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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: 
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: 
Tuesday, 01 January 2008 ,  Written by Matt Fink
Iron & Wine - The Shepherd's Dog
Though Bob Dylan’s legacy hangs over modern songwriting in complex and incalculable ways, it’s possible that his most lasting contribution is the dichotomy his music established between the “serious” world of folk music and the comparably “frivolous” world of pop music. Of course, Dylan had little to do with this himself. He was an admittedly eager consumer of Little Richard and Chuck Berry records in the ‘50s, and he didn’t shy away from befriending the Beatles when they were the symbol of all that was anathema to the folk community. Still, the seriousness of his artistry and the sagacity of his writing soon made it very clear that his music wasn’t for screaming 14-year-old girls and teenybopper radio, and he brought into the mainstream a challenge to every self-respecting tunesmith who deemed themselves worthy of picking up a guitar and ...
Editor's rating: 
Tuesday, 01 July 2008 ,  Written by Jonathan Easley
Wolf Parade - At Mount Zoomer
The notion of subjective artificial intelligence doesn’t seem like a very threatening or near-term possibility, considering that subjective individuals continue to emphasize the rigid categorization of something as nebulous and diverse as music.  We’d do well to initiate ourselves with Robert Anton Wilson’s term “sombunall” (some but not all), as we’re not even to the point where our metaphysical machinery can claim to possess subjectivity.  Take a look at indie music’s currently embedded calibration device, the Scene Machine.  It requires only one unit of data input (a geographical location) to summate with lusty, borderline-sexual incantations about the cosmic importance of every band in a given area.  That’s right, our cognitive labeling machinery evolved sexuality before it evolved subjectivity – you don’t need the ability to reason when you’re in a blind rut.  This leaves machine-harvested bands that harbor post-debut album ...
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