Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past


Monday, August 20 2001

    Seven Channels: self-titled

While popular music may be an important cultural force, no rock band has saved the world. Even groups who incorporate socially conscious messages into their

    Surface: The First Time / The Best of Surface

One of the mysteries, among many, about the Reagan-Thatcher years is why anyone thought that a certain cheap synth sound was a good idea. You

    The Shams: Take Off

The Shams have a lot going for them on the surface—namely, a sense of style that cannot be denied. The cover of the group’

    Quasi: Early Recordings

I often imagine Quasi to be the best sort of side project, one that allows a certain freedom that the more self-conscious main gig may

Quasi: The Sword of God

The liner notes of Quasi’s fifth album begin with a lengthy screed about an unspecified primate named Omar. Sam Coomes, who writes the duo’

    Pram: Somniloquy

I was dreading writing this review, dreading it. Like many other people, I’ve been at a loss for words since the World Trade Center

    Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes: Ultimate Blue Notes

The Blue Notes got their start in 1954 as a Philadelphia-based doo-wop act fronted by vocalist Harold Melvin. Two years later the group signed their first

    Maxwell: Now

He is without question the crown-prince of the Neo-Soul movement. Blessed with bohemian good-looks, with the requisite wild hair and an enigmatic and self deprecating

    Moviola: Rumors of the Faithful

Defining a band’s sound is a tricky, complicated area. My usual first instinct, when the subject comes up, is to dismiss the idea entirely,

Mink Lungs: The Better Button

When a band’s record label touts a band as “cohesive”, you can be pretty sure they’re covering something up. In the case of

    Lupine Howl: The Carnivorous Lunar Activities of Lupine Howl

In a sense, Lupine Howl are in something of a no-win situation since they have the albatross of Spiritualized around their necks.

Nathan Larson: Jealous God

There are plenty of artists out there with spiritual leanings, but very few willing to deal with God—with a capital ‘G’.

    Charles Lloyd: Hyperion with Higgins

I wonder how many of the one million people who bought Forest Flower back in the hippy era will check this release out. Probably precious

The Isley Brothers: Harvest for the World / The Heat is On

Eternal, the most recent release by the famed Isley Brothers, is easily one of their strongest since their classic “3+3” era. Almost four decades before “Mr.

His Name Is Alive: someday my blues will cover the earth

The release of His Name Is Alive’s new album was held up, according to the 4AD website, by “near legendary” problems with the cover.

Dave Holland Quintet: Not for Nothin’

If Dave Holland ever tires of being mentioned only as the young English bass-player recruited by Miles Davis in the late ‘60s, then he does

Scott Henry: Buzz: The Politics of Sound

For all the bad press the rave community has gotten over the years, very few cases rival the sensational shut-down of the Buzz club in

Charlie Haden / Egberto Gismonti: In Montreal

I can’t imagine why this has taken 12 years to surface but the current fondness for Latin music won’t hurt its sales. In fact

Holly Golightly: Singles Round-Up

If the music industry were like an episode of the original Star Trek, Holly Golightly would be the goateed evil doppelganger of Julee Cruise. Or,

Miles Davis: Live at the Fillmore East

The group that Miles Davis brought to the Fillmore Auditorium on March 6 and 7, 1970, the so-called “lost quintet”, was a loud and fierce avant-garde jazz/rock

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