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There's no disputing that Neil Young is an excellent songwriter (when he wants to be), but that doesn't mean every microtone in his songbook has been created equal – in fact, on an album-by-album basis, the singer has gone through cycles of good and bad. In his 40-some-year career, Young seems to have followed a similar arc at every turn: he has released documents of jaw-dropping craft and insight and that strength has endured for a few successive releases before...

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Sunday, 31 May 2009
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There are a dozen perfectly plausible reasons why Marilyn Manson's stature in both pop music and pop culture has depreciated so dramatically over the last decade or so. It could be that, after the classic line-up of the band imploded (shortly after Holy Wood in 2000), the pieces just weren't aligning properly and singer Brian Warner floundered because he was left all too much to his own devices. It could be that, after George W. Bush took office, Manson's audience...

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Sunday, 31 May 2009
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Over the last few years, both musicians and the publicity companies with which they work have gone to great lengths to recast the popular image of the average rock star. The portrait of a musician as a decadent, aloof and untouchable aesthete has definitely fallen out of fashion as a series of working class heroes (scan Tim Armstrong of Rancid, James Jackson Toth of Wooden Wand, Sam Beam of Iron & Wine or Brian Fallon of Gaslight Anthem for samples)...

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Saturday, 30 May 2009
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There seemed to be several different motivations fueling the show on Friday night at Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, CA. At times, it felt like a bona-fide, big-talent rock show and yet my fear was that the tour was simply conceived so that the creative moniker “NIN|JA” could be pressed into use. For Street Sweeper Social Club, thankfully abbreviated to “SSSC” emblazoned on their matching black and red jackets, the day was about a new band of veterans proving themselves...

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Friday, 29 May 2009
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Following Dave Gahan's diagnosis and continuing recovery from the removal of a malignant tumor in his bladder, Depeche Mode is announcing rescheduled dates for their currently on-hold summer tour. On doctor's orders, Gahan is resting until June 8th, when the band will perform their scheduled date in Leipzig, Germany. Rescheduled dates (and explanations) follow from the press release: May 30thLondon O2 is postponed and will be rescheduled to a new date, which will be announced shortly. Tickets purchased will remain...

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Thursday, 28 May 2009
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Those in attendance at Oakland’s recently spiffed-up Fox Theater were witness to a veritable menagerie and quite the spectacle of a live show. In support of their latest album The Hazards of Love, The Decemberists, fronted by consummate storyteller Colin Meloy, brought this creation to life for the sold-out crowd. The concept album, originally imagined by Meloy as a musical, was performed in its entirety and followed by a second, full set of songs from previous albums as well as...

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Wednesday, 27 May 2009
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Oh, what a corner Green Day found it had painted itself into following the release of American Idiot. When that album came out, it seemed like the greatest triumph the band had ever achieved; the band's initial foray into the concept album format was welcomed with open arms, yielded blockbuster singles in the title track and “Holiday” as well as a respectable follow-up in “Wake Me When September Ends,” the record sold 267, 000 copies in its first week of...

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Wednesday, 27 May 2009
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It’s been said before, I’m sure, but Mike Watt needs no introduction. If the name doesn’t sound familiar to you, a quick search on Wikipedia will change your perspective on that name. The important thing to me on May 1st was that I was going to meet Mike Watt and talk with him briefly about his previous and upcoming projects. Unexpectedly, the difficult part was finding him. When we entered the venue (well before doors opened), we were confronted with...

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Monday, 25 May 2009
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Inspiration is a funny thing—a remarkably capricious beast to try and pin down. If one asks them, most musicians tend to make one particular sound the focal point of their interest; it inspires them, consumes them, drives them and acts as a springboard for their own work that, while it might incorporate other sounds in its periphery or grow in other directions, simply could not have existed were it not for that “one thing” that overtook their imagination initially. The...

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Saturday, 23 May 2009
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After the red hot and poetic political dismissal she expunged in 2007's American Doll Posse (one of the most prescient and incendiary commentaries to be released in the twilight of George W. Bush's presidency), Tori Amos hasn't so much returned to center for Abnormally Attracted To Sin as she has continued running – pushing boundaries and exploring new terrain. While, granted, the album does cast passing glances to the singer's former songwriting territories (“Maybe California” and “That Guy” could...

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Wednesday, 20 May 2009