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by Evan Sawdey

4 May 2016


Photo: Josh Wool

At the end of last year, the Princeton-founded, Evan Younger-fronted Miracles of Modern Science pulled off yet another miracle that was all their own making: their second full-length proper, Mean Dreams, landed on PopMatters’ own list for The Best Pop Albums of 2015.

by PopMatters Staff

3 May 2016


Pryor Stroud: Laura Mvula sings in concentrated whirlwinds of sorrows and dreamscapes and untempered howls of poetic revelation, a fact that is never more present than in the rushing-through-the-bloodstream chorus of “Phenomenal Woman.” It’s a chorus that seems to knock the air out of your lungs, only for you to realize that it is Mvula who is belting toward breathlessness, not you. But her artistry seeps through the track as a whole. The production is a rich nu-soul mosaic of hopscotch R&B and Janelle Monáe-esque afrofuturist funk, and the verse showcases Mvula’s vocal versatility. In short, “Phenomenal Woman” should increase anticipation for The Dreaming Room tenfold. [9/10]

by PopMatters Staff

3 May 2016


Photo: Gavin Peters

Kansas trio Moreland & Arbuckle plays a smokin’ bluesy brand of roots rock that’s so hot it could burn the house down. Harmonica lines intertwine between gloriously visceral guitar lead parts and everything is underpinned by a heavy rocking beat. This stellar band has a new album on tap releasing on May 6th, Promised Land Or Bust, their first for influential Chicago blues label Alligator Records. “Mean and Evil”, the record’s first single, will have you chasing down this release, which Dustin Arbuckle says is their best yet. Moreland & Arbuckle bring it on every album, but Promised Land Or Bust does indeed up the ante for one of America’s finest blues groups.

by PopMatters Staff

3 May 2016


Pryor Stroud: Egyptian Lover was a perpetual staple of the L.A. dance scene in the early and mid-‘80s, and “I Cry (Night After Night)” demonstrates why he captured this subcultural imagination with such force. Gilded with a twirling, nocturnal synth-bass motif and vocoded back-up singers, the whole track smacks of the multi-genre pop savvy and creative eccentricity of Prince, yet still emphatically radiates the uniqueness of Egyptian Lover’s personal aesthetic. He asks you, just as Prince once did, to dig a picture that he paints before you: he is the lover from “When Doves Cry”—“How can you just leave me standing / Alone in a world that’s so cold?”—but this lover now walks the desolate streets of this world without direction, a world that is ice-cold solely for him, and cries endlessly for a lover that isn’t there, his teardrops now rivulets of ice on his cheeks. [7/10]

by PopMatters Staff

2 May 2016


Emmanuel Elone: Let’s get this out of the way; Run the Jewels 2 was one of the best albums of 2014, and “Love Again” was one of the best songs from that album. You really can’t go wrong with Run the Jewels. Killer Mike brings his southern-tinged lyricism to the table once more, this time talking about coitus. This continues on El-P’s verse, but becomes much more interesting when Gangsta Boo mirrors Mike’s verse by talking about intercourse from a woman’s perspective. In fact, her feature is so fantastically vulgar and pimp that it nearly overshadows Mike’s and El-P’s, which is not an easy feat. Production-wise, all you need to know is that it is an El-P instrumental, like all Run the Jewels songs. If there’s any flaw in the track, it’s that El-P’s verse isn’t as great as Mike’s or Boo’s, but it’s still as over-the-top and enthralling. Put simply, Run the Jewels is one of the best hip-hop groups of the 2010s, and “Love Again” is one of their best songs yet. [9/10]

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