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Tuesday, Mar 30, 2010
by Jon Bream / Star Tribune (Minneapolis) (MCT)

You winced — didn’t you? — when ABBA was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this month. Or were you cringing when the Hollies were welcomed into the hall?


We all have our opinions about who should be in the Hall of Fame. Here are mine about some of today’s big stars — those from the ‘90s and ‘00s who have released at least three albums — who have a shot at being inducted someday. (An act is eligible 25 years after the release of its first record.)


For starters, there’s no debate about Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Green Day and Radiohead. They are first-ballot shoo-ins.


Here’s an evaluation of others, in alphabetical order, rated from 0 to 100.


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Monday, Mar 29, 2010
Analyzing the phenomenon of the inevitable spike in album sales and interest of an artist after they die.

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.


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Wednesday, Mar 24, 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.


Tagged as: apple, itunes
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Thursday, Mar 4, 2010

On Monday, Eric Avery announced his second departure from Los Angeles alt-rock icons Jane’s Addiction on his Twitter account, a development that was confirmed the following day by band members Perry Farrell and Dave Navarro (via their own Twitter accounts, no less). According to news wire reports, rumors are already swirling that Avery will be replaced by once-and-forever Guns ‘N Roses bassist Duff McKagen. Jane’s Addiction has long been defined by its volatile inter-band relationships (hell, you can argue that’s what gives its music its spark), but this latest turn of events highlights how the group has squandered its cultural legacy over the years.


While other legendary alternative rock bands ranging from the Replacements to Pearl Jam have at times been criticized for being more musically conservative, from a career standpoint Jane’s Addiction has been the most staunchly rockist of them all, with its slew of ego battles, drug addictions, reality television shows, tell-all autobiographies, and in particular its countless cycles of breakups and reunions.  Adding to the list of rock star tropes, the group’s last record, Strays (2003), was produced by Bob Ezrin, a man who built his career working on albums by such classic rock warhorses as Alice Cooper, Kiss, and Pink Floyd.  Although Jane’s is rightly regarded as having been a pivotal force in the development of alternative rock (a legacy supported by its role in breaking down barriers for the genre in commercial radio as well as in founding the Lollapalooza festival in the early 1990s), incident after incident of rote rock star news items makes it hard not to think of the group these days as Mötley Crüe with less spandex and more tattoos.


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Tuesday, Feb 9, 2010
Just like it took years to realize what an incredible year 1999 was to cinema, expect the "What was the best album of the last decade?" debate to go on for years.

More than ten years ago, I was reading reviews of the just-released Flaming Lips album The Soft Bulletin. As Napster and music downloads were still pretty much in their infancy in 1999, and our one college radio station maybe played one song from The Soft Bulletin every third day or so, I trusted critics and shelled out the $15. All it took was one listen to floor me. But I kept thinking about the few reviewers who were claiming it as “Album of the Decade.” Really? A few months before the decade ends, how can you give that distinction to an album that you just listened to?


Hence the problem with decade lists. When I was making up my decade list last year, I started to count up the albums by year. There was a baffling 16 albums from the year 2000. About a dozen from 2002. And a scant three albums from 2008 and only four from 2009. When I made my “Ten Best” for the year 2000, there was absolutely no way I could have imagined that 16 albums from that year would end up on my “100 Best Albums of the Decade” list. At that time, I even had trouble coming up with ten albums I liked from that year.


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