Latest Blog Posts

by Sean McCarthy

29 Mar 2010


About a week ago, caught up in the heartfelt obits and the various tributes throughout South by Southwest to Alex Chilton, I ordered Thirdonline. Part of the reason I bought it over the Web was because none of our local record stores had the CD. But a deeper reason was because I didn’t want to hear a record store clerk say “Would’ve been a lot cooler to have sold this when Chilton was alive.”

Sadly, Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse, Teddy Pendergrass, Vic Chesnutt and Chilton have enjoyed some of their biggest sales weeks for the saddest of reasons. It’s a habit that’s easy to predict. An artist dies, triggering an outpouring of obits from the press. Other artists express their condolences in interviews or on their Twitter accounts. For some, this is either a sincere form of tribute or an honest attempt to try to learn more about the artist. For others, it’s bandwagon jumping at its worst.

by Matt Cibula

26 Mar 2010


1.0 Mention that I was up late when I came up with these ideas, kind of a disclaimer. (“Dreamin’ when I wrote this / So sue me if it goes astray,” etc.)

1.1 Note that I was listening to Norah Jones and had an epiphany about her and someone else.

2.0 Note general critical intransigence about Norah Jones, how they started out worshiping her genre-blend of pop jazz country soul, then started to deride her as too soft too slow too unfocused.

2.1 For my money her best work was third album Not Too Late as she flashed a sense of humor, got political, and loosened up a bit.

2.2 But interesting that not much buzz attended last year’s The Fall, mostly just mentioned and ignored.

2.3 Maybe because of its weirdo lead single “Chasing Pirates”; not exactly “Don’t Know Why”; was it soft rock? was it her big pop move?

2.4 Also hard to get hold of. Song about insomnia, confusion, loss of control. Norah Jones not in control?

by Gregg Lipkin

25 Mar 2010


1978 saw the birth of a brand new nation on these shores – a nation of freedom and brotherhood that extolled the virtues of love, sex and the power of open minds and shaking hips. One nation. One nation indivisible. One Nation Under a Groove.

George Clinton and Funkadelic had thrown down the gauntlet with the release of Let’s Take It To the Stage in 1975. This masterpiece of weird, funky guitar madness set the philosophical stage for a war that was to come. A war based on the timeless politics of youth and fought by their alter egos in Parliament. In 1976 Parliament invaded America as “extra-terrestrial brothers, dealers in funky music” when the Masters of Form landed the Mothership Connection. It was the first in a trilogy of albums that included The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein and 1977’s Funkentelechy Vs. the Placebo Syndrome.

by Crispin Kott

24 Mar 2010


The homogenization of music isn’t anything new. For ages, the less nerd-savvy customer service geek in corporate record stores has been twisted and trained to “upsell” by suggesting a “similar” artist to go along with the one the consumer is hellbent on purchasing.

“Like Fugazi? You ought to give Blink 182 a shot! Or Staind!”

As I’ve grown older and technology has increasingly become a baffling ordeal, computer programs are doing the work pimply ninnies wearing nametags used to perform perfectly well enough on their own. And clear as I can see, iTunes is the worst jerk among the whole jerky lot of them.

by AJ Ramirez

23 Mar 2010


I have to confess, I’m not too familiar with the musical oeuvre of the recently-passed Alex Chilton. Most of what I know about the late Big Star frontman stems from laurels handed out by disciples such as the Replacements’ Paul Westerberg and R.E.M.’s Peter Buck.  Don’t worry, fellow music aficionados; I do plan to thoroughly acquaint myself with the Chilton back catalogue over the next week. Certainly my primary reason for doing so is to explore the music of one of the most-lauded cult figures of rock ‘n roll, but another reason is because some frequently grumpy yet supremely talented guy named Paul Westerberg wrote a song about his hero that makes a very convincing case for Chilton’s artistic importance by virtue of being so effectively heartfelt in its admiration.

Yes, the Replacements’ 1987 single “Alex Chilton” is mired in a reverb-heavy production that dates the recording heavily and robs song of some of its punch. Its sound is a telling grab for commercial radio airplay by one of the founders of alternative rock, an ambition that would later sink the group for good. Nonetheless, the song overcomes its faults to become of the Mats’ greatest anthems. That’s because it’s instilled with an exuberance and conviction that overwhelms the band’s penchant for self-sabotage. In “Alex Chilton” we don’t get Westerberg the brat or Westerberg the misanthrope (although both personas resulted in stellar moments elsewhere in the Replacements discography). Here we get Westerberg the hopeless romantic, a man who wore his heart on his sleeve arguably better than any other songwriter of his generation. When Westerberg belts out the lines “I never travel far / Without a little Big Star” right before the guitar solo is unleashed, he’s as passionate about his love for Chilton’s music as he is in any of his ballads.

The Replacements practically charge through “Alex Chilton” in an effort to reach the promised land of the song’s infectious chorus. And what a chorus!  Setting it up with a surging prechorus where Westerberg contemplates a world in which the underappreciated Chilton’s music was heard by far more souls than had ever actually picked up a Box Tops or Big Star record (“Children ‘round the world sing for Alex Chilton when he comes ‘round”), the band that made such a potent declaration of discontent with “Unsatisfied” sounds like it wouldn’t want to be anywhere else when it hits those chorus hooks.  The words are straightforward (“I’m in love / What’s that song? / I’m in love / With that song”), yet when filtered through Westerberg’s ragged-yet-aching pipes they are both an epiphany and a loving statement of devotion.

Really, the appeal of “Alex Chilton” is a testament to both the Replacements and to the song’s namesake. Paul Westerberg’s talents as a singer/songwriter in his mid-‘80s prime were such that he could encapsulate his feelings regarding one of his favorite musicians in just a few choice lines. But he wouldn’t have anyone to focus his pop song hero worship if not for the late Mr. Chilton, a man who judging solely by this song most certainly earned his legend. And if Westerberg can’t go anywhere without some Chilton tunes playing on his stereo, I sure as hell need to start catching up on the man’s legacy.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

Guster + Kishi Bashi Perform at Central Park Summerstage (Photos)

// Notes from the Road

"Guster's Summerstage performance was a showcase of their infectious and poppy music from the last 24 years.

READ the article