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Thursday, Apr 24, 2014
by Kevin Korber
Guitarist Jesse Jenkins of noted Austin reverb-rockers Pure X opens up about the band's new album Angel and how their shift in style and attitude reinvigorated them as a band.

For a young band, the first album can be a bit of a curse.


While it’s great for a band to be praised right from the start, a great first album can be a bit of an albatross for a band; they can become hamstrung into sticking to one specific sound and style. It takes bravery to cast off that albatross and try something different, no matter what happens.


Pure X are such sorts of brave souls. The Austin-based indie rock band came out with their first album, Pleasure, in 2011, along with a sound and an aesthetic style that they could have easily been pigeonholed into for years. However, the band have taken steps with each album and tour to move farther away from their established sound, following their own muse instead of the outside perception of their music. With their third album, Angel, they’ve sought to shake things up a bit with clear, crisp, classic style that peels their layers of reverb and distortion away to let the songs take center stage.


As the band head out on a tour across the United States with fellow indie rockers Real Estate, we spoke to guitarist Jesse Jenkins about the band’s new sound, their shift in personnel, and the rigors of writing and performing on the road.


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Thursday, Apr 24, 2014
Damon Albarn's got a new album arriving in a few days, and his band's most popular album commemorates its 20th birthday. What better time to pay tribute to the period when Blur put the "pop" in Britpop?

Nowadays, two of 1994’s main music-related events are symbolically inextricably linked: the death of Kurt Cobain and the rise of Britpop. Never mind that Pearl Jam and the other grunge bands continued to make records and sell millions for years following Cobain’s suicide—the myth that has arisen around the Britpop era is that its laddish optimism and nostalgic tunefulness were a much-needed respite from the gloom and sludge emanating from Seattle in the early ‘90s. Surely, 1994 was the year that Britpop really started to pick up steam: Suede was trying to consolidate the success that accompanied its debut album, Oasis and Elastica received a rapturous reception when they issued their insta-classic freshman LPs, and Blur positioned itself as the standard-bearer of British rock when it put out its career-resurrecting Parklife, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this week.


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Tuesday, Apr 22, 2014
Articles hailing "the death of the music industry" are a dime a dozen, but recent stories about album sales, iTunes Radio, and radio audience shares -- when bundled together -- indicate that the big shift everyone has feared is actually genuinely happening.

The United States is at an absolutely terrifying tipping point, and it’s all because of one terrifying number: “1%-2%”.


You see, ever since Napster and the music industry’s best year ever being at the peak of the millennial boy-band boom, physical album sales have gradually declined as digital has slowly inched its way towards becoming the dominant musical format. We’ve seen articles about this time and time again, and it wasn’t too long ago that a video went viral wherein modern children were asked to try and play music on a Walkman, and they were hilariously confused.


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Monday, Apr 21, 2014
Originally offered to Phil Spector to record with the Ronettes, the third track on The Beach Boys Today! presents a conflicted and guilt-ridden autobiographical narrative.

Undoubtedly, Brian Wilson’s biggest influence during this period of his life—and for most of his career, in fact—was Phil Spector. The songs that Spector wrote and produced for groups like the Crystals and the Ronettes would be a constant source of fascination for the Beach Boy. In the early part of his career, Wilson would go to Gold Star Studios to sit in on Spector’s recording sessions to see how he created his “wall of sound” production style in order to mimic it on the Beach Boys’ records. The production style utilizes layers of guitars, keyboards, and percussion instruments, often along with strings, brass, and woodwinds, all tracked together live in the same room to create a thick and chaotic yet wonderful sound. And this “bigger is better” philosophy to arranging and producing is what pushed Wilson towards much of the innovation we find on albums like The Beach Boys Today!, Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!), and Pet Sounds. But despite arguably surpassing Spector’s achievements in his own technique (which we’ll discuss later in this Between The Grooves Series), Wilson remained humble, saying in 1998, “I never considered [the Beach Boys] to be anything but just a messenger for his music.”


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Friday, Apr 18, 2014
When a fire starts to burn, right? And it starts to spread, right? Then it's time for another edition of Counterbalance. This week it's electronic time with a critically acclaimed UK hit from 2013.

Mendelsohn: I’ve often complained that electronic music receives the short-shrift when it comes to the Great List. Oddly enough, that isn’t necessarily true. Electronic music has a strong presence on the list — if you manage to make it into the depths, far removed from the top 200 (or 500 for that matter). In reality, there is typically one electronic album that hits in the top ten each year and as a result, there is a decent amount of electronic music scattered throughout the list. Last year was a good year for electronic music to gain critical mass. There were four electronic albums in the top 25 from the Acclaimed Music website — Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories (5), Disclosure’s Settle (10), the Knife’s Shaking the Habitual (12), and Boards of Canada’s Tomorrow’s Harvest (19). The only new name on that list was Disclosure so that’s the record I picked, hoping that it wasn’t going to be an hour of static bursts and the digital renderings of robot copulation.


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