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by M.T. Richards

5 May 2010


In 2009, Eminem—a poor, scrawny, trailer dwelling kid from the outskirts of Detroit with a liquid flow and acute sense of humor—alienated just about everyone with Relapse, an album that abrasively belied the everyman appeal he oozed on older records. He was a strange, secluded sadist, hundreds of millions of dollars removed from the menial jobs he rapped about on “Rock Bottom”, and new, overbearing tracks like the cereal-rapist narrative “Stay Wide Awake” hinted at a dubious relationship with reality.

Then, something clicked. Eminem dropped the pretenses and decided to simply rap his ass off. He delivered the best verses on Alchemist’s Chemical Warfare, 50 Cent’s Before I Self Destruct, and Lil Wayne’s Rebirth. He made three very serviceable MCs look positively sophomoric on Drake’s “Forever.” He out-freestyled Mos Def and Black Thought. (Think about that. Mos Def and Black Thought.) He upstaged a glowingly thoughtful B.o.B. on “Airplanes (Part II)”. This past Tuesday, he released the astonishing “Despicable”, his take on Drake’s “Over” and Lloyd Banks’ “Beamer Benz or Bentley”, attacking those instrumentals with heady, syllable-twisting glee: “Keep blogging, while I’m mind boggling / Flow’s so wet, I’ll take this beat tobogganing.”

Em’s recent run has been historic, comparable to the exhilarating string of cameos Andre 3000 dropped in 2007. While it remains to be seen if this jolt of energy will translate into a gripping album, “Not Afraid” reveals great intentions. It’s the first single from Recovery, as well as a bracing departure from the shock-jock tiredness of past washouts like “We Made You” and “Just Lose It”.  There are no Jennifer Aniston or Blake Fielder disses here. Instead, we get three candid, fervent verses: “I promise to focus solely on handling my responsibilities as a father / So I solemnly swear to treat this roof like my daughters / And raise it.”

“Not Afraid” isn’t altogether great. The beat is waver thin, the hook maudlin, and rhymes about “gazing up at the stars” are rarely welcome. But, for Eminem, the track is also a welcome entrance into foreign territory. It’s refreshing. It’s positive. We need more of it.

by Jennifer Cooke

5 May 2010


Band of Horses have been dropping a steady trail of bread crumbs toward the May 18 release of their third album, Infinite Arms, with videos for the songs “Compliments” and “NW Apt”. Now we’ve got a four-and-a-half-minute teaser about the making of the album, featuring an expanded band line-up and what appears to be a significant lightening-up of frontman Ben Bridwell, who has a reputation for being “difficult”. The new songs sound great and Bridwell seems genuinely excited about the prospect of this album being a much more collaborative effort than past Band of Horses releases.

by PopMatters Staff

5 May 2010


Felix Cartal mashes up electronic music styles in his remix work for notables such as MSTRKRFT and Ashlee Simpson, as well as on his debut album Popular Music. So, it’s quite fitting that video director Ace Norton took a “mash-up” approach to the video for “Volcano”. Riffing off an old Dan Rather newscast about the Mount St. Helen’s eruption, Norton superimposes a singing mouth featuring the vocals of Johnny Whitney from the Blood Brothers over Rather’s talking head.

“As a kid, my parents would put on the CBS Evening News every night while we ate dinner,” says Norton. “When they fired Dan Rather, I didn’t realize how comforting his voice was until it wasn’t there anymore. With all this coverage about the volcano in Iceland, it only seemed right to give the man one last broadcast, and make it about the biggest news story of all time—the impending apocalypse. This video is Dante’s Peak, meets Ron Burgandy, meets Poltergeist.” Ace Norton has a lengthy list of credits to his name, with turns behind the camera for the likes of LCD Soundsystem, Death Cab for Cutie, She and Him and many more. “Volcano” is a banging, anthemesque tune with shades of distortion moving amongst strong beats. It’s house, techno and dance-pop all in one.

by John Lindstedt

5 May 2010



This is a bit easier on the eyes compared to red headed children being murdered, isn’t it? As part of AV Club’s “Undercover” series, the British band the Clientele gently covered M.I.A.‘s breakthrough hit “Paper Planes”, somehow transforming her violent prose into something a little more affable. The promotion still has 17 weeks left, with covers of the Rolling Stones’ “19th Nervous Breakdown” and Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” waiting in the wings. Check here for all episodes of this video series.

by Crispin Kott

4 May 2010


Indie/shoegaze fanatics who’d wept salty tears of absolute joy at the news last year of Chapterhouse’s decision to reunite for a world tour have had those happy tears take a decidedly unhappy turn as the band was forced to postpone this week’s North American dates because guitarist/vocalist Stephen Patman was stuck in Japan following a handful of triumphant shows. In an official statement, the band made it clear that while Mother Nature and American red tape may have won this round, the wall of guitars would eventually emerge victorious.

Due to the recent volcanic activity in Iceland Chapterhouse have been forced to reschedule their upcoming tour of North America. The disruption to international flights caused by the ash cloud left Stephen stranded in Japan. Although the earliest flight earmarked for his return to the UK was May 3rd, he managed to get a standby ticket and returned on monday evening. However, this caused him to miss his interviews at the American Embassy, so there is no hope him obtaining a US artist visa in time for the shows.

We are all extremely disappointed that this is our only course of action, but wish to stress that the tour is being postponed, not cancelled. We are currently working hard with the promoters in order to find the best time to reschedule the shows, keeping them at the same venues with the same line ups. Any fans with tickets will be able to use them for the replacement shows. Due to Ashley’s commitments with his other band ‘Tunng’, the new shows are likely to be in the second half of September. We will confirm these dates as soon as possible.

The band are very upset about this turn of events and would like to convey their sympathy and apologies to everyone that will be affected, but on a more positive note, we intend to add a couple of dates to the rescheduled tour. Please bear with us. We look forward to playing the US in a few months time.

Rather than slipping into a deep funk over the news, let’s remind ourselves why the tour was such an exciting proposition in the first place with a few YouTube videos, both from the band’s initial flurry of shimmering brilliance, and from a recent live show which proves definitively why it’s worth staying excited all summer long for the rescheduled dates.



 

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