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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.

by Jason Cook

13 Sep 2010


Somewhere on the downbeat in The Heretic’s “Magic and Ecstasy” are the ghost notes that the film’s teenage Regan must find alarming, like a Trashmen record played at the wrong speed. One of the coverable tracks on the album, the song tries very little to scare its listeners in the way they may have expected after hearing either incarnation of “Regan’s Theme”. Instead, a drum kit cobbles through a Voodoo Child rock beat, accompanying a fuzzed-out bassline that leads us into Hell.

“Magic and Ecstasy’s” psychedelic tendencies aren’t at all at odds with The Heretic’s imagery. In fact, if one were to excerpt the film’s African possession scenes (yes, Exorcist II has plenty of strange scenes set in an Ethiopian dreamworld, from the perspective of a third-person psy-locust controlled by Linda Blair’s thoughts—see what I’m getting at here?) and contrast them with those of a bandanna-clad Band of Gypsies, add a few wavering King Crimson solos, and, well—I think Ennio Morricone had it right here.  At its most interesting moments, The Heretic is fairly entertaining, and mainly during its dreamworld sidebar. We see stampeding wildebeest, red rocky caverns, perspective-skewed savannah after grassland after dark reddened riverscape. James Earl Jones shows up as an entomologist. At one moment, Blair’s Regan tells us commandingly as she flies in locust-form: “Come; fly the teeth of the wind. Share my wings”. All of this Morricone watched in a mixing room as he wrote “Magic and Ecstasy”.

by Dylan Nelson

10 Sep 2010


Heart of the Congos is widely considered a landmark of the roots era. It has had a loyal following of aficionados and fans since its limited Jamaican release in 1977, but that same year, when Lee Perry sent the master tapes to Island, the label decided not to issue the album. What ensues is a long and somewhat hazy history of reissues and interpersonal intrigues driven by the mounting frustration of artists and audiences alike that the recording was so hard to find. Not least among them is the story recounted by Lloyd Bradley in his book, This Is Reggae Music, that Perry, frustrated by the album’s neglect, broke into an office somewhere and actually stole back the original tapes. Some claim that the LP was just one among many victims of a conspiracy to promote Bob Marley at the expense of lesser-known artists, and David Katz has speculated that the dreadful state of the masters (which included the remnants of another previously recorded song on two channels) contributed to Island’s regrettable decision. One thing is certain: Blood and Fire’s loving 1997 reissue came as a relief and a blessing to a generation of reggae lovers who had spent years searching for rare copies or had endured the low-quality versions that came before.

I’d like to imagine, though, that the obscurity and the impurity of the recording as it existed for so long was an almost serendipitous fate for Heart of the Congos. There’s something akin to the sonic compulsion of noise rock’s senseless crescendos or ambient electronica’s diminutive abstractions in the way that Perry clutters these tracks with interference, like the lowing cow that punctuates “Ark of the Covenant” and “Children Crying” or the explosions of tape hiss which are used as a rhythmic device on “Can’t Come In” and “Sodom and Gomorrow”. The album can be off-putting at first because the simple, repetitive songs are veiled by the sheer amount of noise in the mix. So the thought that Cedric Myton, Roy Johnson, and Watty Burnett had to somehow make themselves heard through shoddy remasters, scratched vinyls, or the fog of scarcity on hi-fis around the world is fitting, because belting it out on Heart of the Congos they were already competing with Perry’s manic orchestrations.

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Culture Belongs to the Alien in 'Spirits of Xanadu'

// Moving Pixels

"The symbols that the artifact in Spirits of Xanadu uses are esoteric -- at least for the average Western gamer. It is Chinese culture reflected back at us through the lens of alien understanding.

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