Music

Maim That Tune: The Moldy Peaches and the Apotheosis of Lo-Fi

Mark Desrosiers

Good lo-fi bands know that they have an ace tune on their hands when they can stumble drunkenly over it and it still rocks the box.

"And now let us take this artistically limited world, based on appearance and moderation; let us imagine how into it there penetrated in tones ever more bewitching and alluring, the ecstatic sound of the Dionysian festival; let us remember that in these strains all of Nature's excess in joy, sorrow, and knowledge become audible, even in piercing shrieks; and finally, let us ask ourselves what significance remains to the psalmodizing artist of Apollo, with his phantom harp-sound, once it is compared with this demonic folk-song!"
-- Friedrich Nietzsche


Last year was an odd year for music, what with a national tragedy and a new war putting everyone's brains and hearts off kilter. But really, one of the weirdest things about last year was the triumphant return of lo-fi to the indie community. I mean golly, the two hottest hep-cat LPs of 2001 -- the excellent debut albums by the Strokes and Moldy Peaches — should make an audiophile rip out his thinning hair. The Strokes' Is This It was expertly engineered to create a fuzzy, mildly cacophonous sound that made Julian Casablancas' voice sound raw and the band's grooves crackle like vinyl. It was a carefully constructed unpolished sound that felt like a skinned knee, a burnt tongue. The album's engineering was perfect in its imperfection, its pixellated retro-feel, its vinyl ghosts. Very strange, and even the nay sayers who hated the band confessed a lust for the grainy sound.

Even more striking, however, was the debut by the Moldy Peaches, which sounded like Beat Happening, Moe Tucker and the Vaselines shot through with Soft-Boys absurdity: just plain old-fashioned lo-fi at its most sublime. Adam Green and Kimya Dawson spend the entire album trading hilarious lines, generating righteous stolen hooks, and making a buncha mistakes, all with a home-baked sound that feels like you're sitting on their couch. From the spooky stoned recitation "These Burgers" to the thrash ruckus of "NYC's Like a Graveyard", they know what to do with their bottomless wit. It's all loud, but it's all clunky too: the guitar-lesson strumming and the Moe-Tucker drumming (not to mention vox) is varied and amplified just enough to give their work an eclectic feel. And yeah, the lyrics are demented and quotable, just like you read in all the reviews ("Scrinched up your face and did a little dance / Shook a little turd out of the bottom of your pants", for example, could be a metaphor for the album as a whole!). Kimya's voice cracks, a cell phone goes off, Adam forgets his lines. Every song is hilarious, a rudimentary joke shaped like a mud castle into something primitive, profane, and resonant. In the end, they transcend the crappy sound and inept playing with brilliant tunes.

Of course, I thought lo-fi was cast into the dustbin of history once Guided by Voices hired Ric Ocasek as producer. Sure, some valiant artists carried on with bedroom 4-track recordings and half-baked songs (e.g., Mountain Goats, Will Oldham), but the hipster audience had moved on. It seemed like the lethargic indie-nineties lo-fi explosion -- a self-conscious copycat aesthetic that was easy to reproduce -- had literally screeched to a halt. But the Moldy Peaches made me think again. Not only is it an amazing record -- righteously rocking and genuinely funny -- but they evoke the longer span of lo-fi history, not just the cheapo nineties trends and the phony nostalgia. Instead of simulating a transient fad, the Moldy Peaches turn right around and shove into your face the realization that lo-fi is an integral part of popular music. And this album's singular brilliance might just make them the apotheosis of lo-fi.

When you get right down to it, the human larynx is always lo-fi. Only the most talented singers can raise their voice in song, without engineering and amplification, to convince you of a technically faultless and precise instrument. For many modern singers, the natural state is one of shaky vibrato, slight burr, nascent hoarseness, imperfections on the high end, lack of control, and a generally flat delivery. Technology allows them to delete the imperfections, to shape and amplify the genius in their voice box. I think it's safe to say that Scott Stapp and Britney Spears would sound almost as horrible in the shower as you do. Technology is now the handmaiden of "talent" in modern music. "High fidelity" -- making music sound faithful to the original -- is now a lie. Everyone loves a tune that sounds "natural", but nowadays songs need to be gussied up with all sorts of knob-twiddling digital gimmickry before they can be truly dynamite. Part of this is due to the nature of modern recording technology, which is almost entirely digital. But real life is analog. Digital recording can give you metafidelity or even hyperfidelity, but the infinite, continuous sampling rate of the olde analog technologies are now a hoary curiosity. The way lo-fi evokes our collective analog past goes a long way to explaining its constant appeal, and its necessity to the aesthetic of pop and rock.

