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by Corey Beasley

29 Nov 2010


“She was going with a cinematographer / Everyone knew that he was really a pornographer!” yelps Isaac Brock at the beginning of “Lounge (Closing Time)”. He’s always had an ear for verbal rhythms—ten years later, Johnny Marr would talk about the recording process for We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank and how Brock would belt out freestyle lyrics over the two men’s guitar sessions to astonishing effects. This natural talent for flow and rhythmical pyrotechnics shows itself in his musicianship as well, as “Lounge (Closing Time)” bounces along on the disco guitar stylings that Brock often uses to inject into his compositions a hip-shaking impulse that takes their visceral results to the next level. “I’ve got a girlfriend out / Of the city / I know / I like her, I think / She is pretty” he sings later, in flawless lockstep with his stuttering riff.

“Lounge (Closing Time)” can be seen as something of a sister song to a track on the band’s previous LP, This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About, titled—simply—“Lounge”. Both employ those dance-inflected rhythms and jittery tension to tell tales of vaguely unsettling nighttime liaisons between Brock’s narrator and a woman, their rendezvous filtered through a general lens of drunken haziness and disturbed consciences. Both, too, begin hyperactively before slowing into extended down-tempo outros, the musical equivalent to the crash that comes after the drugs start to wear off. “They all went down and did the porcupine / And everybody was feeling high”, Brock sings with manic energy, before the line about his out-of-town girlfriend, the revelation of which brings the change in the song’s mood.

by Victor P. Corona

24 Nov 2010


With a mix of journalistic curiosity and slight bewilderment, various American and international news sites have reported that a course called “Lady Gaga and the Sociology of the Fame” will be taught next spring at the University of South Carolina. Taught by Mathieu Deflem, a tenured sociologist, the course will use discussions of the pop star’s music and sartorial flare to build his students’ “empirical knowledge of some of the most important social dimensions of fame as exemplified by the case of Lady Gaga”. According to the course website, students will read academic studies that include fundamental works in the sociology of pop music by Simon Frith and others, Elizabeth Currid’s The Warhol Economy, and my forthcoming article in the Journal of Popular Culture, “Memory, Monsters, and Lady Gaga”. Although a University of Virginia writing course called “Gaga for Gaga: Sex, Gender, and Identity” also garnered substantial media attention, Deflem will likely offer a unique perspective. He also manages the gagafrontrow.net website and even owns the studded cane and wheelchair used by Gaga during her blood-soaked 2009 MTV Video Music Awards performance.

by Jane Jansen Seymour

23 Nov 2010


Since 1999, the Octopus Project has been forging a new hybrid known as indietronica by happily expanding upon the quintessential rock quartet to include modern techno gizmos and vintage experimental gadgetry. Rarely relying on vocals to explain the soundscape, each member plays all sorts of instruments—even switching to another mid-song.  While at Moogfest in Ashville, North Carolina over Halloween weekend, the group was called upon to quickly learn a few Devo classics to play with Mark Mothersbaugh and Gerry Casale after Bob Mothersbaugh was injured. The very next day Toto Miranda plus married couple Josh and Yvonne Lambert sat down to catch their breath with PopMatters.

by Corey Beasley

22 Nov 2010


“Convenient Parking” (and its later sister song, “Trucker’s Atlas”) reveals The Lonesome Crowded West for what it is at its core: a driving album. The track’s repetitive lyrics, its constantly coiling tension, and its fixation on car culture place you behind the wheel on a long drive whether you’d like to be there or not. The song insistently threatens to explode into a caterwaul of unabashed rock, but it never does. It’s a sly play on Modest Mouse’s part, and it displays the attention to theme and cohesion they bring to every track on this record.

“Soon the chain reaction started in the parking lot”, Brock sings in an almost conversational tone, “Waiting to bleed onto the big streets / And bleed out onto the highways / And off to other cities / Built to store and sell these rocks / Well, weren’t you feeling real dirty sitting in your car, with nothing / Waiting to bleed onto the big streets…” And so goes the circular pattern of the verse, the type of lyrical looping that Brock often uses to great success. Fitting his lyrics into a groove, one that spins and spins on repeat, is just the right move when writing about the feeling of stagnation with which “Convenient Parking” concerns itself. Few lyricists pay such literary attention to how form reflects content, and Brock—for all his trucker sentiments—proves himself here to be a writer of real intellectualized merit.

by Jason Mendelsohn and Eric Klinger

19 Nov 2010


Mendelsohn: I appreciate what Never Mind the Bollocks did for music in general. That’s probably the last nice thing I’m going to say about this album. How about you, Klinger? Do you have any nice things to say about the Sex Pistols?

Klinger: I went out of my way to really listen to Never Mind the Bollocks in preparation for this Counterbalance (unlike previous editions, where I just had my manservant give me the gist of the record). I had no idea what to expect. Like many impressionable teens, I picked up the disc in a fit of youthful rebellion then put it aside when the demands of maturity (you know, like finals and stuff) made it seem a little silly.

Now here I am, a 42-year-old man with a wife and kids and a mortgage, waiting to see what this disc has to offer me. And at first I was pretty pleased with the overall adrenaline rush of opener “Holidays in the Sun”. The guitars are crunchy, the tune clips along nicely, and overall it was quite pleasant. But after 35 minutes of being hectored by a barely coherent teenager, I was almost ready to dig out some old Yes albums and pretend punk never happened. Almost.

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