mar 7, 2010

When I found myself in the American Southeast for a few years after giving up on college, one of the ways of making myself feel as though I kind of belonged was to immerse myself in the music.


Even early on, Mark Linkous’ albums as Sparklehorse held far more pull for me than other Americana artists. His approach to music was innovative, to be sure, but also desperately and distinctly melancholy. Love songs, as love itself so often is, were immersed in confusion, loneliness and despair. Even the ostensibly happy ones.


I didn’t know Linkous, though I met him once and found him to be an absolutely lovely man. He signed a poster, “Best Witches, Mark Linkous.” And now, according to a Rolling Stone report, he’s committed suicide. Even those among us who didn’t know him except through his music, maybe we’re shocked and not at all surprised. That’s what Linkous was always best at, evoking emotions along a wide spectrum, giving us nothing and everything to hold on to.


Everyone who loves anyone has their favorite song or album. With Sparklehorse, there was a lot to love, from Linkous’ debut vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot through his Dark Night of the Soul collaboration with Danger Mouse, which just this week was finally given the green light by EMI after leaking last year. My personal favorite was Good Morning Spider, though I thought maybe today the pair of songs which opened It’s a Wonderful Life were the way to go. The title track is almost unbearably sad, especially if taken at face value with the news of Linkous’ suicide still shaking music fans at their core. The second, “Gold Day”, is as uplifting as any music I’ve ever heard. And that’s kind of how I’d like to remember Mark Linkous, lovely and lonely and capable of such incredible beauty it’s impossible to remember what life was like before his music touched you.


Tagged as: sparklehorse
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Thursday, Mar 4, 2010

On Monday, Eric Avery announced his second departure from Los Angeles alt-rock icons Jane’s Addiction on his Twitter account, a development that was confirmed the following day by band members Perry Farrell and Dave Navarro (via their own Twitter accounts, no less). According to news wire reports, rumors are already swirling that Avery will be replaced by once-and-forever Guns ‘N Roses bassist Duff McKagen. Jane’s Addiction has long been defined by its volatile inter-band relationships (hell, you can argue that’s what gives its music its spark), but this latest turn of events highlights how the group has squandered its cultural legacy over the years.


While other legendary alternative rock bands ranging from the Replacements to Pearl Jam have at times been criticized for being more musically conservative, from a career standpoint Jane’s Addiction has been the most staunchly rockist of them all, with its slew of ego battles, drug addictions, reality television shows, tell-all autobiographies, and in particular its countless cycles of breakups and reunions.  Adding to the list of rock star tropes, the group’s last record, Strays (2003), was produced by Bob Ezrin, a man who built his career working on albums by such classic rock warhorses as Alice Cooper, Kiss, and Pink Floyd.  Although Jane’s is rightly regarded as having been a pivotal force in the development of alternative rock (a legacy supported by its role in breaking down barriers for the genre in commercial radio as well as in founding the Lollapalooza festival in the early 1990s), incident after incident of rote rock star news items makes it hard not to think of the group these days as Mötley Crüe with less spandex and more tattoos.


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Wednesday, Mar 3, 2010

I hate labels.


I’m not one of those elitist music nerds who believes music shouldn’t be diluted into genres, because I’ve actually found that to be helpful. No, I hate labels because I’m absolutely terrible at figuring them out. Otherwise, I actually kind of love labels.


Witness, for example, a genre called post-punk. If the name is meant to be taken at face value, it’s reasonable to assume it’s the music that followed in the demise of the mid-‘70s punk movement. But there has to be more to it than that, obviously, because there was an awful lot of music released after 1978, and I’m almost positive “Reunited” by Peaches & Herb is something altogether different than Gang of Four’s “Natural’s Not in It”, which is one of the identified genre’s most identifiable tracks.


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Tuesday, Mar 2, 2010
With their rhythm guitarist and last founding member departing the band, what can fans expect from one of the Gothenburg scene's innovators on their next album?

Jesper Strömblad, guitarist of In Flames


It’s been almost two weeks since this story first broke, but for those who haven’t heard yet, Jesper Strömblad has officially quit In Flames. Strömblad, the last founding member of the band’s lineup, announced that he was leaving the band on February 12th, to “defeat his demons once and for all.”


This news comes as a shock to maybe four people in the metal community. For those keeping track, Strömblad missed over half of the band’s touring cycle last year to spend time in rehab for alcohol abuse. His problems with addiction have plagued the band on and off for over three years now, and fans have gotten more used to seeing Niclas Engelin, Strömblad’s replacement on several tours, than seeing Strömblad himself.


Nevertheless, it is a shame to see Strömblad leave the band. He was a huge part of the band’s creative force throughout their career, and he was one of the musicians that helped pioneer the Gothenburg sound before it became popular worldwide. In Flames weathered the difficulties of their early career because of his desire to succeed with their music. Jesper Strömblad will be missed in the metal scene, and I hope he is able to conquer his addictions and return to a normal life in time.


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Monday, Mar 1, 2010
Artist/producer PC Muñoz mines for gems and grills the greats.

An earlier version of this V-C-V first appeared on pcmunoz.com on March 28, 2006.


“Satisfaction (I Can’t Get Me No)” - Devo
Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards
From Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo (Warner Bros., 1978)


“Woman Coming” - James Blood Ulmer
Written by James Blood Ulmer
From Tales of Captain Black (Artists House, 1979)


I’ve got two names for you: Alan Myers and Denardo Coleman. These are the names of the drummers on these two songs, and to me, they are the undeniable connection between song one, a Stones cover by art-pop freakboys Devo, and song two, a surreal chunk of progressive jazz-funk by blues-futurist James Blood Ulmer.


Devo’s cover of “Satisfaction” (produced by Brian Eno) is still distinctive and fresh, 31 years later. In my opinion, Jagger’s always been an underrated lyricist. Critics often dismiss his words because of his relative lack of street cred (the London School of Economics and all that), and many listeners are likely not looking for depth from his over-the-top, strutting persona. A closer look reveals that the lyric captures an existential restlessness in the face of mass-media messages, something which is just as applicable in today’s information-saturated world as it was back in the heady ‘60s. As a reminder, dig these excerpts from the verses, which most of us know by heart, anyway:


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