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by PopMatters Staff

16 Aug 2011

Photo: Amanda Johnson

Minneapolis’ Caroline Smith & the Good Night Sleeps release their latest album Little Wind this coming September 20th. The new work sees the band still rooted in folk rock, but expanding their sound into contemporary indie rock. The catchy hooks thankfully remain, but broadening their approach seems destined to win the group a new set of fans, while keeping their old ones quite happy. Smith said of the new album, “This record took a lot out of us as a band. We were in a huge transitional period when we were writing these songs and still not completely comfortable with any of them when we finally went into the studio. But because we were so unsettled with everything, the songs and the band, the record means so much more to us now because we got to see it all come together in front of our eyes and turn in to something we are all so proud of.”

Previously, Caroline Smith & the Good Night Sleeps made the lead track of Little Wind, “Tanktop”, available for download and you can check that out below. Today, we bring you the online premiere of another new tune from the record, “Calliope”. This song is emblematic of the catchy folk-pop married to indie rock that is the new aesthetic for the group. Smith’s voice is stronger than ever and the band is super tight in their backing, evidencing a high level of musicianship. Smith says that “Calliope” “is my older brother’s favorite song. I remember playing it for him in our living room when I was first writing it and he just leaped into the air and started dancing around and fist pumping. I wanted to capture that with the production of the song—I wanted to see how much harder I could get him to rock out once he heard the produced version. I think it worked.”

Look for Little Wind and live performances this fall as Caroline Smith & the Good Night Sleeps tour through September and October (dates below), kicking things off in Minneapolis naturally.

by Cynthia Fuchs

16 Aug 2011

Driving a taxi in Sana’a, Yemen’s capital, Abu Jandal says the job lets him “go out and mingle with people,” and as often as he jokes and exchanges stories with fares, he also lies outright, telling one nervous client the camera on the dashboard is turned off. “It belongs to a foreign company making a film about the daily life of taxi drivers,” he says, “Because they hear there’s an economic crisis and life is hard.” The questioner doesn’t know that Abu Jandal is Osama bin Laden’s former bodyguard, that he was imprisoned in Yemen for his participation in the U.S.S. Cole bombing, or that he is, at the time of filming, concerned that his brother-in-law, Salim Hamdan, is imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay. Such storytelling seems to come easily to Abu Jandal. Throughout Laura Poitras’ superb documentary, The Oath, he appears to be a good father, a deeply charismatic and manipulative interviewee, and a thoughtful former jihadist. Maybe. Though the film has no access to Hamdan, it cuts between Yemen and Guantánamo, where lawyers report on Hamdan’s trial by U.S. military commission. Abu Jandal says more than once that he feels responsible for Hamdan’s trouble, that he helped him to get work as bin Laden’s driver, a job that led to his imprisonment. Asserting his sense of responsibility for what happened to Hamdan, Abu Jandal also remains elusive, asking that Poitras “delete” an answer he’s made the day before. She does not, but rather includes the request, but it’s an inclusion that complicates Abu Jandal’s allure and credibility rather than undermining them.

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by PopMatters Staff

15 Aug 2011

Tomorrow Detroit’s Prussia are kicking off the release of a series of 10-inch singles with “Mediator”. This three-part series is titled “Poor English” and will roll out over the next three months while the band heads out on tour with El Ten Eleven. “Poor English” is an ambitious undertaking from a group known for tackling serious subjects underneath glossy pop melodies; in this go-around they sing tales of “suicide, misogyny, sexual vacancy, and the crippling ennui of illusory love”. The band describes it best as “T.S. Eliot’s drunken scribbling on a bathroom wall”.

by PopMatters Staff

15 Aug 2011

Brian Eno recently praised the 21-year-old Cosmo Jarvis, “he is a very interesting example to me of a new kind of person; a new kind of artist.” Considering that Eno has been something of a trailblazer his entire career, it’s pretty impressive to be labeled a “new kind of artist” from the likes of him. Jarvis has a restless creative spirit that seeks many outlets, as songwriter, musician, actor and director, who has apparently already created 300 songs. He will be following up his self-titled debut with Is The World Strange Or Am I Strange?, releasing 11 October via Frame / The End Records. The new album includes the viral smash hit “Gay Pirates”, which made fans of Stephen Fry and the NME, and was intended as pro-gay sing-a-long to be sung by the “rowdy lads”. While this album is in the midst of being unveiled via singles and videos, Jarvis is hard at work directing his first feature-length film, which he also penned the screenplay for. Today we’re proud to present the US online premiere of Jarvis’ latest video for the anthemic and punky, “My Day”, a tune with rousing choruses and sneering attitude up the wazoo.

by John Bergstrom

15 Aug 2011

In the mid-to-late 1980s, lots of bands popped up that sounded like Echo & the Bunnymen. On the surface, the Wild Swans were one of them. But their story was unique.

The band’s debut album, Bringing Home the Ashes, didn’t appear until 1988. But the Wild Swans had already established their reputation for starry-eyed guitar pop magnificence with the “Revolutionary Spirit” single in 1982. release was actually produced by the Bunnymen’s Pete De Freitas. Both the Wild Swans and the Bunnymen were signed to Bill Drummond’s Zoo label. The two bands were contemporaries.

Wild Swans leader Paul Simpson is set to release the band’s first album since Space Flower in 1990. The Coldest Winter for a Hundred Years is released August 1 in Europe and the following day in the US. Simpson’s always-fluid band now includes ex-Bunnymen bassist Les Pattinson as well as members of Brian Jonestown Massacre and Spiritualized. Here, via Slicing Up Eyeballs is a free download of album track “In Secret”. Thankfully, the band’s windswept sense of nostalgia hasn’t aged at all.

  The Wild Swans, ‘In Secret’ by Slicing Up Eyeballs

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