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Wednesday, Nov 30, 2011
After soundtracking a bit of Twilight: New Moon and releasing a lovely new record earlier this year, Hurricane Bells' Steve Schiltz takes us through his top five favorite albums of all-time, all while wondering why more kids don't love the Edge . . .

It’s been an interesting ride for Hurricane Bells’ Steve Schiltz. The man rose to prominence for fronting the underrated NYC guitar-rock act Longwave, but once Schiltz began branching out on his own for his more acoustic-based side project Hurricane Bells, a b-side from his project’s debut album, “Monsters”, wound up getting on the soundtrack to the second Twilight movie. Suddenly Hurricane Bells was more well known than Longwave ever was, even if the song was nowhere near indicative of the cathartic content of his newer project’s’ sound.


Just as 2011 wrapped up, Schiltz could proudly look back on what he accomplished: following the release of the solid Down Comes the Rain EP in late 2010, Schiltz went back and revamped his sound for this year’s Tides and Tales, a much more sonically dense, expansive album than his debut Tonight is the Ghost was. With Tides, not only do we see Schiltz expanding his musical palette, but we also get to see him really come into his own as a songwriter for Hurricane Bells: each band now has their own unique, distinctive sound, even if they do come from the same mind.


To help cap off his triumphant year, Schiltz sat down with PopMatters to reveal his top five favorite records of all time, explaining why these discs had a great influence on him in the way that they did, all while he muses as to why more kids aren’t a fan of the Edge . . .


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Thursday, Nov 10, 2011
If what eventually follows Secret Chiefs 3's Book of Horizons (2004) is half as good as the opening salvo (now seven years old, already!), we are in for something special, and Trey Spruance will begin to solidify his case as one of the most important -- if largely unheralded -- musicians of his time.

I used to believe it was one of the minor musical tragedies of the last quarter-century that the great Mr. Bungle could not keep it together. Three spectacular albums (each better than the last) and… done. It seemed neither fair nor possible that one band with so much talent and eccentric, rejuvenating brilliance would call it quits. A lot of diehard fans, like myself, thought the individual musicians were making a big mistake; how could they walk away from what they’d created? I’ve since come to realize—and appreciate—that regardless of the reasons (one may have simply been that there literally were too many ideas and possible directions for one band to handle, plain and simple), the demise of Bungle was, ironically, a blessing on multiple fronts. For one, the band could end on the highest of notes, and secondly, it freed the boys up to leap headlong into their various—and quite varied—obsessions and distractions.




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Thursday, Aug 11, 2011
Faith No More's Angel Dust compels us to reimagine the genre distinctions on which the processes of music production and consumption rest.

I can’t help but snicker at the recent ruckus that The Onion caused at the MetalSucks website. After The A.V. Club ran a crossword puzzle on July 13 with the clue “Faith No More’s only hit” (36 down), MetalSucks responded with a month-long blog series, spanning all of the following August, dedicated to celebrating that band’s music. Entitled “31 Days of Faith No More”, the series contains brief musings on one FNM track for each and every one of August’s days. What’s more is that the series is archived under MS‘s “Hipsters Out of Metal!” category.


Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of metal. I’m also beyond over the hipster backlash. Nevertheless, it brings me great joy to see MS‘s obvious full-throated attack at The A.V. Club. If Steven Hyden’s often brilliant series Whatever Happened to Alternative Nation? proved anything, it was that metal (still) is not highly regarded among “hip” music writers. While expending several hundreds of words in the series, Hyden succeeded in ignoring Faith No More entirely, lambasting nü metal, and, of course, singing the praises of Guided by Voices. If all of us could just stop right here and, for once, be honest with ourselves, we could acknowledge that if, say, Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst ever wrote a song called “Tractor Rape Chain”, every indie/hip/left-of-center media outlet in the universe would get all Brent DiCrescenzo on him (those outlets have already done that, actually). But since Robert Pollard is kind of cheeky and weird, he (apparently) gets a permanent hall pass—as do men who name themselves after cute, cuddly animals.


Tagged as: faith no more
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Thursday, Jun 9, 2011
Moose was really never shoegaze. In many ways, Moose was a much more successful band than Ride. Even though that claim is a bit strange, it's never too late to make it.

Well, the world didn’t end, which means that I can continue my tradition of breaking news late. Today’s top story: the August 2009 remaster of Moose’s debut album, . . . Xyz. Yep, you read that correctly: 2009. But before you close your web browser (because a story about an event this old couldn’t possibly be news, right?), remember that you’ve never heard of Moose, the band, and even if you have, you most likely haven’t heard that much of its music, because virtually all of it has been out of print for well over a decade. In other words, this humble blog post actually is news, no matter how long it took to reach the Web.


By now, it’s been thoroughly established that the term “shoegaze” was, and perhaps still is, pretty clunky. What’s most interesting about the term is not so much the way that it has been sort-of reclaimed by contemporary groups as varied as Animal Collective, Autolux, and Wild Nothing, but rather the fact that it continues to garner so much revulsion, even though it’s not entirely clear where, or when, the genre description originated. Some histories date the term’s origins to reviews of Slowdive’s early shows, whereas others broaden their scope, painting the entire Creation Records roster of the early 1990s with that particular fuzzy brush. Still, others argue that the term was actually first used in a Sounds review of a Moose gig, in which lead singer Russell Yates read his lyrics off of a sheet that he had taped to the floor.


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Wednesday, May 11, 2011
McCoy Tyner epitomizes the restless spirit and inspiration that characterizes all of our great artists. He was already a master by the mid-’60s; his work with John Coltrane could be studied and analyzed the way entire catalogs of music get dissected by critics. He was neither sated nor satisfied though, so he kept pushing and his work became increasingly ambitious, wide in scope and rewarding

It seems that when jazz pianist McCoy Tyner is mentioned, it’s invariably in the context of his work with John Coltrane. This is fine, as far as it goes, and quite appropriate, since the music (and history) he made as part of the “Classic Quartet” is enough to ensure his immortality in jazz circles. However, a compelling case could be made that he has pound for pound been the most prolific, consistently brilliant, and straight-out important jazz musician of the last half-century.


Let’s review the file. While employed by Coltrane (and make no mistake, far from being “merely” the pianist, he was also contributing compositions, like “Aisha” from Ole Coltrane), he simultaneously was making remarkable albums under his own name. That he was also appearing with compatriots (like Wayne Shorter) and appearing on masterpiece after masterpiece for the Blue Note label would seal the deal. But this all occurred in the 1960s. Not enough people know that Tyner continued to make astonishing music into the ’70s and has not slowed down since. Indeed, his streak of albums starting with Expansions from the late ’60s, through the mid-to-late ’70s with Trident, represents a body of work that, by itself, can stand alongside anything anyone has ever done (in any genre, by the way).


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