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There are some things that – before you hear anything from the album, before you even see the track list of what’s on it – just look classic. The design of a set – the tasteful layout, dark monochrome photo on the front of an embossed tin box – are instantly attractive and everyone that sees it, whether they’re fans or not, has to have a look. That’s the feeling you get when you take in Sony’s Johnny Cash –...

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Sunday, 30 November 2008
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The problem for a modern artist who fetishizes a deceased musical subgenre—punk, proto-metal, no wave, bouncy '60s pop, etc. ad infinitum—is that it's basically impossible to grow as an artist. The people who pioneered the sounds you're aping made only a few records in the milieu that fascinates you before moving on to something else. The Sex Pistols self-destructed. Sabbath lost Ozzie and then Ronnie, and then broke up. The Kinks became a country band. The challenge for contemporary artists,...

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Saturday, 29 November 2008
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After the fantastic electro clash-infused, club-cavorting flop that 2007’s Blackout turned out to be, which happened to coincide with her spectacular swan dive from grace in front of a succession of camera lenses, even Britney Spears’ most devout fans were checking their watches to see if her high time was over. Were that the case, all that would’ve remained was to release one last album that could function as the soundtrack to the singer/starlet’s final train wreck ending and call...

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Friday, 28 November 2008
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There are some bands that, as sticky-sweet as they are, have no obvious edge of cynicism or irony anywhere in their music and so, because of that, casting disparaging criticisms in the direction of any sound they make is akin to kicking a puppy – such actions will invariably backfire and place the character of the criticizer into question.  Such is the case with The Bicycles; premier purveyors of extraordinarily innocent pop that gets played the way it does because...

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Friday, 28 November 2008
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There is both an up and a downside to being in a band with a distinct look and sound. On one hand, being unique means that your music and image are instantly synonymous with the name which ostensibly means that there is an instantly recognizable brand in play that means even those unfamiliar with your music can figure out what you’re doing and thus make the decision if that kind of show fits in with what they like; that’s a...

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Thursday, 27 November 2008
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While the term gets thrown around so much that its value  has been diminished exponentially, Ani DiFranco has discovered what it truly means to have a “life-altering event.” Typically speaking, a life-altering event tends to be one that, when it happens, makes you stop what you’re doing, look up and take stock of what your life has meant to that point, where you are versus where you thought you’d be, and what value the actions and achievements you’ve made have...

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Wednesday, 26 November 2008
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When Nickelback released All The Right Reasons in 2005, they surprised detractors by spontaneously evolving beyond the regretful, hard-feelings driven and sexually degrading rock the made their name on and got reflective; looking inward as well as out and actually exhibiting a heart in tracks like “If Everyone Cared,” “Savin’ Me,” “Photograph” and “Rockstar” which made it seem like All The Right Reasons might be the most genuine document that the crotch-grabbing brothers Kroeger had ever...

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Wednesday, 26 November 2008
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For a good half a decade, Belle & Sebastian made the kind of florid, ramshackle indie pop that hadn't been seen since the first few albums by the Smiths. While they didn't have a white hot guitar player, they did have an unerring sense of melody and melancholy and the kind of downtrodden, poetic-leaning lyrical bite that was both weirdly androgynous and all too smart. Their low, low profile, use of early '60s typefaces, and monochromatic album art gave them...

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Wednesday, 26 November 2008
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Since appearing with Definitely Maybe in 1994, tabloids the world over have (in some cases) built empires upon the tempestuous sibling rivalry of Oasis’ brothers Gallagher and the exploits that such behavior has driven them to. Some of those stories – like when Noel took the stage alone to perform a high-profile acoustic show because his brother was AWOL only to discover that Liam was in attendance and heckling him very loudly from the back of the room – are...

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Wednesday, 26 November 2008
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It’s really unfortunate that Against Me! made the jump to a major label when they did, it meant that an exponentially larger group of people were able to bear witness to the band’s single greatest creative folly or – worse – became fans of the band on the basis of an album that grossly misrepresented them. Long-time fans squawked pretty loudly at the slick, shiny, glossy and politically mute offering (at the worst imaginable time in American history! The field...

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Tuesday, 25 November 2008