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Editor's rating: 
 3.0
Tuesday, 01 July 2008 ,  Written by Matt FInk
Death Cab for Cutie - Narrow Stairs
The last time I interviewed Ben Gibbard, he seemed somewhat ashamed to admit that he was a bit stung by all the lukewarm reviews that greeted Death Cab for Cutie’s 2005 breakthrough, Plans. Of course, you’d expect as much for an artist who is obviously a sensitive soul, a man who finds romantic implications in every act, no matter how seemingly mundane. Not that such a backlash was in any way surprising, as the previously prototypical indie rock band was certain to receive such a backlash when they jumped to a major label and found themselves near the top of the Billboard Top 200. But Gibbard seemed so disarmingly hurt by it all; it was as if he never considered it could happen. For those who want to read between the lines, Narrow Stairs, Death Cab’s first album since the ...
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: 
 3.5
Friday, 01 February 2008 ,  Written by Matt Fink
Lupe Fiasco - The Cool
Though it goes against the received wisdom that great works of art are only the product of years of developing skill, learning theory and experiencing life, a quick look at the history of pop music will show that some of the form’s definitive moments have come from artists only a few years removed from high school. From Bob Dylan writing “Blowin’ in the Wind” as a scruffy 21-year-old (a task so audacious that a 1963 Newsweek article falsely reported that Dylan had stolen the song from another songwriter) to Brian Wilson writing and arranging the Beach Boys landmark Pet Sounds at the age of 23 to Michael Jackson issuing Thriller at the age of 20, the pioneering works in the pop music idiom have often come from kids, not those who have spent their lives perfecting the craft of songwriting. ...
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