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by Alan Ranta

1 Jun 2015


Vancouver’s Colin Cowan has earned himself a respectful reputation on the back of his work with the likes of Dan Mangan, Dada Plan, and Woodpigeon, but his solo work is quickly proving its worth among them in the upper echelons of the Canadian indie scene. Spring Myths is the third installment in Cowan’s seasonal album tetralogy, and it’s both his most brilliant and solitary effort. Cowan played most of it himself, recorded by Dada Plan bandmate Malcolm Biddle directly onto 8-track tape with no assistance from computers. Its weirdly charming psych-pop forms channel something deep and classic, a dwindling memory of how things used to be when artists sought to break free of major labels and tap directly into their creative spirit for all to enjoy.

by Brice Ezell

29 May 2015


Tim Bowness, one half of the British art-rock duo No-Man, recently announced his latest solo venture, Stupid Things That Mean the World. Bowness is clearly in the middle of a creatively fertile period, as his new record comes not long after his excellent 2014 outing Abandoned Dancehall Dreams.

PopMatters is proud to premiere the first video tied to Stupid Things that Mean the World, for the haunting track “Great Electric Teenage Dream”. With powerful drumming reminiscent of the booming opener to Abandoned Dancehall Dreams, “The Warm-Up Man Forever”, the song is a rocker of an intensity rarely heard in the music of No-Man. While Bowness’ music in that duo, where he is joined by Steven Wilson on instruments, is often minimalist and introspective, on “Great Electric Teenage Dream” he cranks up the rock dynamics considerably. The music heightens the stark past/present contrasts Bowness highlights in his lyrics, some of which he no doubt knows all too well: “Your great electric teenage dream / Once a record / Now an unpaid stream.”

by Brice Ezell

28 May 2015


As far as 20th century literary figures go, few are held in high repute as much as the late David Foster Wallace (1962-2008). Unsurprisingly, then, people have had a desire to further understand and process the man and his work, which in part explains the decision to make a film wherein he is a main figure. James Ponsoldt’s The End of the Tour is such a film; an adaptation of David Lipsky’s Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, it tells the story of a road trip Lipsky takes with Wallace while the latter is on a book tour. Jesse Eisenberg plays Lipsky, and Jason Segel takes on the lofty task of portraying Wallace.

by Brice Ezell

28 May 2015


Sorrow and loss are deeply woven into the country music fabric, but they’re especially critical elements to the new LP by Jeremy Pinnell, OH/KY. With a gruff voice and a strong grasp on what real country sounds like, Pinnell spins a series of compelling yarns on the album that document the hardships of the past 18 years of his life, from drug addiction to failed relationships. On the cut “Big Bright World”, Pinnell takes the former head-on, singing, “I love the needle, son / And the needle loves me / It wants nobody to be free.” As Pinnell puts it in describing OH/KY, “You live the life I live, and you will know the way that country sounds.” Fortunately, as “Big Bright World” attests, Pinnell’s life isn’t all loss: “I’m lucky to be in this big bright world”, he sings.

OH/KY received a limited Kentucky/Ohio release back in 2014, and is now seeing its national United States release this summer. In his 7 out of 10 review of the album for its limited release in 2014 for PopMatters, Eric Risch calls these tunes “a tutorial on classic country music”.

by Brice Ezell

28 May 2015


The folk and singer/songwriter genre has become increasingly oversaturated in the past ten years, as there appears to be no shortage of white dudes who air their problems out over fingerpicked acoustic guitar. Finding a songwriter in this mass who knows how to properly execute a good melody or hook is often a difficult task. Fortunately, that feature is what New York City musician Tyler Lyle has in spades, as his new LP The Native Genius of Desert Plants shows. Much like the English guitar picker Ben Howard, Lyle strikes a happy medium between the introspection of the “guy with an acoustic guitar” format and sophisticated pop smarts. Tracks like single “Winter is for Kierkegaard” also show that he knows his way around lyric writing, to boot.

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