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Friday, May 9, 2014
Tube-top mama nearly six feet tall, she is the fox of the shopping mall. A buried treasure from 1990, drenched in irony (or is it?), is this week's Counterbalance.

Klinger: I haven’t quite crunched all the numbers, but I’m pretty sure that 1990 is the least critically acclaimed year in pop history. Just about every other year from 1966 to 2004 (what arguably constitutes the LP era) has at least one album in the Great List’s Top 100, but the highest ranking LP from 1990 is Public Enemy’s Fear of a Black Planet at No. 131, and then you don’t see anything again until Happy Mondays show up at No. 345. Fascinating! This post-punk, pre-grunge era is seen as a fallow period for pop, one that was safe for Paula Abdul to roam the earth. And yet, there was some exciting music being made during that time, and I’ve chosen this album by Redd Kross as an example.


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Friday, May 2, 2014
This week's Counterbalance got some interstellar-gator skin boots and a helter skelter 'round her little finger and I ride it endlessly. Take a dip in the Arctic Monkeys' daydreams with their latest release.

Mendelsohn: Buzz bands come and buzz bands go. I’ve seen my fair share, I’m sure you have as well. They typically explode onto the scene, suck up as much media hype, adoration, and money as they can before fading rather quickly back into the oblivion of normalcy whence they came. I thought that would have been the case in 2006 when the Arctic Monkeys, fueled by the Internet and anointed as one of the first blog buzz bands, hit with Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. The hype was justified, as the Monkeys, led by Alex Turner, racked up critical acclaim and record sales in England before slowly winning over the United States.


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Friday, Apr 25, 2014
Yes, you could be mine. Tonight and every night. This week’s Counterbalance will be your knight in shining armor, riding across the desert on a fine Arab charger.

Klinger: We’ve spent quite a bit of time dissecting the Rolling Stones’ work — they appeared no fewer than five times during our coverage of the Great List’s top LPs. Four of those albums were released between 1968 and 1972 in what was one of the most incredible streaks of brilliance in all of rock history. But the rap on the Stones has always been that after Exile on Main Street, their work was more or less optional. Sure, there have been a few flashes of greatness on occasion (1978’s Some Girls remains rightly heralded, as is 1981’s Tattoo You, even if it is basically an odds-and-sods assortment of leftover tracks), but their post-1972 work has been generally viewed as a long, slow slide into irrelevance.


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Friday, Apr 18, 2014
When a fire starts to burn, right? And it starts to spread, right? Then it's time for another edition of Counterbalance. This week it's electronic time with a critically acclaimed UK hit from 2013.

Mendelsohn: I’ve often complained that electronic music receives the short-shrift when it comes to the Great List. Oddly enough, that isn’t necessarily true. Electronic music has a strong presence on the list — if you manage to make it into the depths, far removed from the top 200 (or 500 for that matter). In reality, there is typically one electronic album that hits in the top ten each year and as a result, there is a decent amount of electronic music scattered throughout the list. Last year was a good year for electronic music to gain critical mass. There were four electronic albums in the top 25 from the Acclaimed Music website — Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories (5), Disclosure’s Settle (10), the Knife’s Shaking the Habitual (12), and Boards of Canada’s Tomorrow’s Harvest (19). The only new name on that list was Disclosure so that’s the record I picked, hoping that it wasn’t going to be an hour of static bursts and the digital renderings of robot copulation.


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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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