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by Brice Ezell

15 Feb 2012

Late into 1999, a single album caused a seismic shift in the progressive rock scene. That album, Dream Theater’s Metropolis, Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory, seemed like any other prog concept album. Yet despite its release later in the year, the LP would go on not just to be hailed as one of the year’s best progressive rock records, but one of the genre’s all-time classics. This set the stage for Dream Theater to shoot to the forefront of the progressive rock scene, while also serving as a prototype for the style of prog that would become even more popular over the course of the next decade. Just a year later prog supergroup Transatlantic released its debut record, still very much a prog favorite, which included much of the complex musicianship so masterfully displayed on Scenes from a Memory.

Oh, how times have changed. Dream Theater’s prominence—while no doubt still formidable—would wane in the latter half of the decade, as the band put out releases that just couldn’t match up to the brilliance of its prior recordings. Meanwhile, countless numbers of long concept records were released, with quality of music often being sacrificed for the quantity of minutes the musicians could keep on shredding.

by Enio Chiola

8 Feb 2012

To date, Madonna has released 75 singles across 13 albums, four soundtrack albums, and six compilation albums, with “Give Me All Your Luvin’” (from the upcoming LP MDNA) being her latest. She has had 12 number-one hits in both the United States and the United Kingdom (with different sets of songs), plus 24 chart-toppers in Canada, and 38 US, 60 UK, and 49 Canadian Top 10 hits. Madonna has dominated the radio and video airwaves for quite some time, and although the moniker of “King of Pop” is firmly affixed to Michael Jackson, “Queen of Pop” gets bounced around to every new fluffy pop tartlet who claims to integrate music and fashion like it’s something that’s never been done before

by Jacob Adams

1 Feb 2012

John Coltrane completely changed the face of music in a recording career that lasted only a little over ten years. He was so influential in so many ways that it’s impossible to list them all. Naturally, many of his compositions have become part of the standard jazz canon, tunes that all young jazz musicians must contend with in order to be considered legit. He completely redefined the vocabulary of the genre with his “sheets of sound” and modal approaches. Coltrane revolutionized the way people play the saxophone, from his adroit use of the upper registers (known as altissimo) to his popularization of the soprano saxophone in jazz. His classic 1960s quartet is considered the apotheosis of the modern jazz combo for many. Above all, though, Coltrane played some of the most innovative, sublime, poetic solos in the history of the music. Every jazz musician aspires to capture even an iota of Trane’s musical and spiritual energy.

Ranking one Coltrane solo over another is an act of absurdist thinking. Nevertheless, the process of deciding which Trane solos are the best of the best gave me a good reason to go back and listen to his catalog once again, as if an excuse is even needed. I hope you do the same.

by AJ Ramirez

26 Jan 2012

For being the biggest band in the world over the past few decades, U2 is a very polarizing entity. Certainly, an act with such global ubiquity as Ireland’s prime musical export is bound to leave some amount of the human population cold. What’s striking in regards to a group as popular and critically-acclaimed as this one, though, is how numerous and outspoken its detractors are. No matter where you go, it’s as easy to find someone who strongly detests U2 for a long litany of reasons (its gargantuan ambition, its grating grandstanding, its gravely serious soapbox activism, singer Bono’s sheer existence, and so on) as it is to turn up a devout fan. Even U2 has grown sick itself on occasion—witness 1988’s Rattle and Hum film/soundtrack debacle, the leaden pomposity of which led the quartet to spend the 1990s embracing mold-shattering experimentation.

With U2 being such a love-it-or-leave-it proposition, assembling a 10-song primer to persuade the disinterested to change their minds about the group’s music has proven to be a difficult undertaking. Unlike our 10 Songs That Will Make You Love R.E.M. list from a few months back, this task is hampered by U2’s tendency to retain its most characteristic stylistic tics (Bono’s outsized voice, the Edge’s pedal-enabled guitar textures) even in its out-of-the-box forays, and because its best material is typically its most familiar—meaning you’ve probably already heard it and made up your mind ages ago. Still, we’re prepared to accept the challenge before us. If by chance you don’t finish this article with a newfound love of U2, at the very least maybe you’ll leave with a newly-earned respect for the lads.

by Corey Beasley

18 Jan 2012

Sigur Rós

What makes an album suited for winter? Should it be the type of record that encourages you to dig in for the season, fortify yourself with blankets and heavily spiked cider, call December through February a wash, and pick things up in March? Or should it be an album to help warm you up, get you moving again, and distract you from all that disgusting brown snow piled up by the side of the road? Whatever your instincts—fight or flight—here are five albums to help you through if you run out of mulled wine.

//Mixed media

Because Blood Is Drama: Considering Carnage in Video Games and Other Media

// Moving Pixels

"It's easy to dismiss blood and violence as salacious without considering why it is there, what its context is, and what it might communicate.

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