Lo-fi has a long and very honorable history, most of which begins with the fact that early recording technology was makeshift and rudimentary. All those old recordings of Bessie Smith shouting without a microphone, or Rudy Valee bellowing out of a megaphone, they were the "high fidelity" of their day, and now they sound quaintly primitive. But it wasn't just the technology. The political economy of popular music often required haste and austerity to generate a profitable product. Rehearse your ass off at home and get the tunes down in one take while paying for studio time. Listen to the classic singles of Louis Jordan, or the Mercury sides of George Jones, and you get a clear sense of a brilliant artist transcending an ill-rehearsed band and one-take studio technology.

All those old vinyl 78s and 45s, crap sound and all, became an aesthetic unto themselves. As advances in engineering and recording technology made music sound better, you can bet there were those who found the old "raw" recording technology to be central to the greatness of popular music. I call this the "R. Crumb Effect": when modernity gets you down, you can put yourself on the cutting edge by fetishizing ancient styles and technologies, and your antithetical influence will start making its mark on popular tastes. R. Crumb and his extensive collection of 78s may not have influenced popular music much (Canned Heat excepted), but there was always something inherently cool about his attitude. Earnest populist virtuosos were verily touched by the hand of God when their discs crackled or their voices went flat. Listen to the proud flat singing of Ernest Tubb, or the influenza yell of early Jonathan Richman to see where technical brilliance ends and real genius begins.

Well, if R. Crumb was the definitive hip reactionary, there was an undercurrent of edgy apolitical cacophony to give another facet to the current, twenty-first century lo-fi aesthetic. As spine-tingling violins swelled in Beatles tunes, the Velvet Underground were just across the pond laying down one of the defining documents of lo-fi, a stupendous marathon called "Sister Ray", in which each zoned participant tried to play their instrument louder than the other, damn near snapping the tape with abject competitive noise. Of course, the Velvet Underground were associated with LaMonte Young, Andy Warhol, and Delmore Schwartz, so their populist credentials were nil. They were avant-garde NYC artists (just like Moldy Peaches and maybe the Strokes!).

Yep, sloppy music was elitist, but its edgy enthusiasm was brave and weird, even in the lysergic, feckless sixties. There were other early indie lo-fi touchstones, such as the Troggs, the Shaggs, Captain Beefheart, and the Stooges, who are revered today as aesthetic pioneers of a sort. But lets not forget the Basement Tapes, a chaotic document of lazy drunk shambling tunes by Bob Dylan and the Band, which got critics hot and bothered when the record was reissued in the seventies (Griel Marcus even wrote a whole book about 'em!). Or Rod Stewart's early stumbling-melody-on-the-edge-of-chaos solo albums. Or the murky heavy sound of Black Sabbath, defined more than anything else by Tony Iommi's clunky lead riffs (the man had lost a couple fingertips from his fret hand in an industrial accident). Or the even murkier sound of Funkadelic's Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow, or the proud, blue, low-budget ballads of the Moments. Lo-fi has always been with us, really.

But self-conscious lo-fi is a more recent invention. There is no single "pioneer" of the form, though I like to point to the Fall's 1979 LP Dragnet as a key progenitor. Co-produced by Grant Showbiz and the Fall, the album is a strange sui generis document of rockabilly punk and shouted art-poems, complete with intentionally grubby sound and scruffy musicianship. During the epic "Spectre vs. Rector", you can hear an earlier live tape of the song playing in the background. Mark E. Smith's voice is as loud and annoying as possible, all of its flaws and virtues jumping out of the "mix" like no punk you've ever heard. The album is a crazy, loud, muddy mess, and you wonder what engineer John Brierly must have thought, since the record sleeve says "Many thanks to John Brierly for his trust". Sure, this may not have been the first time that a band wanted their record to sound intentionally horrible, but you can hear the influence of Dragnet in every early Pavement EP or Sebadoh tape from the early nineties. Lo-fi was no longer a regrettable consequence of low budgets or ill-rehearsed musicians. It was now a dynamite sound unto itself.

