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Editor's rating: 
 3.5
Tuesday, 01 January 2008 ,  Written by Matt Fink
Band of Horses - Cease to Begin
Though typically I see little reason to take pity on bandwagon-jumping bands when they’re later judged by history to suffer bad comparisons to the original bands that they’re ripping off, there are times when you have to acknowledge tragically bad timing. For instance, even though they clearly took inspiration from the other bands of the British Invasion, who knows how massive the Kinks might have been had they not spent their entire careers playing a distant fourth to the Beatles, Rolling Stones and the Who. Sure, today they’re rightly regarded as one of the greatest bands in rock’s history, but the disparity between the acclaim they’ve received compared to their similarly talented peers is nothing short of a karmic injustice. Take John Prine or Townes Van Zandt, two singer-songwriters whose smart writing and lack of commercial appeal kept them buried ...
Editor's rating: 
 4.3
Friday, 08 August 2008 ,  Written by Matt Fink
Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
Largely a reaction against the beautiful and well-produced sounds of the ‘60s and ‘70s, punk rock championed the bad vocalist, giving highest priority to the integrity of the performance and generally equating good singing with selling out. The indie rock movement that was born from the ashes of punk rock largely continued that dictum, and the last 30 years have been filled with vocalists who were so blessed with the common touch that they could have been pulled off any street corner in the United States, with vocals that emphasized energy and idiosyncracies over the ability to stay in tune or produce a vocal range of more than three or four notes. But as the last 10 years have brought indie rock increasingly in line with mainstream aesthetics; powerhouse vocalists and better harmonies have come back into style, leading to ...
Editor's rating: 
 3.0
Tuesday, 01 July 2008 ,  Written by K L Poore
Frank Zappa - The Torture Never Stops
The Torture Never Stops proves how reality rarely lives up to expectations. We didn’t have cable back in ’81 when this concert was shown on MTV (you know… back when the M stood for music). Since that Halloween night I’ve lived with the regret that I didn’t get to see FZ stun America with his genius as he took the fledgling music channel to new heights while unknowingly convincing them they should never do another live broadcast. For the next 20-something years I saw a few grainy clips which had been recorded on ancient VTRs but mostly this magic concert existed only in my thoughts as the night Frank was able to give the music industry the finger, something I’ve always treasured. Now the Zappa family trust has released the show under the title The Torture Never Stops and I regretfully ...
Editor's rating: 
 3.8
Tuesday, 01 April 2008 ,  Written by Matt Fink
Gnarls Barkley - The Odd Couple
For as much as they seemed like the typical gimmick band, an act formed by two comically mismatched artists adopting a jokey moniker and wearing stage costumes that parodied iconic film duos, Gnarls Barkley obliterated all stereotypes with their 2006 hit “Crazy.” A truly transcendent pop song cut from dark chord changes and a desperately soaring chorus, it was three minutes of bliss that was hailed by Top 40 pop fans and indie hipsters alike. By the end of the year, the song had proven so powerful that everyone from Nelly Furtado to the Raconteurs to Charlotte Church had covered it, and the band had achieved cult status, with auteur producer Danger Mouse and R&B heavyweight Cee-Lo earning a following that crossed all demographic and genre barriers. But that said, St. Elsewhere, their debut album, was a bit of a ...
Editor's rating: 
 4.5
Friday, 01 February 2008 ,  Written by K L Poore
Jesca Hoop - Kismet
Quirk strangeness! That’s Jesca Hoop’s Kismet CD in a neat package. My physicist friend and the James Joyce society may giggle at what is, in effect, a triple pun, but my reason for tossing it out to you is so you’ll feel exactly the way I did when I listened to Kismet for the first time. Mystified, elated, dumbfounded, angry, and some other word I can’t think of right now. I really believe you should rush out and get a copy of Kismet as soon as possible, throw it onto your listening device of choice and take its fast-moving Wonderland journey from “Summertime” through “Love and Love Again.” Why? When was the last time you felt mystified, elated, dumbfounded, angry, and that other word I can’t think of, because of a CD? Exactly. Upon repeated listens I was forced to ask myself where ...
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