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Wednesday, Aug 8, 2012
Not every band borne out of a great predecessor can measure up. Here are five that do.

Merge’s recent remastered deluxe editions of Sugar’s Copper Blue and File Under: Easy Listening should be all the proof music fans need to accept that Hüsker Dü wasn’t the only outstanding act to count guitarist Bob Mould as a member. With all the breakups, deaths, and solo outings that commonly occur in pop history, it’s always rewarding to see a group formed out of the aftermath of a highly-regarded ensemble’s demise or splintering maintain a batting average that competes with its parent—especially since most of the time the spinoff of a Clash or a Rage Against the Machine or an Oasis is a underwhelming Big Audio Dynamite or an Audioslave or a Beady Eye. Bands on both ends may not muster similar levels of fame or sales, but like Sugar, a select few second acts have earned their place in history as more-than-able successors. Today, Sound Affects lists just but a few of the most exemplary examples.

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Wednesday, Aug 1, 2012
While Miles will always be known for his original compositions and for genre-busting, innovative records like Kind of Blue, E.S.P., and Bitches Brew, it’s worthwhile to give another listen to the great performances of standards the trumpeter recorded during the earlier part of his career.

Jazz musicians have long been taking the popular tunes of their day and revamping them for their own purposes. The tradition of covering “standards” began near the dawn of jazz and continues to this day. Groups like the Bad Plus and the Vijay Iyer Trio shape the pop songs of the last couple generations (i.e. Nirvana, Michael Jackson, the Pixies, etc.) into their own improvisational mini-masterpieces

During the time of Miles Davis, the “standards” of the day consisted of mainly Broadway show tunes and songs from popular Hollywood movies. Many of today’s up-and-coming jazz musicians learn the same standards that cats like Davis were playing in the ‘50s and ‘60s as a sort of rite of passage, a method for learning the vocabulary and intricacies of the jazz tradition. While Miles will always be known for his original compositions and for genre-busting, innovative records like Kind of Blue, E.S.P., and Bitches Brew, it’s worthwhile to give another listen to the great performances of standards the trumpeter recorded during the earlier part of his career. The so-called “Prestige years” of the early and mid-1950s were especially fertile times for Davis’ standards recordings.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy these tracks. The tunes, and Miles’ specific interpretation of them, have stood the test of time for a reason.   


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Wednesday, Jul 25, 2012
As a tribute to the release of Oasis 1997 release Be Here Now, widely regarded as the beginning of the Britpop group' downfall, PopMatters will examine the overlooked parts of the band's body of work. This first list examines Oasis’ B-sides, where some of their true gems can be found.

With the success of What’s the Story (Morning Glory) having catapulted them to the forefront of pop music in the mid-1990s, Oasis had high expectations to match their growing fame. Most groups don’t start off with two well-received LPs, but Definitely, Maybe (1994) and What’s the Story (Morning Glory)? (1995) were loved both critically and commercially. All signs pointed to Be Here Now,  their 1997 album, being something quite spectacular.

What followed was not the completion of a musical trifecta, but the implosion of the vision many had for the band. Be Here Now, running well over an hour, was criticized for being a bloated and overwrought. Oasis, who were once the Most Important Rock Band in the World, trudged on for the rest of their career, never matching their early glory. (Personally, the much-despised Heathen Chemistry remains my favorite record of theirs, but very few will agree with me on that one.) Four studio outings after Be Here Now, Oasis broke up. The discography we’re left with is one most perceive as unevenly weighted: aside from the first two releases, most will argue, all there is to the group’s music is a bunch of Beatles-aping anthems indistinguishable from each other.

While Noel and Liam Gallagher’s love for the Fab Four is a little more than obvious, to dismiss an entire body of work with a lazy tag such as that is too reductive and easy for a critic to do. I would join the majority in the opinion that Oasis’ earlier stuff was their best, but I don’t think their later records are all dreck.

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Friday, Jul 20, 2012
As the World's Greatest Detective is set to triumph at the box office yet again this weekend with the release of The Dark Knight Rises, Sound Affects shines a Bat-Signal on one of the most essential components of any Batman film or TV series -- the music.

From his inception, Batman has always been a very cinematic character. Though borne of and forever linked to the comic book medium, his early exploits drew liberally from filmic inspirations ranging from noir to German Expressionism to Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane, cribbing their odd camera angles and generous shadows to convey, drama, dread, and excitement on the four-color page. So it should be no surprise that more than any of his superhero peers, Batman has become an icon on both the big and small screens, one who has starred in everything from low-budget serials to summer blockbusters to stylized animated adventures.

As the masked vigilante is poised to conquer movie screens worldwide once again this week with the release of the much-anticipated The Dark Knight Rises, Sound Affects would like to shine a Bat-Signal on one particularly essential component of any Batman film or TV series—the music. Be it strum und drang orchestrations or the latest pop sounds, the music that accompanies the Caped Crusader’s extra-comic exploits has always played a key role in crafting the right atmosphere, upping the stakes, and punctuating the narrative developments—not to mention the on-screen fisticuffs. Quibble all you want with the make-up of the final list (Hans Zimmer’s formless and indistinct score for the Christopher Nolan films is nowhere in sight, and Shirley Walker’s character motifs for Batman: The Animated Series would assuredly have numbers 11 and up all sewn up if this article was doubled in size). But if you are going to take anything away from this countdown, it should be confirmation that Batman, perhaps more than any modern fictional hero, has proven to be a steady source of inspiration for a wildly divergent array of great theme music for well over half a century.

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Friday, Jul 13, 2012
PopMatters celebrates the polymaths who have devoted their life's work to a multitude of artistic endeavours and in turn, emphatically etched their own legend in the annuals of underground metal. This is a list of the genre's most influential bands/artists in existence today. Kneel in reverence; the Gods are amongst us...

Creating stone-cold classic slabs of musical might, crafting iconic album art, harnessing the raw energy of others and becoming the medium through which musical visions become realised, rampaging through a number of decades while re-imagining original musical intent, providing a sanctuary for the promotion and distribution of passionate music, and inventing a sound and inspiring a movement. All of these actions have been masterfully accomplished in one form or another by the musicians listed below. The results of these accomplishments should not be overlooked, for they have had a significant impact on the growing popularity of underground metal over the years.

In light of this, the life’s efforts of the following artists and bands need to be honoured, and their influence demands further recognition and praise. In this digital age where music and art have become transient, and where fame is characterised by the celebration of idiocies and lack of talent, the underground and the following creative thinkers provide a satisfying counterculture. For every ten commercially manufactured pop cretins, one iconoclast ariseth. For those who want substance and something substantial to hit you in the gut and heart simultaneously, the work of the following will change your life. For those who have been forever affected by the depth of soul their work contains, this piece is a long overdue acknowledgement of the gifts they have given us. This is a proclamation of individuality and artistry.

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