It’s fair to say that a band that combines Japanese, Balkan, cumbia, gypsy, dub, tribal, roots, and 8-bit music will probably sound just a little bit eclectic. Such are the Dolomites, who for years have been combining different forms of world music to create one crazy, eclectic, and hugely enjoyable whole. Take “Wakannai”, for instance, whose video we’re premiering here today. Featuring accordion, tuba, darabuka, and wadaioko, the song inexplicably marries Balkan polka, Japanese/English lyrics, and tribal scatting, yet manages to wriggle into your head in seconds.
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Known for his collaborations with Nico, John Cale, and Pere Ubu (where he serves as an auxiliary member) Graham “Dids” Dowdall has been making music for decades, and his latest under the pseudonym Gagarin, the forthcoming full-length Aoticp, continues the artist’s experimentation in the electronic realm. The humming, lurching “Feral Dreams” is a great indication of what you can expect to hear on its eleven tracks, a combination of hypnotic ambient electronica and thrumming, skittering percussion, vague in form save for the skeletal structure of the beats. Part classic electronic, part futuristic.
What was blaxploitation? This topical ‘70s trend in trashy exploitation put a racial angle on revenge. Its method was to appeal to the viewers’ lowest instincts while delivering a fast, violent entertainment that pretended to be “empowering” while touching on real issues of crime, oppression, exploitation, and whatnot. In other words, black folks got to kick ass. Often written, produced, and directed by white guys (with a few notable exceptions), these films ran the gamut from the relatively serious to the distasteful to the fun. Sugar Hill (1974), not to be confused with a Wesley Snipes movie of the same name, tilts to the fun end of the spectrum.
Three years after first turning heads with the modest hit “Heartbeat”, Nashville band Kopecky returned this past spring with their second album Drug for the Modern Age. Plaintive yet polished, humble yet bombastic, it’s a study of contrasts, with the band underscoring lyrics about difficult times with triumphant, soaring melodies. You feel that contrast on the affable “Talk to Me”, which somehow, incredibly, morphs from cruising indie pop reminiscent of Stars to a fabulous 1980s R&B chorus that echoes Hall and Oates and ABC. As it happens the band has just released a video for the track – the album’s second single – and we’re very pleased to premiere the performance clip here at PopMatters.
The infamously cantankerous Sun Kil Moon frontman Mark Kozelek added yet another controversy to his name on 1 June 2015. While performing at London’s Barbican venue, Kozelek openly called out journalist Laura Snapes on stage, using misogynistic language—sadly, to the glee of his audience. Snapes later wrote about the incident for the Guardian. This incident no doubt triggered questions about just how much people continue to put up with Kozelek’s grouchy old man routine, particularly as it continues to rear its sexist and homophobic head. More interestingly, however, is the way in which his behavior plays into the immortal query in the realm of aesthetics: “Can you separate art from the artist?” Is it easy for people to make Sun Kil Moon’s Benji one of the most acclaimed albums of 2014 knowing Kozelek’s public persona?