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Friday, Apr 11, 2014
Oh Lord, don't let them drop that atomic bomb on me. At least not until we've had a chance to talk about a 1962 masterpiece by composer Charles Mingus. Counterbalance delivers the jazz this week.

Klinger: Back when we first announced our shift away from the numerical constraints of the Great List, we both bemoaned the list’s overall rock-centric nature, which left little room for other genres, including country, folk, hip-hop, and (most notably for me) jazz. Well, buddy, here’s our chance. The album I’ve chosen to get a little more jazz into these proceedings — Charles Mingus’ 1960 Atlantic release Oh Yeah — isn’t considered especially canonical (it clocks in at No. 2653 on the Great List, so I would have been well into my 70s by the time we got to it). But I’m forcing you to listen to it because I think that it’s one of the albums I would hand off to a rock person who wants to get into jazz but isn’t sure quite how.


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Friday, Apr 4, 2014
I gazed a gazeless stare. We walked a million hills. As the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death approaches, Counterbalance takes a look at Nirvana's landmark acoustic performance.

Mendelsohn: It seems surreal to me that Kurt Cobain thrust off his mortal coil 20 years ago. It might just be my inability to come to grips with my own age, but here we are, Klinger, two solid decades since Cobain’s death. In that time, the music industry has changed dramatically and I find myself wondering, would Cobain have been more comfortable in the music industry of today, where artists enjoy an unprecedented amount of creative freedom and independence thanks to niche labels and the slow decline of the major labels? Or would the pervasive nature of social media that lets the public directly scrutinize the artist’s each and every move made him feel even more uneasy than the unrelenting fame he seemed so unequipped to handle?


I don’t really want you to answer that question, and I’m sorry for waxing philosophic but I find myself thinking these things as I made my way through Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged in New York. I am awed by the flashes of beauty on this record, a record I hadn’t listened to in nearly those 20 years, but going back to it now, it strikes me that this might have been Cobain writing his own eulogy. Here he is, stripping down his music, laying bare his influences, and the result is an enigmatic and enduring performance that bookends Nirvana’s short run.


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Friday, Mar 28, 2014
And I know you'll never believe I play this as though I’m all right. If life is but a dream, then wake me up. The latest from Queens of the Stone is this week’s Counterbalance.

Mendelsohn: There are a couple of things from my formative years that I still find myself drawn to, despite my better judgment. I’ve long since moved away from the shock rock, the gratuitous riffage, and mindless jabbering of so many of the hard rock, neo-hard rock, alternative rock, industrial rock, and metal bands whose posters used to hang on teenage Mendelsohn’s walls. And yet I sometimes find myself gravitating to those musical elements that, for better or worse, are a part of my musical history. Strike the right tone, bring the heavy guitar licks, and I might give you a chance. If your name happens to be Josh Homme, so much the better, because if it is, I will inevitably listen to whatever album you just made and, more often than not, I will like it — a lot.


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Friday, Mar 21, 2014
It's the time of the season when love runs high. In this time, give it to me easy and let me try with pleasured hands to talk about a 1968 psychedelic milestone. A misspelled masterpiece is this week’s Counterbalance.

Klinger: As I said a few weeks ago, I spent my formative years fascinated by the lists and ratings and reviews that issued forth from the typewriters of those earliest rock writers—the early rumblings of what would eventually form the Great List, that conglomeration of Best of Lists that has formed the basis of our little Counterbalance experiment. And all throughout that time, there was one curious little album that would keep popping up as an underrated classic, the ZombiesOdessey and Oracle, which was released in early 1968 but given new life when “Time of the Season” became a surprise hit more than a year later. Back in the ’80s, the LP seemed to be somewhat hard to come by, so I let it slip away from my must-listen list for a number of years. Much later, when access to music became as basic as a municipal utility, I finally got around to digging into it, and I have to say that I fell pretty quickly in love.


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Friday, Mar 14, 2014
You know I'm bad at communication, it's the hardest thing for me to do. And it's said, it's the most important part that relationships will go through. So let's just listen to this pop record — it's this week's Counterbalance.

Mendelsohn: It’s no secret that I have a soft spot in my heart (or head) for well-executed pop music. So when I pulled up the best of 2013 list on AcclaimedMusic.net, I was pleasantly surprised to find Haim’s Days Are Gone hovering just outside of the top ten. Haim, for the uninitiated, are three sisters, Este, Danielle, and Alana, who hail from California and have been playing music together for most of their young lives (the oldest sister, Este, is 27). These young ladies got their start as part of a family rock group, playing cover songs with their parents at local events. Este and Danielle then went on to spend some time in various other projects including a stint in a prefabricated pop group and various backing roles for a who’s-who in the indie rock world. With the addition of youngest sister Alana to the roster, these ladies finally got around to doing the proper rock group thing and released Days Are Gone.


Full disclosure time — this is probably the last time I will ever listen to this record. But for the past couple of weeks, it has snowed non-stop in my locale and Days Are Gone is about as close to sunny SoCal as I can get so I will take it. And honestly, it’s hard to dislike this album, Klinger. It is a studio masterpiece and a rolling call book of nearly every pop music convention to grace the airwaves for the past 40 years. I am simultaneously thrilled and sort of disgusted that I am thrilled by this record. But before I put down this guilty pleasure, I wanted the chance to subject you to its unrelenting effervescence. You told me last week that you like effervescent pop. Is this effervescent enough for you?


Tagged as: counterbalance, haim
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