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by Matthew Fiander

26 Jul 2016


Photo: Jonathan Pfundstein

North Carolina’s Estrangers’ last record, Season of 1000 Colors, was a bittersweet sunburst of power pop released back in 2013. Now, the band is prepping their sophomore record, and the first single from that release is “Croc Rock”. The song marks a few shifts in the band’s sound. The song isn’t afraid to murk up and complicate the band’s shimmering pop sensibilities, to leave a bit of coal dust on the diamond. Jangling guitars clash nicely with airy keys over a lean rhythm section that gives the song a pulse while giving its parts space to echo outward. “What would it take to chip your armor?” singer Philip Pledger wonders at the beginning of the song, and then the music answers, cracking its own pop sheen with dusty, scuffed-up guitar solos punctuating each chorus. There’s a lucid-dreamy feel to the track, as if it’s stuck somewhere between the physical and ethereal, between the grit of the earth and some rare shine mined from it. And if the textures of the song weren’t sweet enough, the chorus is stick-in-your-ear catchy and the song bursts with infectious energy. It’s an impressive introduction to the new album, and one that should build some anticipation for its upcoming release.

by Will Rivitz

26 Jul 2016


Wages’ “Super Perfect Dreams” is a classic album closer. Its atmosphere is a denouement, steady guitars and clicking drums carrying vocalist Nick Byron Campbell’s shrill falsetto over oceans of space. It’s the kind of sound easily (and appropriately) described as “crystalline”, casually undulating melody and harmony conjuring images of cosmic seas or technicolor caverns. The song is a wonderfully spacey end to a wonderful album, a “super perfect dream” in its most lucid sense.

by Will Rivitz

26 Jul 2016


Forebear makes mountainous indie rock, a wildly crescendoing and decrescendoing style that’s reminiscent of a mix between classic Hollywood soundtracks and straight-ahead guitar-heavy stuff a la Surfer Blood. “Luck of the Draw” starts and stops without warning, lunging forward with reckless abandon as a cool guitar chunks away behind pained vocals. Lugubrious strings pin up a mournful chorus, male and female vocals duetting as the guitar jangles and the drums thud mutely. It’s drab in the best way, the kind of blasé rock which belies real sadness and anger below.

by Will Rivitz

25 Jul 2016


Sean McVerry makes sultry blue-eyed soul, a more emphatic and instrumental take on Sam Smith’s chart-topping material. Hourglass Switchboard 2 is about halfway between Smith and The 1975’s energetic pop-rock, part downtempo electronic pop and part crisp guitars. It’s a surprisingly underexplored combination, given the popularity and quality of the two styles, but given McVerry’s adept take it’s nearly inevitable more musicians will follow in the future. If you’re looking for suave, serene pop-rock to carry you through the rest of your Monday, Hourglass Switchboard 2 is your best bet.

by PopMatters Staff

25 Jul 2016


Steve Horowitz: “Twin Cities, bitch!” Rhymesayers do it again. Atmosphere captures the humor and pathos of just trying to succeed when the deck is always stacked against you. The rap is grounded in the reality that failure really is funny, and as a fellow Minnesotan once said, “There’s no success like failure.” You don’t have to be as famous as Kanye to realize this. [8/10]

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Call For Papers: Celebrating Star Trek's 50th Anniversary

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"To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the hit franchise, PopMatters seeks submissions about Star Trek, including: the TV series, from The Original Series (TOS) to the highly anticipated 2017 new installment; the films, both the originals and the J.J. Abrams reboot; and ancillary materials such as novelizations, comic books, videogames, etc.

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