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by PopMatters Staff

4 Aug 2015


Wonky and sinewy as fuck. I was dreading that this would be some kind of sad, humiliation of the vaguely empowering Fifth Harmony tune of the same name currently making the radio rounds (a la Kid Cudi’s “Poke Her Face”), but this is something altogether other. I’ve generally backed Danny Brown more on his weird-ass B-sides than the album cuts—“ODB”, “#Hottest MC”, the original rendition of “Kush Coma”, guest spots with Rustie and Darq E Freaker—so it’s nice to see this slippery little number, released as part of the Adult Swim summer singles, count amongst those hidden treasures. Clams Casino comes in swinging chiming synths along a greasy axel riddim mechanical enough to qualify for industrial, but not hyperactive enough to fit amongst the foley grime lots (HER Records, M.E.S.H., Bloom, Lotic). You’d almost be forgiven for thinking there is no beat in this by how asynchronous it sounds. It’s a big sloppy, albeit calculated, mess, but so is the subject matter and Danny Brown finds exactly where to ride each successive recurrence.  I much prefer keen-eyed, critical, and paranoid Danny Brown to his raunchier alter ego self so I’m feeling this on all levels.  It makes me excited for his return. In addition, Clams Casino is having his best year since ’11, having also honed some fine Vince Staples cuts on his debut full-length.—TIMOTHY GABRIELE (8 of 10)

by Adrien Begrand

4 Aug 2015


In addition to being one of the coolest writers around, an expert in everything from jazz, to death metal, to Ween, Hank Shteamer is the drummer and vocalist for Brooklyn band STATS. As it so happens, the band is as eclectic as Shteamer’s musical taste, a wildy creative mishmash of Melvins-derived sludge and Beefheart-esque experimentation. Massively heavy but showing a progressive nimbleness that you don’t exactly hear in sludge/noise-oriented bands, the band’s debut album makes for an absurdly delightful listening experience.

by PopMatters Staff

4 Aug 2015


It has an inventive build-up, with its DIY quality and dazzling timbres making it consistently mysterious and engaging. Vocally and melodically, Beal evokes his soulful forefathers, which, when done right, is more difficult than it seems. It reminds me a bit of certain tracks from Plastic Beach by Gorillaz, actually. It’s a bit too sparse, though, since Beal’s voice deserves a more luscious arrangement. The contrast between his robust delivery and the limited composition is part of the intrigue, though, so yeah, I’m a bit torn on this one.—JORDAN BLUM (7/10)

by Adrien Begrand

4 Aug 2015


With a sound that is reminiscent of both Alex Chilton and the cheekier side of UK powerpop, Rhode Island artist Andy Lampert is not lacking in wry humor. First, he named his 15-song debut album 10 Songs of Pain (does it have five happy songs?), and even better, he comes up with a dandy of a chorusing his track “Even I Can Dream”, singing measuredly, “I am trying not to lose my friggin’ mind.” It’s a wonderful expression of modern despair that we all can relate to.

by PopMatters Staff

4 Aug 2015


As a painfully white dude, I feel like there’s a pretty finite amount of value I can bring to the conversation around Kendrick Lamar’s latest opus so I’m sure everyone will take this for what it’s worth. One of the many beauties of To Pimp a Butterfly is its brazen complexity. The album is a extended celebration of blackness that refuses to elide the conflict and contradictions inherent in that identity that are often suppressed for one reason or another in American national discourse. The fact that Kendrick can release an interlude like “For Free” as a single showcases not only the album’s ridiculous depth, but also his deftness as a songwriter. It’s a 2:13 double entendre about both the worth of black males in relationships and the insidiousness poisoning of black culture by American consumerism. That would be impressive enough but to back the whole thing with some straight-up jazz riffing from Robert Glasper and still make it commercially viable in 2015 is nothing short of spectacular. Kendrick’s albums seem to be generating a prodigious output of singles like Michael Jackson in his heyday and it’s just as thrilling now as it must have been then.—JOHN M. TRYNESKI (8/10)
(8 of 10)

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