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by PopMatters Staff

12 Jan 2017


Photo: Danny Clinch

Adriane Pontecorvo: Valerie June brings us a gospel that speaks in tongues and gets down and dirty on “Shakedown”. A bluesy twang gives her folk sounds grit while June sings up a storm and unfettered keyboards rock without getting slick. If you’re not catching serious spirit, listen again and again and again: the simplicity is catching, and one listen isn’t enough. This is music that wakes the whole body, with knee slaps and hand claps all implied. This is a song made to shake the sins from your skin and your skin from your bones, and it’s got some heavy grooves. [8/10]

by Imran Khan

22 Dec 2016


Known for her art-rock compositions with Goya Dress and the more straightforward pop songwriting of her solo career, Shetland-born Astrid Williamson returns to the classical musical training of her formative years to present Requiem and Gallipoli. A ten-piece set of orchestral compositions written by Williamson herself, Requiem and Gallipoli is a crystalline example of the songwriter’s talents as a composer.

Her work with the atmospheric and dramatic alternative rock outfit Goya Dress established Williamson’s skill in combining the storms of pop-rock structures with the understated and moody arrangements of a string section. The artist further expressed classical designs in her follow-up solo work, always within a pop context.

by Cole Waterman

21 Dec 2016


Is this London / Brighton trio’s collective name meant to evoke a fictional character? Is it a sentence fragment ominously failing to resolve who or what it is this Johnny figure is slaying? That the members—Tim, Cameron, and Lewis—all take “Kills” as a surname a la the Ramones further muddies the water and deepens the intrigue.

by Sarah Zupko

15 Dec 2016


Photo: Elko Photography

San Fernando Valley’s Soul Scratch are a smoking hot soul band with superlative musicianship and one hell of a lead singer in Dale Spollett. Spollett possesses one of those force of nature soul voices that can’t be taught; one has to be born with it. Like Paul Janeway from St. Paul and the Broken Bones and Mike Farris, Spollett is a blue-eyed soul singer that can tear the house down in live performance. Even more impressive is how his voice bristles with energy and conviction on studio recordings. The band itself equals the vocal excellence of Spollett, with its right-on-the-money crackling grooves in every song. Soul Scratch is one of those groups that you know you love within a few seconds of hearing one of their songs.

by Sarah Zupko

15 Dec 2016


UK soul singer extraordinaire Hannah Williams has formed a tight new band with the Affirmations and they make the kind of incendiary, stomp-your-feet and clap-your-hands soul music that lit up the ‘60s and ‘70s. Pairing with Bristol’s the Affirmations has given Williams a super fine level of musicianship to pair with her burn-down-the-house vocals. Hannah Williams and the Affirmations’ new album, Late Nights & Heartbreak, released back on 18 November. Today we’re premiering a fresh single for you, the Northern soul number “Tame in the Water”, which begins with beautifully phrased gentle vocals and rises into an emotional, soul stomper where Williams really belts it out holding nothing back.

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