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Oct 2010 15

by Brett Warner

Indie folk troubadour Sufjan Stevens has a new album called The Age of Adz and despite what the iTunes Store and Amazon.com will tell you, it is not “alternative rock.” The Age of Adz is a big, loud, messy electronic record with gurgling, buzzing synths and sputtering, almost glitchcore/IDM drum programming. To say it diverges from Sufjan’s previously established sound – alternately precious and pretentious acoustic pop with a predilection for Christ and state trivia – is a gross understatement that leads me to an all-too common musicologist dilemma: What type of music is this, exactly?

With the iTunes Library all but replacing the traditional wooden shelf strewn with LPs, CDs, and a stray cassette tape or too, anal-retentive music geeks find themselves in a perpetual pickle: Right click to update an album’s info and you’ve got to decide then and there what genre category this belongs to. How specific should one get? Is “80s Manchester post-punk” really necessary, or will “rock” suffice? Additionally, what do these genre and subgenre tags even mean – really? When forced to, few record collectors can really offer a distinction between, let’s say, “shoegaze” and “dream pop” or “IDM” and “glitchcore.” The intense breakdown of musical styles leads to a massive barrage of labels and movements, one that’s maddening to keep straight. Not to mention the plain fact that not all bands (certainly not the best ones) really adhere to a single sound. There’s also economics to consider – Sonic Youth and R.E.M. signed to major labels half-way into their careers, so is it a misnomer to consider them “indie” or “alternative”?

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Oct 2010 15

by Nicole Powers

“The actual point of politics is lost.”

– 3D (a.k.a. Robert Del Naja)

‘You’re only paranoid if they’re not out to get you,’ is an adage that’s self-evidently true. With that as a given, Massive Attack mainstay 3D (a.k.a. Robert Del Naja) has every right to feel more than a little suspicious and mistrustful, especially when it comes to matters of internet privacy, security and surveillance.

After the FBI passed on a list of 7,300 UK credit card numbers associated with various porn sites (some legal and some of an illicit nature) to UK authorities, 3D was swept up in the excessively wide net of an indiscriminate police sting in 2003. Though allegations of any wrongdoing were unfounded, the repercussions were severe for the outspoken graffiti artist, vocalist and music producer. His home was raided, and all his computers and hard drives were confiscated for several months. To compound the situation, despite the fact that no charges directly relating to the police operation were ever filed, the furor that surrounded the investigation and baseless accusations (which were leaked and sensationally reported by a tabloid newspaper) meant that touring plans to promote Massive Attack’s fourth studio album 100th Window had to be put on hold. The situation was all the more ironic considering the title of that album referred to a book that exposed the flaws in computer security and the rampant misuse of information in the internet age.

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Oct 2010 14

by AJ Focht

The time warp has flipped and landed The Rocky Horror Picture Show at its 35th anniversary. Marking three and a half decades as the premier cult classic, the “sweet transvestites from Transsexual, Transylvania” are celebrating by invading your homes. Comic-Con 2010 brought the announcement that Glee would be doing a RHPS episode (which is set to air on Oct 26th), and now it has been confirmed that Dr. Frank-N-Furter & Co. will also be taking over your games console with a Guitar Hero track pack.

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Oct 2010 14

by Nicole Powers

“Acceptance was the key for me.”

– Cherie Currie

You can’t always control the situations you find yourself in, but you can control how you react to them. This is a lesson that Runaways frontwoman, singer and rock & roll icon Cherie Currie learned the hard way.

After a chance meeting with vocalist/guitarist Joan Jett and demented pop n’ rock Svengali Kim Fowley (a producer whose credits at the time included the novelty hit “They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa”), Currie found herself at the eye of the storm that was The Runaways at age fifteen. The year was 1975, and the male-dominated industry was keen to dismiss the fledgling Los Angeles-based all-girl quintet (which, during Currie’s tenure with the group, featured Lita Ford on lead guitar, Jackie Fox on bass, and the late Sandy West on drums).

Under the guidance (or, it could be argued, misguidance) of Fowley, who was a formidable taskmaster, the girls relentlessly rehearsed until they were a beyond tight unit and a force to be reckoned with. Creatively and musically, Fowley’s berating and bullying – his primary motivational tactics – paid off. Over the course of the next two very hectic years The Runaways would leave an indelible mark on the music industry, smashing the misconceptions of those who ever doubted that women could rock.

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Oct 2010 13

by Nicole Powers

“I’m just going to have to accept that maybe I’m funky.”

– Sia Furler

Having come to the attention of the KCRW-listening, latte-sipping music intelligentsia thanks to her turns with English post-trip-hop outfit Zero 7, for a while Sia was inadvertently defined by what was initially intended as a very limited, no-strings-attached guest spot with the lush lounge combo. Thanks to the success of Zero 7’s debut album Simple Things (2001), and their follow up release, When It Falls (2004), and the numerous international tours that followed, Sia’s personal brand became synonymous with the downtempo pigeonhole Zero 7 prominently occupied.

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Oct 2010 12

by Jay Hathaway

“Maybe the mustache will ultimately prove a useful analog for the music.”

– Chris Cain, bassist

We Are Scientists are known for making straightforward pop-rock, but they’re not known for giving straightforward answers in interviews. I didn’t want to be the millionth person to ask “Are you really scientists?,” so I set out to find the answer on my own. After reading through several conflicting accounts of the band’s various areas of scientific expertise, I finally found the answer. A piece from the college magazine at Pomona, the California school where the band originally formed, revealed that guitarist Keith Murray and bassist Chris Cain weren’t actually science majors of any sort. Well played, guys.

Needless to say, We Are Scientists like to keep people guessing. They first broke out in the UK with 2005’s formidable collection of indie-pop, With Love and Squalor. The 2008 follow-up, a less upbeat but more lyrically complex record called Brain Thrust Mastery, also climbed the British charts. A predictable band would stick with a major label and put out another album following the same formula. This is no predictable band.

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