kulturhack From Overcome By Happiness, the best chamber pop since Big Star's Sister Lover. Like Loaded-era-VU collided with The Beatles and a Bacharach horn coda
kulturhack VDGG at the Marquis Club: Creating their own dark and majestic space--complex, demanding music overlaid with Hammill's extraordinary, baroque vocals.

Van_Der_Graaf_Generator-all_That_Before

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kulturhack A late Bowie masterpiece--and as the last track on what increasingly seems like his last studio collection, the world-weariness is even more resonant
kulturhack Incorporating verses cut from "In Every Dream Home," Ferry melds Citizen Kane & The Shining to evoke the haunted corridors of Hearst's castle-in-aspic

bryan_ferry_-_san_simeon

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kulturhack Pop for the aging isn't about hope--it's about the reset button; the do-over. This is a courageous song despite the world-weariness: Try again.

Eurythmics17 Again

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kulturhack Like an inside-out Jim Steinman: The consequences of impetuous passion; the literal tattoo that outlasts the entanglement. "Forever" is the aftermath.
kulturhack Passing a store in 2004 I first heard this--It thrilled me then; it still stops me dead now--improbably, she's the closest we've got to Billie Holiday
kulturhack The Village People repurposed for the Age of AIDs--"go west" also being UK slang for dying. In this context, the optimism becomes devastating & heroic

pet_shop_boys_-_go_west

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kulturhack A confessional masterpiece that reveals a stance rather than a heart of darkness. A meditation on life's cruelty & the imprisoning nature of personas.
kulturhack From Wrong Way Up, an achingly depiction of Van Gough as he paints "Cornfield With Ravens" and contemplates suicide as a spinning away into the stars.
kulturhack This, and not West End Girls, first snagged my attention. It's a quietly radical song--love lumped in with death and taxes. Love as quarantine driver.
kulturhack A pop-song version of prose fiction's Unreliable Narrator--the singer who says he can't recall nevertheless remembers everything in painful detail.
kulturhack Here, the thrill isn't The Decemberists--it's Ms Faithfull; the Helen Mirren of singers; she of the gorgeously waba-sabi voice. Perfect missed notes.
kulturhack This version, scored for piano and quartet, is almost Ur-Cale: Reedian lyrics, Riley-esque repetition, classical underpinnings and that baleful voice.

Dying_On_The_Vine_live

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kulturhack One enigmatic Englishman salutes another: Artistically, Hitchcock's surrealism and Drake's insularity are both improbably leveraged pop idiosyncrasies
kulturhack Tom Waits' classic study of sad yearning made even more passionate filtered through British reserve. Less a duet than two concurrent inner-dialogues.
kulturhack The beta test for Sylvian's mid-career work; here Lennon's insufferable solo "therapy" songs are reduced to one pop-tune understatement--sorry, John.

JapanGhosts

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kulturhack The tension of a Velvets song is the transgressive suffused with tenderness. Case in point: purity v affair; yearning v after-the-fact; spirit v money
kulturhack Poet turned songwriter answers one of his songs with an alternate lyric that, stripped of music, glides by poetry and brushing its shoulder as it does
kulturhack Max Richter, Franz Kafka, Tilda Swinton: My kind of sonic menage a trois. Richter's music exists in a perpetual late autumn--a resonant PermaNovember.

MAX RICHTER / SHADOW JOURNAL / BLUE NOTESBOOKS / 2004 / VIDEO

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kulturhack Close-held pop secret: the best Elton John aren't those inescapable singles. This is a song about male vulnerability--an anti-rap song, if you will...
kulturhack A masterpiece about damage. Linked meditations on life after "love has gone away:" void-filling sex, emotional disengagement and aching loneliness.
kulturhack We all have memories we manage to outpace through constant motion, that nevertheless catch up with us at three in the morning. This one of those times
kulturhack The arc of a relationship in a breathtaking 5.5 minutes. Beneath the irony worn out from being too often evoked, real hurt pokes through the holes.
kulturhack Lucinda is best when not using name-checks for "authenticity." Here, there's no beer brand or bar name or meticulous locale--just exquisite heartbreak

