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Behold! A Holiday Buyer's Guide For Music Lovers

Friday, November 28, 2014

We've got a metal band's boxed wine for grandma, a meow-mixed hip-hop album for the kids and a bath mat that is so fresh and so clean.

Three Black Friday Releases Worth The Trip To The Record Store

Thursday, November 27, 2014

While the Christmas, er, holiday season seems to creep earlier and earlier into the fall each year, for most the day after Thanksgiving marks the official start of the mayhem. Black Friday is that special day synonymous with mobs of shoppers hungry for a good deal at those massive big box retail stores. But what if you’re like me, and unwilling to line up in the bitter cold before midnight, take an elbow to the gut rushing through the doors, or get clawed in the face over a giant TV or gadget? Maybe it’s a good time to visit that local record store instead.

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Soundcheck's Family Feud Thanksgiving Playlist

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Every family is different, but we all have two things in common: We all come together around the dinner table. And we all have our drama.

We've made a playlist to get you through the holidays, featuring musical families: brothers, sisters, parents, children, cousins, husbands and wives who played music together and, yes, fought together. Just because we fight, doesn't mean we don't also love.

Happy Thanksgiving! Let's all be thankful that our families aren't like the Jacksons!

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Listen To This: Caddywhompus, "Stuck"

Thursday, November 27, 2014

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Watch: We Were Promised Jetpacks, In The Studio

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The members of We Were Promised Jetpacks were only 19-year-old University students in Glasgow when they released their moody and emo-ish debut These Four Walls in 2009. 

The Scotland band's third record, Unravelling, reveals substantial maturity amid the diamond-sharp hooks. Recorded in Glasgow with Paul Savage (Teenage Fanclub, Franz Ferdinand, Mogwai), it features the acute angles of that producer's past work and also a fuller array of sounds, courtesy of the band's new multi-instrumentalist, Stuart McGachan. His addition comes nearly ten years after the original formation of Adam Thompson (vocals, guitar), Michael Palmer (guitar), Sean Smith (bass), and Darren Lackie (drums / backing vocals).

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Are These the Best Album Covers of All Time?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

It would be hard to argue with anyone claiming that album covers reached their peak of invention and ingenuity during the LP years. Having all that space to work with – especially once gatefold sleeves came along – meant that graphic designers and artists had a broad canvas to work on. When CDs came in, everything got scrunched up; and when the music world went digital, cover art for most people became a series of thumbnails. 

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The Last Hours of Beloved Williamsburg Music Space Death By Audio

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

For many of those lucky enough to spend extended amounts of time at the DIY venue, it was one of the few places that felt genuinely inclusive, nestled in a fast-gentrifying neighborhood.
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Listen To This: Hundred Waters, "Out Alee"

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

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Soundcheck-2014-11-26

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

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A Guide to All These Box Sets The Music Industry Keeps Churning Out

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The music industry has been drowning in a sea of digital files and online streams. I would have added the phrase “through no fault of its own” in that first sentence, but let’s face it - this is in large measure the industry’s own fault. But that’s a sad story, and the holidays are supposed to be a happy time, so let’s talk for the moment about the life preserver the record labels are currently clinging to: namely, the box set.

At a time when convenience and portability trump the old pleasures of owning a physical recording, the box set is a glorious, low-overhead, high-profit-margin exception. Box sets sell because they can be seen as collectibles, as objets d’art, or as a kind of proof of the serious nature of your fandom. For any of these reasons, they make great gifts too. Here are three that are out now that you might consider for this holiday season.

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Lil B's Lecture Explained Through His Own Music

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

In 2008 Lil B stormed the internet like a prolific joke. He developed his gritty, unique rap in the Bay Area during the Hyphy movement. As a solo artist, he began on MySpace and later adopted Youtube and Twitter -- he's released over 1,500 tracks for free as of July 2010 and currently has 975,000 followers on Twitter. Lil B garnered and maintains a cult following with hits like "Wonton Soup" and his "cooking" dance craze (arm movements that mimic cooking with a lot of should shrugs). He raps about loving his mother, cats, being Miley Cyrus all pulled together with his signature "Woo!" and "Swag!" cheers.

On first listen Lil B's music can sound thrown together, rudimentary and nonsensical. On second consideration, something deeper is being communicated in his raps. Lil B believes his music promotes "Based Living," a life style all about being positive and staying true to yourself. His Youtube video descriptions always include a "LOVE YOU ALL" or "STAY POSITIVE" and he even released a book that gives positive and encouraging sentiments text-message style titled, Takin’ Over by Imposing the Positive! 

