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

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Thursday, May 11, 2006
by PopMatters Staff


Indie / Punk / Ska from Sheffield, UK

“Showroom XFM live session” [MP3]
“Storm in a Teacup” [MP3]
more tracks [MySpace]

Zero 7
“Throw It All Away” [real | windows]

Theory of a Deadman
video: “Santa Monica” [windows | quicktime]

Marykate O’Neill
“Stay” [MP3]
“Things Are Too Good (They’re Bound to Go Bad)” [MP3]
“Traffic Jam” [MP3]
more songs [MP3]

Mates of State
“Fraud in the 80s” [MP3]

The Stills
“Destroyer” [MP3]

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Tuesday, May 9, 2006
by PopMatters Staff

Elf Power—"An Old Familiar Scene"
From Back to the Web on Rykodisc
Elf Power has returned with their seventh full length album, Back to the Web, a darkly orchestrated folk rock masterpiece. Back to the Web is a haunting, twisting journey, where 12-string acoustic guitars, violins and cellos weave strange and lovely melodies.

Shifter —"Butter"
From Shifter on spinART Records
Two Australian school friends achieve their life long dream of forming a band that screams Cheap Trick and resonates with the harmonies of The Sweet, all over raw ‘n’ rowdy, ‘70s-like rock ‘n’ roll. American icons Blondie hand pick the band to open for ‘em when they tour Australia and their off on an amazing tour.

Minus the Bear —"Hooray"
From Menos El Oso on Suicide Squeeze Records
Recorded over a three-month period in early 2005, Menos El Oso (Spanish for “Minus the Bear”) finds the Seattle boys moving fully into the production helm of their own music, with the resulting exploration allowing the band to more critically analyze, edit, and communicate their ideas. With Menos El Oso, the band’s focus on musical and personal growth continues. It’s a multi-dimensional ride through endearment, confusion and melody.

From Garden Ruin on Quarterstick Records
Garden Ruin takes into account the enlarged line up of the band, its multicultural roots, the band’s growing input into the songwriting and arrangement process, the arrival of a producer, new domestic arrangements, international affairs, broadening horizons, developing ambitions and changing scenery. Garden Ruin is definitely not the sound of a band standing still.

Hot IQs —"Firecracker"
From An Argument Between the Brain and Feet on spinART Records
Blend classic pop, fuzzed-out rock, and hints of edgy lounge and you have Denver’s premier rockers, Hot IQs. With a sound that cites influences from the Pixies, the Kinks, to Archers of Loaf, and possibly the Holiday Inn Lounge Singers’ Association of America, Hot IQs put the indie-rock chocolate in your disco peanut butter.

Pretty Girls Make Graves —"The Nocturnal House"
From Élan Vital on Matador
The Seattle quintet’s follow-up to the universally acclaimed The New Romance, and their first album since the addition of keyboardist Leona Marrs, is by far Pretty Girls Make Graves’ most ambitious, multifarious and scorching to date. Produced by Colin Stewart (Black Mountain, Destroyer), Élan Vital provides the band with a bigger, bolder canvas with which to weave their magic.

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Monday, May 8, 2006
by PopMatters Staff

“Calm” [MP3]
“Parade of Punk Rock T Shirts” [MP3]
multiple songs [MySpace]

“Jeez Louise” [MP3]

Starlight Mints
“Seventeen Devils” [MP3]

“Rubber Traits” [MP3]

Wooden Wand
“Eagle Claw” [MP3]

The Wowz
“Unbroken Chain” [MP3]

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Friday, May 5, 2006
by PopMatters Staff

The Dr. Octagon Chronicles

Mike Relm
20-minute Return of Dr Octagon megamix [MP3]

... Ten years since Dr. Octagon’s groundbreaking first address to the world, “Dr. Octagonecologyst”, a musical recording with a combination of lyrical alchemy and beat science powerful enough to teleport the first human listeners to rap in the year 3000.

... Seven years since Dr. Dooom murdered Dr. Octagon on the opening track to Dooom’s “First Come First Served”... Dr. Octagon’s office in the Bronx was boarded up, the nurses obliged to seek alternate means of employment. Thousands of patients in need of rectal rebuilding or removing turtles from their uteruses had to fulfill their medical needs elsewhere. The toll-free hotline 1-800-PP5-1-DOODOO and his space age cell 709 755 6EL3 were both disconnected.

