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by Robert Rubsam

23 Oct 2013

Photo: Kronos Quartet by
GermanCityGirl via deviantART.

Despite what your T.A. in Music Theory once said, good music didn’t cease to exist post-1900. But you know that; after all, you’re reading a website called PopMatters. But what elitist thought conceals is that classical and compositional music has thrived in the 20th and 21st centuries, reaching new heights of both dissonance and beauty.

The pieces below cover a wide range, from Penderecki’s serialism to Shaw’s experimental vocal techniques. They don’t stick purely to the avant-garde, and they most certainly are not in a singular style. While many people think of classical music, pre- or post-1950, as somewhat monolithic, even dipping your toe in reveals a staggering, frightening array of styles that share nothing beyond a basic origin in composition.

by AJ Ramirez

16 Oct 2013

One only needs to glance over Spin’s recent rundown of the 40 weirdest major label albums released in the wake of Nirvana’s epochal Nevermind to be reminded how thoroughly the grunge trio changed the game in the early 1990s. A select few acts had jimmied open the door separating underground rock from the mainstream to varying degrees throughout the previous decade, but Nirvana blew that sucker off its hinges. With “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in omnipresent radio rotation and Aqua Net suddenly on deep discount, the record industry naturally sought to capitalize (and survive) amid this unexpected turn of events and started searching for the next potential from-the-underground success story.

by Barry Lenser

9 Oct 2013

Why an Arctic Monkeys top ten list? Part of the motivation came from the recent release of their fifth record, AM. Already a huge fan of the Arctics, I got on a kick and decided to really sink my teeth into their newly augmented body of work. But it’s a body of work that’s made all the more noteworthy by the fact that it exists at all. As I mention in one entry below, Arctic Monkeys easily could’ve been swallowed up by the feverish, messiahs-of-British-rock hype that greeted their debut in 2006. Just ask Pete Doherty and the Libertines about the burden of great expectations. Lifestyle excess is obviously one pitfall to overcome. But even absent that, there’s still the enormous task of consistently delivering the goods and doing so in a way that doesn’t just rehash previous efforts. Creative growth is key. On this count, Arctic Monkeys have been a huge success. From dynamic post-punk to brawny stoner-rock to jangly California pop to moonlit glam, their five albums have displayed impressive range. It’s the main reason why they occupy the enviable spot they do in the music world. They have both mainstream and indie appeal and they move units and satisfy critics. They’re a young band but one with proven staying power. There’s simply a lot to admire about Arctic Monkeys.

by Mike Noren

25 Sep 2013

Lou Barlow knows better than most what goes into a successful comeback. A member of Dinosaur Jr. through their ‘80s prime—up until J Mascis famously kicked him out in 1989—Barlow rejoined the group for their unlikely 2005 rebirth. Eight years and three strong Dinosaur albums later, Barlow now hopes to repeat the feat with his other revered ‘80s/‘90s band, Sebadoh, which this week releases its first new studio album since 1999.

Sebadoh began in the mid-‘80s as an outlet for Barlow’s home recordings away from Dinosaur Jr., with help from early collaborator Eric Gaffney. The duo’s output—heard on 1989’s The Freed Man and 1990’s Weed Forestin—was a collage of sound experiments, throwaway jokes, and rough folk and pop songs that set the stage for numerous “lo-fi” musicians who followed. Jason Loewenstein joined Sebadoh in 1989, creating the three-person line-up of what many fans consider the band’s “classic” era. Barlow, Gaffney, and Loewenstein would swap instruments and take turns on the mic, Barlow providing a tuneful sensitivity while the others brought a volatile noise/punk streak. The mix made for some of the era’s most memorably chaotic recordings, most notably III (1991)—arguably Sebadoh’s masterpiece—and Bubble & Scrape (1993).

by Andy Johnson

18 Sep 2013

The imminent release of their eleventh album Rewind the Film and its accompanying shows and interviews appears to have brought Manic Street Preachers back into the limelight – but really, they have never left. Unlike the bulk of the British rock bands that came of age in the 1990s, the Welsh firebrands have never disappeared nor broken up and reformed for lucrative reunion tours. Their persistence has seen them survive the loss of troubled lyricist Richey Edwards, become one of the UK’s biggest bands in the mid- to late-‘90s, and celebrate the twentieth anniversary of their incendiary debut Generation Terrorists last year.

The passage of time has seen the Manics morph gradually from divisive upstarts to elder statesmen of British rock still maintaining a devoted fanbase. In the run-up to the release of Rewind the Film, fan Ian Lipthorpe took to Twitter to reach out to his fellow devotees, first asking them to submit a ranked list of their 50 favourite Manics songs, and later compiling the 60-plus responses into a master list that threw up some surprising entries. For this special List This, PopMatters explores the top 20 Manic Street Preachers recordings, as voted by fans.

//Mixed media

NYFF 2017: 'Mudbound'

// Notes from the Road

"Dee Rees’ churning and melodramatic epic follows two families in 1940s Mississippi, one black and one white, and the wars they fight abroad and at home.

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