Latest Blog Posts

by Steve Jansen

17 May 2012


Okay, it took me two plays – but I’m onside with Sparro’s latest, ‘I Wish I Never Met You’. First time round: Hmmm. Second time: The sun came out and I was up in the ether. Fair dues, this, the second single from SS’s forthcoming album Return to Paradise (out this June), is hardly a quantum leap on from his—admittedly sublime and rather fantastic—debut, but so what. This kind of gorgeousness doesn’t just grow on trees.

Where Sparro’s initial 2008 material was at least a third enthralled to earliest Prince, this time around, at least on the strength of “I Wish I’d Never Met You”, he’s shifted sideways into that parallel dawn of the ‘80s electronic soul-funk groove. The classic but all too often overlooked days and thrills of SOS Band and Chaka Khan, which, by introducing conspicuous electronics into soul and funk’s ready-made form, led the way from disco’s end into the beginnings of Chicago house.

by Jane Jansen Seymour

17 May 2012


NPR Music has posted a recent concert of Spiritualized as an entire listening session along with a six “featured videos”. The concert was recorded 10 May at the Washington D.C. venue 9:30 club—a nice mid-sized space with a standing only capacity of 1,200. Sure it’s not the same as being there, but these fly on the wall opportunities allow fans to check out a band’s performance style. Looking at the footage, you not only witness the nuances in the songs presented and how they vary from the produced tracks, but also the interactions of various band members, even if it’s just on a screen. The audio stream provides the entire show, over two hours of live music to indulge in right at home or work if such things are allowed.

Here the theatrics of a psychedelic light show cut across the blackened stage with frontman Jason Pierce (a.k.a. J. Spaceman) and his back up singers all dressed in white. Pierce’s voice is raw and gravely, as he plays guitar while standing behind a mike stand in black sunglasses. While there may not be much movement by those on stage, waves of emotion pour out in the music. Most of the set list are from Pierce’s latest release, Sweet Heart Sweet Light, a personal collection of alt rock anthems full of triumph as well as serious songs revealing doubts about our limited time on earth.

by Sarah Zupko

16 May 2012


Last year PopMatters’ Chris Conaton said of LA’s Leftover Cuties, “If you’re bored with Adele’s retro soul and Mumford and Sons’ take on Americana, Leftover Cuties may have the next throwback sound you’re looking for: 1930s vocal jazz. And like those acts, they do their thing quite well.” Well, I’m a sucker for ‘20s and ‘30s music and vocal jazz and, in fact, it might be just about my favorite era for popular music, so this band hits all my sweet spots. Lead singer Shirli McAllen captures that coy but sexy, sophisticated but a rather saucy style of the ‘20s/‘30s chanteuses, while contemporizing the approach enough to make her a possible indie poster girl.

Following last year’s Places to Go, Leftover Cuties have just released a covers EP, Departures featuring takes on tunes by Etta James, Coldplay, Lady Gaga and more. On the video, we are premiering today, the band performs Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”, which is also available on the EP.

by Greg Braxton - Los Angeles Times (MCT)

16 May 2012


“The Dust Bowl,’ a two-part, four-hour documentary by Burns (“The Civil War,” “Baseball”) on Nov. 18 and 19, chronicles the environmental disaster that devastated the farmlands of the Great Plains and unleashed deadly dust storms in 1930s America. The PBS will also celebrate the centennial of Woody Guthrie’s birth with a repeat of Burns’ “American Masters” profile on the artist Nov. 16.

by Cynthia Fuchs

16 May 2012


“How’s your English?” a grainy image shows a figure in an orange jumpsuit, his face obscured and his figured bent. His questioner is even harder to read, appearing as fragments, an arm, a blurred out face. Both are viewed through a frame, as this is a video made of an interrogation, the camera peering down and into the room, the angle itself disconcerting, as it suggests you’re seeing something that maybe you shouldn’t. This is the start of Omar Khadr’s ordeal, recounted in Luc Côté and Patricio Henríquez’s documentary You Don’t Like the Truth: 4 Days Inside Guantánamo, showing 16 May at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in DC. Khadr was 15 years old when he was captured in Afghanistan in 2002, then sent to Guantánamo, where he was interrogated and tortured. In 2010, he pleaded guilty to five charges, including “murder in violation of the law of war,” as part of a plea agreement with military commission prosecutors. A Canadian, Khadr is currently the only Western citizen still detained at Guantánamo. And to this day, he remains detained, despite that plea agreement.

//Mixed media
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