Author: David Medsker

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Song of the Day: Home Video, “Forget”

Marshall Crenshaw told us that every musician has an internal clock that tells them when it’s time to make a new record. For the New York electronic duo Home Video, their clock is clearly set to four years, because their (fabulous) sophomore album The Automatic Process was released four years after their debut No Certain Night or Morning, and here we are four years later, and the band is about to release their third album, Here in Weightless Fall. The band’s love for atmospherics and slow buildups remains, but for the lead single “Forget,” they work in a dash of melancholia, and the end result is audio catnip. Some bands don’t like this word – though we’re not sure why – but “Forget” is arguably the most accessible song the band has ever done. Armed with a pulsing drum track, sparse percussion, and that minor key melody, “Forget” is the kind of song that will cause people to do anything but. Get on the bandwagon now while there’s still room.

Art Decade Band

CD Review: Art Decade, “Art Decade”

If there is a universal truth among people who dedicate their lives to music, either the creation of it or the consumption it, it is that each generation bemoans the slow but gradual decline in the art of songwriting. Perhaps the greatest declaration of this took place during the 2007 World Series of Pop Culture on VH-1. Two groups of trivia buffs, people who had dedicated their lives to knowing everything worth knowing about pop culture, were asked to guess the name of a hit from 2006 (the previous year, mind you), when given a piece of the lyrics. Neither team got a single one right. Finally, one of the contestants said to the host, “I don’t mean to sound like an old fogey, but today’s songs are terrible!” The crowd erupted into applause, and curiously, there was no 2008 World Series of Pop Culture. All of this is a (very) roundabout way of saying that when it comes to songwriting, Art Decade do not share the standards of their peers. (Clue #1 to the …

Duran_Diamond

Duran Duran: “A Diamond in the Mind” DVD

It’s strange to see Duran Duran churning out live videos every other album like some New Romantic version of the Dave Matthews Band, but at the same time, it makes perfect sense. They’re coming off their best reviews since 1982 with last year’s All You Need Is Now, and when the new songs are mixed in with the old ones, it would be difficult for someone unfamiliar with the band to know which songs came from which period. (They also stand to make more money from DVDs such as this now that they are their own bosses, but that is another story for another day.) The video they assembled from the Astronaut tour was very good, but with “A Diamond in the Mind,” Duran Duran are riding on momentum rather than the nostalgia that dominated the Astronaut tour, and that has to be a good feeling. It certainly looks like it feels good. What this set means for collectors is yes, you get yet another version of “Rio,” “Hungry Like the Wolf,” “Notorious,” “The Reflex,” …

Popdose Flashback ’91: Squeeze, “Play”

This album, for all intents and purposes, saved my life.

Here’s the back story: I had just graduated from college in the summer of 1991, I was in Connecticut. Girlfriend was in Ohio. I packed up everything I had and boarded a train to move to Ohio to be with her. But she was under tremendous pressure from her parents to break it off, and by the time I arrived, their smear campaign was clearly working. I rarely saw her, even though we worked in the same mall. I got a job at a record store, and one of the promo CDs that had just arrived was Squeeze’s new album Play. I had always liked the band but never bought any of their records. However, the local modern rock station (97X, holler) was giving it some support, so after hearing a couple songs I liked, I took it home with me and played it in the car of my friend Ed, who’s the only person I know who likes Squeeze more than I do. I vented all of my frustrations to him about the ridiculous predicament I put myself in as we blasted “House of Love,” because damn it, I was living that song. She was full of lies and boredom, a very acidic tongue waggled in her head, we seemed the best of friends, life had just begun…but on the roof a tile began to slip. The house of love caved in, and that was it. Fuck.

Popdose Flashback ’91: Joe Jackson, “Laughter & Lust”

Or, to borrow an album title from the Judybats, Pain Makes You Beautiful. In 1990, Joe Jackson had just signed a spiffy new deal with Virgin Records after spending 10 years and 11 albums under A&M. Many bands use the first album with a new label as an opportunity to make a fresh start and try new things (or, perhaps, sell out). Heart, for example, became a completely different band once they signed with Capitol, as did the Cure when they inked with Elektra. Heck, when Adam Ant signed with Capitol, he made an acoustic pop record. Jackson, however, had no interest in changing, diminishing returns be damned. In fact, Laughter & Lust is basically a stripped down version of its predecessor, Blaze of Glory (1989), with a recurring lyrical theme: The Bitch Broke My Heart. The first third of Laughter & Lust is, for the most part, drama-free, and shows off Jackson’s ever-sardonic sense of humor. “The Obvious Song” is a driving, ‘Wake up, world!’ rant, and the video he shot for it, featuring …

The Very Guest Of… Kirsty MacColl

The patron saints of Popdose are an unconventional bunch, to be sure. The big joke among the staff at the annual board meeting, held in Matt Wardlaw’s palatial estate, is that when we finally launch our own music festival, we will reunite Sugarbomb, and our headlining act will be the System. (This after a heated debate, spearheaded by Jason Hare, over the manner in which we honor Michael McDonald. We settled on the honorary title of Chairman of the Beard.) Another artist for whom the staffers share a near-universal love is the late, great Kirsty MacColl, who was tragically killed in late 2000 in a suspicious boating accident shortly after she released one of her best albums, the Cuban-influenced Tropical Brainstorm. (The belief is that a high-ranking Mexican government official was driving the boat that struck her, but a low-level assistant was paid to take the fall in exchange for a reduced sentence.) We pour out a 40 in her honor every December 18.

What makes this all the more tragic is that there were years during MacColl’s prime where she was forbidden from making records, thanks to legal hassles surrounding the dissolution of her label, Stiff Records. (Making this even more irritating was her previous label, Polydor, shelving her second album Real due to lack of interest.) This was good news, though, for anyone working with her then-husband, producer Steve Lillywhite, because MacColl was saying ‘yes’ to every session gig she could find just to get the hell out of the house. Eventually, MacColl was allowed to record on her own again, but thankfully, she continued to help out her mates on the side. Here is a collection of songs that feature the unmistakable vocal stylings of one of England’s finest.

(Special thanks to Kirsty’s fan page for providing me with a comprehensive list of her session work, and to Popdose colleague Will Harris for contributing some of the more off-the-radar songs.)

Jona Lewie, “You’ll Always Find Me in the Kitchen at Parties” (from On the Other Hand, There’s a First, 1978)
You have to think that Ian Dury was a fan of this one. Unapologetically British, with bizarre flashes of whimsy, Kirsty delivers a deadpan vocal in the chorus that is alleged to be her first studio session recording.

Matchbox, “I Want Out” (from the album Crossed Line, 1983)
This didn’t appear on CD until 2005, on the three-disc From Croydon to Cuba anthology, though it originally appeared on Matchbox’s 1982 Crossed Line album. It’s a killer single, though, a rockabilly-ish rave-up with MacColl splitting lead vocals with singer Graham Fenton.