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Friday, Jul 18, 2014
We are the Priests of the Temples of Syrinx. Our great computers fill the hallowed halls. And it's time to talk about Rush, and their 1976 concept piece. Also, attention all Planets of the Solar Federation: we have assumed control.

Mendelsohn: There are two types of people in this world, Klinger — people who love Rush and people who don’t. Rush was the band that introduced me to rock ‘n’ roll, specifically their 1976 dystopian concept album 2112, so when we started working our way through the Great List, the first thing I did was check to see how long it would be before we got to a Rush album. I was sorely disappointed to find Moving Pictures, the band’s highest-selling and most well-regarded album sitting at number 867. Even worse was finding 2112 at number 1005. It seems the critics were mostly made up of people who didn’t like Rush. I may be a little biased here, but where’s the critical love for Rush? There are only two bands who have more gold and platinum records than Rush, you may have heard of them — the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Rush has sold over 25 million records worldwide, putting them squarely in the top 100 in that category. But yet critical love seems to elude them. The reasons, I suppose, aren’t all that hard to ascertain. They do have a tendency to write complicated suites that regularly top ten minutes and eschew pop constructs for extended jams that are heavy on the riffs but light on the things that the critics love. Honestly, I wasn’t all that surprised to find them languishing on the Great List.


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Wednesday, Jul 16, 2014
Hot on the heels of the iconic metal group's new album Redeemer of Souls, Sound Affects combs through Priest's vast and astounding back catalog to round up its greatest tracks.

With Judas Priest back in the public spotlight, having just released an excellent, PopMatters-approved 17th studio album this past week called Redeemer of Souls, it had a lot of longtime listeners, including yours truly, revisiting the influential British metal band’s vast back catalog for sheer nostalgia’s sake. After a quick search of PopMatters’ many List This music entries, I couldn’t believe the mighty Priest hadn’t been covered yet. And if this is the first Judas Priest list to grace this site, why not start with the most obvious?


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Tuesday, Jul 15, 2014
"The Freshmen" defined them, but their pop songs since were mature and nuanced. With his band's first album in 13 years, Brian Vander Ark tells us what he thinks is the most tear-jerking scene from Frozen and just how long he can sustain a burp ...

Contrary to popular belief, Brian Vander Ark was never much of a rock guy.


Oh sure, he was the guitarist and lead singer for the Verve Pipe, who, in 1996-1997, dominated the airwaves with the inescapable, era-defining modern rock single known as “The Freshmen”, but in truth, Vander Ark was a pop purist at heart. Their 1999 follow-up to their breakthrough album Villains featured memorable pop-rock numbers like “Hero”, but by the time they released 2001’s supremely underrated Underneath, they brought on Fountains of Wayne frontman and noted pop-savant Adam Schlesinger as producer, and were focused on crafting pop songs in the most classical of senses. Their commercial prospects never matched the heights of “The Freshmen”, but while that song somewhat defined the band for some people, their hardcore fans knew that the band was capable of so much more.


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Monday, Jul 14, 2014
When you think of B-52's songs, you think fun, wacky, playful, bizarre. With "Dance This Mess Around", you get raw, emotionally charged, sultry, and ... the best song they ever wrote.

When people think of the B-52’s, they often think of fun, silly, and energetic party-pop songs, and for good reason: a great majority of the hits they’re remembered for fit this bill to a T, filled with call-and-response vocals and rather buoyant melodies. Sometimes they were goofy, sometimes they were a bit more traditional with their themes, but they were always a lot of people’s one-stop-shop for good times and fun rhymes.


However, what may arguably be the single greatest song they’ve ever created retains none of these features. “Dance This Mess Around” is filled with longing, a bit of rage, and a vibe that is downright sultry, the soundtrack to a late-night slowjam in a room lit by nothing but lava lamps. There has never been a B-52’s song quite like it, but, most distressingly, they never attempted to go after this vibe ever again.


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Friday, Jul 11, 2014
You give your hand to me, and then you say goodbye. I watch you walk away beside a lucky to never, never know the one who loves you so. Because you haven't listened to this week's Counterbalance. Ray Charles' 1962 landmark this week.

Klinger: The Great List, that mathematical compendium of critical rankings that has served as our lord and master for the past four years, is an incredible resource for both discovering musical milestones and inspiring beer-fueled arguments. It also helps point out certain blind spots in the critical canon. One of the main issues we see is that it doesn’t really get going until about the mid-‘60s when writing seriously about rock music first became an semi-legitimate profession. As a result, many of the forefathers and foremothers of rock ‘n’ roll have been given short shrift. The case of Ray Charles is a prime example.


Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, which came out in 1962, marks Ray Charles’ first appearance on the Great List, clocking in at No. 240. That’s a respectable placement, but hardly befitting one of the architects of popular music. I’d do a lot more grumbling about that fact, but luckily for rock critics I’m too busy being enthralled by this masterpiece, which manages to do so much more than just apply Charles’ gospel-infused R&B to the country format. There’s a wealth of influences coming together here, and the end result is a brilliant, understated statement on the state of pop in 1962. But it may not immediately reveal itself right away. Or does it? Mendelsohn?


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