Latest Blog Posts

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.

by PC Muñoz

22 Mar 2010


This V-C-V was first published March 14, 2006 on pcmunoz.com

“Dear Mama” - Tupac
Written by Tupac Shakur, Joe Sample, and Tony Pizarro
Contains a sample of “In My Wildest Dreams” by Joe Sample, and an interpolation of"Sadie”, written by J.B. Jefferson, B. Hawes, and C. Simmons
From Me Against the World (Interscope, 1995)

Me Against the World, the Tupac album on which “Dear Mama” first appeared, is lyrically one of my favorite hip-hop albums of all time. It was a commercial success, and I always say that if Tupac had been a guitar-slinging rocker, critics would have injured themselves thumbing through their thesauruses in their attempts to locate the vocabulary to properly praise the emotional insularity and foreboding themes of this record. But alas, it was the mid-‘90s, and Tupac was hip-hop through and through. Not only that, he had “Thug Life” tattooed across his abdomen, a felony conviction on his record, and an infamous attempt on his life still fresh at the time of this release. So, in 1995, Me Against the World was often seen as another “gangsta” record, despite the intense, spiritually-driven themes Tupac explores on this album.

by Jimmy Callaway

21 Mar 2010


In the music of the disenfranchised, it should not be a shock to anyone to often find a motif of unity. After all, the artists in question tend to be driven to create their music by a sense of difference, of outsidership, and in turn, their core audience can very much relate to that feeling and are thus drawn to the music.  In the rock pantheon, this is a constant source of inspiration: The Who’s “My Generation”, the Ramones’ “Cretin Hop”, and Sham 69’s “If the Kids Are United”.

Naturally, this tradition carried over into rap music, especially in its developmental years. Examples of what this writer likes to call “posse anthems” include but are not limited to “Posse on Broadway” by Sir Mix-a-Lot, “Too Much Posse” by Public Enemy, and “Rollin’ wit’ the Lench Mob” by Ice Cube. Like the above-mentioned, these tracks express a departure of the artist from what can be termed the mainstream, but also makes clear that the artist is far from alone in this, citing the allegiance of the artist’s friends and compatriots.

by Christian John Wikane

19 Mar 2010


The sun has finally peeked through the clouds in Manhattan. It almost feels like spring. In fact, the afternoon is ideal for a wedding.  That’s exactly what Carole Pope notices as she strolls through Central Park. In just a few days, she’ll jet up to Ontario for a three-night stint. For the time being, though, she’s content to ponder what quality she shares with Orlando.

Like the title character of Virginia Woolf’s literary masterpiece, Carole Pope has challenged convention throughout her career, first as the trailblazing front-woman of Rough Trade and then as a solo artist. Her autobiography Anti Diva (2001) traces one of the most compelling life stories in popular music. Described by Pope as, “a comment on the times, beginning in the summer of love. It drags me kicking and screaming into the 21st century”, the book was recently optioned for the screen.

The forthcoming biopic is just one of many projects Pope is currently undertaking. Between recording a new album, promoting her last record (Transcend), and touring the film festival circuit for Suck (2009), a rock and roll vampire story that pairs her with Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop, and Moby, the “anti diva” is as prolific as ever.

While taking a moment to appreciate the beauty of a Chinese wedding, Carole Pope checked in with PopMatters for this latest edition of 20 Questions.

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
A Single Man. Usually anything about death or where the character’s really feeling lost, I can relate to.

2. The fictional character most like you?
I’d like to think it was Orlando (laughs). I just related to the character’s ambisexual being. I love that book.

3. The greatest album ever?
Wow. It might be the Beatles’ White Album. When it came out in 1968, I remember playing it on my Seabreeze or whatever I had. I think pretty much all the songs are mini-masterpieces. They’re very visual, which I relate to.

4. Star Trek or Star Wars?
Star Wars, because I remember Bill Murray singing the theme song on Saturday Night Live (laughs).

5. Your ideal brain food?
I guess fish. I love spicy tuna. It just seems like really clean food.

6. You’re proud of this accomplishment, but why?
I guess the fact that we actually got a record deal, as Rough Trade, for our second album, Avoid Freud (1980).

