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Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Metalhead: An Essay

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I’ve never made any bones about the fact that I was (I guess I should say am) a big fan of 1980s pop metal. I’ve written before about my five favorite metal concerts; I wrote an entire post about Bon Jovi action figures and another about the utterly talentless and justifiably forgotten Britny Fox, of all things. I’m now on my third trip through Chuck Klosterman’s Fargo Rock City, a book in which he puts way more thought into the history and cultural meaning of eighties’ metal than any sane person should do.

But reading that book has made me realize how we may have tried to retroactively reclassify and attempt to marginalize the music that was the dominant form of most of the 1980s, and it’s made me think about my own relationship to hair metal. (Maybe for the first time.) Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Allen

July 2nd, 2010 at 8:47 am

Posted in Music

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100-Word Review: Dave Matthews Band’s “Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King”

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The spirit of former Dave Matthews Band saxophonist LeRoi Moore, who died during recording from complications from an ATV accident, infuses every bit of Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King.  His licks open and end the album, and Matthews sings quite clearly about his missing friend on several tracks, most notably “Why I Am” — but rather than feeling morose, Groogrux King instead seems to be a celebration, a fitting tribute to a musician whose sax had helped define so much of the band’s sound.  First-time DMB producer Rob Cavallo brings a welcome warmer, more lush tone to this record.

Grade: B

(Sometimes — not always, but sometimes — these 100-word constraints are problematic.)

Written by Allen

June 10th, 2009 at 10:00 am

100-Word Review: Metric’s “Fantasies”

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Metric provide catchy, edgy New Wave which blindsided me, burrowed its way into my brain, pitched a tent, rolled out its sleeping bag and now refuses to leave.  Emily Haines’ voice, which vacillates between sweet and throaty, isn’t overpowering or bombastic, but it doesn’t need to be:  its softness works well with the band’s solid pop hooks and James Shaw’s fuzzy guitar licks.  Some of the lyrics take a serious turn toward the vapid, but I’m willing to forgive that affront when the melodies are this strong, such as on “Sick Muse,” “Girls Gold Guns,” “Gimme Sympathy” and “Satellite Mind.”

Grade: B+

Written by Allen

June 9th, 2009 at 10:00 am

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100-Word Review: Tinted Windows

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Supergroups aren’t so much in vogue anymore, but Tinted Windows — Fountains of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger (bass), Smashing Pumpkins’ James Iha (guitar), Hanson’s Taylor Hanson (vocals — yes, really, that Taylor Hanson) and Cheap Trick’s Bun E. Carlos (drums) — might just re-spark the trend with how good their debut is.  Schlesinger’s insanely catchy songwriting is all over this thing and Hanson’s vocals fit the upbeat, muscular pop perfectly.  Unsurprisingly, Tinted Windows sounds like Fountains of Wayne with a big extra helping of testosterone.  ”Messing With My Head” and “Can’t Get A Read On You” stand out among the album’s eleven addictive tracks.

Grade: A-

Written by Allen

May 28th, 2009 at 4:55 pm

100-Word Review: Tori Amos’ Abnormally Addicted to Sin

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If Little Earthquakes was a towering first-inning leadoff home run, Tori Amos‘ last few albums have all been solid stand-up doubles.  The Beekeeper was a Pete Rose-style sliding-headfirst triple.  Abormally Addicted to Sin, though, is a weak hit into the shallow outfield followed by an errant throw to first, so that the runner manages to reach second anyway.  (Okay, that metaphor is now officially abused.)  It’s certainly not bad, but it’s far from her best work:  I’ve listened to it four times and still haven’t found a single song which grabs me enough even to note its name.

Grade: B

Written by Allen

May 20th, 2009 at 10:19 pm