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Thursday, Aug 28, 2014
(Dedicate one to the ladies...) This week's Counterbalance found the simple life ain't so simple, when it jumped out on the road. We're taking a look at Van Halen's 1978 debut album, which we're told is living at a pace that kills.

Mendelsohn: The one thing I liked about working from the Great List before the Counterbalance revamp was the weekly marching order. Didn’t matter what it was, whether or not we liked it, we were going to listen to it and have a little back-and-forth. Sometimes it was a drag. But mostly, the Great List offered up some interesting listening material. Looking down the list, it was pretty easy to tell who was going to stand behind specific albums. We are nothing if not predictable. But every now and then we would get to an album and more than anything I just wanted to know what you had to say about it.


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Friday, Aug 22, 2014
Gonna drive past the Stop 'n' Shop with the Modern Lovers' masterpiece on. Roadrunner once. Roadrunner twice. I'm in love with rock 'n' roll, and I'll be out all night. From 1976 (but recorded in '71 and '72), this week's Counterbalance is a cult classic.

Klinger: Of all the characters we’ve encountered during the course of our Counterbalance excursion, few are as singularly odd as Jonathan Richman, lead singer of the Modern Lovers. Part incurable romantic, part frustrated outsider, Richman wrote an album of songs that were occasionally edifying and occasionally unnerving, but always brutally honest. His band played with an aggression that was right in line with the burgeoning punk/New Wave scene (future Cars drummer David Robinson and Talking Head Jerry Harrison are heard here), and at one point the group was signed to Warner Brothers. And then Richman turned his back on everything.


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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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