Call for Feature Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

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Tuesday, May 8, 2007
by PopMatters Staff

The Clientele —"Bookshop Cassanova"
From God Save The Clientele on Merge
The band are setting free their inner Monkees; a lovely blend of Big Star twisted power-pop and country achin’, with flashes of the Beatles at their most joyful and upbeat. The ghosts, half-light and uncertainties remain, but I sense a new found optimism in the music. Perhaps born of new love? Definitely a new era for the Clientele.


Shapes and Sizes —"Alone/Alive"
From Split Lips, Winning Hips, A Shiner on Asthmatic Kitty
Split Lips, Winning Hips, A Shiner kicks off with a solid rock march ambitious enough to soundtrack the first 10 miles of any road trip. The opening track is one that Shapes and Sizes could very well have penned during their recent 30 kilometer move from Victoria, where the band members met through the city’s vibrant artistic community, to Vancouver, B.C.


Dinosaur Jr. —"Almost Ready"
From Beyond on Fat Possum
Although always as loud as god, it was easy to convince yourself the music of Dinosaur Jr. was far more passive than aggressive. This myth exploded in a hail of flaming toads in the spring of 1989, when the band’s original trio line-up burst like a ripe sac of pus. In the intervening years there have been various versions of Dinosaur Jr., several of which made use of ur-drummer, Murph; but none of them included prodigal bassist, Lou Barlow. Until now. Until Beyond.


Shannon Wright —"St. Pete"
From Let In The Light on Quarterstick
You might be tempted to compare Shannon Wright to whatever ingénue’s tearing up the internet at the moment or some other gal with a guitar and something to say. That’s missing the point, though. After four solo records on Quarterstick, as well as her earlier work with Florida’s Crowsdell, Shannon’s been around the block a few times, each time growing stronger and more sincere, and that’s what makes her different. She takes the clarity and artistic sensibility of Lou Reed, mixes them with the subdued simplicity of Erik Satie and the explosive abilities of Jimmy Page, and emerges as her own artist.


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Monday, May 7, 2007
by PopMatters Staff

Björk
Volta videocast - Part 1 [M4V]
Volta videocast - Part 2 [M4V]
Volta videocast - Part 3 [M4V]


Our favorite Icelandic pixie songstress is back with her sixth album. Volta is a grouchy affair, whether burning hot with big beats and booming vocals or brewing in a bad mood. Evaluated purely for its placement along her artistic trajectory, the record finds Björk successfully pushing into new realms, moving restlessly and relentlessly forward. As with 2004’s Medúlla, however, the trails that she blazes are sometimes difficult for the listener to navigate. In case you hadn’t noticed yet, Björk is out there.—Michael Keefe, PopMatters review of Volta—7 May 2007


Watermelon Slim [PopMatters review]
The Wheel Man [MP3]
     


I’ve Got News [MP3]
     


Black Water [MP3]
     


Buy at iTunes Music Store


“Take a peak for yourself as to why The Wheel Man received six Blues Music Award nominations and won Mojo Magazine’s Best Blues Album of the Year. He really is “King of the Blues”.”—Northern Blues [released 17 April 2007]


Benni Hemm Hemm
snjórjljóssnjór [MP3]
     


Fred Anderson & Hamid Drake
Planet E [MP3]
     



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Thursday, May 3, 2007
by PopMatters Staff

Betty Davis
Anti Love Song [MP3]
     


He Was a Big Freak [MP3]
     


