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Thursday, Aug 28, 2014
(Dedicate one to the ladies...) This week's Counterbalance found the simple life ain't so simple, when it jumped out on the road. We're taking a look at Van Halen's 1978 debut album, which we're told is living at a pace that kills.

Mendelsohn: The one thing I liked about working from the Great List before the Counterbalance revamp was the weekly marching order. Didn’t matter what it was, whether or not we liked it, we were going to listen to it and have a little back-and-forth. Sometimes it was a drag. But mostly, the Great List offered up some interesting listening material. Looking down the list, it was pretty easy to tell who was going to stand behind specific albums. We are nothing if not predictable. But every now and then we would get to an album and more than anything I just wanted to know what you had to say about it.


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Thursday, Aug 28, 2014
Perhaps Fear in the Night will never look or sound better, always like a nagging, half-forgotten celluloid memory.

The world of film noir is full of passive patsies and benighted saps, and one of the most passive and benighted is Vincent Grayson, played by skinny young DeForest Kelley in his debut film. The low-budget wonder Fear in the Night is one of the most oneiric and dreamlike of noirs.


The first reel is surreal in several ways. It opens with wavering montages of superimposed images to indicate the hero’s dream state. These images showcase a room with multiple mirrors and doors. This must naturally remind noir fans of Orson WellesThe Lady from Shanghai, which came out the following year. Of course, the Welles version is even more flashy and disorienting, although it wasn’t a dream sequence. But then, maybe this one isn’t either. One of this uncanny movie’s mysteries is whether or how much of what we see is a dream. Crime films discovered the power of surreal dreams following Stranger on the Third Floor (1940) and this trend was hitting stride in “psychiatric” items like Spellbound (1945) and Shock (1946). Fear in the Night is a high point.


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Thursday, Aug 28, 2014
The atmosphere of any live sporting event is a unique slice of that sport’s spectator culture. Where does eSports, and specifically League of Legends, fit in?

I’m sitting near the front row at my first live eSports event. It’s the League of Legends North American Regionals quarterfinals featuring Curse vs CLG, and the stakes are high. One of these teams has a chance at attending the World Championship in South Korea. The other is going home. The two teams file into their rows of computers on stage, while a huge screen starts a countdown to this pivotal match. From somewhere in the back row, up in the bleachers, comes the sound of a vuvuzela.


The atmosphere of any live sporting event is a unique slice of that sport’s spectator culture. Baseball might be about hot dogs, cracker jacks, and long breaks between plays. Hockey might be about chants or throwing octopi onto the ice. They can be heated affairs with hostile rivalries between opposing fans, or they can be calmer affairs dedicated to the appreciation of a match well played. Where does eSports, and specifically League of Legends, fit in?


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Wednesday, Aug 27, 2014
Afropunk Fest felt more politically charged this year. People had their hands in the air as a tribute to Michael Brown nearly as often as they did for the performers.

The atmosphere at the 2014 Afropunk Festival was permeated by the happenings in Ferguson, Missouri (namely the death of Michael Brown) and last month’s chokehold-related death of Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York. People had their hands in the air as a tribute to Michael Brown nearly as often as they did for the performers. In correlation, the (what seemed to me to be) higher police presence at the fest didn’t impede any of the fun, nor did the weather for the most part. Saturday was a bit overcast and there was a light rain for a bit which may have been enough to keep some of the crowds away—Sunday was extraordinarily tight when the sun was out in full force. Photos from much of Saturday (I didn’t stay for Sharon Jones partly because I caught her earlier this year and part of Sunday (D’Angelo with the Roots headlined but photographers weren’t allowed in the pit and he started an hour late) are below. Other notable moments were seeing Mayor de Blasio on site for Bad Brains set and Cold Specks unfortunately not performing due to visa issues.


Check out a larger gallery of higher-res images over on Facebook!


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Wednesday, Aug 27, 2014
The jazzy stylings of Bee vs. Moth are imbued with a punk effervescence of the kind heard in groups like Bomb the Music Industry!

One wouldn’t be wrong in calling Bee vs. Moth a jazz group, but there’s something else at play in the Austin, Texas trio’s sonic. The group, comprised of founding members Sarah Norris (drums) and Philip Moody (bass), as well as guitarist James Fidlon, plays music that sounds a lot like jazz but has the energy of something more raw and primal.


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