Screeching Weasel Singer Thinks You Don't Deserve to Be Mad at Him for Hitting Women

Categories: Commentary

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Marc Gaertner via Recess Records
Ben Weasel, not punching any women at the moment.
I've never had an interest in Screeching Weasel, as I don't listen to punk music that comes off like it was meant to be the soundtrack of a straight-to-video film about kids rollerblading in a shopping-mall parking garage. I listened to Boogadaboogadaboogada! a few times (primarily just so I could say I knew what the band sounded like) and I've gotten drunk with a pal of mine who has a tattoo of the group's iconic Fonzie-rat-looking character. (He's a good guy who also collects vintage board games -- cheesy tattoo be damned.)

See also: Why Metal Supergroup Old Man Gloom Decided to Screw With the Press


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The Ten Best Videos From the Gangsta Rap Era

Categories: Commentary
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Mark C. Austin for the Houston Press. Full slideshow here.
Bushwick Bill of the Geto Boys still goes hard.
Gangsta rap, where have you gone?

About 20 years ago at this time, we were in the middle of an unprecedented run of gangsta rap greatness, with Death Row, Bad Boy, Ruthless, Rap-A-Lot and others all functioning at high levels. 

And while the songs and albums from this era continue to get shine, let's not forget the videos, which constitute some of the most visually arresting (and most hilarious) ever made.

Here are the ten greatest videos from the gangsta rap era.
See also: The 50 Best Rap Lyrics of All Time
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A Salute to the Supporting Cast of Run the Jewels 2

Categories: Commentary

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Courtesy of Gangsta Boo
She has just the thing for your mouth.
Killer Mike and El-P will bring their Run the Jewels project to the Gothic Theatre on November 18. By now, you've had a few weeks to play the duo's magnificent Run the Jewels 2 on repeat. (If not, quietly chastise yourself and then head over here and download it now.) While the chemistry between Mike and El is an undeniable draw, the Run the Jewels movement has also bloomed into something of an ensemble project, with a coterie of behind-the-scenes cohorts also contributing to the album. Consider this a salute to the faithful jewel-running supporting cast.

See also: One of the World's Best Run the Jewels Murals Is in Denver


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Pop Music Needs to Become Political Again

Categories: Commentary

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Woody Guthrie
Like it or not, Pharell Williams' "Happy" is likely to be the top-selling single of 2014. And, yes, its buoyant '60s soul vibe and simple, positive message is modern pop perfection. But scanning the rest of this year's biggest hits, one is struck by a consistent theme: All of these songs are distinctly apolitical. Contemporary slang and the loosening of certain taboos aside, they could have been written in 2002, 1992, even 1982.

By Steve Brennan

Granted, popular music is supposed to provide some kind of escape from everyday life. However, shouldn't it also sometimes reflect what is going on in the wider world at the time of its release? We are not living in a post-AutoTune utopia. Persistent economic problems, a deliberately obstructionist U.S. Congress, NSA surveillance, an expanding underclass -- these are issues that seem ripe for mining by contemporary musicians.

See also: The Ten Most Underrated Guitarists in the History of Rock

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The Ten Most Underrated Guitarists in the History of Rock

Categories: Commentary

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Asylum Records/Wikimedia Commons
Joni Mitchell: One of history's most underrated guitarists.
While traveling from Denver to Texas a few weeks ago, I could not stop listening to Mutiny on the Bay, the searing collection of '80s Dead Kennedys performances released in 2001; East Bay Ray, it occurred to me, is one of the most underrated guitarists in the history of rock.

To me, being underrated doesn't mean that a musician has missed out on accolades and commercial success. It means that, for whatever reason, millions of music lovers probably haven't been exposed to a certain musician's talents and thus haven't had the chance to enjoy him or her. So here -- up for potential enjoyment and probably heated discussion -- are ten guitarists I believe are history's most underrated.

See also: The Ten Best Light Shows in Rock

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Children's Albums Are Bad for Children

Categories: Commentary

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Recess Monkey: Bad for Kids
In Washington State, where I live, marijuana is legal and sold in special stores. This poses an interesting quandary for parents. Do you: (A) raise pot in the vein of beer when discussing it with your children, or (B) embrace the federal standard and advise that they abstain from it altogether, until its legality is the law of the land?

The answer is (C): Sit your toddler down in her car seat, and let Kacey Musgraves explain.

See also: Country Music's Ten Biggest Douchebags


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Quiz: The Sixteen Most Surprising Cameos By Musicians in Movies

Categories: Commentary

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Anthony Kiedis, Point Break (1991).
Not all cameos are equally coveted: A good cameo creates an undeniable rush (I know that person!) that widens the eyes and forces the viewer to blurt out the musician's name when he or she appears on the big screen, like Anthony Kiedis in Point Break. An even better cameo, in which the musician is cleverly disguised or appears so briefly, leaving you puzzled, forces you to rewind. (Was that just Alex Van Halen in Robocop?!) A bad cameo, like Vanilla Ice's dance routine in 1991's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret Of The Ooze, is a mockery. Despite which kind of cameo we find, one thing is certain: We always enjoy seeing a familiar face in an unfamiliar territory.

Let's test your knowledge where movies and music collide. Can you correctly name which musician appeared in the following films? Check your answers on the last page.

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The Top 10 Power Ballads of All Time

Categories: Commentary

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Photo by Helge Øverås via Wikimedia Commons
If we're being completely honest, power ballads are responsible for some of the most resonant music-listening experiences in the entire world. They're a beautiful blend of sentiment and obviousness, a band willfully becoming emotionally available. Everybody makes fun of the power ballad, because sometimes it's hard to admit we gave over our souls so easily. We've all made fun of a lot of the songs on this list, but we've also had private, don't-look-at-me emotional moments with each of them. This is the foundational argument against anyone who maintains that pop music makes evil people; this is proof to any aliens that the human race is not beyond salvation.

This is the top ten power ballads of all time.

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Weezer Has Finally Made Its Third Great Album

Categories: Commentary

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Eric Gruneisen
Weezer at Riot Fest last month. Full slideshow here.
You have to earn a Weezer fan's trust before he shows you his playlists. First, he'll make sure you aren't just parroting somebody else's post-Pinkerton decline narrative. He'll want to be sure you don't believe bassist Matt Sharp secretly wrote both of the band's two classic albums. He'll need to know that you have favorite outtakes and demos that never came out, not even on Rivers Cuomo's Alone records.

He'll want to know that you've thought -- over and over -- about how each of the seven albums the band's released since 2001 was lacking, not just in general but in its own particular way. Maladroit has great solos but the melodies are lifeless; Make Believe has heart but the production is sterile and the songs so short on words that they break into spontaneous ooh-ing choruses. The Red Album has high highs and low lows (mention "Miss Sweeney" and "Pig" here), and Hurley is competent but hardly a Weezer album at all. You shouldn't mention Raditude yet.

See also: How a Fourteen-Year-Old Weezer Holy Grail Leaked Last Week

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Mike Doughty, We Have Some Questions for Your Question Jar

Categories: Commentary

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Deborah Lopez
Mike Doughty
Mike Doughty will bring his Question Jar Show to the Walnut Room this Friday, October 10. He's had... an exciting relationship with the songs that made him semi-famous as the front man of Soul Coughing, originally swearing off the material before recording an album of Soul Coughing "re-imaginings." He's got a surefire way to bring intrigue to this weekend's show, however: Bringing a jar in which audience members can submit questions, in the grand style of middle school sex ed classes. As it turns out, we have a few questions for Mike Doughty.

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