Buy at iTunes Music Store


“For the first time, Betty’s critically adored first two albums are being lovingly re-mastered from the original master tapes by Light In The Attic Records to sound as ferocious and revolutionary as they did when they first sprung on an unsuspecting world in the early ‘70s. In recent years, rappers from Ice Cube to Talib Kweli to Ludacris have rhymed over the intensely strong but sensual funk of Betty Davis. One can hardly imagine the genre busting, culture-crossing musical magic of Outkast, Prince, Erykah Badu, Rick James, The Roots, or even the early Red Hot Chili Peppers without the influence of this R&B pioneer. Ms. Davis’s unique story is unlike any other in popular music. Betty wrote the song “Uptown” for the Chambers Brothers before marrying Miles Davis in the late ‘60s, influencing him with psychedelic rock, and introducing him to Jimi Hendrix—personally inspiring the classic jazz-rock fusion album ‘Bitches Brew.’ Betty not only wrote every song she ever recorded and produced every album after her first, but the young woman penned the tunes that got The Commodores signed to Motown. The Detroit label soon came calling, pitching a Motown songwriting deal, which Betty turned down. Motown wanted to own everything. Heading to the UK, Marc Bolan of T. Rex urged the creative dynamo to start writing for herself.”—Light in the Attic Records [releasing 15 May 2007 in the U.S.]


Get Him Eat Him
2x2 [MP3]
     


The Old Soul
Nectar of the Nitwit [MP3]
     


The Race
Feathers [MP3]
     


Walls [MP3]
     


Cary Brothers
Who You Are [MP3]
     


Dan Deacon
The Crystal Cat [MP3]
     



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Sunday, Apr 29, 2007
by PopMatters Staff

Elliott Smith
High Times [MP3]
     


Buy at Kill Rock Stars Pre-order


New Moon contains 24 songs recorded 1994-1997, a prolific time in Smith’s career, when he recorded his self-titled album and Either/Or (both also released by Kill Rock Stars). Arguably the most gifted song-writer of his generation, Elliott Smith produced a large body of work that includes five solo albums, as well as From a Basement on the Hill (2004), a collection of songs completed before his death in 2003. Like his other work, New Moon reflects the power of Smith’s ability to integrate rich, melodic music with poetic, multi-layered lyrics.”—Kill Rock Stars [releasing 8 May 2007]


The Saturday Knights
45 [MP3]
     


Buy at iTunes Music Store


“The Saturday Knights are a culmination of four freaks, a jaw-jacking combination of performing personalities: Storyteller and entertainer Tilson, who can tickle any lady’s funny bone; low-income yarn spinner and urban graffiti poet Barfly; indie rock and hip-hop mutli-instrumentalist B-Web, who brought together those genres on his joints for Olympia, Washington label K Records; and pumped up by the big beats and psychedelic turntable-art of DJ Suspence.”—Light in the Attic Records


Tarwater
A Marriage in Belmont [MP3]
     


St. Vincent
Now. Now. [MP3]
     


Shannon Wright
Everybody’s Got Their Own Part to Play [MP3]
     


 


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Friday, Apr 27, 2007

Perhaps the greatest cellist of the 20th century and surely one of the finest musicians of our times or of any age, Mstislav Rostropovich has died at the age of 80 in a Moscow cancer hospital.  Rostropovich inspired countless composers to develop works for the cello, Shostakovich and Britten among them, and he made the instrument synonymous with his name.  Born in 1927 in Baku, Azerbaijan, the son of a musical family, Rostropovich studied at the Moscow Conservatory with famed Russian composers Dmitri Shostakovich and Sergei Prokofiev.  He went on to early fame and was a major influence on all the young cellists following in his wake.  Rostropovich was also a voice of dissendence and a champion of cultural freedom during the Cold War era, resulting in the loss of his Soviet citizenship in 1978.  Rostropovich was a true musical giant and we remember him here with some video highlights, including Bach, Haydn and a six-part rendition of the work most associated with him, Dvořák’s B minor cello concerto.—Sarah Zupko


Rostropovich - Dvořák Cello Concerto - Part 1


Rostropovich - Dvořák Cello Concerto - Part 2


Rostropovich - Dvořák Cello Concerto - Part 3


Rostropovich - Dvořák Cello Concerto - Part 4


Rostropovich - Dvořák Cello Concerto - Part 5


Rostropovich - Dvořák Cello Concerto - Part 6


Rostropovich - Prelude from Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1


Rostropovich - Bach’s Bourree - Suite No 3


Rostropovich - Haydn Cello Concerto [1981]


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