Little did we know that Lil B's stream-of-consciousness thinking and "Based Living" would bring the internet rap star to MIT last week to give a lecture on technology, veganism and moral behavior that's been referred to as "ground-breaking." We decided to comb through the transcription of Lil B's speech, find some inspiring quotes and pair his songs with his philosophies. 

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Hear Body Cheetah's Minimalist Trip-Hop Song 'Than You Should Know'

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Body Cheetah's songs always begin with a beautiful melody. Then they stumble into dissonance, creating something far more innovative and strange. It's like watching someone walk down the street, trip over their own feet and then walk forward with even more gusto than before. James Kristofik, the man behind Body Cheetah and member of Connecticut-based art collective and record label Woozy Tribe, lets unwieldy trip-rock experimentation and sonic textures guide his songs.

With Body Cheetah's latest album, Raking In The Wind, Kristofik conjures alternate realities and precious psychedelic soundscapes with a casual brilliance. That's especially evident on "Than You Should Know" -- a song comprised of tiny sounds, otherworldly guitar, and intricate key changes that puts you in a circling head space. 

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Listen To This: Tito Puente, "Vibe Mambo"

Monday, November 24, 2014

ARTIST: Felipe Fournier

GIG: Supermambo! A Vibes Tribute to Tito Puente is Monday night at Barbes

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Sweater Songs: A Cozy Playlist For A Gloomy Season

Friday, November 21, 2014

It's November, which means those crisp fall days have descended into gloomy, wet and bitterly cold days, and as temperatures quickly drop into that "I never want to leave my apartment ever again" -range, it’s time to stop denying the ever-approaching polar vortex. But if there's one upside to frigid temperatures and bone-chilling winds, it's that glorious feeling of putting on a cozy sweater.

This got us thinking about some songs that capture that unyielding autumnal sentiment and the joy of being enshrouded in knit-blend material. So if you're looking for some tunes to keep you company while cooped up in the house, we've compiled some of our favorite "Sweater Songs" and put together handy Spotify playlist. Put on that big puffy sweater, pour yourself some cocoa, hit play and enjoy.

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A Playlist For Extra-Terrestrial Explorers

Friday, November 21, 2014

With the recent success of the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission, the tragedy of the Virgin Galactic rocket ship and the release of Christopher Nolan’s film Interstellar, the idea of space exploration is once again at the forefront of everyone’s mind. But before we blast off into parts unknown we should first sort out a few things on the ground – like what we will listen to out there. 

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The Bad Feminist's Guide Enjoying Hip Hop

Friday, November 21, 2014

Being a fan of hip hop has always required a willingness to grapple with misogynistic messages -- a fact not lost on writer Roxane Gay, an internet must-read, essayist, and associate professor of English and creative writing at Purdue University. When her book Bad Feminist came out in August, she galvanized a whole slew of women -- and a healthy number of men -- to reclaim the term with pride. From Gay's takedowns of the regressive depictions of race in The Help to the despicable treatment of women on the internet, she puts a raw and thoughtful voice to topics pop culture continues to be happy to gloss over.

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Listen To This: We Were Promised Jetpacks, "I Keep It Composed"

Friday, November 21, 2014

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Esmé Patterson Responds To The Beach Boys In Her New Music Video

Thursday, November 20, 2014

From Elvis Costello's "Alison" to Townes Van Zandt's "Loretta," we're probably all familiar with the stories of the men who wrote songs about their sultry muses and lovers that scorned them. But what about the women behind these songs? On her latest album, Woman To WomanEsmé Patterson decided to give voices to the ladies lost in rock lyrics with a record comprised of response songs to some of our favorite pop hits.

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The Barr Brothers: Delicately Planted Folk Rock

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Adjacency is what makes The Barr Brothers tick. In the most literal sense, it was the act of moving in next door to harpist Sara Page that catalyzed Brad and Andrew Barr into a new band. The brothers had moved to Montreal in the wake of the demise of their New England-based avant-rock trio The Slip. Folding Sara's intricate harp runs into their sound, and adding multi-instrumentalist Andrew Vial, the newly consolidated The Barr Brothers created a lush and eclectic folk rock that earned them a Polaris Prize nomination on their first outing. Their sound is in the adjacency of polyrhythmic drums, delicate accents, and sprawling guitars -- a melange that would swamp less capable groups.  

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