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Thursday, Jun 18, 2009

In 1981, five gay men in Los Angeles suffered from an unknown disease that the press labeled GRID (Gay-Related Immune Deficiency) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention referred to as the “4H Disease” because it seemed to target Haitians, hemophiliacs, homosexuals and heroin users.


By May 3, 1986, the disease had long since become known as AIDS, but was still the subject of much controversy and even more misconceptions. It would be another year before Ronald Reagan would even publicly acknowledge the disease (even though by May 31, 1987, more than 20,000 Americans had died from AIDS).


It’s interesting that a pop-rock group from England would decide to release a single pointedly attacking the anti-gay hatred fueled by the disease, but even more intriguing that the song became a major hit.


Tagged as: the blow monkeys
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Tuesday, Jun 16, 2009

Blame it on a Bonnarroo hangover perhaps or the weak economy, but this week is one of the lightest new music release weeks in recent memory, rivaling the deserted graveyard that is the post holiday season. While next week promises an embarassment of indie riches, July 16th biggest highlights are a new platter from a barely known outside the indie set Americana band and a collaboration of production heavyweights Switch and Diplo. At the other end of the spectrum, the suits are pegging the week’s sales figures on a new one from the Jonas Brothers. Yeah, it’s a sad week for iTune afficiandos and big box store shoppers. That said, there are a couple of worthy re-issues on offer, with power pop legend, Big Star’s #1 Record/Radio City being at the head of the class.


Major Lazer - Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do
Star remixer Diplo and M.I.A. producer Switch have teamed up for a heavily buzzed about collaboration in Major Lazer. The two creative forces merge reggae and dancehall with electronic beats and textures in a successful cross-genre experimentation. The end result is something like “digital dancehall”.


Tagged as: new cds, new releases
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Monday, Jun 15, 2009

In the past couple of years musicians who have decided to free themselves from the corporate structure of the music industry have come up with creative ways to finance their albums. One way they’ve done this is by offering their fans special deals in exchange for some help with funding. This has included exclusive meet-and-greets, autographed items, special concert seating, and even personalized house or backyard concerts for top donors.


Well, Erin McKeown has taken her house concert idea to someplace totally new: her house. Erin is offering up a series of concerts at her own house in Western Mass., and is inviting fans to join her over the Internet. In what she is calling Cabin Fever, Erin will play four shows from various places in her yard, all with different themes, and is asking people to pay $10 per show to stream it live on her site. A cost of $30 will get you all four shows. This is all to benefit the recording and release of her new album “Hundreds of Lions.”


She writes: “In the grand tradition of barn-raisings and house-rent parties, Erin McKeown is inviting you into her living room, onto her porch, into her river, into her yard and asking you to lend a hand… just as farmers needed their neighbors to help raise the roof and musicians have sung for their supper.”


Tagged as: erin mckeown
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Friday, Jun 12, 2009
by Robin Cook

In the Twin Cities, Lori Barbero is a legend.  She’s been a record label owner, a band manager, and, of course, the drummer for the legendary Babes in Toyland. Kat Bjelland may have provided the shrieks, but Barbero gave the band its tribal, often menacing pulse.


In person, Barbero is anything but menacing, as anyone who’s met her can attest. In a surprising move, she’s traded Minneapolis for balmy Austin, Texas. 



Tagged as: lori barbero, sxsw
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Thursday, Jun 11, 2009

Currently bouncing around the blogosphere: Subprime, the hypnotic new animated short by Wisconsin graphic designer Mike Winkelmann, which illustrates the progression of the housing crisis like, well, a Pixar flick about imperiled homeowners.


As if the eagle-eye view of a Lego Dubai wasn’t already cool enough, it also features a a killer score by Ratatatty electronica-rock duo NOBOT. The sound design and audio effects were also pored over by Nobot’s Kyle Vande Slunt; the resulting clicks and bloops are a pretty crucial part of the experience, so you might prefer the alternate version of the track that leaves them all intact. Funny noises make everything better, even catastrophic end-of-civilization crises.



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