The early eighties saw the first heyday of cultivated lo-fi. During this time, the tiny lo-fi market was flooded with the crazed rants of Half Japanese, the busking neuroses of Daniel Johnston, the stumbling puppy-love of Beat Happening, the human zoo of LiLiPUT, the economical engineering feats of Hüsker Dü, even the incomprehensible vox of R.E.M. These bands, along with countless others, laid the foundations for the brief lo-fi explosion of the mid-nineties, when artists like Guided by Voices, Pavement, Sebadoh, and Will Oldham made a virtue out of half-formed songs and bad sound. Sure, some of that stuff was the musical equivalent of pissing in the snow, but a lot of it still resonates today. Albums like Bee Thousand and Slanted and Enchanted keep you coming back because their naturalistic first-take ethos and bad poetry are what great rock'n'roll is made of.

Yet many myopic critics still asked: why do hipsters love this stuff? What can possibly be so cool and resonant about lazy musicianship and crap sound? One reason is obvious: lo-fi tunes foreground the song (more specifically, the lyrics) at the expense of technical mastery. Good lo-fi bands know that they have an ace tune on their hands when they can stumble drunkenly over it and it still rocks the box. Sure, the original lo-fi versions of Daniel Johnston's "Speeding Motorcycle" or Sebadoh's "Brand New Love" were a bit jarring, but still they moved you. And when Yo La Tengo and Superchunk made crystal-clear hi-fi cover versions, you knew that what moved you was the brilliant songwriting. Naked popcraft, tuneful poetry reading, urgent unrehearsed playing: these are the dry humble twigs that can sometimes kindle a pretty ace musical bonfire. Lo-fi is honest. In a world where music can be crass deception (Creed) or aesthetic hyperinflation (U2), you turn to lo-fi in the same way you take to a walk around the block: it's comforting, memorable, and there's nothing phony about it.

The other key to lo-fi is this: it's a veritable car-crash highway of accidents. And accidents can be the key to great rock'n'roll. Lo-fi is the best acknowledgement that rock'n'roll is at its best when it's not micro-managed and planned. Second-guessing can often destroy a great song, and the earnest first-take busking-for-change ethos of many lo-fi tunes are what makes them enduring despite the sloppy mistakes.

Finally, one can't deny one of lo-fi's defining elements: impatience. During these strange accelerated times, impatience is often a virtue. Hurry up. Just do it. Hustle. Come on come on. Fingers drumming at the checkout line. When you listen to a great lo-fi album, you can hear this impatience giving way to great art. Churning out one rudimentary tune after another, some of them half-finished and accelerated, the great lo-fi heroes such as Guided by Voices or Half Japanese turn hasty ruckus into a detonating series of ace tunes. The irony of impatience, though, is that lo-fi is not sustainable over the long run. Many lo-fi artists become convinced that they're some sort of genius worthy of production values, and they go digital. Only stalwarts like the Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments or the Mountain Goats can keep their genius intact along with a sustained lo-fi output.

Which leads me back to the Moldy Peaches. They are the apotheosis of lo-fi because they take all the greatest elements of lo-fi -- anti-musicianship, accidents, humor, songwriting, impatience, and genius -- and delete all the feckless contrivances of bad lo-fi. They have no phony genre-identification (like Will Oldham), and they seem to know that laughter is a better medicine than sincerity. Oh yeah, they also rock. "We are not those kids sitting on the couch", they proclaim in "Steak for Chicken", an attempt to separate themselves from their slacker forebears. Probably they're right: only artists with too much time on their hands can fiddle with their lo-fi enough to make it suck.

In 1872, the twenty something proto-lo-fi philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche published his first work, The Birth of Tragedy, in which he posited art as a necessary battle between two forces: the Apollonian and the Dionysian. Dreaming and drunkenness. The idea of the song, of melody, beat, and poetry, is like dreaming; the Apollonian side of the aesthetic equation. But when the song comes burbling out of you uncontrollably and your friends clap to the beat and strum awkwardly off the beat while you lay that tune down, that's the stumbling Dionysian energy that informs all art. It's drunkenness. And even when lo-fi is contrived, rehearsed a zillion times and then overlaid with tape noise and fake-lazy drumming, it's still drunk in the same way a sober dude "feels drunk" at a keg party. The Dionysian element will always be essential to great music, and this is why lo-fi, whether as affectation or accident, will always be with us.

