Andrew Paschal: Lots of pop artists sing about overcoming adversity and “not giving up”, and often it rings hollow, coming across mostly as a fear of negative emotions and insistence on positivity at all costs. When Sia sings about these things, though, I believe her. Her lyrics are no different than your typical Katy Perry or Demi Lovato anthem, but you can hear the pain and brokenness in her voice; the fact that she weaves such shattered emotions into a perfect pop tapestry, as she does on “The Greatest”, speaks to a real and authentic triumph. This has been Sia’s calling card ever since her pop revitalization a few years back, but there’s something particularly labyrinthine, twisted, and gnarled about this one that makes it stand out even by Sia standards. Unlike the extraverted bangers on This Is Acting, “The Greatest” is rawer and more psychological; it takes you inside a mind coursing with adrenaline, the survival instinct kicking in just as the water begins to rise. [8/10]
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It’s been a long four years for Rachel Yamagata.
For fans of the once theater-bound singer songwriter, the PledgeMusic campaign that helped create her 2011 effort Chesapeake was godsend, having survived two rounds of major label action. “PledgeMusic saved me,” she told PopMatters back in 2011. “It was something that allowed me to make instinctual decisions about how the funding would be used, and I didn’t have to get clearances from anyone. I’m sitting here now writing hand-written lyrics for people who supported the album. I love that fans can support something in advance they would’ve supported anyway. And I get to share behind-the-scenes stuff with them! It’s a great way to get more authentic music.”
“Winning a Losing Battle” is taken from the upcoming Crippled Black Phoenix release, Bronze, out November 4 via Season of Mist. The nine-minute track reaches far and wide as it takes listeners from the vintage progressive rock era of Pink Floyd and Robert Wyatt to the contemporary sounds of post-rock. Along the way there are brief pauses for passages that call to mind film scores and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.
As is our habit on the podcast, we occasionally like to sample what is going on in the free-to-play gaming.
This week we discuss three games available on Steam, A Date in the Park, Mandagon, and The Lion’s Songs as examples of lowbrow, middle brow, and high brow offerings within the free-to-play market.
It’s fair to say that last year’s Gdynia Film Festival—the 40th edition of Poland’s most prestigious showcase for its national cinema—was a festival like no other. This was for reasons both good (notably, a superb selection of films including works as diverse as Jerzy Skolimowski’s sublime city symphony 11 Minutes, Kuba Czekaj’s mind-blowing candy-coloured puberty portrait Baby Bump, Kinga Dębska’s touching and hilarious These Daughters of Mine, and Małgorzata Szumowska’s wryly austere Body/Ciało, which scooped the main prize) and for reasons truly horrendous: namely, the death of the 42-year-old director Marcin Wrona, which occurred on the penultimate evening of the event.
The emotions were still raw when I posted my final dispatch, and I would only add to that post that many of us who were at Gdynia in 2015 ended up feeling changed by the whole experience, which combined the great joy of seeing so much challenging and inspiring work with shared shock and grief at a talented filmmaker’s passing.