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Tuesday, 01 April 2008 |  Written by Matt Fink  | 
Goldfrapp - Seventh Tree Though musical chameleons often rank among the most revered songwriters in the pop canon, earning accolades for their ability to retain their core aesthetic while reinventing themselves, not every artist can be David Bowie or Beck. Just as rare but no less daring are the artists who make a mid-career stylistic shift and decide to stay there for a few years, issuing a series of albums that make it seem as if the earlier incarnation of the band never existed at all. Consider the Bee Gees, an act that sold millions of albums in their previous life as a psych-pop band, becoming the pied pipers of a disco revolution. Or take Genesis’ turn toward a mainstream synth-pop after having earned their reputation as one of their era’s definitive prog rock bands. Though shorter in duration, Goldfrapp’s relocation from the inhibited ...
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Tuesday, 01 April 2008 |  Written by Matt Fink  | 
Matt Costa - Unfamiliar Faces Self awareness might be the ultimate end goal of psychoanalysis, but for songwriters it’s not always a good thing. In fact, the pop music canon is littered with artists who created great art because, not in spite of, their lack of insight into their own personal oddness. Consider Daniel Johnston or Wesley Willis. Sure, both had some mental health issues to deal with, but there’s little denying that their songwriting succeeded mostly because they didn’t realize that writing songs about superheroes and McDonalds was outside of the range of normal songwriting topics. Take Ol’ Dirty Bastard, a man whose outrageously oversized persona couldn’t have been contrived, or think of the Shaggs, the ‘60s sister trio who played out of tune and wrote songs about their pets. These are artists who simply can’t help but make music that completely reflects every ...
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Tuesday, 01 April 2008 |  Written by Matt Fink  | 
Various Artists - Encyclopedia Ashtmatica Once an integral element in the marketing of any artist, now a vestige of an outdated modality, the music video lives on mostly because musicians can’t bear to give them up. Sure, an eye-catching concept or photogenic artist can garner some extra attention, and there is no shortage of online venues that make even the most obscure band’s videos available, but the era of the video was long ago eclipsed with an endless barrage of reality TV dramas and reruns of Flavor of Love. While indie rock has made unprecedented inroads to mainstream success, current television programming tastes ensure that you’re unlikely to come across any artist from an independent label on basic cable. But the allure of the music video persists, and even artists who have virtually no chance of making a video that will be seen by more ...
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Saturday, 01 March 2008 |  Written by Matt Fink  | 
Ghostland Observatory - Robotique Majestique Though no studio album can fully recreate the collective energy and creative spontaneity that is shared between artist and audience when a performance unfolds in real time, you do have to be suspicious when you hear someone say of a band, “Their albums suck, but they’re amazing live.” From the Grateful Dead to just about every artist whose main gift is improvisation, the argument goes that the creative act is the pure and undiluted moment, something that pushes music into a transcendent realm that is beyond anything that can be captured on tape (or hard drives) in sterile and controlled rooms. No doubt, the craft of album-making and the art of live performance are different disciplines, and musicians naturally have varying strengths that show themselves in different settings, but a concert is ultimately an ephemeral experience that can only be ...
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Saturday, 01 March 2008 |  Written by Matt Fink  | 
Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend It’s hard to know exactly when it happened, but at some point in the early 2000s there was a seismic shift in the indie rock aesthetic. For 25 years the influence of the Velvet Underground had loomed so large over the underground that nearly every band – from Mission of Burma to Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo to Pavement – had to go through the Velvets to find themselves, and as recently as the late ‘90s it didn’t appear that fuzzy guitars, deadpan vocals and outsider sentiments were in any danger of relinquishing their hold on the music made for and listened to by those ideologically opposed to Top 40 radio. But with the advent of peer-to-peer trading networks, independent music began to change, slowly but perceptibly, and a new generation of bands began to spring up that looked to ...
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