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

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Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

The Hall of Fame has been harshly criticized for some of its more inexplicable exclusions and for neglecting certain subgenres of music. Cynicism and negativity over the Hall's selection process and membership is fairly widespread. That said, despite the controversies and legitimate gripes, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is still widely viewed as a career milestone. The Hall's stature feeds its surrounding controversies: after all, nobody would care to argue so vehemently about the merits of one artist over another if it wasn't important. Very rarely will a newly inducted artist miss the opportunity to appear at the star-studded ceremony to accept their honor.

The criteria for nomination is as follows: "Artists -- a group encompassing performers, composers and/or musicians -- become eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first commercial recording. Besides demonstrating unquestionable musical excellence and talent, inductees will have had a significant impact on the development, evolution and preservation of rock and roll." Specifically for performers, "This category honors bands or solo artists which demonstrate musical excellence. Such a descriptor includes (but isn't limited to) influence on other performers or genres; length and depth of career and catalog; stylistic innovations; or superior technique and skills."

These standards allow the selection committee wide latitude with their choices, and generating a list that would create zero controversy is an obvious impossibility. As for those deserving artists yet to be included, their time will surely come. There has purportedly been an emphasis on increasing diversity among the nominating committee and voters in recent years, and the list of contenders for the class of 2018 reflects this.

Radiohead, as expected and deserved, are nominated in their first year of eligibility, and there is little doubt they will be inducted. Other nominees include Bon Jovi, Kate Bush, the Cars, Depeche Mode, Dire Straits, Eurythmics, J. Geils Band, Judas Priest, LL Cool J, MC5, the Meters, the Moody Blues, Rage Against the Machine, Nina Simone, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Link Wray and the Zombies. It's a strong and varied group.

Perhaps the most pleasant surprise on the list, however, is the British duo Eurythmics. Even though they've been eligible since 2006, this is their first nomination. Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox certainly deserve recognition for their important contributions to the musical fabric of the last 40 years. While Eurythmics have always been generally respected, they've never been darlings with the critics like some of their contemporaries. It's puzzling as to why. Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting and creative audacity. Lennox is second to noone as a vocalist, not just in her lead parts but also in the creative, often rhythmic way she uses her voice as an instrument. This nomination could boost the stature and perception of Eurythmics' body of work immeasurably.

Although Eurythmics are often consigned strictly to the synthpop genre, that designation fits only a portion of their repertoire. Each of their nine studio albums has its own unique vibe while retaining the duo's core identity. Eurythmics never repeat themselves, often taking bold risks and swerving in unexpected directions. Unlike many of their contemporaries, Eurythmics didn't "sell out" or compromise by chasing after obvious Top 40 hits. Even their most popular singles aren't commercial in the traditional sense, and they've always sounded like nobody else on the radio.

Despite the sudden emergence of their 1983 single "Sweet Dreams (are made of this)" as an MTV staple and international smash, Eurythmics are far from an overnight success story. Their story begins in London, 1975, when Stewart fortuitously encountered Lennox at the restaurant where she worked as a waitress. The Scottish singer had recently dropped out of the Royal Academy of Music, which she felt didn't suit her musical interests. Stewart and Lennox strongly connected over their love of music, and they quickly became a couple who were inseparable. Along with singer/ songwriter/ guitarist Peet Coombes, Stewart and Lennox formed a short-lived group the Catch. After one failed single, they added two members and renamed themselves the Tourists.

Coombes was the dominant creative force and primary songwriter behind the Tourists. Lennox and Coombes shared vocals on the band's dour and melancholy power-pop. The Tourists released three albums and managed a handful of chart appearances in the UK. Two of their singles, a peppy cover of Dusty Springfield's "I Only Want to Be With You" and the hard-rocking "So Good T\to Be Back Home Again", made the UK Top 10. The band toured extensively, but their success was fleeting. The Tourists' third album, Luminous Basement (1980), tanked badly despite containing their strongest material yet, and the group dissolved shortly thereafter.

Lennox and Stewart also endured a painful ending to their sometimes tumultuous romance, but they recognized the power of their musical chemistry and decided to continue working together as a duo. They were a pair "who couldn't be together, and who could not be apart", as Lennox reflects many years later in the song "17 Again". History has shown that they made the right decision: Stewart and Lennox compliment each other intuitively through a shared passion for music, the thrill of experimentation, and the need for emotional release that songwriting and performing allows.

