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Tuesday, Apr 22, 2014
Articles hailing "the death of the music industry" are a dime a dozen, but recent stories about album sales, iTunes Radio, and radio audience shares -- when bundled together -- indicate that the big shift everyone has feared is actually genuinely happening.

The United States is at an absolutely terrifying tipping point, and it’s all because of one terrifying number: “1%-2%”.


You see, ever since Napster and the music industry’s best year ever being at the peak of the millennial boy-band boom, physical album sales have gradually declined as digital has slowly inched its way towards becoming the dominant musical format. We’ve seen articles about this time and time again, and it wasn’t too long ago that a video went viral wherein modern children were asked to try and play music on a Walkman, and they were hilariously confused.


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Thursday, Mar 20, 2014
Ted Gioia's piece "Music Criticism Has Degenerated Into Lifestyle Reporting" spread like wildfire, and Jody Rosen's response was equally compelling. While the debate rages on, these two critical titans are highlighting a changing of the critical guard that is happening slowly and begrudgingly.

If you somehow didn’t know Ted Gioia’s name before his article on the Daily Beast, “Music Criticism Has Degenerated Into Lifestyle Reporting”, started spreading around like wildfire, then you most assuredly do now.


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Thursday, Feb 13, 2014
During a week where you're bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Valentine’s week is saturated with ads for ridiculously overpriced roses and chocolates that you’re supposed to buy your significant other to prove you love them at least for one day a year. It’s also a holiday that obviously excludes those who are single, or those who are still trying to pick up the pieces of a pervious relationship. Some of the greatest albums have been born from this exact scenario.


The most famous of these albums have backstories as interesting as the music. Be it a musician who retreated into the woods of Wisconsin, an artist who chose to follow-up a mega-selling blockbuster with a decidedly unanthematic look at a disintegrating relationship, or a group of musicians who were breaking up with one another under a haze of cocaine, these albums provide the soundtrack to that other side of love.


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Thursday, Aug 8, 2013
Joseph Fisher examines the controversy over Rolling Stone's Dzhokhar Tsarnaev cover issue, as well as the lack of response from the indie music publishing world.

I stood in the aisle at One Stop News for quite some time before I decided to purchase the 1 August 2013 edition of Rolling Stone, the issue with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (“Jahar”) on the cover.  Though I spent most of my teenage years in a small, weathered mill town outside of Worcester, Massachusetts, I readily identify as a Bostonian. My father grew up in South Boston; my mother grew up in Jamaica Plain. I was born in Quincy (“Qwinzee”) Hospital and spent the first few years of my life traveling back and forth to various family houses all over the South Shore.


Back in the early 2000s, I bandited the Boston Marathon, running a respectable, if totally unofficial, time for my first marathon. On that day, my future wife waited for me mere feet away from the finish line. 


Over the past decade, my wife has become quite the runner herself. She has been lucky enough to complete several marathons (I always seem to get injured beforehand). As a result, I have spent many, many mornings waiting at finish lines for her. My wife consistently runs her marathons broadly between 4:20:00 and 4:50:00. Had she been running the 2013 Boston Marathon, I would have been waiting for her, most likely at the finish line, most likely when the bombs went off. That was, and remains, a chilling thought.


So, petulant as it might sound, this Rolling Stone cover felt personal to me. And I took it personally.


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Wednesday, Jul 24, 2013
by Mike Noren
The 2002 release All Hail West Texas marked a turning point for the Mountain Goats, as John Darnielle went from underground home recording cult hero to wider acclaim. With this week's reissue of All Hail West Texas, we review essential tracks from the Mountain Goats' back catalog.

In a broad overview of John Darnielle’s 20-plus years heading the Mountain Goats, you might look at 2002’s All Hail West Texas as a pivotal halfway point. Darnielle began recording as the Mountain Goats in the early 1990s, putting poems to tape over a battered acoustic guitar. He had collaborators—from early bandmate Rachel Ware to the mysterious Bright Mountain Choir—but the Mountain Goats’ early work centered on Darnielle and his words. He sang about troubled characters and unhealthy relationships in settings across the globe and throughout history. He would belt out his stories, sometimes bitterly humorous, and linger on moments and details until it all overwhelmed him. The sparse instrumentation and rough home recording only added to the urgency. It’s difficult to imagine early Mountain Goats albums like Zopilote Machine (1994) and Sweden (1995) without the static and tape grind.


All Hail West Texas—reissued this week in expanded form by Merge—was one of the best albums of Darnielle’s “homemade” era, and also the last. Just months later in 2002, the Mountain Goats released the follow-up Tallahassee, on which they displayed a newly cleaned-up sound and a wider array of instruments. The band’s lineup expanded to include Peter Hughes on bass and, later, Jon Wurster (of Superchunk) on drums. Additional musicians chipped in frequently over the albums that followed. The shift from the homemade racket to a more conventional studio presentation may have caught longtime fans off guard, but it helped take Darnielle’s songs to different place and to a broader audience. Albums like The Sunset Tree (2005), The Life of the World to Come (2009), and Transcendental Youth (2012) have pianos, strings, and horn sections that would’ve been hard to imagine in 1994—but they also feature some of Darnielle’s finest songwriting.


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