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Wednesday, Apr 24, 2013
From classic stalker hits to contemporary indie, PopMatters presents stalker hits that will make you laugh, shiver, and lock your doors. Maroon 5, get away from that beauty queen of only 18.

Where: Outside your bedroom window. Specifically, in a bush outside your bedroom window. Don’t mind the video camera. It’s just an artifact that is definitely not for recording your every movement while I sniff a bottle of the same perfume you wear.

Who: Me, watching you.

When: You’re sleeping.

When was the last time you crept to someone’s window and watched them sleep? Or asked a stranger to marry you every day? Most importantly, why are you wearing your sunglasses at night to watch other people breathe?

These are the songs that, when the items are collected for evidence, will be found on the stalker’s iPod. Stalkers spend long hours hiding in bushes, under cars, and in shadows. They need playlists too. Of course, the writers behind these songs might say we’re taking them a little too literally. There’s high-minded, abstract ideas behind these lyrics, mostly about the art of stalking.

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Wednesday, Apr 17, 2013
On the eve of the long-lived Canadian trio's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Sound Affects attempts to coerce newbies into the vast, rewarding, fun, and often beautiful Rush back catalog with this selection of songs.

This week Canadian trio Rush will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. For those Rush fans who care about such a thing, it’s about damned time, too. Having sold more than 40 million albums worldwide since 1975, Rush ranks only behind the Beatles and the Rolling Stones for the most consecutive gold or platinum albums by a rock band. Not only that, but they married heavy rock and progressive rock like no other act in the ‘70s, incorporated New Wave and pop into their music in the ‘80s, and continued to put out vital music well into their 50s, still proving to be every bit as potent a live band as they ever have.

Still, to some there’s always a stigma when it comes to Rush. Only guys like it (explored with great humor in the 2009 film I Love You, Man). It’s pretentious. It’s about technique and gear rather then songwriting and nuance. The lyrics are verbose and silly. The singer shrieks all the time. The fans are all gigantic nerds. Of course, all gross exaggerations (except for us fans, we embrace our nerdiness), but they always seem to stick whenever a Rush fan tries to get someone he or she knows interested in their favorite band.

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Wednesday, Apr 3, 2013
It was with great anticipation that all of us got our first listen to Justin Timberlake's new album at some point in the past few weeks. Here are four takeaways I have picked up from three weeks of listening to The 20/20 Experience.

Sadly, I do not have 20/20 vision. That has literally nothing to do with this discussion of Justin Timberlake’s recently released album The 20/20 Experience, but I just wanted to get it out there.

In all seriousness, I don’t see a lot of myself in JT (in fact, I don’t see very much at all out of my bum right eye, but that’s another story). I am, though, fascinated by him. As a number of reviews of The 20/20 Experience have pointed out, the 2002 single “Cry Me a River” was the song that propelled Timberlake out of the B-league and into the “next Michael Jackson” position that he currently occupies. Although there were a few other singles from the… “cleverly” titled Justified, none of them had the musical and cultural impact of that one, the video for which moved him carefully and deliberately out of the space occupied by Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and the boy bands, one of which he obviously used to be a part of. Over the past decade, building on the sonic template of “Cry Me a River”, Timberlake has gained even more fame, critical success, and cultural omnipresence. Amazingly, he has accomplished this despite releasing only one album between 2002 and 2013.

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Wednesday, Mar 20, 2013
If 1967 characterizes a high point in rock music, it also initiated an explicit realignment of what was possible in the genre -- for better or worse.

For the second installment of my column “The Amazing Pudding”, I appraised 1967 as the pivotal year in rock music. As the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band proved/signified, nothing was ever the same once pop music could be considered a legitimate form of artistic expression, worthy of serious scrutiny. If 1967 characterizes a high point (famously, if a bit unfairly exemplified solely by Sgt. Pepper), it also initiated an explicit realignment of what was possible in rock music—for better or worse.

Here are ten songs, some quite familiar, others a bit more obscure, that served as transitional statements, signifying the new directions rock music would head toward for the next decade.

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Wednesday, Mar 13, 2013
Here they come (again), the beautiful ones. As Suede returns with its first studio album in 11 years, PopMatters ranks the top a-sides by the influential yet seldom imitated band that kickstarted Britpop two decades ago.

For a group credited with igniting the Britpop movement, Suede has remained strangely idiosyncratic. There’s no denying that the London band’s reference points are fairly transparent (one part Ziggy Stardust, one part Smiths… ) But when the patriotic spirit of Britpop swept through Albion’s indie scene in the mid-1990s, Suede’s dark, trashy glamor and androgynous leanings were nowhere near as frequently emulated as Oasis’ laddish populism or Blur’s middle-class cheekiness. Like Pulp, there was an undercurrent of desperation and malaise in Suede’s music that put it at odds with the celebratory spirit of the times. The music of Suede was meant to soundtrack young lives with nowhere to go, for whom the spare fleeting moments of bliss are found only in sex that blurred gender boundaries and narcotic excess. If Britpop was about living for today, Suede was concerned with leaving behind a beautiful corpse.

In grossly simplified terms, sex and drugs summarize the Suede story. The band’s initial lineup included guitarist and future Elastica frontwoman Justine Frischmann, who at the time was in a relationship with singer Brett Anderson. Following their breakup and Frischmann’s departure (who then hooked up with Blur pin-up Damon Albarn—cue altera-rock soap opera), his songwriting partnership with guitarist Bernard Butler deepened, and Anderson’s lyrics grew more distinctive as he began to explore homosexual themes and imagery. Suede shelved its first stab at a single, “Be My God”/“Art”, so the group’s recorded career began properly with “The Drowners” single in 1992, the first in what became a line of lustrous a-sides that shone brightly in a scene having to content itself with the likes of 18 Wheeler and Kingmaker. In those singles, the music press heard talent, ambition, and moxie. They went bananas for them, and the British public soon followed.

Tagged as: britpop, list this, suede
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