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Reviewing The Klaatu Discography [1976-81]

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Klaatu (aka: 3:47 EST) [1976] - The album that started it all: from the circuitous rumors surrounding the group's members (probably didn't help that Klaatu was on the same label as The Beatles, Capitol) to the deliciously Beatlesque minor single, "Sub Rosa Subway", Klaatu's debut not only showcases the musical dexterity of the band, but as pop albums go in general, is one very impressive album. From the ambitious opener, "Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft" to the Beach Boys-inspired "California Jam", Klaatu seamlessly integrates the classic rock of the 60's and 70's, while their songcraft is equally on-par with the sonic influences on display. The delightful "Doctor Marvello" is a sonic collage of psychedelia (from the backwards piano-chord intro to the shimmering sitar filigrees and reverse-engineered guitar to the Turtles-influenced harmonies circa "You Showed Me"), while the goofy "Sir Bodsworth Rugg…

December Edition: Beck's Pop Sellout, Klaatu Revisited

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Beck Colors (Capitol/Fonograf Records) -

After 2014's gorgeous but highly derivative love-letter to 70's AM pop, Morning Phase(which snagged him a Grammy for Album Of The Year), one would've expected Beck to get his freak flag back on, and deliver an au courant, stylistically eclectic and, well, challenging follow-up. Instead, on Colors, Beck appears to acknowledge how much the pop landscape evolved in the 40 plus years since that decade held sway on album and radio charts. That is to say, Colors is as contemporary as anything dominating Billboards Hot 100, and frankly, by extension, everything about today's music worthy of (a much overdue) critique.

Working (and co-writing) with producer Greg Kurstin (Adele, Gwen Stefani) Beck's wordplay on Colorsis deceptively analytical of the pop pastiches it cheerfully embraces, which makes this either ironic, or merely schizophrenic. "I'm on a one-man waiting list/I'm bored again/I've buried all my memories&q…

Steven Wilson Plays It (Mostly) Safe On "To The Bone"

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Steven Wilson - To The Bone (Caroline International)

Somewhere in a parallel universe, Steven Wilson's seminal band Porcupine Tree would occupy the same stratosphere of exalted recognition as Radiohead: indeed, Wilson was delivering his brand of sonic wizardry as Thom Yorke and Co. were just embarking on their journey toward becoming so fucking special. As a prog rock/art rock savant, Wilson's penchant for embracing elements of folk, progressive rock and ambient/cinematic textures made such albums as Signify, In Absentia, and Fear of a Blank Planet light years ahead of their time.

Considering Wilson's resumé includes internships with the likes of King Crimson, Opeth, Yoko Ono and others, it's surprising he would feel the need to dissolve Porcupine Tree to focus on a solo career - though Wilson has never publicly stated Porcupine Tree was a closed chapter. Nonetheless, Wilson's stepping into the spotlight by name has caused more folks to sit up and take notice. Taki…

2018 RNRHOF Nominees: Nice Choices, But You're Still A Sham(e)

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Dear Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:

How can I put this? In the lexicon of artistic redemption, you remain forever tainted. And not just because of your bullshit concerning why The Monkees aren't worthy of induction, but Madonna and Run DMC are - although that's as good an example as any. I notice your 2018 nominees list includes some aesthetically worthy names, but your modus operandi remains unchanged, and until the voting body of your nebulous 'foundation' actually rights past wrongs, no amount of lofty acknowledgment and praise will tame the stench of your politically-motivated, inconsistent, and thinly-veiled biases.

This announcement (serving as a precursor to who will actually be deemed worthy to enter your (s)hallowed halls) is little more than a teaser, for just because an artist is nominated, it doesn't insure the majority of music industry illuminati will agree upon giving such recognition - after all, repeat nominees appear on this year's roster, as has…

U2, Quicksand Offer Glimpses (Via Video) Of Their Upcoming Albums

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So I'm sitting here, listening to "The Blackout" - a live performance video from the monolith known as U2, and two things immediately spring to mind: one, U2 still knows how to bring it in a concert setting (which should be surprising, given the Dublin foursome have been at this for nearly 40 years), and two, (and this part is gonna infuriate many) this new tune from the forthcoming Songs Of Experience wouldn't seem the least bit out of place on All You Need Is Now, the Mark Ronson-produced album by Duran Duran. You heard me.....I said Duran Duran. And I don't mean that as the pejorative you might think I'm suggesting.

When I reviewed DD's 2010 release, I subtitled it, How To Dismantle A Pop Myth. The U2 comparison then was also deliberate, as I was pointing out that both bands have a viscously loyal following - that is, so long as they adhere to the 'formula' their fans expect; as it turns out, both bands released a couple of daring, experimental…

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…