The Pop epidemic proliferates, poisoning millions. Evil forces at work, those who “water down the sound that comes from the ghetto”, continue plugging this poison directly into Earth society’s mainstream, in greater and greater doses. The casualties mount, while The National Guard United States Enterprise is helpless. The rap game, overcrowded with so-called rap super-villains, now more than ever before, could use a rap superhero.

The team at OCD International arrived for work to find a small indiscriminate package has arrived mysteriously at their doorstep. Unlabeled. How curious. Opening the box, its sole content is discovered – what seems to be a nano-size mp3 player, in purple-green casing adorned with shimmering blue flowers. An inscription, laser etched on the back reads, “Attention: Earth People. From the Labs of Dr. Octagon, Planet Jupiter”.

Could it be? THE RETURN OF DR OCTAGON!? Is this really the one & only Dr. Octagon? The folks at OCD had to get to the bottom of this. The tracks were immediately ripped off the mp3 player and then shipped for intense forensic voice identification. IT IS HIM!

But what is he saying? What is the message and why is it left with OCD? To get to the bottom of the mystery as crack team of musical experts were assembled to analyze the content of some key track and decipher the code.

First on the case was DJ Mike Relm, inventor of the Zodyak Scop System, esteemed architect of the future sound of hip hop. Mike has seen a lot of strange things in his time; it is no secret that he was once a Turntable Terrorist trafficking in supernatural sonics. He plugged into his ProTools, only to find himself possessed… By some superior force.

After an indefinite period of time, he awoke with a start, in his studio in San Francisco. He vaguely recalls visions of a 12th century turret in the old quarter of Prague, and a vile, evil creature only describable as halfsharkalligatorhalfman. Not to mention, Mike’s throbbing head. Confused and disoriented, he glanced over to his computer screen. A long, dense 20-minute waveform is displayed; the name of the file reads “Octagynaemix”. Could it be Mike’s mix unfolded during a freak forced coma brought on from post-future hypnotic soundwave embedded in the files. Or did Mike just have some bad fish.

Only he truly knows…

Mike Relm 20-minute Return of Dr Octagon megamix

Log on next Friday for the next installment of this amazing 8-week story featuring new interpretations of Dr Octagon tracks each week by Prefuse 73, Kid Loco, Her Space Holiday, Rob Sonic, Skinny Man and more.

The Return of Dr Octagon hits stores June 27th. [MySpace]

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Thursday, May 4, 2006
by PopMatters Staff

Ani DiFranco—"Two Little Girls"
From Carnegie Hall 4.6.02 on Righteous Babe
Ani DiFranco’s live shows are legendary, whether performing with a six-piece band or standing alone with her guitar, but some shows stand out from the rest. Ani’s historic 2002 solo performance at Carnegie Hall is one of those. The ecstatic vibrancy of that evening is captured on Righteous Babe Records’ latest release, Carnegie Hall 4.6.02

The Essex Green—"Don’t Know Why (You Stay)"
From Cannibal Sea on Merge Records
The Essex Green blend the old with the new, incorporating the country rock mood of The Byrds, the Greenwich Village balladry of Fred Neil and the acoustic pop harmonizing of the Mamas and The Papas. Add a little of the pure pop perfection of The Monkees to traces of contemporary artists such as The Shins, The Hidden Cameras and Jens Lekman and you have The Essex Green’s recipe for timeless pop that is classic without being retro.

The Church —"Unified Field"
From Uninvited, Like the Clouds on Cooking Vinyl
Art-rock band The Church make music as they desire, without regard for current trend, trusting in the traditional virtues of talent, chemistry and good taste to guide them, an approach that has served them well for over 20 years.  The band has remained one of the world’s most innovative and enigmatic groups justifying praises from the press including “Best guitar band on earth”, “Sonic perfection”, “Sounds that caress the senses.”

Lambchop —"The Distance From Her to There"
From The Decline of Country & Western Civilization Part II: The Woodwind Years on Merge Records
Lambchop make music that defies easy categorization. They make uniquely American music, fluid in nature, grand in scope, made up of a musical melting pot of styles, influences, talent and experience. You can hear all of these on their latest album, a career-spanning compilation of singles, compilation tracks and unreleased gems called The Decline of Country & Western Civilization, Part II

Michael Meldrum —"Forget It"
From Open Ended Question on Righteous Babe Records
Open Ended Question showcases Michael Meldrum’s rich musical background with tracks that range from jubilant New Orleans romps to somber folk ballads. Breezy summer tunes and gritty roadhouse blues become intriguing neighbors to Indian themes and meditative chants, while Meldrum’s honest tales of bars and empty streets make for sincere, accessible songs filled with emotion and interwoven with religious imagery.

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