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by Tommy Marx

7 Aug 2009

In 1988, Sinead O’Connor released The Lion and the Cobra, her critically-acclaimed debut album. Rolling Stone called her one of the women “shattering the boundaries of pop music”, but the album peaked at #36 on the Billboard 200 and none of her singles charted in the United States.

Then she recorded “Nothing Compares 2 U”, a cover of a Prince song originally released on The Family’s self-titled album, and everything changed. The video was mesmerizing, combining gothic imagery with a tight close-up on her face that gave the song a transcendent power. “Nothing” eventually spent four weeks at the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and propelled the I Do Not Want What I Have Not Got album to become a double platinum, number one bestseller.

For a moment in time, Sinead was a superstar.

by PopMatters Staff

7 Aug 2009

Noah and the Whale
The First Days of Spring
(Cherrytree/Interscope)
Releasing: 31 August (UK) / 6 October (US)

SONG LIST
01 The First Days Of Spring
02 Our Window
03 I Have Nothing
04 My Broken Heart
05 Instrumental I
06 Love of an Orchestra
07 Instrumental II
08 Stranger
09 Blue Skies
10 Slow Glass
11 My Door Is Always Open

by PopMatters Staff

7 Aug 2009

Castanets
Texas Rose, the Thaw, and the Beasts
(Asthmatic Kitty)
Releasing: 22 September

SONG LIST
01 Rose
02 On Beginning
03 My Heart
04 Worn From the Fight (With Fireworks)
05 No Trouble
06 Thaw and the Beasts
07 We Kept Our Kitchen Clean and Our Dreaming Quiet
08 Down the Line, Love
09 Lucky Old Moon
10 Ignorance Is Blues
11 Dance, Dance

Castanets
“Worn From the Fight (With Fireworks)” [MP3]
     

by PopMatters Staff

7 Aug 2009

Paul Banks from Interpol just released a new project this week, Julian Plenti Is… Skyscraper, and has teamed with Emily Haines (Metric) for the “Games for Days” video. Along the same leisure time theme title-wise, here’s also the MP3 for “Fun That We Have”.

Julian Plenti
“Fun That We Have” [MP3]
     

by Sarah Boslaugh

7 Aug 2009

Sergeant Jim Chee of the Navajo Tribal Police, introduced in Tony Hillerman’s 1980 novel,  People of Darkness,  is one of the enduring characters of mystery fiction. He embodies the conflicts felt by many bicultural people who struggle to integrate within their own lives influences from the modern, white world (Chee studied anthropology at the University of New Mexico and is considering joining the FBI) and their traditional cultural heritage (he’s studying to be a yataalii or Navajo healer).

A clear literary precedent is Detective Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte, the half-Aboriginal detective in Arthur Upfield’s detective novels: like “Bony” Chee draws on his multi-cultural knowledge and experience in solving crimes. But Chee is more palatable to modern tastes: the Navajo are a sovereign nation and Chee can interact with the biligana world of white people on his own terms, without needing to embrace its values.

As is typical with Hillerman novels, People of Darkness begins by plunging you into the action. In this case, a bomb is set off at a cancer clinic. Then a box of keepsakes is stolen, a shadowy character passes through town, and a man is murdered. It all seems to have something to do with a group called the “People of Darkness” and peyote and an oil-drilling accident which occurred in the late 1940s. And because it’s a Hillerman novel readers get an ample serving of Navajo culture and New Mexico geography along with their mystery. That aspect is excellent as always (in fact, it’s the main reason I keep returning to Hillerman’s books) and the character of Chee is complex and believable.

Too bad Hillerman had a tin ear when it came to romance:  the story of Chee’s dalliance with the white schoolteacher Mary Landon rings false from beginning to end. But it’s worse than that: Mary, like the Chee’s girlfriends in the later novels, is little more than a plot device to allow Hillerman to explore Chee’s attitude towards his Navajo heritage. Setting that weakness aside, People of Darkness is an enjoyable mystery novel which provides a glimpse inside a culture which is foreign to most people.

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