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by Andy Johnson

3 Aug 2010


In announcing their latest and tenth album, to be released in late September, Welsh rock veterans Manic Street Preachers described Postcards From a Young Man as “one last shot at mass communication”. Provocative as ever, the band will have meant for this fascinating choice of words to sound ominous, but after the first UK radio play of “(It’s Not War) Just the End of Love” last night, responses will be varied.

Anthemic, brief, uplifting and string-laden, the new song will not be received by the faction of the band’s fanbase that applaud only the darkest of the group’s material, and have always felt that the harrowing 1994 album The Holy Bible was a singular high point from which the group have since uniformly declined. Those fans also didn’t like and may well have forgotten some of the band’s past explorations with pure pop-rock, including a number of wonderful and accessible songs spread across past albums like Everything Must Go (1996), Know Your Enemy (2001) and especially the tenderly icy Lifeblood (2004). Another faction of fans—myself included—lapped up that material, and will be impressed with the radio gleam of the new song.

by Jessy Krupa

2 Aug 2010


Every artist has a signature song, which becomes the symbol of their entire career. For better or worse, it sums up how the public views them in usually less than five minutes. In Paul McCartney’s case, that song is “Maybe I’m Amazed”.

Ironically, it almost didn’t become a hit. When he originally recorded the song in 1970, McCartney refused to release the song as a single, in keeping with the British tradition of not releasing album tracks as singles. Despite this, the song still became well known enough through radio airplay that he performed it during Wings’ concerts. In 1977, the group included a live version with an extended ending on Wings Over America, a three-record live set. Performed in June 1976 at the Seattle Kingdome, this is the version that most people identify with the song. Capitol records released a promotional 12” record with four different versions of the song on it to radio stations, but for the commercially released version, the live rocker “Soily” was its flipside. In the UK, it only hit number 28 on the singles chart, but in the US, it cracked the top 10.

As for the original studio version, it was written and recorded in London. He recorded many different versions of the song, most of which have never been released to the public (these original takes were examined by DJ Hellraiser for the 2005 Twin Freaks album’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” remix; additionally, some of the “beat-boxing” sounds McCartney recorded for those sessions were scattered throughout the rest of the album). Not surprisingly, McCartney wrote the song about how his wife Linda helped him through the emotional mess that was the break-up of the Beatles. Originally entitling it “Baby, I’m Amazed”, McCartney changed it in order to sound less “self-assured”. Linda’s voice can be heard singing back-up on the track, but that is not the only involvement she originally had with it.

by Andy Johnson

30 Jul 2010


As huge a presence as he is, Prince is not a musician who has ever loomed particularly large in my world. We’re only a product of our influences after all, and for whatever reason mine have not led me to explore Prince’s purple path in much detail. Prince worked his way into my attentions recently, however, when on July 10th, he released his latest album 20Ten as a free gift with a number of European newspapers, including the British Daily Mirror. The copy of the paper which brought the CD to me was one of 334,000 copies by which the publication’s sales soared that day. It’s not the first time Prince has used this method to distribute his music—he gave his 2007 record Planet Earth away with the papers, too—but am I the only one that feels that such a strategy cheapens the music and even Prince himself?

by Dylan Nelson

30 Jul 2010


If Best Coast’s Crazy for You was a concept album, the premise would be blissfully simple: a young woman, struggling with the aimlessness of work and home, searches for love in California. The idea is not unlike a younger, humbler, West Coast version of Sex and the City. And, like that renowned television series, Best Coast’s debut clicks with a diverse audience, one beyond what may initially appear to be its distinct appeal. I know at least a handful of people whose affinity for Crazy for You is unmitigated by disagreements of gender, lifestyle, or romantic disposition. I am myself among them.

Bethany Cosentino sings about passion and need. She is always the forsaken, never the forsaker, and she is confused but never apathetic. She is your typically carefree girl, hemmed in by the realities of commitment, involvement, and closure. Her favorite rhyme, fittingly, seems to be ‘crazy’ and ‘lazy’—it appears twice on the album, conspicuous in each instance. She sings on “When I’m with You”: “The world is lazy / But you and me / We’re just crazy”. Craziness is essential to her condition. It also comes upon her as a result of love: “You drive me crazy but I love you / You make me lazy but I love you”.

by Joseph Fisher

29 Jul 2010


Like so many residents of Washington, DC, I am originally from elsewhere—Boston, specifically. Earlier this summer, I took the opportunity to ship up to Boston to attend the wedding of one my closest friends. The date that he chose for the ceremony, June 12th, was a significant one because it fell during the twelfth meeting of the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals. At the time of the ceremony, the series was tied 2-2.

I suppose that I should make it clear early on in this posting that I am neither a sports analyst nor a sports historian—and I am probably not much of a sports writer, either. Nevertheless, as I look back on the glorious wedding reception that followed my friend’s ceremony, I’m startled by how relevant the “storied” Boston-LA rivalry was to one particular song that the DJ played that evening.

About halfway through the reception, just as the party was moving from stately to unruly, the entire room was propelled onto the dance floor care of the opening one-two stomp of “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” by the Dropkick Murphys. I mean that, too. The. Entire. Room. Fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, grandmothers and grandfathers all jumping, dancing, and shouting the lyrics (or at least the “wah, oh-oh’s” backing each chorus). It was probably the most intense three minutes of the night, and the dance floor will never be quite the same as a result.

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Country Fried Rock: Drivin' N' Cryin' to Be Inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame

// Sound Affects

""If Drivin' N' Cryin' sounded as good in the '80s as we do now, we could have been as big as Cinderella." -- Kevn Kinney

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