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Thursday, Feb 13, 2014
During a week where you're bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Valentine’s week is saturated with ads for ridiculously overpriced roses and chocolates that you’re supposed to buy your significant other to prove you love them at least for one day a year. It’s also a holiday that obviously excludes those who are single, or those who are still trying to pick up the pieces of a pervious relationship. Some of the greatest albums have been born from this exact scenario.

The most famous of these albums have backstories as interesting as the music. Be it a musician who retreated into the woods of Wisconsin, an artist who chose to follow-up a mega-selling blockbuster with a decidedly unanthematic look at a disintegrating relationship, or a group of musicians who were breaking up with one another under a haze of cocaine, these albums provide the soundtrack to that other side of love.

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Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014
When I think about romance, only one name comes to mind: Ja Rule. What other artist so delicately crafts his words of affection? What other artist has such a unique and hauntingly beautiful perspective on romance? Yes, we are joking.

Valentine’s Day is coming up this week. Call me a sap, but I love this holiday. Even when I don’t have a significant other, I find myself swept up in the romantic sentiments, gloriously bad romantic comedies, and boxes of chocolate (To: Me, From: Me). But what do I love more than anything on Valentine’s Day? Love songs, of course! And when I was asked to put together a list of songs for Valentine’s Day, only one name came to mind: rapper Ja Rule.

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Monday, Feb 10, 2014
The third track from Weather Systems offers extremely beautiful and intricate vocal arrangements, as well as heavenly musical complements.

Music is most powerful when the result is greater than the sum of its parts. There’s something wondrous about the way a combination of sounds can create an entirely arresting and therapeutic experience; you can analyze each element and deconstruct every formation (as I’ve promised to do in this series), but like the miracle of life, knowing how it all works doesn’t quite explain the magic of why it works so well (if that makes sense). As I’ve said before, such is the case with Weather Systems, a record on which every moment is just about perfect.

While the first two songs on the album—“Untouchable Pt. I” and “Untouchable Pt. II”—do an amazing job exemplifying how a combination of instrumentation, lyrics, and production techniques form a elegantly poignant journey, the full-length’s third track, “The Gathering of the Clouds”, is on a different level entirely. It’s arguably the album’s most intricate offering, as well as the first of several ingenious weather metaphors that tie together most of the songs. “The Gathering of the Clouds” never ceases to make my jaw drop.

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Friday, Feb 7, 2014
You can't start a fire without a spark. This gun's for hire, even if it's the 162 most acclaimed album of all time. A misunderstood blockbuster from 1984 is this week's Counterbalance.

Klinger: We’ve got a fascinating case on our hands this week, Mendelsohn, one that might take a bit to fully unpack. So the story goes that Sony, newly flush with Thriller money, sought to pull the record industry out of its early ‘80s Donkey Kong slump by creating yet another major hit blockbuster LP. Right about that time, Bruce Springsteen was reconvening the E Street Band to record a clutch of tight, concise pop anthems after his starkly bleak, yet bleakly stark, all-acoustic Nebraska album. (In the interim, he also appears to have discovered the joys of Soloflex, which couldn’t have hurt.) The end result, Born in the USA, was one of the top-selling albums of the decade, and ultimately a mixed bag for its creator.

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Wednesday, Feb 5, 2014
When Lateef the Truth Speaker and Lyrics Born came together for 1997's sole Latyrx album, DJ Shadow, Blackalicious, and more helped turn it into an underground classic. The long-awaited follow-up arrived at long last in 2013, and the only thing that's as entertaining as The Second Album is their answers to our 20 Questions ...

And you thought you had to wait a long time for Dr. Dre to release Detox.

When Latyrx’s debut album dropped in 1997, the enigmatic disc contained a glorious meshing of backpack rap icons from all sides, creating a unique, hypnotic, yet very accessible sound that really doesn’t have much peer, especially when heard a decade and a half later. Latyrx was a combination of Lateef the Truth Speaker and Lyrics Born, two highly talented MCs who went on to release numerous attention-grabbing solo albums of their own. Yet here, with the Blackalicious crew and DJ Shadow creating unique atmospheres for the dual rappers to spar over, Latyrx’s lone outing become the stuff of wonders, with songs alternatively funny and poignant, some songs even featuring Lyrics Born and Lateef rapping simultaneously out of different stereo channels, making for quite the headrush. It was the stuff that indie-rap dreams were made of, but as each member’s solo careers burdeoned in different ways, Latyrx’s The Album was viewed simply as a one-off.

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