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by Sean McCarthy

12 Jul 2010


Right now, Beach House’s Teen Dream is my favorite album of the year. The Baltimore duo has crafted a phenomenal arrangement of baroque pop. Sadly, I’ve only listened to it three times. The National’s High Violent is another great album, but since purchasing the album, I’ve only listened to it once. One major reason was because I listened to it repeatedly when it was available for streaming weeks before the release.

I shouldn’t feel guilty for voting an album “one of the best of the year” and then watch it collect dust. After all, people have no problem dubbing a movie or book as the best they’ve seen or read this year after a single viewing or reading. But it seems that music is the only major form of pop culture that requires an unspoken demand that an album be absorbed multiple times before dubbing it “the best” of the year.

by Jessy Krupa

9 Jul 2010


Side A of McCartney closes with “Man We Was Lonely”, which was the first song that both Paul and his wife, Linda, wrote together and sang together as a duet. In a way, it is a precursor to Wings. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that it is about the pair’s true feelings for each other, being that the two could be considered lonely before they got together. When they first started dating, Linda was a recent divorcee and Paul’s long-term relationship with actress Jane Asher had just ended.

Regardless of the song’s meaning, Paul admitted in 1970 that it was one of the last songs recorded for the album. He and Linda wrote the chorus while in bed the morning of the day it was recorded. Later that afternoon, they wrote the middle part. The background is made up of a bass drum and three different guitars, all played by Paul and tracked on together later. As for the song’s unique steel guitar sound, Paul revealed that he created it by playing his Telecaster “with a drum peg”.

by Teresa Jusino

8 Jul 2010


Before Ricky Martin drank from the Cup of Life while shaking his bon-bon, and before Shakira was even a glimmer in the eye of the American pop culture landscape, there was Selena: a young, beautiful Texan of Mexican descent who was the first of that generation of Spanish-language performers to begin to cross over into English-language success.

Fifteen years after her tragic murder, her music—in both languages—lives on. Even the most sheltered English-speaking music fan might not know Selena’s name, but if you mention her hit singles, “Dreaming of You,” or “I Could Fall In Love,” they’ll likely respond with I remember that song! or I love that one!  Today, Suzette Quintanilla Arriaga, Selena’s sister and long-time drummer, is doing her part to ensure that this remains the case: that Selena’s memory lives on through her music.

by Nathan Pensky

2 Jul 2010


Last year when Flo Rida’s album R.O.O.T.S. dropped to chart-crushing popular acclaim, it was easy to miss the peculiarities of the album’s fourth single, “Be on You”. Perhaps tempered by the influence of the rapper’s several other hits that year, including “Sugar” and the number one Billboard hit “Right Round”, the sheer oddness of “Be on You” went pretty much unnoticed. And what, exactly, is so unique about “Be on You”, one might ask? Oh, nothing except that the song’s chorus and title are lifted wholesale from the Will Ferrell comedy, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004). While many dance pop tracks have made the sexing up of one’s significant other their subject matter, this may be the only song that can truthfully tout itself as “baby-making music”. Flo Rida’s “Be On You” is not just another rapper’s homage to Scarface but a musical tribute to a character who describes his dog/life coach as “a miniature Buddha, covered in hair”. Knowing this, is it even possible to take this song seriously, and by “seriously”, I mean even on the level dance-pop is meant to be taken? Is the song meant to be earnest (as far as any pop music is earnest), ironic (insofar as pop music is capable of irony), or staking a claim in some post-ironic netherworld of genre definition where the likes of the Insane Clown Posse reign supreme?

Before proceeding, a definition of “post-irony” should probably be attempted. At least in terms of the minimum understanding required for conversation’s sake, and with an all-encompassing disclaimer in terms of the actual ins and outs of nascent terminology: A) when hipsters listen to Britney Spears because they think her music is awful, ever saying to themselves “Ha, look how awful she is, how clever I am, etc.”, their appreciation is ironic; and B) when the same hipsters have been listening to Britney Spears way too long for their appreciation to be truthfully called “ironic” anymore, their appreciation is post-ironic. The hipsters have, in fact, started to genuinely like Britney Spears. Their enjoyment happened by way of irony but is not actually ironic. Now that that’s out of the way…

by Jessy Krupa

30 Jun 2010


As we previously discussed, Paul McCartney’s first solo album was heavily criticized, perhaps most of all by his former Beatles bandmates. This is somewhat surprising, seeming that several songs on it came close to being on Beatles albums. “Junk”, originally dubbed “Jubilee”, was written by McCartney in 1968, when the Beatles took a trip to Rishikesh, India to study transcendental meditation under the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Though there are many different accounts of what actually took place there, one thing is for sure: the group wrote and worked on an amazing amount of music while there. “Junk” was passed up for inclusion on both on the band’s 1968 self-titled album and Abbey Road, but it did eventually end up on the 1996 Anthology 3 album, which was made up of the group’s unfinished material and studio rarities.

McCartney must have really liked “Junk” by the time he finished it in 1970, because he included it twice on his debut solo album. It first appears as the last track on side A of McCartney, and then later appears in instrumental form on side B. Titled “Singalong Junk”, it is not only shorter than its vocal counterpart, but it sounds slightly different. With its melody played out on the piano, more prominent drums and mellotron (an early precursor to the electric keyboard) strings are added. It was the first take of the song, but McCartney chose to record a longer, more simplistic take for the vocal version. Unlike most of McCartney, they were both recorded not at his home, but at Morgan Studios in London.

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