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by Jason Mendelsohn and Eric Klinger

16 Sep 2010


Mendelsohn: I have nothing bad to say about this album. Nothing. But I will suck it up and do my job as a critic and start critiquing. I have two words for you, Klinger: “Yellow Submarine”. Without Ringo’s dystopian little gem about a magical place where we all live in submarines and no one ever lapses into a claustrophobic rage, Revolver may very well be the perfect album. Prove me wrong.

Klinger: A bold statement, Mendelsohn, and one that’s awfully hard to dispute. But let’s take a Slate.com-like contrarian view here, if for no other reason than to generate some false controversy. After all, who doesn’t find the devil’s advocate delightful?

Even putting Ringo’s kiddie number aside, the individual songs on Revolver are actually kind of slight. McCartney offers up a soap opera melodrama, a pleasant little love song, a highly controversial ode to sunshine and a tune about weed. George bitches about having to pay taxes and messes around on a sitar. Lennon is the record’s MVP with two absolutely brilliant songs that would set the tone for the rest of the decade (“She Said, She Said” and “Tomorrow Never Knows”), but even he ends up writing a love song to his dealer.

And I’ve never liked the cover, either. There, I said it.

by Dylan Nelson

15 Sep 2010


I love Lady Gaga. You can count my vote with the pro-Gaga factions in the cultural war. Everyone has an opinion; it’s all too much fun to join in the fray side-by-side with the likes of the intellectual and critical touchstone The Atlantic and the high-school-science-project, conspiracy-theory website The Vigilant Citizen, not to mention that haughty, freaky-folky mistress of song, Joanna Newsom. They’ve all gone on record in the past few months about the Gaga’s debatable cultural relevance. Is she the savior of pop? Is she the harbinger of the pop Armageddon? Is she a feminist or a brat? Or is she—is she?—a puppet of the Illuminati literally hell-bent on her mission to brainwash the masses?

Gaga has taken the world by storm in the past two years with a flood of hit singles, strange outfits, and stranger music videos. Her sense of fashion, fearsome ambition, and superstar status invite comparisons to Bowie, Bolan, and Madonna, but it’s hard to say (despite how much it is said) whether she’s an original blend or a regurgitated mixture of her influences. Maybe part of the reason everyone else is so confused about her image is that the singer herself seems uncertain of her motives. She embraces cheap escapism, but she has pretensions to high art. She claims her inspiration from adolescent heartbreak (and she appeals tremendously to that demographic) but her videos consciously employ controversial imagery and abstract, fragmented stories that repel literal interpretation.

by Joseph Fisher

15 Sep 2010


Two weeks ago, Pitchfork published its list of the top 200 hundred tracks of the 1990s.  The list is a fascinating read.  The selections are fairly well-balanced, and the emphasis on music videos, though unevenly explored in the capsule reviews, provides an interesting context for the various ways that music was consumed just over a decade ago.

As always, some of the tracks that made the cut were a bit bizarre.  For instance, giving props to something as flimsy as Len’s “Steal My Sunshine” (number 119) seems the rough equivalent of championing Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody”, which, we all know, is something that the P-fork folks would never do.  Similarly, Dinosaur Jr.’s “Start Choppin’” (number 93) is belittled in every way by “The Wagon”—and, even more so, by “Whatever’s Cool with Me”.  Also, as great as Elastica’s “Stutter” (number 98) might be, it’s really difficult to hear that song as anything more than this track’s echo (that might not be an anachronism depending on where you were when “Stutter” was actually released as a single, and when Elastica was released as an album).

by Evan Sawdey

15 Sep 2010


Born in the Ukraine one year before the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, Lana Mir has taken quite the journey to make it here in the States.

Inspired by first seeing the video for Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” on MTV, Mir soon decided she wanted to become a professional musician, having worked long on hard on her songwriting chops before finally moving to New York and hooking up with Brookville’s Andy Chase to help produce her self-titled debut album, out now.  On it, she mines a soft-spoken kind of indie-pop that doesn’t sound too far removed from Feist’s excellent Let It Die, although with a distinctive flair all her own.  Perhaps her sound is best encapsulated in her sweet, dreamy take on the Stone Roses’ classic Brit-rock anthem “I Wanna Be Adored”, her voice sounding like it’s aching on virtually every line, making the titular phrase uttered in the chorus all that more potent.

Before jumping onto the promotional circuit head-on, Mir was able to take some time to answer PopMatters’ famed 20 Questions, here unveiling a love of Leo Tolstoy, her thoughts on the current US immigration debate, and how she wishes she could’ve made Mulholland Drive herself ...

by Souleo

14 Sep 2010


When you’re a musician who has spent the past 20 years existing safely within the circle of various bands, stepping out on your own brings no small amount of pressure. Jody Porter, guitarist for the power-pop group Fountains of Wayne, is feeling that pressure with the release of his debut solo album, Close to the Sun.

No longer able to hide within his former indie bands such as the Belltower, the Astrojet, or the previously mentioned Fountains of Wayne, Porter is adjusting to being front and center by focusing on what comes most naturally to him: making great music.

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