Author: Matthew Barlow

Stephen Malkmus — Groove Denied

Stephen Malkmus Groove Denied Matador I have to admit to not paying any attention to Stephen Malkmus since the demise of Pavement back in 1999, much to the consternation of my friend, Max.  Max spent a lot of time in the early 00s trying to convince me of Malkmus’ genius with his new band, the Jicks.  But Max also once tried to convince me of the Mouldy Peaches’ greatness.  So there’s that too.  Anyway, I digress.  This is the first time I’ve listened to Malkmus in any serious was since Pavement went kaputski. It seems I picked a good point to re-acquaint myself the man.  In my head, I think of Malkmus and I hear his voice in the county-tinged ‘Range Life’ off Pavement’s second, classic, album, Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, wherein he explains how the Smashing Pumpkins don’t make much sense to him.  His voice is clear and young and kinda bratty.  He was 27.  He’s 52 now.  HIs voice has aged like fine scotch, it’s deeper and I wouldn’t recognize it if I didn’t see the name on the album.  I like this version of Malkmus’ voice. Groove Denied is perhaps his first completely solo album.  His first album after Pavement split, the eponymous one from 2001, was actually recorded by the Jicks, the band he’s worked with since, but Matador wouldn’t release it under that name and...

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The Claypool Lennon Delirium — South of Reality

The Claypool Lennon Delirium South Of Reality ATO Les Claypool is the visionary bassist and leader of the oddball rock band, Primus. Sean Lennon, aside from being the son of royalty (John Lennon and Yoko Ono, if you didn’t know), is an oddball himself, with a long musical career, dating back to the 90s in Cibo Matto and as a solo artist. They met during a 2015 tour consisting of Primus, Lennon’s The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, and Dinosaur, Jr. Claypool and Lennon stayed in touch and, presto blammo, The Claypool Lennon Delirium, a delicious compound of psychedelia, released their first album, Monolith of Phobos in 2016, following that with an ep, Lime and Limpid Green in 2017. South of Reality, though, is where things really start to come together for Claypool and Lennon. On the first album and ep, it seems that they were mostly noodling around in a studio, the songs lacking structure and being somewhat haphazard. But, here, they explode out of the speakers into a retro 60s psych stomp. It certainly helps that Lennon sounds so much like his dad it’s kind of scary, so you always have this Beatlesque feeling, but the music is weirder and more psychedelic than the Beatles ever could be. On South of Reality, two musicians known for their oddball and avant-garde leanings (Lennon is, after all, also...

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Bob Mould — Sunshine Rock

Bob Mould Sunshine Rock Merge Last week, my students and I were discussing the fact that it is rare for an artist to have a more successful career after leaving their original band.  We noted the likes of Morrissey, André 3000 or Big Boi, and the only one we could come up with who was more successful as a solo artist was Beyoncé, who, of course, was once in Destiny’s Child, or John Lydon, née, Rotten, though Public Image Ltd. has never had the cultural caché of the Sex Pistols.  I might have noted Bob Mould, but none of...

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RIP Mark Hollis: A Tribute to Talk Talk’s Laughing Stock

Mark Hollis has died. Apparently he battled a short illness and did not recover.  He was 64.  Hollis had more or less vanished from the public eye in the late 90s, retiring from music after his phenomenal solo album came out in 1998.  With his band Talk Talk, Hollis (along with drummer Lee Harris and bassist Paul Webb, who goes under the name Rustin Man as a solo artist, he released a new one a couple of weeks ago), Hollis delivered a series of Top 10 pop hits in the early part of the decades.  Talk Talk is perhaps most famous for ‘It’s My Life,’ a song later butchered by No Doubt. But towards the end of the 1980s, Hollis took Talk Talk in a different direction.  This really began with their 1986 album, The Colour of Spring, which was also their best-selling, most successful album of their career.  But by 1988’s Spirit of Eden, Talk Talk had become a more experimental, deeper band.  Spirit of Eden confounded critics and the public, though it is generally regarded as a classic now.  Webb left after Spirit of Eden, leaving just Harris and Hollis to carry on. And carry on they did, delivering one of the greatest albums of all-time in 1991, with Laughing Stock.  Hollis is generally regarded as the inventor of post-rock, a music form that became immensely popular in the early aughts, most notably...

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LCD Soundsystem — Electric Lady Sessions

LCD Soundystem Electric Lady Sessions DFA/Columbia LCD Soundystem went on self-enforced hiatus in 2011 before re-surfacing with 2017’s brilliant american dream.  This album is meant as a live document, recorded on the floor of the venerable New York studio, built back in 1967 by Jimi Hendrix in Greenwich Village.  It was recorded at the end of the long tour behind american dream, and has the sound of a band well in tune and comfortable with each other.  It sounds tight, in other words. Sessions is bookended by covers, opening with Human League’s, ‘Seconds,’ and finishing with Heaven 17’s ‘(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thing.’  ‘Seconds’ was originally written as a meditation on the assassination of JFK, but here, in LCD head honcho James Murphy’s monotonal voice, the chorus of ‘It took seconds of your time to take his life.’  Here, it is recast against the endless gun violence of the United States, which sees around 40,000 of us die per year.  As for ‘Fascist Groove Thing,’ The Guardian reminds us that it was once banned by the BBC. The album kind of stumbles with the second track, ‘american dream,’ which I have always found to be, well, boring and kind of flaccid.  But the Soundsystem recovers almost immediately with one of my all-time favourites of their oeuvre, ‘You Wanted a Hit’ from 2010’s most excellent ‘This Is Happening,’ which is one of my...

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