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by Jason Mendelsohn and Eric Klinger

29 Oct 2010


Mendelsohn: Klinger, I’m about to commit blasphemy. I like Dylan. But I don’t love Dylan. When it comes to Dylan, given my druthers, I’d rather listen to Highway 61 Revisited. When it comes to music in general, given my druthers, I’d probably choose to listen to something other than Dylan. Is there something wrong with me? Did I just cash a one-way ticket to music critic hell?

Klinger: I’m glad you said that, Mendelsohn. It’s true that your abject blasphemy has most certainly earned you a place in critic’s hell—move over, guy from Entertainment Weekly! And while I’m sorry about that, I must thank you for blunting the force of my own transgression: although I really like Blonde on Blonde, I don’t think it’s anywhere near Dylan’s best album, and I kind of wish the criticerati would take a breath from their incessant fawning over it.

Mendelsohn: I have to tell you, that’s a huge load off my shoulders. I thought there was something wrong with me—like I had gone insane but I was the only one who knew I was insane and if I opened my mouth everyone would realize I was insane and I would be institutionalized. Please, don’t have me put away, I just don’t get it. I don’t get Zimmy in general but the position of Blonde on Blonde on the list befuddles me.

In an effort to understand this album I went out and read reviews on it until my eyes started to bleed. To keep a long, boring and bloody story very short—I came away with the impression that everybody was reading a little too far into this record. Which leads me to ask, is everybody reading into Dylan a little too far as well?

by Drew Fortune

27 Oct 2010


No matter how pure the intentions, the soul revivalist movement, like any hip musical trend, falls prey to dilution, pale imitators and overplay. For every Sharon Jones and Black Joe Lewis, there is a pop construct ready to be molded into a “soul singer” to capitalize on the movement. The tricky thing about soul is that, for better or worse, you either feel it or you don’t. A performer could be onstage sweating, writhing, and dancing their ass off, but if the heart isn’t there, it’s merely a gimmick. Enter J.C. Brooks. Mr. Brooks and his merry band of noisemakers the Uptown Sound are the real deal, ladies and gentlemen. Hailing from Chicago, Brooks and the Uptown Sound have slowly been winning over fans through word of mouth and the undeniable electricity of their live performances. With his swagger, velvet croon, and sex-on-a-platter dance moves, Brooks is a tad Otis Redding, a dash of Clarence Carter, and the epitome of true American soul.

by AJ Ramirez

26 Oct 2010


Halloween is less than a week away, and that means you need to start thinking about your party soundtrack for the night. Never mind the hackneyed, overripe “Monster Mash”—what you need is some goth. Defined by grim-faced performers sporting pallid complexions, an overabundance of black lace and leather, a fascination with all things olde and macabre, and vocal stylings that more often than not evoke an undead Ian Curtis, no other genre of music is better suited to score the spookiest day of the year.

So what is the most essential goth anthem to blast out of the speakers on Halloween? Popular wisdom would suggest Bauhaus’ debut single ”Bela Lugosi’s Dead” since it’s the song that kicked off the whole gloom-laden trip over 30 years ago in the first place. Sure, the nearly-ten-minute-long song has a fantastic eerie vibe and (just as importantly) conjures up visions of the funeral of Hollywood’s most famous silver screen vampire. But it suffers from one major flaw: you can’t dance to it. Anyone who’s ever been to a goth club night can tell you that whatever is playing at any sort of mass gathering of scary-vibe aficionados has to get your feet moving. “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” doesn’t do that, but luckily there’s always the Sisters of Mercy’s pummeling seven-minute-plus goth dancefloor anthem “Temple of Love”, a track that’s not as well-known outside of goth circles but stands toe-to-toe with its spectral predecessor.

by Jason Cook

25 Oct 2010


Save for “Magic and Ecstasy”, “Seduction and Magic” is perhaps the most Goblin-esque of the thirteen tracks on Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack to Exorcist II: The Heretic. It is, however, conversely so. Much like the legendary giallo prog-rockers’ “Sighs”  from their 1977 release Suspiria (released the same year as The Heretic), in “Seduction and Magic” there is a thematic cue coupled with voice, sighs and creepy whispers of sorts. Each piece is more functional than it is musical; each track itself is not simply foley, rather each is an ambient process outputted from the composer’s more tuneful efforts. These amalgamate selections seem common to giallo films, always included as if the listener, having never watched the film before listening to its soundtrack, would never be able to perceive its full mood without being given two-minutes or less of what an outside perceiver might consider haunted house music. And I don’t mean witch house.

The second inclusion of this sort of cue comes by way of “Dark Revelation”, the more interesting of the two, including both the soundtrack’s coda and a strange vocal ambiance that could remain at home on the next Burial album. “Dark Revelation” is less post-exotica and more traditional film score, but its a reusable piece that transcends much of the other coda-based pieces in The Heretic. Like a quick rendition of the Jaws theme played in under two minutes and with significant emphasis on mood, tempo, and dynamic control, “Dark Revelation” is simply a taste of more busied soundtrack inclusions like “Great Bird in the Sky” or even “Magic and Ecstasy”.

by Jason Mendelsohn and Eric Klinger

21 Oct 2010


Klinger: Aah…there’s nothing like relaxing on a pillowy cloud of soulfulness for a half-hour or so to settle the old nerves, eh Fresh? I feel like a new man.

Mendelsohn: You nailed it, Klinger. I had no idea what I was missing. I mean, I’m familiar with Marvin Gaye—who isn’t? But I never spent any time with his albums and if it weren’t for this little endeavor we’ve embarked on, I don’t think I ever would. And oh what I would have been missing!

I have a very limited knowledge of soul music, but it seems to me that there is something a little bit different about this album compared to the soul albums that had come before it. Shed a little light on this for me.

Klinger: Well, I’d say the main thing is that What’s Going On is one of the few soul albums of its time that was constructed as an album first and foremost. Up until the late 1960s, soul was almost exclusively a singles genre. LPs were generally a few hits scattered among a handful of covers and lesser tracks. But the advent of serious rock writing gave a few artists a new perspective by the end of the decade. After blowing the hippies’ minds at Monterey Pop, Otis Redding was starting to get big picture about his work, but his death seemed to set things back for a couple more years.

Ironically, the big breakthrough happened at Motown, a label that had kept its artists under pretty tight control. Maybe Berry Gordy was preoccupied with the move to L.A., the grooming of the Jackson 5, and the shtupping of Diana Ross, but he seemed unusually willing to cede territory to budding auteurs such as Stevie Wonder and, of course, Marvin Gaye.

But I take it from your response that What’s Going On is to your liking, my funky friend?

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