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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
 
Tuesday, 01 January 2008 |  Written by Matt Fink  | 
Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam It may be treacherous to use one event as a definitive example of what a band stands for, but Animal Collective’s recent appearance on Late Night with Conan O’Brien is quite emblematic of their staunchly idiosyncratic approach to self-promotion. With their eighth album, Strawberry Jam, not even a month old and the first single from it, “Peacebone,” garnering raves around the world, they chose to use their first nationally-televised performance as an opportunity to perform “#1,” arguably their new album’s least marketable track. Built-out cascading synth tones, ethereal chants and viscously manipulated spoken lyrics, it’s a song with no real hook, one that must have baffled the few million viewers who tuned in expecting another scruffy guitar-pop band. But Animal Collective has never been a scruffy guitar-pop band, and after seven years of creative machinations, they show no signs of ...
Saturday, 01 December 2007 |  Written by John Sutton-Smith  | 
Various Artists - When Rhythm Was King format:    16-bit CD performance:    9 sound:    8 released:    2007 label:    Heartbeat reviewer:    John Sutton-Smith In their continuing series of releases from the late great reggae producer Clement “Sir Coxsone” Dodd and the legendary Jamaican Studio One label, Heartbeat Records have come up with When Rhythm was King, a wondrous selection of 18 of Studio One's earliest and most influential singles from core reggae artists like Dennis Brown, Alton Ellis, the Heptones, the Wailing Souls, Sugar Minott, Bob Andy, Johnny Osborne and many others. All the singles here are the original recordings of songs that have gone on to become the basis for literally hundreds of “versions” in the years since by numerous artists in Jamaica and elsewhere. There'll be a familiar ring when old time fans hear Ernest Wilson's “Undying Love” or the Heptones' “Fattie Fattie.” And like early versions of American R&B songs when you ...
Saturday, 01 December 2007 |  Written by Matt Fink  | 
U2 - The Joshua Tree (20th Anniversary Edition) format:    16-bit CD performance:    9 sound:    8 released:    2007 1st released:    1987 label:    Universal reviewer:    Matt Fink As intoxicatingly gratifying as it must be to become an artist who has created a universally admired work of art, one of the unintended (and unavoidable) consequences that accompanies such influence is that future generations will never be able to fully understand why your accomplishment was so great. Contextual and generational particulars aside, the result of any influential piece of art is an inevitable wave of artists who attempt to copy and co-opt the most obvious and easily digestible elements of that creative act. In recent years, fans of indie rock have lamented that the evolution of orchestral pop music has eroded the ability of modern listeners to understand how revolutionary the sound of the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds was when it was released in 1966. Try it yourself. Pop ...
Saturday, 01 December 2007 |  Written by K L Poore  | 
The Beatles - HELP! format:    DVD (Dolby Digital 5.1) performance:    10 sound:    10 released:    2007 label:    Apple reviewer:    K L Poore And now for something (nearly) completely different. It's the friggin' Beatles, it's one of my favorite movies of all time fully restored, and its songs have been mixed into 5.1. What do you think I'm gonna say, “Wait for the version they can beam directly into your brain?” It's wonderful. I've watched it at least once a day for the last week. I'm stoked. At this point I'm going to take a break and wait for you to get back from your local super-mega-greed-mart with your copy. Okay, now watch it. This is not a request, and it is not optional. Good. Now, while you're sitting there stupefied by its magnificence, I'm going to toss some random thoughts that I have about HELP! at you. Why this approach? Because I realize ...
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