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by Brice Ezell

20 May 2015


Photo: Richmond Lam

In her 9 out of 10 review of Socalled‘s 2007 LP Ghettoblaster for PopMatters, Lana Cooper writes that the album “offers an eclectic and catchy blend of music for anyone with a true passion for all styles, particularly multi-layered fusion.” Eight years later, the same remains true for the Montréal sonic innovator, as you can clearly hear on his recently released Peoplewatching. Of the album’s ten tracks, no one better represents Socalled’s sonic and visual eccentricities better than the youthful jubilance—and libido—of “Boyfriend Material”.

by Brice Ezell

20 May 2015


Photo: Laura Heffington

Eleni Mandell keeps herself plenty busy. Since her debut in 1999, Wishbone, she has kept a steady pace in releasing albums, including her most recent outing, last year’s Let’s Fly a Kite. It’s a testament to her tenacity as a songwriter that she hasn’t lost steam yet, as evinced by her new record Dark Lights Up, out not but a year after Let’s Fly a Kite. The aesthetic of Dark Lights Up was informed by a visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville while she was on tour. Upon encountering the music of Roger Miller, she “was really struck by how simple his production was, and how central his voice and how open the sound was on the record… There aren’t a lot of layers, and the melody and his voice and the words were more beautiful for it. It made me want to de-clutter and strip away and make something simple that still sounded full and beautiful.”

by Brice Ezell

20 May 2015


In his 9 out of 10 PopMatters review of Pattern Is Movement’s 2014 self-titled LP, Thomas Britt writes, “Pattern Is [Movement’s] soulfulness isn’t yoked to a brand or marketing strategy. For Pattern Is Movement, music is music.” Unfortunately, the music won’t be music for much longer, as the Philadelphia band—comprised of Andrew Thiboldeaux and Chris Ward—announced this year will be their last. In addition to their farewell tour, the duo took to a church to record one of their final tunes, “Save Me”, at the behest of the Weathervane Music.

Weathervane is a non-profit organization devoted to supporting independent music around the world; at the moment, their member and supporter network spans over 100 countries. Pattern Is Movement teamed up with Weathervane for their Shaking Through video series, which Weathervane describes thusly: “Each year we give ten awesome independent musicians a challenge: Record one song in two days. First take to final mix. No extensions. No safety net.”

by Brice Ezell

19 May 2015


Don Rooke, the frontman of the Toronto-based folk outfit the Henrys, describes their sound as “old instruments—new sounds.” He’s not wrong; although there’s plenty of old-style folk to be heard in the band’s music, due in large part to certain instrumental choices such as Rooke’s historic Weissenborn and Kona lap steel guitars, they evoke plenty of current sonic architects as well. Rooke, in particular, evokes the stylings of maestros like Ry Cooder and Bill Frisell.

It’s been six years since the Henrys have put out a full-length studio recording, but that time has now come to an end with Quiet Industry, their new LP. Below you can stream “A Weaker One”, which begins as a seemingly simple folk tune that blossoms with a dissonant post-chorus section towards its conclusion.

Other players on Quiet Industry include Hugh Marsh (Bruce Cockburn, Don Byron, Jon Hassell), John Sheard (Stuart McLean, Rita Coolidge), Andrew Downing (Kelly Joe Phelps, David Tronzo), Davide DiRenzo (Holly Cole, Cassandra Wilson, Jacksoul), Jonathan Goldsmith (Jane Siberry, Nick Buzz, Sarah Slean), along with harmony vocalist Tara Dunphy (The Rizdales).

by Brice Ezell

19 May 2015


Following their Grammy-nominated collaborative LP with Bobby Rush last year, Decisions, Laramie, Wyoming’s own Blinddog Smokin’ have readied their next studio outing, High Steppin’. Populated by funk grooves, rock shredding, and a healthy dose of New Orleans style, the LP showcases the well-practiced union of high-energy instrumentation with frontman Carl Gustafson’s vivid lyricism.

On “Bayou Lady”, Blinddog Smokin’ pull off a fine feat: making an eminently danceable tune that also gets you to think. Gustafson’s understanding of the ways in which people overlook their own damage to the environment is on point—and it helps that his point is made with such jubilant music.

//Mixed media
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FKA twigs Outdoes Herself with 'Congregata' (Photos)

// Notes from the Road

"A regular FKA twigs performance is exciting. But her 'Congregata' event amps up the fervor ten fold, with more wild dancers, powerful lights and costumes.

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