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No matter who you are or which philosophy you subscribe to, there's no arguing that fifteen years is a long time. Especially now – when the internet and diminished attention spans have reduced Andy Warhol's vaunted “fifteen minutes of fame” to as many nanoseconds or mouse clicks – a band trying to orchestrate a return after fifteen years of functional inactivity is staring down an imposing list of unknowns. Relying on name recognition only goes so far and trying to...

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Wednesday, 23 March 2011
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I will openly admit that I arrived "late to the party" when it comes to Dropkick Murphys, and only really took notice of them after they were included in Scorsese's 2006 film, The Departed. Fortunately, they appear to be pulling off a feat that is difficult for most bands: aging gracefully while maintaining their edge. Maybe it's their blue collar work ethic, maybe it's just that they're smart enough to not mess with their sound or maybe it's just the...

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Wednesday, 23 March 2011
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I have been, and probably always will be, a sucker for ridiculously long-winded, painfully detailed stories, sentences and names. Whether it’s David Foster Wallace’s unique and cerebral form of prose in his bible-length novel Infinite Jest with sentences that top out at over two-hundred words, the Mexican grindcore outfit Paracoccidioidomicosisproctitissarcomucosis, or A Silver Mt. Zion’s first album He Has Left Us Alone But Shafts Of Light Sometimes Grace The Corner Of Our Rooms, I realize I’m gravitating toward these...

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Tuesday, 22 March 2011
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There are few devices in the English language and arts more regularly abused by bands than irony. It happens so regularly that it would be easy to assume the logic behind it goes something like, “We've got this idea that we want to try, but would likely be mocked mercilessly if we pursued it. That would be bad, but it's so bright and shiny and interesting! How can we make it work? Maybe if we add irony, it'll be a...

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Tuesday, 22 March 2011
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My pen name for my Ground Control column is The Aging Punk. Not The Aging Hippie, and certainly not The Aging Folkie. Much of my youth was spent actively fleeing and/or fighting the music presented on this disc, so it is surprising how much I enjoyed it. In its' commercial release, this CD accompanies a DVD documentary about The Troubadour, the Los Angeles club which helped launch the careers of so many singer/songwriters in the early Seventies. Unluckily, I wasn’t...

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Monday, 21 March 2011
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For his major label debut, Sam Beam of Iron & Wine told Spin that he wanted to make a record that “sounds like the music people heard in their parents' car growing up… that early-to-mid-‘70s FM, radio-friendly music.” I'd argue that this has always been at the core of his sound anyway, starting with the stripped down recordings of his earlier work and continuing through the country-infused sound of 2007's The Shepard's Dog. He returns with Kiss Each Other Clean,...

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Sunday, 20 March 2011
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Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit have returned with Here We Rest, a southern-soul album recorded in their northern Alabama home of Muscle Shoals. It's an odd coincidence that Isbell's former band, Drive-By Truckers, has just released a new album (Go-Go Boots) focused on exploring the softer side of their sound. For the Truckers, this is likely a one-record deal, but Isbell seems to be moving in this softer direction permanently. Here We Rest’s sourthern-soul focus is far removed from...

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Sunday, 20 March 2011
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As big a deal as The Strokes have been on the international rock scene for the last ten years, some people (this writer included) have been left cold and put off by the band. Why? From day one, the argument could be (and was, regularly) made that the band just sounded a little too proud of themselves and sure of their own stature as “rock gods.” This was true from the moment Is This It hit airwaves in 2001 and...

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Saturday, 19 March 2011
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Hey there all you fine, upstandin' people, Sorry I'm a day late, but I hadda see a guy about a thing – ya know how it is. I may be a day late, but ain't comin' up short for ya, that's fo' sho' – innis issue o' da SWAG Report, I gotcha forty-six tracks o' da finest dope ya ever heard, an' even if ya dunno alla the artists that made it, trust me – ya should getcherself acquainted because...

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Friday, 18 March 2011
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Lengthening shadows stretching towards the dark edge of a sunset. That feeling when your heart sinks into your stomach. Horrifying. Bleak. Miserable. Beautiful. It can be tough to describe an album that hardly has words of its' own. Mamiffer’s newest album, Mare Decendrii, paints a vast landscape that engulfs your mind, guiding your imagination along every step of the way. The album starts out with a wailing guitar and dissonant piano, giving way to bass and little sprinkles of melody....

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Thursday, 17 March 2011