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by PopMatters Staff

8 Nov 2011


Recently, Zachary Houle praised Birmingham, Alabama’s the Great Book of John with words that likened them to the American Radiohead. “Have you ever wondered what Radiohead might sound like if they were a country-rock outfit? Now, sure, Wilco has already been called the American Radiohead, thanks in no large part to the experimental and sonically challenging Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, but they have nothing on Birmingham, Alabama’s the Great Book of John – a band that takes the paranoia and widescreen open spaces of the British group and pushes it directly and convincingly into straight Americana.” That’s an especially high compliment given that the band’s self-titled August release is their second long-player and not an album number five in a lengthy career.

The band is led by guitarist and songwriter Taylor Shaw, who drapes these big tunes in wide sheathes of cinematic sound, while underpinning such expansive music with careful attention to lyrical detail. This new video of “Simple Things” directed by Robert Burroughs is a perfect case in point and send us back to Houle’s words to sum up the band’s work… “The Great Book of John is a staggeringly vital record, one that I would hope gets tongues wagging in music critic circles when it comes time to select the best records of the year. It might be an album out on a small label, but it’s scope and ambition deserves laurels of the highest order. Essential listening for anyone with even a casual interest in either Wilco or Radiohead.”

by Cynthia Fuchs

7 Nov 2011


“You still have to be able to talk to people, and me and Adam, we work well together. We kind of go with the flow and make things up as we go along.” Detective Ronald Fountain, of the Troy. NY PD, describes interrogations as a process, means to ends. As he and his partner Adam Mason went through this process in the case of Adrian Thomas in 2008, they wanted to know if he killed his four-month-old son Matthew. As the documentary Scenes of a Crime shows, the “flow” in the Thomas interview is increasingly disquieting. From the first moments, the detectives see him as a likely suspect—even before they know a crime has been committed. The defense will end up arguing that Matthew died of an infection, that this was the reason he had trouble breathing. But while his baby is at the hospital, police bring Thomas in, noting that he’s unemployed and must be depressed, that he takes care of seven kids, that he’s “very cold when he talked about his children.” Screening at DOC NYC on 7 November, Grover Babcock and Blue Hadaegh’s remarkable film shows the many places where crimes can occur in this process. 

See PopMattersreview.

by Jeff Strowe

4 Nov 2011


Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips have been a romantic couple for a long time now. Long enough to make two proper full-lengths, an EP, and most recently the gorgeously crafted 13 Most Beautiful: Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Test, for which you can find them occasionally popping up to perform in art museums and gallery openings. Five years ago, though, Wareham and Phillips were putting the finishing touches on Luna, a not-quite-celebrated-enough indie pop outfit who released eight solid albums over the course of their career, and preparing to team up for their own personal endeavors, both professional and matrimonial. In 2006, Luna released their final album, Rendezvous, and filmed an elaborate DVD, Tell Me Do You Miss Me, that chronicled the rise, near stardom, and final curtain call of the ensemble. Now, it’s time to rejoice in the band’s hypnotic sounds again, as their final three albums are re-released, re-mastered and re-shuffled with the complete and obligatory bonus recordings. However, you’ll have to look online to purchase these reissues, as they’re available as digital only releases on Amazon, iTunes, Rhapsody, Emusic, and Bandcamp.

by Timothy Gabriele

4 Nov 2011


Like the Before Today version of a House Arrest tune, Echo Lake cover an old Ariel Pink tune and, though plenty gauzy, is far hi-er fi than its original. Yet, it’s really all the twinkly shoegazed reverb that makes the track sound truly different than the original (Echo Lake are not a group to shy from… echo). Perhaps this was the band 4AD meant to sign?

by Jane Jansen Seymour

4 Nov 2011


For their new video, “All Your Light (Times Like These)”, Portland’s Portugal. The Man. passed the reigns over to filmmakers Justin Kramer and Lee Hardcastle. The pair created a clever claymation treatment which depicts an epic struggle for survival in a dangerous world of colorful caves and plastic cups. When singer/songwriter John Gourley begins the song with the lyrics, “I’m just a shadow of a bigger man,” the sculpted creatures represent far more than what is really just molded clay. The song is off of this year’s release, In the Mountain. In the Cloud.

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