Lucinda WilliamsBlue

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kulturhack Placed next to Robyn Hitchcock's "I Used To Say I Love You" as an opposite take on the same theme--plus, each has a soaring "Illusion" in its chorus.
kulturhack Though it's as rare as solar eclipse, Hitchcock's surrealism sometimes slips and the raw, emotional feed is unfiltered by insects, food or Victoriana
kulturhack Beyond the gorgeous melody, see this as Al Stewart Done Right--a song where a rejected lover points out the parallels between himself and Napoleon II.
kulturhack The original and definitive version (Madeleine Peyroux, you're not even close). A perfect Cohen lyric, a perfect Anjani melody and a perfect reading.

ANJANI THOMAS-BLUE ALERT-LEONARD COHEN

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kulturhack Miles Dewey Davis III, the most important, protean American musician of the 20th century, would have been 83 today. Here's one shard of his genius.
kulturhack Hammill writes smart, but more importantly he writes his age--and so we've matured together. Kids won't understand this too-late negotiation, but I do
kulturhack Duncan Browne died young, but left a catalog of moving, varied work. This is from the first Metro album, where Bowie later found "Criminal World."
kulturhack A superlative songwriter who, like Randy Newman, became an almost accidental pop star. And like Newman, the real gold is found in rest of his catalog.

Duncan SheikMemento

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kulturhack After 12 years of solo silence, this bit of beauty: As with Gatsby's beating boats, the pull of the past fights future love, faith and connection.
kulturhack To fully appreciate 'Bitches Brew' Miles, it's first necessary to contemplate 'In A Silent Way'--after 'Kind Of Blue' perhaps my second-favorite Davis
kulturhack Trane's ballad for his first wife; the flip side of the jaw-dropping workout that's "Giant Steps." The hidden gem is the often overlooked piano solo.

John ColtraneNaima

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kulturhack Let us now praise Indie Canadians: Owen Pallett, the only member of Final Fantasy, lets this cover morph from a recreation to something idiosyncratic.
kulturhack Before becoming Annie Lennox source material, The Lover Speaks sounded as if Phil Spector cut a record with Bauhaus and The Crystals. Da-Doo-Ron-Goth.
kulturhack A piece of art is finished when nothing else can be removed. St. Exupery said that, and Blue Nile members evidently have it tattooed on their scalps.
kulturhack Jimmy Scott on the other side of a 15-year hiatus, prying open an Elton John/Bernie Taupin chestnut and finding something achingly beautiful inside.
kulturhack Ferry before an unforgiving mic at the live-in-studio As Time Goes By sessions. Proof that beneath the vibrato, he approaches Jimmy Scott's greatness.
kulturhack Major Tom tethered to earth; "Space Oddity" played out in empty train stations; Eliot rather than Kubrick; the Thin White Duke morphed into Prufrock.
kulturhack Joe Pernice is America's best songwriter. Sorry, Lucinda. Colin Blunstone vocals; Lloyd Cole lyrics; classicist pop--but far greater than the sum.
kulturhack Compare this version with the remake from Sakamoto's Cinemage (also on Blip.fm): Here, there's passion and anger; the retread offers only resignation.
kulturhack A reworking of Cavafy's poem, "The God Abandons Antony," transposed as sexual politics. A sacred and profane song about the ache of transitory love.
kulturhack The second conceptual pivot of Williams' career: Harrowing and non-genre; an alternate universe where she replaces Nico in the Velvet Underground.
kulturhack An epic of self-discovery encroached upon by AIDS. In 5 heartbreaking minutes, PSB accomplished what the musical Rent took more than two hours to do.
kulturhack A slim masterpiece: Ten bars, one take, three solos. Bill Evans said Miles asked what he'd do with G-minor and A-augmented. Evans wrote Blue In Green.
kulturhack Lou says this is the definitive version of "Sweet Jane," and I'm inclined to agree. And best of all, the Junkies reinstate the "wine and roses" verse.
kulturhack In Idylls of the King, Arthur sees love as salvation--as does the singer here. Not surprisingly, then, Tennyson and Reed have both written tragedies.