The name Eurythmics was derived from a technique used to teach music to children based on sensory and physical methods of learning rhythm. The newly-christened duo signed with RCA Records and in early 1981 headed to Germany to record their debut album with highly-respected krautrock producer Conny Plank.

Plank already had a long string of acclaimed albums to his credit, including collaborations with Neu!, Can, Ultravox, Kraftwerk and Brian Eno among others. The sessions for what would become Eurythmics' debut album, In the Garden, were held at Plank's studio in Cologne. He brought several of his regular collaborators into the proceedings, including bassist Holger Czukay and drummer Jaki Liebezeit of avant-garde rockers Can, Blondie drummer Clem Burke and D.A.F. electronics whiz Robert Görl. Stewart has described the sessions as a learning experience that helped expand his perception of what pop music could be and how it could be created without following any rules, a perspective that served Eurythmics well.

Eurythmics' austere and hypnotic debut single "Never Gonna Cry Again" was released in May 1981. They filmed a low-budget video and landed a couple TV slots to promote the track, but the song's haunted nature did not translate to mainstream success: it barely scraped the lower reaches of the UK singles chart. A second single, the dreamy guitar-rocker "Belinda", followed in August but failed to chart.

In the Garden was finally released in October 1981, but without a hit to generate momentum it was barely noticed. Despite scant sales figures, the album's gloomy psychedelic guitar-pop makes for a rather strong debut. In the Garden exists in late summer shadows, densely atmospheric and shrouded in a veil of dread. Lennox's vocals are understated, subtle and lower in the mix than on subsequent albums. Sound effects, odd vocalizations and bits of sonic experimentation fade in and out like flashes of hazily repressed memory.

RCA wasn't eager to invest in a follow-up to In the Garden after its disappointing reception, so Stewart financed Eurythmics' second album largely through a personal bank loan. Faced with a minuscule budget, they worked in a London warehouse to avoid spending money on studio time. They were able to purchase cheap second-hand equipment for the sessions, including the basic TEAC 8-track on which most of the album was recorded. Adam Williams, former bassist for the ska band the Selectors, helped the duo learn the equipment while co-producing some of their earliest tracks.

The primitive set-up was the ultimate blessing in disguise. Since they were financing the sessions and self-producing, Eurythmics had the freedom to experiment with no oversight. As both Lennox and Stewart were enduring periods of deep personal strife at the time, the sessions evolved into an emotional and creative catharsis that helped shape the mercurial nature of the music. It was out of this environment that a classic was born.

Despite appearing only a few months after their debut album, the first single to emerge from the new sessions proved radically different than any of Eurythmics' prior work. Released in April 1982, "This Is the House" is a flamboyant, horn-driven spectacle on which Lennox belts out a vocal more confident and brash than any of her prior work. The song's odd mix of synthpop, R&B; and latin influences renders it completely unique, but despite its infectious ingenuity and beguiling loopiness (or perhaps because of it), "This Is the House" failed to chart.

The follow-up single that landed two months later is even better. Entrancing and soulful, "The Walk" exudes the anxiety, drama and innovation that became Eurythmics' hallmark. The vocal arrangement is ingenious, and Dick Cuthell (known for his work with Madness, the Specials, Fun Boy Three and others) lets rip a blistering trumpet solo. As in many of their songs, "The Walk" slowly ratchets up the tension through hypnotic repetition and the gradual addition of more layers of sound until it reaches a haywire frenzy. Although a brilliant recording, "The Walk" fared no better than its predecessor.

With the duo's second album Sweet Dreams (are made of this) completed, RCA began a strong promotional push, issuing the opening track "Love Is a Stranger" as a single in November 1982. Lennox's dazzling vocal ranges from icy cool to fiery passion over a relentless electric groove bracketed by sinuous lines of synth. "Love Is a Stranger" rose to #54 in the UK, their highest placement yet, and momentum was finally building for the duo thanks in part to the single's provocative video.

The first significant chapter in a series of visually arresting promotional clips that Eurythmics generated over the span of their career, "Love Is a Stranger" showcases Lennox's dramatic presence and her innate ability to command the viewer's attention. She plays multiple roles, ending the clip with her red hair slicked back and dressed androgynously in a man's suit. Image was quickly becoming an important part of the Eurythmics' equation, with Lennox always compelling no matter which character she inhabits, and Stewart often appearing as her sort of mad-scientist counterpart.

