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The Clash They Represent?

Any band that experiences such a meteoric rise in popularity like that of Vampire Weekend is bound to provoke a backlash. And that's exactly what's happened. Since their new release rocketed to number one last month, a veritable arsenal of pen-ink has been directed against the group. It's certainly an odd about-face. This time two years ago, the New York-based quartet were the darlings of the indie world. Their 2008 self-titled debut, with it's fresh injection of African pop, made almost every "best of '08" list one can locate (including at Rebel Frequencies).

Fame Monster Unleashed

"'Oh, why won't anyone give me an award?' 'You won a Grammy.' 'I mean an award that's worth winning.'" -Exchange between Homer and Lisa Simpson

This past Sunday, Lady Gaga's outrageously over-the-top opening number loudly declared "here comes the fame monster." It's an apt description of this year's Grammy Awards. Unfortunately it was also the highlight of the show.

Hope For Haiti When?

So far, the count is $58 million. That's how much has been raised by this past Friday's "Hope For Haiti Now" telethon. The event was impossible to ignore. Every major television network broadcast it, and if you had even a basic cable package, then your options were somewhere around twenty channels.

Aid Not Troops: Why Wyclef is Wrong

Last week's massive earthquake in Haiti has horrified the world. All eyes seem to be on the small nation, the poorest in the Western Hemisphere, as people watch a population that has had a the rawest of raw deals dealt to it suffer through even more tragedy and death. 

With possibly a hundred thousand dead, the outpouring of sympathy is to be expected. But amidst the Clooneys, Streeps and other Hollywood big-wigs trotting out their even bigger bucks, is there a voice missing? Where have we heard a single Haitian voice since this crisis began? In the midst of a gargantuan humanitarian crisis that has sent shockwaves through every country, doesn't the world deserve to hear from one of those hit hardest?

Flirting With Death: What Vic Chesnutt Can Tell Us About the State of Healthcare

Vic Chesnutt couldn't be described as a "star." Most likely, he would have bristled at the term. First and foremost, he was a songwriter. And though he never reached the heights of fame and fortune, the seventeen albums he released during his twenty-year career earned him the undeniable respect of critics, fellow musicians, and just about anyone who heard his songs. When he died of an apparent suicide this past Christmas Day, he was a solid fixture in the underground and indie scenes.

Whose Decade: Bono's or Ours?

If the last year of the "double-Os" is any indication, then the coming decade will be one of growing anger directed at the richest of the rich. By now it's hardly news that there is a palpable resentment for the Goldman Sachs execs or insurance honchos that lead the world into a crisis of mammoth proportions. 

Between Sorrow and Hope: The Year 2009 in Music

Make no mistake. When the ball drops this December 31st, there will be no shortage of music fans who will look back at this past year and say "damn, I'm glad that's over." Frankly put, 2009 was a rough year for music, a year simultaneously characterized by frustration and impatience. 

To be sure, the sense of hope and belief that characterized 2009's opening was reflected by a wave of music rooted in the optimism that people felt. It was no coincidence that many of the previous year's most interesting artists were ones that cheered the defeat of Bush-part-two and the ushering in the Obama presidency. 

The Top 25 Releases of 2009: 5 - 1

Here they are: the best five releases of 2009! Perhaps it goes without saying that these records have, in one way or another, all the qualities we've seen throughout the list (viewable here andhere) that make each entry so urgent and relevant--only these top five have it in spades.

The Top 25 Releases of 2009: 15 - 6

Progressing through the list (the first part of which can be viewedhere), the changes taking place in music become more apparent. The best releases of 2009 aren't just those that took the decay of post-recession society and made something interesting and relevant from them, but were those that started to pry away at the considerable limitations placed on music itself.

The Top 25 Releases of 2009: 25 - 16

It's that time of year again: when every music rag, website and blog releases "the list." It's no mean task sifting through the countless notable CDs and sound-files that come our way every year and definitively naming "the best." Nonetheless, if music tells us something about the time and place we live in (and it does), then the top 25 releases of 2009 tell us how quickly the tectonic plates are shifting under our feet. Choosing this list wasn't just a mere exercise in taste--which, as the saying tells us, there is no accounting for. 

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Shab o Rooz - Day'n Night