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

 
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Friday, Apr 17, 2015
I wanted to be with you alone and talk about the 1430th most acclaimed album of all time. But traditions I can trace against the child in your face won't escape my attention. A 1985 synth-pop hit is this week's Counterbalance

Mendelsohn: Like most people, I tend to romanticize the music of my youth a little. There are groups from the 1980s that loom large in the back of psyche because they managed to enter my brain and then stick there for a couple of decades before surfacing like some unwelcome repressed memory. I never really got to live through the cultural impact of some of these groups. I was far too young to understand the zeitgeist. My music consumption as a kid was pretty much limited to whatever my parents were listening to at the time, which wasn’t all bad, but they weren’t always following the trends. Inevitably, though, some of the current music seeped in and stuck around.


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Friday, Apr 10, 2015
Fear the hearts of men are failing. These are latter days we know. The great depression now is spreading. God's word declared it would be so. I'm going where there's only the 2,839th most acclaimed album of all time. An alt-rock bellwether is this week's Counterbalance.

Klinger: My disdain for the music of the 1990s is well-documented, but in my defense I feel like I came by it honestly. My post-collegiate years were, for the most part, a time adrift, trying to figure out what I was supposed to be doing with my life. Which does tend to conjure up memories of cheap beer hangovers and overdue utility bills. So you’ll have to forgive me when I can’t muster up much nostalgia for that time. Still and all, there were bright spots in that time, and one of them was Uncle Tupelo. The group might be best known as the well-spring from which we received Wilco and Son Volt, but for me they were an entity unto themselves, both with No Depression, the album we’re talking about today, and its follow-up, 1991’s Still Feel Gone.


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Friday, Apr 3, 2015
Where is the ritual? And tell me where, where is the taste? Someday there'll be the 2022 most acclaimed album of all time. That's the day I throw my drugs away. An underrated 1990s masterpiece is this week's Counterbalance.

Mendelsohn: Over the past couple of years, we have had some in-depth conversations about music from the 1990s. It usually goes something like this; Me: “Hey, Klinger, remember this band?” You: “I hate the 1990s.” If you throw that little dialogue into a Boggle shaker you could possibly come up with my opinion about most bands from the 1960s. And yet, knowing what we know about each other, we still persist in testing the other’s limits. This week, I dug a little deeper, found something a little different. A power trio from the 1990s made up of a bassist, a saxophonist and a drummer—if you guessed Morphine and their 1993 record Cure for Pain, you would be right.


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Friday, Mar 27, 2015
What's for tea, darling? Darling, I said, What's for tea? It's a 1967 pop-art masterpiece. You're going to choke on it, too. A pioneer in the art of the concept album is this week's Counterbalance.

Klinger: Over the last four-plus years, we’ve talked about the Who twice, back when we were taking on the Great List in numerical order—two albums that are highly iconic, yet markedly different both from one another and from the Who’s earliest work. And no matter what relationship I’ve had with the Who over the years (and I’m on record as being back and forth with the group to degrees that alarm even me), I will always be a champion of their pre-Tommy work. That’s especially true of The Who Sell Out, which is currently the 312th most acclaimed album of all time and one that I return to fairly regularly. Released in late 1967, The Who Sell Out is an ingenious concept album that came out at a time before concept albums were de rigeur for artistes of a certain temperament.


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Friday, Mar 20, 2015
Geezers need excitement. If their lives don't provide them this they incite violence. Common sense. Simple common sense. So here's the very exciting UK hip-hop debut of the Streets. An early aughts phenomenon is this week's Counterbalance.

Mendelsohn: There are two things I find odd about the Great List. One, the lack of hip-hop. I’m not going to get into it—the rockist nature of the Canon is what it is and will change slowly over time. I get that. Two, I’m a dumb Yankee and finding the odd record that only made it in the UK sitting near the top of the Great List always catches me off guard. It was weird and exhilarating to find Massive Attack and Portishead in the Top 100. On the flip side, there are also two Oasis records in the Top 100. Sometimes the UK giveth. Sometimes the UK shouldn’t have.


What’s the point? How about a hip hop record from the UK, sitting at no. 189—The StreetsOriginal Pirate Material This is weird and exhilarating, Klinger. A hip-hop record, from the UK that got almost no play in America, camped out in the Top 200. I’m ecstatic. Back in my younger days I was a bit of an obscurest wanker and snapped this record up when it hit stateside in the fall of 2002. I was impressed by the East Coast hip-hop filtered through the driving garage beats. Mike Skinner, the man behind the moniker, had a way with words, painting vignettes of violence and humor from across the pond, offering a quick link to a world nearly identical to mine. I still enjoy the record. It doesn’t have nearly the same pull it did a decade ago, but then neither do I. What do you think? Are you going to be a stand up geezer or are we going to get paralytic and fight?


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