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by PopMatters Staff

10 Jul 2009

Americana music god Levon Helm played Letterman this week, serving up a tune off his new album, Electric Dirt.

by Kirstie Shanley

10 Jul 2009

If you were to take the lush vocals found in bands like Starflyer 59 and combine them with the beautiful melancholy of fellow Texans Midlake, you might get something close to resembling Robert Gomez. Backed by a keyboardist and French horn player, Gomez, on guitar, played selections from his last two stellar albums, 2007’s Brand New Towns and his most recent, 2009’s Pine Sticks and Phosphorous. It’s a difficult task, but Gomez manages to construct sad pop songs that tend to linger inside your brain long after the song has finished without the interference of drums and bass. Though he does use drums on some of his studio recordings, the loss of them live made it seem more personal rather then something was missing.

Gomez appeared rather thin and tall on stage and yet his demeanor was a very understated and modest one. He filled the room with alternating dreamy instrumentals and then more structured pop songs with lyrics. His voice is never insistent or even passionate but has a gentle quality that suggests a man trying to find his way in the darkness of the world. When he’s not singing, the instrumentals he creates are heartfelt, similar to what Jon Brion does for soundtracks. You can’t help but experience a sense of wonder listening to them as if they are part of a soundtrack to your life and your life has become a strange sort of cinema.

Though he’s an adept guitar player, with some intricate finger picking now and then, his best skill lies within the overall creation of these delicate laments. They are sad dreams for when you’re awake. Gomez began his forty-five minute set with “October 3rd Post”, a glorious symphony that seems in essence to instrumentally describe the wonder of fall and simultaneously the dread of the coming winter. That seemed to set a certain tone and worked as a wonderful companion for “Middle of Nowhere”. Other highlights of the set included “Hunting Song” and “A Paper Figurine”.

by Matt Mazur

10 Jul 2009

Almodovar is one of the most consistently exciting auteurs in the world, and in celebration of his newest film Broken Embraces, PopMatters is readying a week-long look at the director’s life, work and themes. While our inaugural “Directors Spotlight” series is a bit far off (look for the section to run in mid- to late- November, the excellent, nicely-cut English subtitled trailer is out now! Let the countdown to Almodovar Week officially begin!

by Joe Tacopino

10 Jul 2009

Chad VanGaalen has put aside his singer-songwriter persona to explore his electronic side under the name Black Mold. Check his Dan Deacon-like electro wizardry on “Tetra Pack Heads”.

Black Mold
“Tetra Pack Heads” [MP3]
     

by Chris Conaton

10 Jul 2009

Harper’s Island finishes its run with a two-hour series finale on Saturday night. For those few of us who are still watching, it will be a kick to finally see who was behind it all. The main killer has already been revealed, but the question of which cast member or members were his accomplices is still up in the air. But the answer to the question “Why are there so few viewers left?” is worth pondering. Harper’s Island premiered to much fanfare in early April. CBS promoted it relentlessly during its primetime shows and during its coverage of the NCAA basketball tournament in March. The network even gave it a plum schedule slot, right after the still-powerful CSI on Thursday nights. The premiere episode scored great ratings, and yet by May the show was airing in the network dead zone of Saturday night. Even worse, CBS pre-empted the program during the final week of May sweeps in favor of airing reruns of other shows.

So what went wrong? Well, the viewers who tuned into that first episode expecting a taut murder mystery with a healthy helping of violence received the latter, but not much of the former. Truth is, Harper’s Island is not a very good show. There are too many cast members running around to give any character depth to all but the primary three or four leads. The rest are typical stereotypes you see in any soap opera or horror movie. There’s the rich daddy who isn’t happy that his daughter is marrying a commoner, the sleazy uncle who parties too much, the sullen drugged-out brother, the blonde princess with a tiny yappy dog, the earnest foreigner, the bride’s menacing ex, the bumbling fat guy, the douchebag, and the token black guy. Not to mention the residents of the island where the wedding was supposed to take place: the groom’s female best friend, her nice but sorta creepy ex-boyfriend, the bully with a chip on his shoulder, and the sheriff with a history. They needed all these characters because it was a given that the body count was going to be high. But in the early episodes this cast was handled with all the finesse of a daytime soap. They all came with pre-existing backgrounds with each other, but we couldn’t be bothered to care about any of it, especially since we knew most of them were just going to be offed anyway.

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