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by PopMatters Staff

13 May 2016


Photo: Maarten Deboer

Pryor Stroud: When handled correctly, heartache is one of the most powerful tools in a singer’s arsenal. It can sear words—char, torque, and brutalize them until they are just ground-up streaks of sorrow and sound—or purify them, turn them into vocalized bursts of unalloyed honesty and emotional directness. On “Move Me”, Sara Watkins opts for the former. “I want you to move me / I want you move me,” Watkins pleads, and each word she enunciates feels like a shred of her heart ripped out, held between her palms, and thrust forward in an attempt to grab her lover’s attention. On the whole, the track is a melodically ambitious roots-folk stomper that injects a singer-songwriter moodiness into the straightforward vigor of ‘60s rock ‘n’ roll. [6/10]

by Eric Risch

13 May 2016


Describing his new single, “These American Blues”, Oklahoma singer/songwriter Levi Parham admits the song is a play on words: “It came about one day while talking with my dad. He had just gotten a smart phone and had proclaimed to me that ‘there weren’t nothin’ left to find out’. I laughed so hard at that, but there was truth to it. Half the fun of dreaming is searching the whole thing out, figuring out what your dream is and how you get there. I know nothing about cars, but from one YouTube video I could take the whole engine apart and put it back together. I didn’t earn that knowledge. I didn’t spend my high school nights in the garage trying to figure that stuff out. There’s something lost there, and that’s where ‘These American Blues’ came from.”

by PopMatters Staff

13 May 2016


Chris Ingalls: The attitude and the roots are punk, but the music is too clever and sophisticated for such a simple label. The song’s relatively uncomplicated nature is adorned with a minor sheen of producer’s fuss, upping the ante to where the song has the ability to become a small classic. Mish Barber-Way has a terrific voice, the guitar recalls classic Pixies, and everything seems to click. [7/10]

by PopMatters Staff

12 May 2016


Pryor Stroud: We’ve come to expect a certain level of inventiveness from Justin Timberlake. From the ubiquitous, Gregorian chant-infused “Cry Me a River” to the future-funk eroticism of “My Love”, the Memphis-born boy wonder has made good use of Timbaland’s talents to push the sonic boundaries of whatever pop scene he finds himself in. He’s created new formulas, eviscerated others. But by this standard, “Can’t Stop the Feeling” is an unequivocal disappointment: its nu-disco swagger is, by now, a commonplace in the mainstream pop circuit, and its lyrical content—forgettable platitudes about sunshine, feeling good, and dancing—floats in one ear and out the other. Yet this is an overly critical assessment. In a sense, “Can’t Stop the Feeling” is best conceptualized as a modern equivalent of “Rock Your Body”—that is, a nonsensical but serotonin-pumping pop confection that cares more about uprooting your feet than animating your intellect. [6/10]

by PopMatters Staff

12 May 2016


Chris Ingalls: There’s a definite urgency to this track, both in the musical delivery (which straddles a line between naked dance rhythms and a punk vocal delivery) and in the lyrical content, which is a full-throated proclamation of immigrant pride. As the son of a Palestinian father and Filipino mother, El Khatib comes off as Donald Trump’s worst nightmare: he was born brown, he’s proud of it, and he’s not going anywhere. The utterly unclassifiable nature of the musical style adds yet another intriguing layer. An artist worth your time. [8/10]

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Cage the Elephant Ignite Central Park with Kickoff for Summerstage Season

// Notes from the Road

"Cage the Elephant rocked two sold-out nights at Summerstage and return to NYC for a free show May 29th. Info on that and a preview of the full Summerstage schedule is here.

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