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Overlooked Classic: New Order's Trenchant debut, "Movement"

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The Scene: Spring, 1980 - England's Joy Division, archetypes of the post-punk/goth-wave scene, are set to go on their first stateside tour in support of the band's newly-released album, Closer. A month prior, the band released the 7" single, "Love Will Tear Us Apart" - a gloomy, synth-laden elegy to a troubled relationship, that would go on to become the band's biggest and most iconic hit. Lead singer Ian Curtis had long differentiated himself from the rest of the post-punk cabal with his brooding monotone, steely, frenetic stage persona (Curtis's epilepsy was a secret even his record label was unaware of), coupled with a palpable angst that made many wonder if it was theatrical artifice, or the soul-baring confessions of a man not at ease within his own skin.

Curtis battled with depression for most of his adult life: one one level, the band was a lifeline, a saving grace - a place he could crawl into to be insular, while still connecting with a youth cu…

Roger Waters and Todd Rundgren: Outspoken Artists or Leftist Crybabies?

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Let's face it: we are living in some very politically-charged times. Seems like the battles lines were writ large with the 2015 US Presidential campaign, where the age of gutter-politics and yellow journalism reached its societal epoch (or should I say nadir?), and it appears there's no turning back. Musicians, always at the forefront of sociopolitical discourse, have spoken out against both injustices they deemed unacceptable, as well as the traditional machinations of the Republic and the elected representatives of that Republic. But while there is a historic precedent between rock'n'roll and the political arena, one has to wonder if at some point, decorum and civility got thrown under the bus.

From the violence-inciting comments of celebs like Madonna (who mused aloud about wanting to "blow up the White House") to the audience backlash hurled at Kanye West when he dared state that perhaps the Democratic party haven't done much to uplift African-America…

WEEKEND RECAP: Lana Del Rey, Pop Tease; Let Us Now Praise Randy Newman

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"My boyfriend's back, and he's cooler than ever/there's no more night, blue skies forever" whispers Lana Del Rey on the title track of her upcoming fifth album, getting high with a little help from The Weeknd, before crooning, "Take off, take off, take off all your clothes......" And there lies the walking contradiction that is Del Rey: she wants to embrace the girl-group ethos of the 60's, so much so, she isn't afraid to name check a song by The Angels, yet not content with that genre's innocence/naivete, she pushes the envelope by pleading for something a little more carnal. So when she says "A lust for life keeps us alive" you find yourself thinking less Iggy Pop, and more Claudine Longet. 
Actually, the Longet analogy is fitting on more levels than one might realize - strip away the contemporary sonic trappings, and you will find the simplicity of 60's pop ingenues Longet, Sinatra (Nancy) and even Petula Clark. The album&#…

Weekend Recap: Record Store Day, Norah Jones, Kill The Alarm

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Saturday marks the ten-year anniversary of Record Store Day, an event which began back in 2007 as an attempt to revitalize the dwindling independent record store business. Since its humble beginnings, when Metallica visited fans at Rasputin Music in San Francisco to promote a limited-run EP produced specifically for the event, Record Store Day has grown from a grass roots Americana gathering to an international sensation, with both independent and major labels getting in on the action.

Adding to the uniqueness of this happening is the fact that audiophiles can grab limited-edition releases, made only available on the day of the event - often containing rare and previously unreleased material which will never see the light of day on an album proper. In fact, this year's roster of commemorative releases is so huge, the PDF on their website is over 8 pages long, and includes both alternative (The Claypool/Lennon Delirium, The Lumineers, Avenged Sevenfold) and major label heavyweights…

Modern English: A Viable Resurgence

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It has come to my attention recently that this month marks the 30-year anniversary of The Joshua Tree, U2's game-changing album that, with a little help from MTV, became a watershed moment for four unassuming lads from Dublin, and would forever inform the musical landscape of 80's rock'n'roll. And so here we are, three decades later - and besides feeling the ravages of time and space, we are also bearing witness to a resurgence of many of the innovative bands ushered in by the era of  The Buggles' "Video Killed The Radio Star" releasing new music for a new generation.

Two such artists in particular, Depeche Mode and Modern English, have given us new albums in 2017 - Spirit, DM's fourteenth CD, comes out at the end of the week. And only weeks earlier, Modern English (best known for the new-wave hit, "I'll Melt With You") quietly dropped the engaging Take Me To The Trees, marking the first new music by members of the original group in near…

Hanging On The Telephone With.........Mike Watt

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My conversation with Mike about "Ring Spiel Tour, '95", politics, music and.......Happy Days?

© Kevin Mazur

DG: Hey Mike, I wanna thank you for sharing some of my work with the blueprint conspiracy (including the collaboration with Morphine's Dana Colley) on your podcast, The Watt From Pedro Show. I'm thrilled to be included with other eclectic artists on your playlists....
MW: Well, I dig the stuff you're doing, man. But I guess we should be talking about the Ring Spiel album right? I'm a little tight on interviews today. Whaddaya want to know?
DG: Correct me if I'm wrong, but the album captures a leg of your tour in 1995 in support of your solo debut, ballhog or tugboat?
MW: Yeah. That tour and album turned twenty-one last year. I guess that makes it legal now. But I mean, you can't call it a solo album.....not really. There's 48 musicians working with me on ball hog or tugboat?. Even if it's "your own band", there's still t…

Ten Albums That Mattered In 2016

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A Moon Shaped Pool • Radiohead -

2011's King of Limbs album felt like Son of Eraser (too much minimal techno beats, not enough gravitas) - in other words, a solo Yorke disc, accompanied by the rest of the band. Luckily, what transpired in the interim was drummer Philip Selway's extraordinary Weatherhouse (which ended up on my Ten Albums That Mattered list in 2014) and much of that record's stately, baroque beauty informs A Moon Shaped Pool. Jonny Greenwood's nuanced orchestrations unveil the affectivity lost from Limbs, the guitars shimmer and strum, their sounds augmenting other instruments, imbued with sonic detritus that instead of overwhelming the songwriting, seasons the overall mortality-gazing angst of Thom Yorke, who was in high Sea Change mode following the dissolution of his longtime relationship. And yet, A Moon Shaped Pool transcends its "breakup album" pathos to become a larger meditation on the fragility of life, ambiguity, regret and consolatio…