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by Erin Darling [23 Nov 2011 | No Comment | 971 views]
Q & A With Musician Keaton Simons

I had the chance to talk to Keaton Simons about upcoming projects, collaborations and his views on the changing face of the music industry. For more on Keaton Simons check him out on Facebook, and be sure to download your copy of “If I Hadn’t Forgotten” on iTunes.

Music, The Critic »

by Rudy Klapper [17 Aug 2011 | No Comment | 936 views]
THE CRITIC: Fountains Of Wayne New Release Tired & Dusty

I am hopelessly addicted to nostalgia. In this I don’t think I’m that much different from the rest of the world. I dread growing older, I have a peculiar affinity for keeping useless junk that long ago grew thick with dust around in various drawers and desk corners, I refuse to throw away concert t-shirts from half a decade ago – in short, I don’t let go of the past easily. It’s a habit I’ve been trying to break, but few things make that harder than music. Listening to Elliott Smith reminds me of a hundred different things, from middle school to break ups, while the Stills remind me of the last summer before college and Cut Copy vividly recreates living in my fraternity house two years ago. Fountains of Wayne, meanwhile, conjures up my first year in high school, a time when I thought I was so fucking cool for listening to Welcome Interstate Managers before “Stacy’s Mom” hit the radio (I’m either the only person to do this or my memory of myself in high school is a lot more flattering than reality). Welcome Interstate Managers was one of the first legit power-pop records I’d ever listened to, and I could have done a lot worse. It’s FoW at their most wry, Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger at the peak of their tongue-in-cheek lyrical powers and with sixteen killer hooks to boot. I bring all this up because, in the context of their follow-ups, 2007’s Traffic and Weather and now Sky Full of Holes, I feel like nostalgia has betrayed me once again.

Music, The Critic »

by Rudy Klapper [21 Jun 2011 | No Comment | 1,504 views]
THE CRITIC: My Morning Jacket Forging New Ground? Not Exactly.

“RIYL: getting reacquainted with your roots, music recorded in a church gymnasium, forging new ground while maintaining a distinct spirit.” The above is loosely taken from a Circuital press release. In related news, marketing is one of the worst professions around. Circuital would have you believe that it’s a reaffirmation of the My Morning Jacket of old, of stellar alt-country gems like At Dawn or Z’s soaring experimental psychedelia, but Circuital is more a weak-kneed reminder of My Morning Jacket’s potential. It’s sort of like looking back on one’s misspent youth and remembering things to be a helluva better than they actually were, or, alternatively, listening back to 2008′s Evil Urges and thinking those funky side trips were actually a good idea.

Music, The Critic »

by Rudy Klapper [21 Jun 2011 | No Comment | 1,178 views]
THE CRITIC: Has Gibbard Been Yokoed?

There’s something to be said about Ben Gibbard’s transformation from a Built to Spill-loving Northwestern weepie to indie rock’s poet laureate. Death Cab for Cutie, for all their splendid musicianship and Chris Walla’s knack for evolving their sound, have always been about Gibbard. Gibbard, bemoaning a meaningless relationship in “Tiny Vessels” or articulating that eternal feeling of moving on that “Photobooth” spoke to so clearly, always so straightforward with his lyrical bloodletting but talented with his knives.

Music, The Critic »

by Rudy Klapper [11 May 2011 | Comments Off | 879 views]
THE CRITIC: New Release From The Antlers Full Of Songs Radiohead Forgot To Put On OK Computer

In an interview with Pitchfork this past January, Antlers frontman Peter Silberman related something Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchinson had told him about performing deeply personal material: “It’s the audience’s now. You’ll sing it to them, but they’re the ones singing it. You can let it go and give it to them.” It’s hard to imagine Silberman standing up night after night and going through Hospice’s litany of heartache, an album that was painful even for an uninterested listener, not to mention the guy who suffered through its creation.

Music, The Critic »

by Rudy Klapper [21 Mar 2011 | No Comment | 1,180 views]
THE CRITIC: Britney Channels Her Inner Dance-Floor Dominatrix On “Femme Fatale”

Britney Spears occupies a weird, unique space in the pop spectrum. She’s been compared to past greats like Madonna and Kylie Minogue, but she lacks the latter’s self-aware creativity and mentioning her in the same breath as the former is, frankly, insulting. A common complaint with Spears is that she doesn’t write her own songs, which, the argument goes, somehow equates to a lack of talent, but the same can be said of Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra… the list goes on. She isn’t blessed with the preternaturally skilled vocals of a Mariah Carey or a Tina Turner, but her music has never been about her voice so much as her personality. And her personality is just what has carried her this far, when contemporaries like Mandy Moore and Christina Aguilera are becoming Starbucks whores and public laughingstocks, respectively. Spears is the ultimate pop chameleon, transforming from sly school girl with enough sexual innuendo to inspire thousands of illegal fantasies to a robotic dance-floor dominatrix, confident enough to overcome tabloid dramas that have ruined lesser stars. In many ways, Spears needed that separation from her past self to become the four-on-the-floor mistress she is on Femme Fatale. Calling Britney a pop singer is doing the term a disservice; she is much more of a pop bellwether, subject to the whims of the Top 40 crowd and more than happy to adapt to environments that have cruelly undone lesser icons. There’s a reason Aguilera’s last album sold barely north of 110,000 copies and Spears’ single “Hold It Against Me” has the most aggressive beat on mainstream radio today. Spears shows a willingness to reinvent herself that belies her fragile personal life and, most importantly, keeps her on the cutting edge of pop music.

Music, The Critic »

by Rudy Klapper [25 Jan 2011 | 2 Comments | 1,905 views]
THE CRITIC: Cold War Kids Vacillate Between Staying True To Their Roots And Widespread Success On “Mine Is Yours”

An eternal question in the indie industry – keep doggedly pursuing your artistic vision, maybe one defined by jagged bursts of post-punk and a singer whose just as likely to veer into screeching wails as he is a soulful hum, or get your shit together and make something perhaps more palatable for your average rock listener? It’s not too hard to see on what side Mine Is Yours falls – producer Jacquire King, whose behind-the-boards work catapulted Kings of Leon from Southern rock also-rans to multi-platinum lords of radio, is on hand, and singer Nathan Willett is content to focus on “love and relationships” in his lyrical matter…

Music, The Critic »

by Rudy Klapper [26 Dec 2010 | One Comment | 1,324 views]
THE CRITIC: Top 30 Best Songs Of 2010

Sometimes the best songs are those that don’t take any extra thought to delve into, any unnecessary analysis or self-introspection. Sometimes the best songs just click, hitting home with visceral emotion and lyrics that don’t skip around the point but take aim right at it. Anyone’s who’ve ever lost someone, whether emotionally or literally, can relate to this song, which speaks to loss and hope better than almost any other song I’ve ever heard. And frankly, that ragged guitar solo is genius.