Lou ReedPerfect Day

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kulturhack John Cale's classically trained and it shows in this gorgeous bit of symphonic pop. See it as the headwaters of the entire Divine Comedy catalog . . .
kulturhack "September," at a minute-and-a-half, with Sakamoto's dark -chocolate string arrangement, is a near-perfect minimal pop song; a solitaire set simply.
kulturhack "By This River" captures the wabi sabi of a relationship, both comfortable and sad, suggesting how lovers can disconnect even at the level of memories
kulturhack Do you want me back? A song so close to the bone it hits marrow; an arrhythmic heartbeat atop the faded shimmer of once-romantic strings now frayed.
kulturhack Ivo Watts-Russell & the 4AD house band morph Alex Chilton's desolate, Nashville chamber pop (from Big Star/Third) into a stately, Gothic fever dream.
kulturhack Julia of the four-octave range and Piaf frame; had Lennox not diva'd all the attention, Fordham would be known as the best vocalist of her generation.
kulturhack The headwaters for Kind of Blue: Miles' improv soundtrack for Louis Malle. Ascenseur Pour L'echafaud is the only choice at 3:00 AM--trust me on this.
kulturhack A Beatle-esque meditation on illusion. There's genius in its long coda--where many songs focus on epiphany; this one suggests a realization sinking-in
kulturhack Kurt Weill, Maxwell Anderson, Lou Reed--what could go wrong? Nothing, but more somber than the swaggering take Lou contributed to Lost In the Stars.
kulturhack PSB's passionate and in-your-face fearless anthem to gay rights. Intended as the first single from Fundamental, their record label got cold feet . . .
kulturhack If memory serves, this is a John Cale arrangement and production. Nico at the end of her career and tether brings something amazing to this chestnut.
kulturhack The finest lyric and greatest "list" song ever written, period. Structurally, thematically and sing-ably it's perfection; a pop-verse master class.
kulturhack Pop Art-Song: 'Why?' morphs from self-recrimination to a lover's accusation to a plea for truth and then to an existential question about paths taken.

Annie LennoxWhy

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kulturhack Anticipating his intimate, close-mic'd later work, Ferry drops camp and glamour for a dark, resigned reading of a lyric translated by Peter O'Toole.
kulturhack A critique of the limits and temporality of American values in a marginal gloss on the film, Dirty Harry: "We're never gonna ride that way again."
kulturhack A life's inventory: cubistic, nonlinear shards of memory that are fractals of desire. Like Reed's "Perfect Day," the implied context is everything...
kulturhack Distilled Williams: Outside genre and beyond "authentic" details--longing made incantatory; lean, bereaved worry possibly addressed to a mirror...
kulturhack Big Star's aching version of a Velvet Underground classic; with the Cowboy Junkies' "Sweet Jane," one of the few covers that equals the VU original.
kulturhack A meditation on creepy fandom via a laparoscopic look inside royalty. Surreal only if you're unaware of the checkout tabloids or Mark David Chapman.
kulturhack Minimal, catchy and, well, dangerous. A bubblegum anthem for wanna-be dominatrixes. Imagine Debbie Harry fronting The Blue Nile doing "Venus In Furs."

motelstotal control

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kulturhack In another dimension, Burt Bacharach writes for Peter Murphy, and this is the result. (Which means "Bela Lugosi Is Dead" is left to Dionne Warwick...)
kulturhack To paraphrase what Lou said at Max's Kansas City, we all feel this way one time or another--I just feel like this more often than most . . . Indeed.
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