7. You want to be remembered for…?
I think just being outspoken and being innovative and doing a lot of things before other people did, even though I don’t get recognized for them…she said bitterly! 

8. Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are?
Definitely Bowie. He’s such a chameleon.

9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?
I wish I’d written one of Bjork’s songs, because I worship her. I think that she’s really an amazing, innovative artist.

10. Your hidden talents…?
I can cook, though that’s more of a hobby. I’m obsessed with music and art.

11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?
Being true to yourself. Maybe it’s my advice to me! I think I advise myself. I think it just evolved from being an artist. The minute you’re not true to yourself, you create traps.

12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?
Probably my guitar.

13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or…?
I would feel best if I had some Prada, but I don’t (laughs). I wear a lot of G-Star. There should be some designer who designs clothes for dykes. It could be somewhere between men’s Prada and G-Star, as far as I’m concerned!

14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?
Probably my friend Tim Blanks, because he’s the most confusing and interesting person I know. I am met him in Toronto. He used to live in Toronto in the late ‘70s, and then he turned into this fashionista. Now he writes for Style.com, which is Vogue online. I wish he’d write an autobiography.

15. Time travel: where, when and why?
I’m kind of drawn to the court of Louis XIV. I don’t know why. I’d want to be a guy, though (laughs), or dress like the guys. The women had to wear all those corsets. Maybe I could just be like a peasant, I don’t care! No, I’m lying. I’d want to be the Sun King.

16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?
I wouldn’t hire a hit man, I’d be the hit man. I would probably go on a spa vacation.

17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or…?
Chocolate. It chills me out. I don’t eat a lot of it, but it’s a little treat, a little something at the end of the day.

18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?
Right now it’s the city, but that could change. If I was rich, I’d live in Europe—I would live in London or Rome—but New York City is the next best thing.

19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?
Hello, can I get some equal rights over here?

20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on now?
I’m working on a new album, Transcend. “Johnny Marr” and “Shining Path” are on iTunes. Suck is premiering at MoMA. I just did another movie in Toronto called Trigger, directed by Bruce McDonald. My guitar player and I and some drummer we never worked with performed a song. Bruce McDonald is a really great Canadian filmmaker. He did Hard Core Logo (1996). More movie work for me! I would love to do more film scoring.

by Sean Murphy

18 Mar 2010


Man, the American rock and roll scene just got discernibly smaller.

I’ll defer to the bigger Big Star fans (of whom there are many) to properly eulogize this American rock icon.

I’ll simply say, for now, that while many people (understandably) associate Chilton’s best work with the ’70s, he was still making serious noise in the ’90s. Quite by chance, as we eased past Y2K, I stumbled upon the truly bizarre, and beautiful, album he made with Alan Vega and Ben Vaughn, 1996’s Cubist Blues.

If you are a fan, or if you are curious (check out the clip below and I dare you to not be hooked) it comes highly recommended. This is midnight of the soul mixed with ’50s Beat energy and what Elvis would sound like if he had ever tried to channel Jerry Lee Lewis, drunk. Only one million times deeper and darker and, for my money, more satisfying. This is at once deliberate, narcotic and wonderfully disorienting. It’s like you walked into the wrong bar and stumbled onto a one-off jam session featuring a bunch of bruised and wily underground legends, laying it all on the line for nobody but themselves. Which is exactly what this album is.

Back in September 2003 the east coast was about to get rocked by a hurricane named Isabel. We knew it was coming, and it was one even the TV weathermen couldn’t get wrong. We didn’t know how bad it was going to be and fortunately, for D.C. denizens, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. It got darker and later, and once the wind really started blowing and the rain began pounding down, I knew exactly what album I needed to have playing. Cubist Blues came through for me before, and has come through since, but I’ll always consider this an ideal soundtrack for a hurricane.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

Ubisoft Understands the Art of the Climb

// Moving Pixels

"Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed and Grow Home epitomize the art of the climb.

READ the article