Sweet Dreams (are made of this) hit the shelves on 4 January 1983, along with its title-track, a single that continues to reverberate through pop music nearly 35 years after its release. Suddenly everything changed for Eurythmics. An obscure British duo, barely managing to survive in the music business, soared to the top with one of the more unconventional songs ever to scale those lofty heights.

"Sweet Dreams (are made of this)" has an unusual structure, with no real verses or chorus. Lennox has described it as a mantra, and indeed it is. The lyrics, which Lennox rattled off spontaneously in a matter of minutes, are a simple but profound statement about the human condition: "Everybody's looking for something," the search for meaning and fulfillment, the ephemeral "this" of which sweet dreams are made.

Lennox begins the song with a single line of vocal, then starting with "some of them want to use you" at the 0:24 point it doubles. From there the song gradually builds intensity, with the vocals increasingly layered. A masterful finalé combines all the sonic elements before fading to black, the mantra repeating endlessly, the "this" still stubbornly undefined. The booming minor-key bass riff and the epic string-motif solo starting at 1:31 are played by Lennox on a Roland Juno-6 synthesizer. The main riff (improvised by Lennox while listening to Stewart working on a drum-machine pattern), is a simple two-bar arpeggio that loops throughout most of the song. Two parts were recorded separately and panned on opposite sides of the sound spectrum, creating a richly resonant effect. "Sweet Dreams (are made of this)" is no dated relic from the early days of MTV burdened by the limitations the time. Its massive waves of synth flood out of the speakers with enormous power, as inexorably as the tide.

The music video, which became wildly popular on MTV during its heyday, is forever entwined with the song in listeners' collective consciousness. The iconic image of Lennox in her masculine suit and flaming orange flat-top helps to define the new wave era. Her forceful demeanor, nervy confidence and the subtle nuances of her facial expressions amplify the song's inherent tension. She confronts the viewer directly by pointing right in our faces at the 0:24 mark. At 1:56, she offers a sly half-smile with, "some of them want to abuse you", and at 2:15 she pounds her fist just as the song reaches its dramatic apex. Stewart appears throughout the video stoically pecking away on the drum machine he used in the recording of the song, the Movement MCS Drum Computer MK1 (except for that part where he and the cow have, well, a moment… It's all in the eye contact).

After a slow climb up the US pop chart, "Sweet Dreams (are made of this)" was finally able to derail the Police's "Every Breath You Take" from its seven-week reign at the top during the week of 3 September 1983. It would be Eurythmics' only chart-topping pop hit in America, and it reached #2 in the UK. In the wake of Eurythmics' new-found fame, "Love Is a Stranger" was re-released, this time becoming a major hit on both sides of the Atlantic.

The album's deep cuts are every bit as strange and fascinating as its better-known singles. The ghostly "Jennifer" is a narcotic reverie of keyboard swells and spectral atmospherics. "I've Got an Angel" and "Somebody Told Me" are serrated neurotic fits, swerving dangerously off-the-rails from anything that would normally be considered pop music. A long and mesmerizing exploration of urban isolation, "This City Never Sleeps" is a powerful finalé. Sweet Dreams (are made of this) is an examination of the human psyche fraught with turmoil, a series of jagged recurring nightmares and anxiety attacks set to music that is soulful and experimental, melodic but eccentric, a stark electronic soundscape that bristles with horns and unexpected sonic jolts.

Next Page: Potent and Ferocious

This film suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

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10

Here comes another Kompakt Pop Ambient collection to make life just a little more bearable.

Another (extremely rough) year has come and gone, which means that the German electronic music label Kompakt gets to roll out their annual Total and Pop Ambient compilations for us all.

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8

Winner of the 2017 Ameripolitan Music Award for Best Rockabilly Female stakes her claim with her band on accomplished new set.

Lara Hope & The Ark-Tones

Love You To Life

Label: Self-released
Release Date: 2017-08-11
Amazon
iTunes

Lara Hope and her band of roots rockin' country and rockabilly rabble rousers in the Ark-Tones have been the not so best kept secret of the Hudson Valley, New York music scene for awhile now.

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