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Thursday, Dec 2, 2010
Music just lost a visionary who pushed sonic boundaries into dark, unexpected territory.

In late 1975, as legend has it, an angry young punk named John Lydon used to gallivant around town in a Pink Floyd T-shirt over which he’d inscribed the words “I Hate”, causing the shirt to inadvertently read “I Hate Pink Floyd”.  Oddly enough, the man who would take the first press photos of Lydon’s future band the Sex Pistols was probably the same one who designed the image on that T-shirt (not to mention a controversial window display at Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren’s SEX shop, where Lydon would often loiter).  Even more unlikely is the fact that the same man would soon after join a band that was far more extreme in its art-terrorist tendencies than anything punk would ever conceive.  Not only that, the same band expanded the musical palette in far vaster directions than punk ever would.


On November 24th, the world of music lost an immeasurable talent in the form of one Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson.  In his absence, music seems to already be a less interesting place, sonically, visually, and conceptually, but the outpouring of grief on Twitter of just about every musician that matters illustrates just how vast his influence spread and how his spirit lingers on in much of the vanguard music being made today.


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Friday, Aug 27, 2010
Stevie Ray Vaughan died just as 'In Step' was signaling a major musical departure for an artist who showed every intention of being around long enough to change the landscape of rock and blues several times over.

My introduction to Stevie Ray Vaughan came from the nerdiest of sources: an MTV News special about the ‘80s. When the 1989 segment came on, the familiar chaotic images of Tianamen Square were displayed with Stevie Ray Vaughan’s hit “Crossfire” playing in the background. Though the association got me into the library to read all I could about the massacre, I didn’t pick up Stevie Ray Vaughan’s In Step. Less than a year later, Vaughan would be buried in Dallas, Texas.


Being a sophomore in high school in 1990, Vaughan’s type of music didn’t totally reach me. I, like thousands of other teenagers, was slowly trying to deprogram myself from years of listening to hair metal, and was just discovering bands like Soundgarden and Jane’s Addiction. Still, when MTV News announced that Stevie Ray Vaughan was killed in a helicopter crash on August 27, 1990, I can safely say that his death was the first “rock star” death that affected me. “How can someone who wrote a song that good die?”, I kept asking myself naively. Sure, other rock stars have died, but those deaths came years after they had reached their peak.


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Wednesday, Aug 25, 2010
Listen to the Call now and there is no denying some songs sound dated, thanks to an overabundance of keyboards. But singer Michael Been's songwriting remains a rarity

A general rule: It’s far harder to be an optimist than a cynic.


That rule easily applies to everyday life, but it especially reflects music. Looking over my music collection, I can roughly estimate the negative/morose CDs outnumber the wide-eyed, joyous ones by a margin of eight to one. As Jack Black’s character taught us in School of Rock, one of the best ways to write a song is to write about something that pisses you off.


The Call rarely wrote such music (with the exception of the band’s minor hit “The Walls Came Down”). In the height of the U2’s reign as idealistic rock icons, the Call was writing their own anthems. Peter Gabriel and Bono each professed their admiration for the band and with songs like “Let the Day Begin” and “I Still Believe” (which was featured in one of the iconic movies of the ‘80s, The Lost Boys). But while U2 embraced everything from the blues to irony and Peter Gabriel moved to more atmospheric compositions, the Call continued to record the same style of anthemic music.


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Monday, May 17, 2010
Ronnie James Dio kicked off the '80s by helming Black Sabbath after Ozzy Osbourne's departure. During the '80s, he routinely shunned temptation to soften or commercialize his sound. 20 years later, metal is immeasurably the better thanks to his efforts.

I spent Saturday night watching an all-ages Mastadon show. Little did I know, the concert turned out to be an inadvertent tribute to Ronnie James Dio.


If all Ronnie James Dio did was replace Ozzy Osbourne as the lead singer of Black Sabbath, memorials and tributes would still be pouring in via blogs, Twitters and Facebook updates. But Dio’s influence and yes, artistic credibility are reasons many-a-metal fan are mourning his loss.


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Monday, May 17, 2010

When news spread across the Internet on Saturday that legendary heavy metal singer Ronnie James Dio had succumbed to his battle with stomach cancer, I scoured every news website I could think, hoping to find solid confirmation of the event. I was not about to take the rumors at face value without some fact-checking, especially given Dio is a musician whom I quite enjoy. Sure enough, metal news site Blabbermouth.net soon gained confirmation from Dio’s wife Wendy that the performer was in fact still alive, albeit not in the best of shape. Unfortunately, that respite turned out to be short-lived: when I turned on my computer on Sunday, Dio spouse was now his widow, sadly informing the world of the singer’s passing.


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