Unpopular Opinions: This week is like the one where Diana and Mother Teresa Died

Music opinions are like assholes: up close, they all sort of stink. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a difference between records, people, and events that are only sort of awful, and ones that are actually evil. After the jump, musical cribbage master The Beard separates the wheat from the chaff, explaining why Sant(i/o)gold should have stuck it out, why the media ought to lay off Chris Brown, how the Grammys aren’t just the industry’s golden shower, and what this week has in common with the one where Diana AND Mother Teresa died. It involves Fred Durst. … Read More

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Exclusive: More with Questionable Content’s Jeph Jacques

From Comic 420: Best Band Ever

After picking the brain of Questionable Content kingpin Jeph Jacques for well over an hour, we’d plotted the history of his groundbreaking webcomic, rationalized away the dated, overbearing aspects of DIY, and developed a revolutionary new model for independent music. The only thing we forgot to talk about was that one little thing: the comic itself.

After the jump, the Beard takes his place alongside fellow QC obsessives, hitting Jacques up for insider info on Dora’s new hair cut, Hannelore’s impending killing spree, the increasing absence of Pintsize, the likelihood of a surprise Marten/Faye bootie call, and the secret identity of Pizza Girl. … Read More

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Critical Review: Questionable Content’s Jeph Jacques on His Slice-of-indie-life Webcomic

Founded in 2003 as an outlet for artist Jeph Jacques’ esoteric indie-rock rantage, Questionable Content has since blossomed into one of the most popular webcomics ever written. Originally couched in insider references, the strip now prizes inclusiveness over obscurity, unfolding the quirky, soap opera-like lives of a group of twenty-somethings in Northampton, Mass. [For a in-depth discussion of past and future plot points, check out part two of our interview, here.]

While many comics have done well on the web, Jacques is arguably the pride of the pack, especially is in his approach to making money. Through a combination of T-shirt sales and banner advertisements, he’s discovered the holy grail in the post-print age: a creative-industry business model that actually works for the web. After the jump, resident audio adventurer The Beard chats with Jacques about the role of rock in his work, the strip’s evolution as a viable business, and the way in which his model could pretty literally save music. … Read More

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Unpopular Opinions: How Galaxie 500 Stopped Me from Being Stabbed

It might make me unpopular, but I think… anyone who can’t almost immediately identify Galaxie 500′s On Fire album is somewhat suspect.

Before anyone unfamiliar with the record gets all up in arms, let’s step back a bit. I’m not saying you aren’t an upstanding individual; my contention is simply that, without any other evidence, you can’t be completely trusted. I understand that’s a bit obtuse, so perhaps a bit of anecdotal evidence is in order. After the jump, a true tale of sketchy head-shots, Hungarian dance troupes, secret ninjas, Home Alone 2 hats, and how I used On Fire to keep myself from getting stabbed by a new roommate. … Read More

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Unpopular Opinions: 10 Reasons the Rolling Stones Are Awful

It might make me unpopular, but I think… the Rolling Stones are completely, utterly overrated.

Working class heroes? Ha! More like slumming, middle-class poseurs. I’m not saying they don’t have a few good songs, but second best band of all time behind the Beatles? (A distinction that puts them ahead of the Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel, the Doors, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, the Who, the Turtles, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and a dozen others with just as many hits.) Please. Not even close.

After the jump, ten unassailable reasons why the Rolling Stones are actually pretty awful. … Read More

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Critical Review: An Interview with Village Voice Music Editor Rob Harvilla on Pazz + Jop

The Village Voice’s annual Pazz + Jop poll is the end-all-be-all of year-end record lists. The ultimate in nerdy music romps, the alt-weekly’s annual cover story elicits the input of hundreds upon hundreds of professional music writers (including your beloved Beard) in an attempt to definitively capture the year’s critical darlings. Each participant is given a certain number of points to doll out to their “favorite” albums, and the resulting tabulations represent a closer consensus than pretty much anything else out there.

Of course, in any competition (especially when fueled by legions of cred-adorned music maniacs), there’s more at work than meets the eye. After the jump, our resident whiskerly warrior, goes at it with Voice Music Editor Rob Harvilla — who we’re told was indispensably aided by Zach Baron, Rob Trucks, and Jesus Diaz — on the decision to crown TV on the Radio king, whether style trumps substance, and how some critics try to rig the results. … Read More

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Unpopular Opinions: 5 Reasons American Idol is Awesome!?

It might make me unpopular but… I think American Idol is awesome.

Sure, it’s well-established that your most fuzztacular, beard-bearing buddy is a fairly curmudgeonly old man, but between the daily face-foraging and re-cataloging my collection of Dutch avant-garde LPs, I tend to get a little exhausted. What better way to kick back than by boob tubing with a little American Idol?

No, I’m not a die-hard Idol enthusiast, but I’m not ashamed to say that, as a codified record nerd and all-around elitist, I find it fascinating (I swear, mom! I read it for the articles!!). Unconvinced? After the jump, I honor the show’s Season Eight debut with a list of five reasons why American Idol is as essential and important to cold-hearted, trash-talking snobs as anyone else.

… Read More

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Promo Pile Slush: George Duke’s “Dukey Treats”

Wherein heartless Flavorwire-music automaton the Beard tests album predictions based solely on artwork.

Released last August, but only now making its way out of our promo pile, Zappa collaborator George Duke’s Dukey Treats, appears, at first glance, to be a scatology-obsessed reimagination of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Book covers are one thing, but can we accurately judge this album by its artwork? After the jump, we listen to the actual album in an attempt to give Dukey Treats its doo… … Read More

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Unpopular Opinions: Musicians Should Have Controversial Political Opinions

It might make me unpopular but… I’m willing to stand up for Brian Eno (even if some people say he’s anti-Semitic).

Liberal activism in entertainment is so standard that no one batted an eye when 623,000 celebs come out for Obama, but what happens when someone says something that could actually inspire outrage? In the infamous case of the Dixie Chicks’ anti-Bush outburst or the ousting of pop politicos like Bill Maher and Donahue for “un-American” actions, unsanctioned activism got them berated and summarily blacklisted.

Why is it then that legendary UK producer and performer Brian Eno’s recent screed on the Israel/Palestinian conflict — an infinitely more controversial and untouchable issue — has elicited fairly middle-of-the-road response? … Read More

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Critical Review: An Interview with Pitchfork Managing Editor Mark Richardson on Animal Collective

When we reviewed Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion, it seemed unconscionable that the hype around the as-yet-unreleased album could be any bigger (as reviewer Andrew Phillips said, message boards were flooded, blogs were ablaze, and fans had resorted to hacking the band’s email account). That’s when underground powerhouse Pitchfork (kingpin of the love/hate indie-rocker relationship) weighed in, bestowing its hallowed Best New Music designation and a 9.6 rating.

While the review wasn’t an unprecedented event, it did lay down a higher ranking than the publication gave ANY album in ’08. After the jump, the author of the review, Pitchfork Managing Editor Mark Richardson, goes one-on-one with Flavorwire’s resident avant-pop obsessive and Unpopular Opinions aficionado, The Beard, about the album, the band’s ascendancy, the potential pitfalls of extremely high and low rankings, and what can happen when reviewers get it wrong.

… Read More

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