Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

 
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Friday, Oct 3, 2014
And though they were sad, the 137th most acclaimed album of all time rescued everyone. They lifted up the sun. A spoonful weighs a ton. A 1999 neo-psychedelic masterpiece is this week's Counterbalance.

Klinger: I’ve made no secret of the fact that as the 1990s wore on and on and on, I found myself increasingly tired of what alternative rock had become. I couldn’t hear much beyond the unrelenting bleakness and/or the chamomile acoustic stylings that were all symptomatic of the times. At least that’s the way I remember it. Anyway, imagine my surprise when I started hearing that the Flaming Lips, a group I had only been half-paying attention to, had just released an unabashed classic that mixed sunny psychedelia with gigantic beats, and in the process had created their masterpiece nine albums into their career. Then imagine my surprise when I heard the album and bought into the hype 100%.


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Friday, Sep 26, 2014
Ain't nobody as dope as the 124th most acclaimed album of all time, so fresh and so clean. It loves it when you stare at it. A hip-hop game changer is this week's Counterbalance. Break!

Mendelsohn: While perusing the Great List one day I happened to notice Outkast’s Stankonia sitting respectably in the back half of the top 200. That was a couple of months ago — when I went to check the list again today (after the recent update), Stankonia had jumped all the way up to number 124. That’s a huge jump in terms of the Great List, meaning the full effects of the “Best Of 2000s” lists are now being felt throughout the Critical Industrial Complex as they reevaluate the last decade. It had been nearly 15 years since I’d listened to this record but I had some fond memories of a couple of the songs, namely the ones about apologizing to Ms. Jackson and practicing good hygiene in order to stay fresh and clean.


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Friday, Sep 19, 2014
This week's Counterbalance takes on the 1,377th most acclaimed album of all time, Paul and Linda McCartney's 1971 joint effort. Have another look, have a cup of tea and a butter pie. (The butter wouldn't melt so we put it in a pie.)

Klinger: As someone who came into Beatle fandom right about the time that the 1970s were turning into the ‘80s, I came to understand a couple of pieces of received wisdom. The first was, of course, that the Beatles were completely unassailable in every way, and the second was that there were only a couple solo Beatle albums worth listening to. John Lennon had two, both of which we covered during our Great List years, while Paul McCartney had only one, his 1973 effort Band on the Run, the album that almost singlehandedly, albeit temporarily, saved his critical reputation.


Tagged as: paul mccartney
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Friday, Sep 12, 2014
In my eyes, indisposed, in disguise as no one knows hides the face of this week's Counterbalance. 281st most acclaimed album of all time, won't you come and wash away the rain?

Mendelsohn: I didn’t even want to talk about this album. I just wanted to make you listen to Soundgarden for a week. Mission accomplished.


Klinger: Well played, sir.


Mendelsohn: But, while were here, and since I imagine you listened to this record at least once, we might as well have a little back-and-forth. Because, honestly, what else are we going to do? In my head, I can already here you grumbling about no nostalgia for the 1990s, no affinity for alternative music, wading through your Gen-X miasma, etc. I almost feel bad for making you listen to Soundgarden’s Superunknown. Almost.


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Friday, Sep 5, 2014
You reach out and into the absence and gasping. The vastness grabs you like an alien embrace, your face to the face of this week's Counterbalance, in which we look at the Dirty Projectors' 2012 indie hit. Foolish, we know, but we're about to die.

Klinger: I don’t recall what exactly led me to pick up Rise Above, the Dirty Projectors’ radical 2007 reimagining of the Black Flag album Damaged. I was never that much of a Black Flag fan, and I think I had only read a review or two of the Dirty Projectors before I took the plunge. I’m awfully glad I did, since Dave Longstreth and his group have consistently produced music that’s equal parts challenging and exhilarating. I’ve been a big fan of the way the group structures its songs so that it’s hard to tell exactly when a wave of noise is going to overtake the arrangement, while still maintaining a surprising sense of melody. Swing Lo Magellan (2012) might be my favorite of theirs, with a series of undeniable hooks lying below the slightly off-kilter surface.


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