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by AJ Ramirez

4 May 2010


It’s now been 30 years since the British post-punk quartet Joy Division released its final (and best-known) single on the Manchester, England-based indie label Factory Records. Hitting record store shelves as a 7” vinyl release not long before the band’s singer Ian Curtis took his own life on May 18, 1980, “Love Will Tear Us Apart” became a totemic record in the aftermath of that tragedy, widely taken as the last will and testament of a riveting yet tormented frontman. It’s without a doubt the short-lived group’s signature song, and even to this day when the band’s name is mentioned, “Love Will Tear Us Apart” has a 99.99% likelihood of being the first tune to come to mind.

Despite a legend the song cultivated almost immediately, (the original June 1980 Melody Maker review of the single described it as “Evocative, interesting… a powerfully original piece of music”), “Love Will Tear Us Apart” is not Joy Division’s best or most ambitious composition. Lacking the propulsive drive of “Transmission”, the dread anxiety of “She’s Lost Control”, and the sepulchral majesty of “Atmosphere”, “Love Will Tear Us Apart” is thin and subdued, almost undeserving of its acclaim. Rendered coldly distant by Martin Hannett’s trademark production, Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook restrict themselves to repeating their personalized variations of the main melody riff on keyboard and bass, respectively, while Ian Curtis delivers half-hearted stabs of guitar throughout. Aside from Stephen Morris’ ever-frenetic drum rhythms, the band sounds sapped of strength on the final recording, as if it has succumbed to solemnly accepting its fated demise.

by Sean Murphy

28 Apr 2010


There is an excellent feature on American treasure (and no I don’t use that word lightly) Sonny Rollins in April 17th’s Boston Globe.

The man is going to celebrate his 80th birthday this year (in September) and is still active, creative, engaged.

There are certain artists who are so incomparable, as artists, as human beings, as role models, that enough good things cannot possibly be said. There are not many in this category, but if anyone is, Rollins must be included. Ceaselessly humble, relentlessly ambitious and seldom (if ever) satisfied with his performances, Rollins is the rarest of birds: the enlightened being who figured out early on how to live life in full, on his own terms, and has never strayed from that almost monastic path.

A few money quotes from the article:

by Drew Fortune

15 Apr 2010


Miike Snow are the International Men of Mystery of the electro-pop scene. Whether disguising their faces behind ghostly white masks or hiding behind their Jackolope logo, there is something coolly enigmatic about them. Swedish producers Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg were famous behind the scenes, crafting pop hits for Madonna and Britney Spears (the duo won a Grammy for their work on Spears’ Toxic) before recruiting American musician Andrew Wyatt to form Miike Snow. Their 2009 eponymous debut is a smooth hybrid of throwback soul, ‘80s synth, and electro anthems, with just the right amount of sex appeal and songwriting chops to attract the ladies and discerning hipsters alike. Finally getting to meet the men behind the masks, I sat down with Miike Snow before their sold-out, April 5th appearance at Chicago’s Metro Theater.

by Omar Kholeif

2 Apr 2010


In the last year, UK listeners have been inundated with the sound of the nasal-grazing, strawberry vixen, Florence Welsh – or as she is more popularly referred to as, Florence and the Machine. An opinionated, and compulsive Londoner, Florence, at just 22, was able to instigate the re-emergence of a musical trend that seemed to have petered out when the terms ‘avant garde’, and ‘experimental’, all of a sudden became unsexy.

By formulating arty piano tunes, and splashing in garage rock, and ‘80s style pop, synthesizers, and luscious string-soaked ballads, Florence seems to manage the unwieldy with effortless grace. This is coupled with a Kate Bush style quirkiness, a Christie Hynde snarl, and an effortless vocal ability that sits somewhere between Annie Lennox and Etta James.

by Crispin Kott

30 Mar 2010


Cue the jokes about scandalous riders: The Libertines are back, reuniting for this summer’s Reading and Leeds Festivals.

Ever since the Libertines split, the hyperbolic British music weeklies have tipped the reunion to happen, occasionally using “Could be…” quotes from frontmen Carl Barat and Pete Doherty. But outside of a few close calls here and there, the full-on reunion never materialized.

Instead the world has had to make do with Barat’s comparatively dull Dirty Pretty Things and Doherty’s sometimes thrilling musical excursions with Babyshambles and a host of co-conspirators who’d slip in and out of the shadows like something from a Sherlock Holmes mystery.

Doherty has also shown an affinity for falling afoul of the law, regularly appearing in the tabloids due to some combination of drugs, driving and celebrity romance.

But now the Libertines are back, promising readers of the NME “to play the songs people want to hear,” which certainly sounds like a cash-in, even if it’s a fantastic one. 

“Potentially it’s a fucking disaster,” said Doherty in the video, which is part of what makes the whole thing so exciting. It could all go horribly wrong, which is sort of where the band’s brilliance lies. If rock & roll is at its best when it all feels as though it could go wildly off the rails, there are few acts who’ve tapped into that vein as perfect as the Libertines.

Whether they survive the trip to record or play again is almost secondary. The Libertines were always meant to burn bright for a moment, then leave us wondering what the hell had just happened.

To celebrate,

Watch the Libertines exclusive interview on NME.com.

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