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Bloomsbury

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Daydream Nation is the kind of gorgeous monstrosity (born of extremes, rife with difficulties, and mythic in proportion) that can crush the will of the most resilient, well-intentioned listener if the necessary preparations haven't been made. Matthew Stearns explores the album from a range of angles, including a track-by-track analysis...

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In 20 Jazz Funk Greats Drew Daniel (of the experimental band Matmos) creates-through both his own insights and exclusive interviews with the band-an exploded view of the album's multiple agendas: a series of close readings of each song, shot through with a sequence of thematic entries on key concepts, strategies,...

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Aja was the album that made Steely Dan a commercial force on the order of contemporaries like Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles and Chicago. A double-platinum, Grammy-winning bestseller, it lingered on the Billboard charts for more than a year and spawned three hit singles. Odd, then, that its creators saw it...

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In 1978, Siouxsie and the Banshees declared 'We don't see ourselves in the same context as other rock'n'roll bands.' A decade later, and in the stark aftermath of a devastating storm, the band retreated to a 17th-century mansion house in the deracinated Sussex countryside to write their ninth studio album,...

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It's hard to think of a solo female recording artist who has been as revered or as reviled over the course of her career as Tori Amos. Amy Gentry argues that these violent aesthetic responses to Amos's performance, both positive and negative, are organized around disgust-the disgust that women are...

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"In the absence of love, there is loneliness, sorrow and desperation. And that's where I come in." --Greg Dulli, introducing "When We Two Parted" onstage in San Francisco Like no record before or since, Gentlemen is fraught with the psychological warfare, bedroom drama, Catholic guilt, reprehensible deception and uncleansable shame that...

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Pet Sounds is, rightly, one of the most celebrated pop albums ever released. It has also been written about, pored over, and analyzed more than most other albums put together. In this disarming book, Jim Fusilli focuses primarily on the emotional core of the album, on Brian Wilson's pitch-perfect cry...

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Issued on America's premier rap label at the peak of the thrash metal movement, Slayer's controversial Reign in Blood remains the gold standard for extreme heavy metal, a seamless 29-minute procession of ten blindingly fast, apocalyptic songs. The first English book about Slayer explores the creation of the most universally...

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Words like "inspiring," "expansive," and "moving" are regularly used to describe Sigur Rós's ( ), and yet the only words heard on the record itself are a handful of meaningless nonsense syllables. The album has no title-or rather, its title is no title: just an empty pair of parentheses. The...

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The Velvet Underground and Nico has influenced the sound of more bands than any other album. And remarkably, it still sounds as fresh and challenging today as it did upon its release in 1967. In this book, Joe Harvard covers everything from Lou Reed's lyrical genius to John Cale's groundbreaking...

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The Stone Roses shows a band sizzling with skill, consumed with drive and aspiration and possessing an almost preternatural mastery of the pop paradigm. This book explores the political and cultural zeitgeist of England in 1989 and attempts to apprehend the magic ingredients that made The Stone Roses such a...

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It's the summer of 1979. A 15-year-old boy listens to WNEW on the radio in his bedroom in Brooklyn. A monotone voice (it's the singer's) announces into dead air in between songs "The Talking Heads have a new album, it's called Fear of Music" - and everything spins outward from...

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So much, popular and scholarly, has been written about the synthesizer, Bob Moog and his brand-name instrument, and even Wendy Carlos, the musician who made this instrument famous. No one, however, has examined the importance of spy technology, the Cold War and Carlos's gender to this critically important innovation. Through a...

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Tracing the creation of Exile on Main Street from the original songwriting done while touring America through the final editing in Los Angeles, Bill Janovitz explains how an album recorded by a British band in a villa on the French Riviera is pure American rock & roll. Looking at each...

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Posing more riddles than the average sphinx, with its decipherable answers pointing somewhere dark, Song Cycle was anything but passive. I had already witnessed hippie bands playing with their backs to the hall, so the thought of late '60s musicians being interested in their audience struck me as...

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Having designed Roxy Music as an haute couture suit hand-stitched of punk and progressive music, Bryan Ferry redesigned it. He made Roxy Music ever dreamier and mellower-reaching back to sadly beautiful chivalric romances. Dadaist (punk) noise exited; a kind of ambient soft soul entered. Ferry parted ways with Eno, electric...

