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Gogol Bordello – Pura Vida Conspiracy album review

The difference between disliking a band and respecting a band is an important one. If there is sufficient evidence that a certain group is a bunch of talentless hacks, than there’s nothing wrong with saying so. Being second-rate, by the way, has nothing to do with character and everything to do with artistry. Criticism need not be personal.  Over the last decade or so, Gogol Bordello has built up a reputation as an eccentric group of gypsy punks who are very talented at the stirring the pop cultural pot. Their…

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Lightning Dust – Fantasy album review

Fantasy does not wait to tantalize and seduce.  Amber Webber has the poppy, sensationalistic voice that goes well with this sort of minimalist, trance-inducing, dream pop. From the start, you get the sense that the band will not go on any self-indulgent tangents, a very promising sign for a full-length listening session. In an era where the hip way to musically masturbate is via Macbooks, Lightning Dust do not overstay their welcome or go on long monologues about trivial events in their day. They satisfy the listener with standard indie…

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Gentlemen Prefer Blondes – Northern Lights album review

When you’re young and you have recently discovered vulgarity, you jump at any chance to exclaim swift and stern judgments concerned with taste in popular culture. Like Cartman in South Park who, during an episode modeled after Lord of the Rings, asks another group of kids, “What are you guys playing?” your lack of nuance is a source of endless humor. When they respond, “Harry Potter,” without missing a beat, Cartman says, “Ha! Fags,” a moment that the twelve year in all of us relates to. In a country that…

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Cuttooth – Cuttooth album review

A friend of mine, who just so happens to be a world-renowned tobacco connoisseur, introduced to me to the pleasures of trip-hop, IDM, and downtempo artists off of labels like Warp and Ninja Tune. Though a lot of this music might induce sensual feelings or contribute to the swanky atmosphere of a romantic rendezvous, Cuttooth, who sound like many of those bands, are also ideal for other activities, like smoking hookah. A great deal of chilled out electronic artists like this are instrumental, however, Cuttooth features three different female vocalists…

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Various Artists – Arts & Crafts: X album review

Arts and Crafts: X is a collection of collaborative efforts from various artists off of the Toronto-based Arts and Crafts label. With a combination of covers and originals, the LP still has a cohesive feel to it. Moody, reflective, and somber tracks fill this record, remaining, for the most part, within the realm of indie rock, pop and folk. Some tracks are much stronger than others, as is to be expected on a release of this type. The slow tempo throughout increases the always present urge, on repeated listens, to just…

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Queens of the Stone Age – … Like Clockwork album review

Though their sound may remind you of the Clinton Administration, on … Like Clockwork, Queens of the Stone Age deliver a quality album that entertains without gimmicks or tricks. Music critics, in their heroic efforts to dissect music, often go astray. As they crucify or exalt or shrug at the music that they are reviewing, they often forget that, at the end of the day, what they are writing about is entertainment. And while pop musicians may provide us with important messages, enhance our livelihoods with their musical genius, create…

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The Chameleons – Dreams in Celluloid: A Collection of Rare Recordings album review

For fans of the cult film Donnie Darko, this release may be a pleasant surprise. Richard Kelly’s 2001 film uses the music of many bands that sound like The Chameleons, but who received more commercial success: Joy Division, Echo & the Bunnymen, The Church. A lot of these bands are British, and there’s a Thatcher era gloom to them that still resonates, thanks to the continuation of neoliberal financialization. But the current economic climate is not the only reason that this release still sounds good today. There is a violent desperation…

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The Airborne Toxic Event – Such Hot Blood album review

At various times throughout their third studio album Such Hot Blood, The Airborne Toxic Event sound similar to other contemporary bands. At times, vocalist Mike Jollet groans like Matt Berninger of The National, shouts with unrequited passion like Win Butler of Arcade Fire, or mimics the anthemic cries of folk-pop groups like Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes or Mumford & Suns. But most of the time, their sound resembles the latter two groups, with their sweeping, elated crescendoes that could move you to go on a long road trip somewhere…

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Kisses – Kids in LA album review

Residents of Northern California are known, from time to time, to belittle their neighbors to the south. Los Angeles, the city that intellectuals love to hate, is an emblem of the stereotypical, vapid SoCal lifestyle. There’s an old joke about the difference between New York and Los Angeles, the two most populated U.S. cities. When its seventy degrees in LA, the joke goes, its two degrees in New York. But if you meet seventy interesting people in New York, you meet two in LA. Kids in LA, the second LP of…

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