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Friday, Aug 15, 2014
There are no more summer lifeguard jobs. There are no more art museums to guard. The lab is out of white lab coats, because there are no more slides and microscopes. But there always careers talking about this week's Counterbalance album.

Mendelsohn: At one point in my life I had an insane addiction to new music. I would go through five or more albums a week, searching for that next great record. Downloading, buying, or using my media connections to get my hands on anything I could. If I it wasn’t new music, I wasn’t interested. And then we took on the Great List and my listening habits did a complete 180. New music was replaced by “old” music as we systematically moved through the Great List. I’ve been doing a little to catch up, trying not to fall into my old habits. So when I started seeing pieces on Parquet Courts’ new record, Sunbathing Animal, all of which mentioned the phenomenal quality of their previous record Light Up Gold, my interested was piqued. Old Mendelsohn would have just went out and picked up Sunbathing Animal, leaving Light Up Gold and their debut American Specialties for later, if ever. But if the Great List has taught me anything, it is to respect the organic development of music and appreciate where a band has been and where they could go.


So this week, we are listening to Parquet Courts’ second album. I haven’t listened to their new album yet — It’s sitting on my desk, Klinger, just waiting like a Christmas present — or their first album that nobody talks about (probably for good reason?). But first, we have to talk about Light Up Gold.


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Friday, Aug 8, 2014
Hello there, ladies and gentlemen. Hello there, ladies and gents. Are you ready to rock? Because Cheap Trick’s classic 1979 live album is this week’s Counterbalance. Surrender. But don’t give yourself away.

Klinger: By the late 1970s rock had become big business, and the emergence of the live album is a perfect example of the way that popular music had gone from being a cottage industry to being a regular industry. Nowadays, the live album is seen as a delightful little bonus for the fans and completists, but back in the satin-jacketed ’70s it provided an opportunity for bands to cross over into the mainstream. Peter Frampton had been something of a journeyman musician for about a decade before Frampton Comes Alive made him a heartthrob and radio staple. Kiss’s first few albums were largely ignored until Alive made them jukebox (and lunchbox) heroes. And of course Cheap Trick were more or less a quirky road band until they tapped into their rabid Japanese following and made the album At Budokan.


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Friday, Aug 1, 2014
I've got the brand new doo-doo, guaranteed like Yoo-Hoo, I'm on like Dr. John, yeah Mr. Zu Zu. I'm a newlywed, not a divorcee, and everything I do is funky like Lee Dorsey. Beastie Boys’ 1994 landmark is this week’s Counterbalance. Phone is ringing. Oh my God.

Mendelsohn: Hey, Klinger. Remember 1994? I do, but mostly through my rose-colored glasses of teenage nostalgia. The year had a strange mix of music. Grunge was starting to lose its hold while the lad rock from Britain had yet to talk over the charts. What 1994 gave us was an eclectic music scene that offered up albums by Jeff Buckley, Portishead, Oasis, Nine Inch Nails, Notorious B.I.G. and Soundgarden, just to name a few. And like the wide-ranging, critically acclaimed albums of the year, there was one that seemed to capture the zeitgeist, as pop became an amalgamation of the varied genres of the ever-expanding music universe. That record was Beastie Boys’ Ill Communication — a sort of genre-defying jam session, as the former frat hip-hop brohams from Brooklyn tried to get in touch with another level, melding their punk-influenced hip-hop with laid-back grooves, world beat, and funk as they reinvented themselves into enlightened elder statesmen.


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Friday, Jul 25, 2014
I know that you’ll feel better when you send us in your letter and tell us the name of your favorite vegetable. In the meantime, this week’s Counterbalance looks at a 1967 classic, lost and found.

Klinger: So the story goes that in 1966, Beach Boys leader and pop music wunderkind Brian Wilson was on a mission. He was not only out to top himself, but he recognized that the entire pop game was changing. His friendly rivalry with the Beatles had escalated once again as the Fabs answered his Pet Sounds with the equally (more?) adventurous Revolver. Recruiting upstart lyricist Van Dyke Parks and very nearly every session musician in Los Angeles, Wilson started composing his “teenage symphonies to God”, the album that would be his magnum opus: SMiLE. What happened next became the stuff of pop lore for 40 years.


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Friday, Jul 18, 2014
We are the Priests of the Temples of Syrinx. Our great computers fill the hallowed halls. And it's time to talk about Rush, and their 1976 concept piece. Also, attention all Planets of the Solar Federation: we have assumed control.

Mendelsohn: There are two types of people in this world, Klinger — people who love Rush and people who don’t. Rush was the band that introduced me to rock ‘n’ roll, specifically their 1976 dystopian concept album 2112, so when we started working our way through the Great List, the first thing I did was check to see how long it would be before we got to a Rush album. I was sorely disappointed to find Moving Pictures, the band’s highest-selling and most well-regarded album sitting at number 867. Even worse was finding 2112 at number 1005. It seems the critics were mostly made up of people who didn’t like Rush. I may be a little biased here, but where’s the critical love for Rush? There are only two bands who have more gold and platinum records than Rush, you may have heard of them — the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Rush has sold over 25 million records worldwide, putting them squarely in the top 100 in that category. But yet critical love seems to elude them. The reasons, I suppose, aren’t all that hard to ascertain. They do have a tendency to write complicated suites that regularly top ten minutes and eschew pop constructs for extended jams that are heavy on the riffs but light on the things that the critics love. Honestly, I wasn’t all that surprised to find them languishing on the Great List.


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