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One of the greatest double albums of the vinyl era, Sign 'O' the Times shows Prince at his peak. Here, Michaelangelo Matos tells the story of how it emerged from an extraordinary period of creativity to become one of the landmark recordings of the 1980s. He also illustrates...

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Like all double albums, Songs in the Key of Life is imperfect but audacious. If its titular concern - life - doesn't exactly allow for rigid focus, it's still a fiercely inspired collection of songs and one of the definitive soul records of the 1970s. Stevie Wonder was unable to...

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The story behind the making of the album that signaled the descent of Sylvester Sly Stone Stewart into a haze of drug addiction and delirium is captivating enough for the cinema. In the spacious attic of a Beverly Hills mansion belonging to John and Michelle Phillips (of the Mamas and...

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Two entwined narratives run through the creation of Swordfishtrombones and form the backbone of this book. As the 1970s ended, Waits felt increasingly constrained and trapped by his persona and career. Bitter and desperately unhappy, he moved to New York in 1979 to change his life. It wasn't working. But...

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Smile is not merely a great unfinished album, but a living work of art that is all at once expansive, indeterminate, and resolutely pop. In the early 1960s, The Beach Boys rose from the suburbs of Hawthorne, California to become emissaries of a post-war American dream that fused middle-class aspiration and...

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It's October 1977, and the Rolling Stones are in a Paris recording studio. They're under siege. Keith Richards's legal troubles after his arrest for heroin possession threaten the band's future, and the broad consensus among rock aficionados is that the band will never again reach the heights of Exile on...

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Oasis's incendiary 1994 debut album Definitely Maybe managed to summarize almost the entire history of post-fifties guitar music from Chuck Berry to My Bloody Valentine in a way that seemed effortless. But this remarkable album was also a social document that came closer to narrating the collective hopes and dreams...

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Neil Young's Harvest is one of those strange albums that has achieved lasting success without ever winning the full approval of rock critics or hardcore fans. Even Young himself has been equivocal, describing it in one breath as his "finest" album, dismissing it in the next as an MOR aberration....

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In 1978, San Francisco, a city that has seen more than its share of trauma, plunged from a summer of political tension into an autumn cascade of malevolence that so eluded human comprehension it seemed almost demonic. The battles over property taxes and a ballot initiative calling for a ban...

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Conceived as the last testament of a charismatic recluse who believed he was about to die, 'Forever Changes' is one of the defining albums of an era. Here, Andrew Hultkrans explores the myriad depths of Love's bizarre and brilliant record. Charting bohemian Los Angeles' descent into chaos at...

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In 1968, the Flying Burrito Brothers released The Gilded Palace of Sin on A&M Records,selling a disappointing 400,000 copies. Almost forty years later, front man Gram Parsons, is still spoken of with almost messianic reverence. Patron saint of alt-country, emblazoned with a shining cross, dead at 26. Overshadowed by Parsons,...

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This book marks the tenth anniversary of The Grey Album. The online release and circulation of what Danger Mouse called his 'art project' was an unexpected watershed in the turn-of-the-century brawls over digital creative practice. The album's suppression inspired widespread digital civil disobedience and brought a series of contests and...

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Outside his native France, the view of Serge Gainsbourg was once of a one-hit wonder lothario. This has been slowly replaced by an awareness of how talented and innovative a songwriter he was. Gainsbourg was an eclectic, protean figure; a Dadaist, poète maudit, Pop-Artist, libertine and anti-hero. An icon and...

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Highway 61 Revisited resonates because of its enduring emotional appeal. Few songwriters before Dylan or since have combined so effectively the intensely personal with the spectacularly universal. In "Like a Rolling Stone," his gleeful excoriation of Miss Lonely (Edie Sedgwick? Joan Baez? a composite "type"?) fuses with the evocation of...

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In recent years, Björk's artistry has become ever more ambitious and ever more respected. With the release of her conceptual app-album Biophilia in 2011, and a huge retrospective exhibition at New York's Museum of Modern Art coinciding with her most recent album, Vulnicura, in 2015, her status as artpop auteur...

