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by AJ Ramirez

10 Jun 2010

There’s one important fact that should not be neglected when commemorating the 30-year anniversary of Joy Division’s premature demise. Pretty much within a day of the suicide of Joy Division singer Ian Curtis, his remaining bandmates decided to carry on under a new name. Thus was born New Order, an ensemble that gradually shed Joy Division’s rock essence to become one of the most influential groups in modern dance and electronic music. And, dare I say it, New Order was the better band.

While incorporating elements of electronic dance music wasn’t unusual amongst post-punk bands in the early 1980s (the synthesizer-based works of disco producers such as Giorgio Moroder were a strong influence for many of those groups), what set New Order apart from its rock contemporaries was how wholly the group embraced the music and its attending culture, to the point where a huge swath of listeners are unaware of the band’s rockier origins and inclination. In my own case, I was exposed to New Order’s music long before I had any inkling that there had been a predecessor group (much less one that played rock), due to R&B radio’s embrace of the band’s dancefloor-filling output during my 1980s childhood. In contrast to Joy Division’s grim Aryan-tinged image, New Order’s stellar run of singles during the 1980s acted as multicultural nexus points, linking white European post-disco, Latino electro from New York, and black house music from Detroit and Chicago, both drawing from and providing inspiration to these musical strains. The members of New Order would admit without hesitation that they were a bunch of white Britons who hated to dance, but their embrace and advancement of the technological innovations of electronic dance music—essentially forsaking agonized guitars and doomy basslines for drum programming and loads of synths—were never less than sincere. Witness the single “Confusion”, a kaleidoscopic blend of electro and early hip hop that remains a go-to cut for showing off one’s mad breakdancing skills:

by Jennifer Cooke

10 Jun 2010

Some people have a bone to pick with the term “alt-country”, but over the years, I find myself reaching for it in place of other labels like “Americana” or “roots music”. In describing favorite artists such as Old 97s or early Wilco, alt-country seems to best capture the idea of what the genre is to me: American country music played by and for people who grew up listening to punk rock and have a lot more Ramones in their record collections than anything to come out of Nashville post-1970s. I have never loved any artist who could qualify for a CMA in the last couple of decades, so the only kind of country that speaks to me is either the old kind, or the alt kind.

Whatever you want to call it, San Diego’s John Meeks does it smashingly. His new record, Old Blood was released on Loud and Clear Records on May 18, and was produced at Stereo Disguise Recording Laboratories, brainchild of Black Heart Procession’s Pall Jenkins. The new record became one of my most hotly anticipated releases of this year when I caught wind of the first single, “Been Down By Love”, which I rhapsodized about here.

by Sean Murphy

9 Jun 2010

Miles Davis. Herbie Hancock. Wayne Shorter. Tony Williams. Ron Carter.

Those men, individually, are some of the most important and brilliant musicians of the last century. Together? Forget about it. This quintet (Davis’ second famous fivesome) was an unstoppable force and they made some of the greatest albums. In jazz music? In any genre of music.

Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock need little, if any, introduction or elaboration. They were gods then and they remain gods, now. Seriously, you could spend years studying and absorbing the almost overwhelming volume of music they’ve made. And while the sheer quantity is impressive, the quality is astonishing.

by Jessy Krupa

9 Jun 2010

This week, we look at “Valentine Day”, a short instrumental track from Paul McCartney’s his first solo album McCartney. Perhaps because it appears on the same album as five other instrumental songs, it isn’t commonly known. McCartney himself doesn’t seem to place much emphasis on it, describing the song as, “Recorded at home. Made up as I went along…, This one and ‘Momma Miss America’ were ad-libbed with more concern for testing the machine than anything else.”

I’ve heard it described as only an acoustic guitar riff, but drums, bass, and electric guitar can also be heard in it. Paul played all of the instruments on the entire album himself, a lengthy process that he currently rarely attempts. In recent interviews, he said he feels silly doing all of the instrumentation by himself.

With its short length, maybe we should reconsider “Valentine Day” as a bright, lively interlude that eases the transition from the slow-paced rocker “That Would Be Something” to “Every Night”, a tender, romantic ballad.

by Christian John Wikane

7 Jun 2010

Alex Cuba is a storyteller. Ask him a question and he’ll thread together different stories to illustrate his answer. He gives a completely honest point of view and offers more insight about his life than your childhood friend probably would about theirs.

His openness also extends to his music. He doesn’t approach music with a formula in mind or abide by trends. From the balmy sway of “Directo” to the urgency of “En El Cielo”, it’s clear that the songs on Alex Cuba were conceived and executed without checking off boxes. There’s a spontaneity to the styles that dress each song. Like his gift for understanding visual aesthetics, Cuba intuitively knows what sounds belong together and how to render them in a creative and compelling way. “The album has to have a certain amount of tension to last”, the Cuban-born Canadian resident explains about his approach, “otherwise it becomes a piece of plastic. It’s the tension of imperfection. It’s the line between perfection and imperfection, which is spontaneity. That’s the way I do music”.

//Mixed media

The Hills Are Alive, But Nobody Else Is in 'The Happiness of the Katakuris'

// Short Ends and Leader

"Happiness of the Katakuris is one of Takashi Miike's oddest movies, and that's saying something.

READ the article