Earplug

The Top 10 Acts to Watch from SXSW 2010

With over 2,000 bands performing in Austin, Texas, for this year’s SXSW music festival, separating the ones-to-watch from the ones-to-wash was a challenge even if you were there. While we weren’t able to catch every artist in attendance, now that the dust has settled and our brains have become (relatively) unscrambled, we were able to compile the best of the best — in order to give you the top 10 acts from the melee to watch out for in 2010. From quirky UK pop to retro soul to inspired global sounds, we’ve got you covered for the upcoming months. Listen to all of the artists, watch videos, and rock out after the jump. … Read More

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10 Music Videos That Put Their Songs to Shame

When OK Go dropped their new video for “This Too Shall Pass,” the Internet became abuzz — and rightfully so, as the clip is near-genius. (Go behind-the-scenes courtesy of Fast Company.) The band spent three months building what is essentially a giant, musical game of Mouse Trap, with the help of friends from NASA and Jet Propulsion Labs.

This isn’t the first time the band has grabbed our attention with a music video, as the infamous treadmill choreography of “Here It Goes Again” is also, admittedly, kind of brilliant. Unfortunately, OK Go have never quite caught up to the level of their visual aesthetic on the musical end of things. Of course, they’re not the only act that has been outshined by its own videos. The following clips exemplify just what happens when an unexceptional song gets trumped by an exceptional visual counterpart. … Read More

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Short Albums for a Short Month: Our 10 All-Time Favorite EPs

As February draws to a close, we can’t say we’ll miss the cold weather, snowstorms, and other dead-of-winter surprises it has thrown our way. But we would like to get something positive out of it. That’s why we’re taking the opportunity of this abbreviated month to draw your attention to something else that’s short and, unlike February, has always been pretty underrated: The EP. While these minimalist, economical mini-albums have introduced us to countless new acts that couldn’t muster the cash or didn’t have the material to record a full-length, LPs still get all the love. To remedy that, we’re counting down our 10 favorite EPs of all time — and, as a bonus, introducing you to three new ones you’d do well to check out. … Read More

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So Happy Together: Strange Musical Collaborations

In a music world where cross-genre dissemination is the norm, it takes truly incongruous pairings to raise eyebrows. That’s exactly what happened when it was announced this past week that legendary black-metal artist Xasthur is working with the sweet coos of freak-folkie Marissa Nadler on an album to be released later this year. It remains to be seen if the combination will yield creative dividends; plenty of other odd projects have done nothing but inspire awkward hilarity.

And then, there are a few that are pure magic. After the jump, find some of our favorite musical collaborations from the most unexpected of pairings. Leave a comment and let us know which ones we left out. … Read More

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Enough About Love: A Post-Valentine’s Day Megamix

We have nothing against Valentine’s Day. In fact, we aren’t ashamed to admit that we’ve been known to make a mushy mixtape or ten for that special someone. (Hey, it’s a cheap gift.) But by the time February 15 rolls around, we’ve just had enough. If we have to see one more conversation heart, red rose, or sweet-faced teddy bear clutching a plush heart, we’ll throw up. It almost goes without saying that we’re also burned out on love songs.

Too bad that about 75 percent of the tracks on our iPod have something to do with romance: having it, longing for it, ending it, regretting it. And that’s why we’ve sought refuge from Cupid and his minions by scanning our music library for songs that evoke emotions other than love. After the jump, listen to our exhaustive playlist of tunes that make us feel everything from masochistic and medicated to rebellious and voyeuristic. … Read More

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Unsound Festival Artists Predict the Future of Electronic Music

Feb. 4th was the kick-start date for the Unsound Festival New York, an ambitious ten-day electronic music event throughout various venues in the city and in Brooklyn. In the spirit of this festival being dedicated to advanced talent and creativity we reached out to several of the artists involved who are considered innovators at the forefront of electronic music we asked them – “what do you envision as the future of electronic music, and how do you see your work evolving with that in… Read More

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Is Indie Dead?: Music Critics Respond

Earlier this week, Paste magazine posted its February cover story online, intentionally raising a few eyebrows. Rachael Maddux’s piece asks “Is Indie Dead?” Her answer: Yes it is. And it killed itself. That is, if you can even get anyone to agree on what the word “indie” means. According to Maddux,

“We have several… Read More

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Breaking the Hype Cycle: 10 Buzz Bands That Avoided the Sophomore Slump

By now, the psychedelic Brooklynites in Yeasayer are probably sick of being compared to Animal Collective. So we hope they don’t mind us saying that listening to their second full-length, Odd Blood, this January reminds us of playing AnCo’s Merriweather Post Pavilion at the same time last year — which is to say, as far as we’re concerned, Odd Blood has set the bar for 2010. A 2007 buzz band with the release of debut All Hour Cymbals, Yeasayer have massively overhauled their sound on the new record, trading the devotional and hypnotic for something that’s more upbeat and darkly revelatory.

This reinvention has saved Yeasayer from the sad fate of so many former critical darlings, from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! to Tapes ‘N Tapes to (dare we say it?) Vampire Weekend: that disappointment we call the “sophomore slump.” So, in celebration of Odd Blood, we offer 10 blog-age artists whose second full-lengths lived up to (or surpassed) the promise of their predecessors. … Read More

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Full Metal Meditation: Heavy Music for Your Next Spiritual Journey

If you’re one of the many admirers who discovered Sunn O))) through last year’s galaxy-shaking Monoliths and Dimensions, then you understand the soothing effects of doom metal. As the band’s guitarist Greg Anderson told author and enthusiast John Wray in a 2006 New York Times Magazine profile, “I think low-frequency sound, when played above a certain volume, is very conducive to a meditative state or a trance.” This isn’t metal for headbanging; it’s metal to meditate… Read More

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Tired of Sex: Has Indie Rock Gone Flaccid?

Katie Roiphe caused a stir with her recent New York Times essay “The Naked and the Conflicted,” which argues that a large chunk of today’s heterosexual male authors tend to not only shy away from sex, but also express disgust and even boredom with it. But we’re not here to rehash the ample controversy she incited. Instead, we’ve decided to see whether her thesis applies to young, male artists in another arena: indie rock. We examined some of last year’s buzziest hits to determine whether their creators find sex as passé as their literary counterparts. Will hipster rockers prove the exception by summoning the libido of Of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes? Also: Where the ladies at, and are their sexual antics stealing the striptease? … Read More

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