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If You're Feeling Sinister shows how Belle & Sebastian transformed themselves over the space of a decade, from a slightly shambolic cult secret into a polished, highly entertaining, mainstream pop group. Along the way, the book shows how the internet has revolutionized how we discover new music-often at the cost...

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Described as the perfect fusion of poetry and garage band rock and roll (the original concept was "rock and Rimbaud"), Horses belongs as much to the world of literary and cultural criticism as it does to the realm of musicology. While Horses pays homage to the record's origins in the...

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By June 1993, when Washington, D.C.'s Fugazi released their third full-length album In on the Kill Taker, the quartet was reaching a thunderous peak in popularity and influence. With two EPs (combined into the classic CD 13 songs) and two albums (1990's genre-defining Repeater and 1991's impressionistic follow-up Steady Diet...

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Pavement wrapped up at Easley Recording in Memphis. They mixed the tracks and recorded overdubs in New York. They took a step back and assessed the material. It was a wild scene. They had fully fleshed-out songs and whispers and rumors of half-formed ones. They had songs that followed a...

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Voodoo, D'Angelo's much-anticipated 2000 release, set the standard for the musical cycle ordained as "neo-soul," a label the singer and songwriter would reject more than a decade later. The album is a product of heightened emotions and fused sensibilities; an amalgam of soul, rock, jazz, gospel, hip-hop, and Afrobeats. D'Angelo...

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In the spring of 1969, the inauspicious release of Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band's Trout Mask Replica, a double-album featuring 28 stream-of-consciousness songs filled with abstract rhythms and guttural bellows, dramatically altered the pop landscape. Yet even if the album did cast its radical vision over the future of music,...

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Transformer, Lou Reed's most enduringly popular album, is described with varying labels: it's often called a glam rock album, a proto-punk album, a commercial breakthrough for Lou Reed, and an album about being gay. And yet, it doesn't neatly fit into any of these descriptors. Buried underneath the radio-friendly exterior...

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Breaking the global record for streams in a single day, nearly 10 million people around the world tuned in to hear Kendrick Lamar's sophomore album in the hours after its release. To Pimp a Butterfly was widely hailed as an instant classic, garnering laudatory album reviews, many awards, and even...

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Finally, a brilliant exploration of the German rock band Can's 1971 album Tago Mago. This hugely unique and influential album deserves close analysis from a fan, rather than a musicologist. Novelist Alan Warner details the concrete music we hear on the album, how it was composed, executed and recorded--including the...

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New York City in the 1970s was an urban nightmare: destitute, dirty, and dangerous. As the country collectively turned its back on the Big Apple, two musical vigilantes rose out of the miasma. Armed only with amplified AC current, Suicide's Alan Vega and Marty Rev set out to save America's...

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Of all the seminal albums to come out in 1991-the year of Nevermind, Loveless, Ten, and Out of Time, among others-none were quieter, both in volume and influence, than Spiderland, and no band more mysterious than Slint. Few single albums can lay claim to sparking an entire genre, but Spiderland-all...

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When Twin Peaks debuted on the ABC network on the night of April 8, 1990, thirty-five million viewers tuned in to some of the most unusual television of their lives. Centered on an eccentric, coffee-loving FBI agent's investigation into the murder of a small town teen queen, Twin Peaks brought...

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When LCD Soundsystem broke up in 2011, they left behind a small but remarkable catalog of music. On top of the genius singles and a longform composition for Nike, there was a trilogy of full-length albums. During that initial run, LCD Soundsystem-and the project's mastermind, James Murphy-were at the center...

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Extravagantly opaque, willfully vaporous - Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Volume II, released by the estimable British label Warp Records in 1994, rejuvenated ambient music for the Internet Age that was just dawning. In the United States, it was Richard D. James's first full length on Sire Records (home to...

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In 1979, from the basement of a London squat, the Raincoats reinvented what punk could be. They had a violin player. They came from Portugal, Spain, and England. Their anarchy was poetic. Working with the iconic Rough Trade Records at its radical beginnings, they were the first group of punk...

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Released when ELP and Elton John were plodding from one packed stadium to the next, Radio City was a radical album influenced by records that were already deemed oldies and yet sounding like a lean electrical jolt from the future. Here, Bruce Eaton examines the key ingredients of Radio City's...