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by Cynthia Fuchs

10 Jan 2012


“I think he thinks, ‘Somewhere, I’m gonna get out of this.’” “He” is Billy the Kid, the legendary American criminal who is the subject of American Experience: Billy the Kid. Opening on a close-up of a noose hanging over a dusty (re-enacted) street, the show speculates repeatedly as to what the man born in New York City as William Henry McCarty might have been “thinking” at any given moment. He was “extremely intelligent,” says one expert. “Escaping was always on the agenda,” says another. Billy the Kid “came of age,” says narrator Michael Murphy, “at the moment the Wild West was forged, at a time when outlaws were made famous overnight in the pages of dime novels.” Because so little evidence remains (the only known tintype of Billy the Kid appear again and again here) and because much history is built on these fictions, it’s difficult now to piece together what did happen when. As Bill Richardson puts it, “He was made into a mythical character.” The show doesn’t question the myth so much as it presents it step by step, via historians and aficionados’’ testimonies, and , American Experience‘s familiar, richly mounted reenactments to fill in the gaps. Tight shots of boots and clinking spurs, shovels digging into dirt and rifles cocking, long shots of riders astride galloping horses and men shot dead, hitting the ground in slow motion. The imagined details can be evocative and even romantic (Billy is “blending into the darkness of the New Mexico night” or “framed by the moonlight”), as can the imagined motivations: he remained devoted to his girlfriend Paulita Maxwell, to the point of endangering his life. The natural and social environments were equally harsh, indicated by wind on the soundtrack and gavels banging. “The kid is a consistent rebel,” all the way,” say historian Paul Hutton. And such, he’s been absorbed into a national self-image.

Watch Billy the Kid preview on PBS. See more from American Experience.

by Jane Jansen Seymour

9 Jan 2012


The team behind movie We Bought a Zoo may be disappointed with their marketing decisions (another Dad in the dumps too close to The Descendants or maybe people just don’t want to see Matt Damon in that role?)  But they can’t blame Jónsi for not coming through with epic, heart-warming music for the soundtrack. A video for one of the two original tracks created for the score, “Gathering Stories”, is now out via some inventive animation by Crush Creative. It shows a fantastical world of colorful creatures in an Icelandic-like snowy landscape in similar hues to Jónsi’s homeland and stage design when PopMatters caught his show at Moogfest 2010. This song was actually written with director Cameron Crowe, perhaps a lyrical collaboration or decisions in the final production.

by Freeden Oeur

5 Jan 2012


When PopMatters last caught up with Jon Lindsay, the power pop aficionado was prepping the follow-up to his debut LP, Escape from Plaza-Midwood, one of 2010’s hidden gems. The Charlotte-based singer-songwriter worked at a breakneck pace this past year, putting finishing touches on his new album Summer Wilderness Program (which is set for a spring release) when he wasn’t on tour, and releasing a new album with his side project The Catch Fire. Lindsay also dropped a mostly holiday-themed EP, Could It Be Christmas?, on November 29. You can download “Partner”, a track off the EP, here.

by John Bergstrom

4 Jan 2012


Veterans of two well-liked Toronto indie bands have come together for a new venture, Eight and a Half. At the helm is Broken Social Scene drummer Justin Peroff. Guitarist/vocalist Dave Hamelin and keyboardist Liam O’Neil, late of the Stills, are also in the lineup. Arts & Crafts releases Eight and a Half’s self-titled album on February 7. Here you can check out the video for ultra-moody lead single “Scissors” and download the track plus a couple remixes.

  Eight and a Half - Scissors by brooklynvegan

by Cynthia Fuchs

4 Jan 2012


“We’re really not known for winning anything except sports, so we have to fight for everything we earn.” Lamar Jordan lives in Chicago. His sense of context, his self-awareness, is hard-won. A young man in process, Lamar introduces himself in Louder Than a Bomb using his nickname, “The Truth,” and then he tells it. “When I was growing up,” says this 19-year-old, “I was a bit of a troublemaker and I did some things I regret.” Now, in 2008, he’s a member of Steinmetz High School’s slam poetry team, in Chicago. And now he has a new truth to tell. Lamar’s story is one of several told in Greg Jacobs and Jon Siskel’s film, which premieres on Oprah’s OWN Documentary Club on 5 January.

The film shows how hard the young poets work, their investments and their choices, their different roads to the slam called Louder Than a Bomb. It also shows that the contestants are well aware of the contradiction in what they do. Though poems are immeasurable, they are also subject to judgments: each performance earns points, like Olympic dives, cards held up by judges numbered one through 10. “It’s an outrageous thing, it’s a stupid thing, giving scores and numbers to poems,” admits Kevin Coval, LTAB’s co-founder. Slams are a means more than an end, a means of “learning about new people and understanding new people and really feeling inspired by people who are very different than you,” says Adam Gottlieb, from Northside College Prep. “I would like to say that that’s changing the world. And if not, it’s definitely coming much, much closer.”

See PopMattersreview.

Louder Than A Bomb - Trailer

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