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by Evan Sawdey

24 Aug 2010

Joseph Michelini isn’t as much a survivor as he is an inspirer. 

Having been a long-standing staple of the New Jersey coffee house scene, Michelini wasn’t very content just sitting around while strumming acoustic laments for baristas.  Slowly he began introducing banjos and cellos into his set, and one man became three people, which soon became eight, which soon became River City Extension.

With a sound that seems to find a sweet spot that lies perfectly between Neutral Milk Hotel’s near-orchestral bombast and Modest Mouse’s popular brand of almost-cynicism, River City Extension makes full use of the various instruments at their disposal (cellos, trumpets, a djembe for Pete’s sake!), but never once plays them just for the sake of eclecticism.  On The Unmistakable Man—the group’s second full-length—the Extension swerves between acoustic ballads (“Today, I Feel Like I’m Evolving”) and piano-lead group sing-a-longs (“Holy Cross”) with remarkable ease, the whole disc feeling like a unified statement while never sacrificing the need for a storming pop hook.  It’s no wonder its live shows are as heralded as they are.

Shortly after the release of the band’s latest record, Michelini tackled PopMatters’ 20 Questions, revealing a deep-seated love of Paul Simon’s Graceland, the frustration over a stolen laptop filled with songs, and why life truly isn’t complete until you have heated toilet seats ...

by Jessy Krupa

24 Aug 2010

McCartney was a hit solo album for Paul McCartney, but none of its tracks were released as a single. McCartney was still under the British idea that singles are stand-alone songs, not contained in albums, so that they can be strung together occasionally on EPs or “greatest hits” albums. So in February of 1971, “Another Day”, with its B-side of “Oh Woman, Oh Why”, was released as a single. The songs would not be included on the upcoming Ram album, which was released about three months later.

“Another Day” began as a track that the Beatles worked on for possible release on what would be the Let It Be album, but after the band’s break-up, it turned into something else. Just as she had co-written “Man We Was Lonely” before, Linda McCartney also co-wrote “Another Day”. While posters promoting the single listed it as “written by Mr. and Mrs. McCartney” and the single itself was credited to Paul & Linda McCartney, others found that suspicious.

by Dylan Nelson

20 Aug 2010

Photo of Lee Perry (center) with Max Romeo (in white), by
Kim Gottlieb-Walker

The producer occupies a unique place in the crowded and intricate world of Jamaican music. Making sense of the countless singers, engineers, and instrumentalists who could be involved in any given song requires the kind of expertise enjoyed by few casual listeners, but in some cases the studio at which a recording was made is a convenient shortcut. The producer, after all, was frequently responsible for bringing the contributors together, as well as for creating the atmosphere of the record—a deciding factor in the message and the impact of reggae music. Auteurs like Joe Gibbs, Keith Hudson, and Augustus Pablo were the men who shaped a final product from the diverse forces guiding Jamaican music, forging an individual legacy from the talents of a host of musicians, songwriters, and engineers.

Lee “Scratch” Perry, the volatile, brilliant, and idiosyncratic man behind the Upsetters band and the Black Ark studio, tops them all. He played a pivotal role in the rise of groups and singers like Junior Murvin, the Congos, and the Wailers, and in the course of a long and passionate career he was a key player in pushing the bounds of expression to fashion dub and reggae itself from older forms. Forced to choose a single figure upon which to found an understanding of reggae in the ‘60s and ‘70s, Perry would not be a bad choice.

by Sean Murphy

19 Aug 2010

You may have heard: Gibson (the fine folks who bring us some of our best guitars) has recently announced its selections of what it deems the Top 50 Guitar Albums.

Now, as someone who writes about music, I am acutely aware that one person’s list is another person’s purgatory. Put simply, when it comes to matters of taste and ranking (a particularly combustible combination), there is no pleasing everyone. In fact, there is no pleasing anyone, since the list makers themselves are invariably disappointed or frustrated. When you are talking about the best of the best, it is like boiling the Pacific Ocean to get a handful of salt.

So, it is in the spirit of augmenting and not critiquing (though there are many items on their list I find a bit objectionable) that I offer up an alternative Top 10 with some (very) honorable mentions. To avoid redundancy, my list will not duplicate any of the ones already selected by Gibson. Fortunately, there are more than enough to go ‘round, and despite some genuine head-scratchers (there are many items on the company’s list I find offensive, aesthetically speaking), it’s silly to quibble too much with a list that features most (but certainly not all) of the usual suspects.

by Nathan Pensky

18 Aug 2010

In the Beatles Anthology documentary, Paul McCartney tells of club dates during the band’s first international tour in Hamburg, where crowds booed and cried “Mach schau, mach schau!” up to the stage. When the nascent Fab Four learned that mach schau translates to “make show”, they did not have to be told twice. From then on they adopted the lively, hair-flopping stage antics that would later take the world by storm.

The emotional resonance to which McCartney refers seems distinct from visual accompaniment explicitly designed to correspond with musical performance. Acts that rely on light and video installations or Broadway-ready dancers aren’t really attempting mach schau in the same way the Beatles did or, say, the notoriously raucous shows of Bruce Springsteen. One performs, where the other exudes sheer enthusiasm. Perhaps most definitively emotive of all pop performances in this sense would be those of Little Richard, whose “whooo!” McCartney co-opted in the same way the Rolling Stones did the blues moan of Muddy Waters.

//Mixed media

'Assassin's Creed': The Comic Book

// Moving Pixels

"How does one establish an entry point into a complex mythos developed through the plots of more than a half dozen very popular video games in only about 20 pages? Not very well.

READ the article