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by PopMatters Staff

21 May 2012


James Apollo’s upcoming June 5th EP release, Little War, Little Less, features six tunes based on themes of the American West and was produced by none other than Damien Jurado. The album has an immediacy meant to capture the energy of Apollo’s live shows, so they recorded the songs in one to two takes in Washington’s Cascade Mountains. Meanwhile the songs themselves were penned out in the Utah Canyons to achieve that authentic Western feel. “Big Dipper” is actually a tune by Built to Spill, but Apollo felt it fit so perfectly with the tone of Little War, Little Less that it’s covered on the album. Below, you can the actual live recording of “Big Dipper” from album sessions.

by Crispin Kott

18 May 2012


It’s hard to deny the grassroots appeal of an event which began life as an indie-pop house party in 1996 before going full-on festival in 2007 with the very first NYC Popfest. The event has since featured an early performance by the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, the first ever live show by the Drums, the first NYC performance of Sweden’s Radio Dept. and shows by a bevy of pure pop bands stretching back into the glory days of the C86 scene.

The 2012 incarnation is set to swarm the city from Thursday, May 17 (last night) through Sunday, May 20, with good vibes all across the city and bands from all over the world. On Friday night, the party happens at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, with a show headlined by Saturday Looks Good to Me, with support from Catnaps, Orca Team, Cola Jet Set and Wild Moccasins. Nearby, Cameo Gallery will host the after party.

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.

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