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by John Garratt

7 Sep 2011

If you were hoping that Noel Gallagher’s split from Oasis would liberate him from the meat-and-potatoes approach to Britpop advocated by little brother Liam, you need to just keep waiting. Though Noel was an Oasis member more prone to experimentation, this new a-side just brings us back to one of the weaker moments on Don’t Believe The Truth—only with a horn section. Recycling is one thing, never finding a natural sense of flow is another. His lament that “it’s a pity that the sunshine is followed by thunder” is offset when you flip the 7” over and hear him admit that “I don’t care for the sunshine.” The up-tempo b-side “The Good Rebel” is supposed to be an update of the Beatles’ single “Rain”, though you’ll probably enjoy the song more if you forget about this little delusion of grandeur. Noel’s choices of a-sides have always been iffy, so the lackluster nature of The Death of You and Me really shouldn’t concern anyone.

by PopMatters Staff

6 Sep 2011

Photo: Bryan Sheffield

Jarrod Gorbel found great success with his previous band, the Honorary Title, but he was burned out with the band format, changing line-ups and pressures that made him feel as though he was drifting ever farther away from his musical goals. So, Gorbel wisely chose to get back-to-basics rather than continuing on an unsatisfying career treadmill. Gorbel says, “all of those experiences made me realize how far away I’d gotten from who I really was, as a person and an artist.”

The singer songwriter has thus gone solo on his latest EP, Bruises From Your Bad Dreams, released back in February, creating a batch of tunes that are spare and folky, but eminently rich and satisfying. Of his creative approach, Gorbel says, “I’ve always preferred albums with a lot of atmosphere, where production is rich and layered, but you can still identify what each instrument is doing.” That’s highlighted beautifully on this new video directed by Adam Neustadter of EP song “Miserable Without You”, which is rendered utterly charming through it’s comic art animations. The tune also features Nicole Atkins, in a lively duet.

by Enio Chiola

2 Sep 2011

When Beyoncé released her fourth solo album, aptly titled 4, many were confused as to which direction she was going. There were moments of psychedelic electro pop (see “Run the World (Girls)” and “Countdown”), ‘90s R&B (“Love on Top” and “Party”) and straight-up pop (“The Best Thing I Never Had”). Many critics found it difficult to get on board with what Ms. Knowles’ experiments. Ironically, many indie critics praised Beyoncé for steering away from mainstream expectations and risking some bold new moves. The result? An uneven, occasionally engaging record that you want to like more than you do.  Yes, she takes chances but they don’t always work in her favour.

“1+1”, the album’s third single, is a slow rock/R&B ballad, which is a lovely song, but suffers from the screaming and belting vocal performance. We get it Beyoncé! You can hit those notes long and hard—you don’t have to do it every time. A little restraint would go a long way. It’s a song that grates on the ears the more you listen to it, especially from the opening lines: “If I ain’t got nothin’ / I got YOU!” where “you” is delivered like an incontrollable spasm.

The video, fortunately, is an impressive display of a slow motion Beyoncé singing earnestly into the camera. The problem is that most of the time the visual display of her singing doesn’t match the audio vocal performance. It’s jarring, because you hear Beyoncé scream the lyrics, but in the video her lips move ever so slightly. Besides that, the video is call back to the ‘90s R&B female vocal videos of En Vogue and Brandy, complete with running water, sparkling body glitter and Amazonian hair. It’s a shame Beyoncé didn’t tone down the agression in her performance for this track as it could have been one of her best in years.

by PopMatters Staff

1 Sep 2011

Photo: Patrick Fraser

Soulful singer-songwriter Gavin DeGraw has already gone platinum with his previous work and he keeps aim on a rapidly growing career trajectory with his latest album Sweeter, releasing 20 September on RCA Records. Sweeter ups the R&B quotient considerably, as well as brings a more “sexually charged” vibe to DeGraw’s music. That’s obvious on this new album cut, “Radiation”, which is drenched in blue-eyed soul grooves with an infectious chorus and loaded with energy and passion. That’s the direct result of co-writing and collaborating with other artists. DeGraw says, “co-writing with other people changed everything for me. Not only did it open my mind to new ideas, but it changed the way I wrote on my own. Playing all these different styles with other musicians led me to think about things differently when I was working by myself. I was able to tap into things I do live, dabbling with some of that late ’60s, early ’70s R&B stuff; I was able to record all the styles of music that I like and put them on one album. It was great to take my leash off and experiment. Although it doesn’t stray too far from what I’ve done, I think it’s the first album I’ve made that has caught my true sound.”

by Timothy Gabriele

1 Sep 2011

Neon Indian has created a late night video oddity that is the perfect blend of eerie and nostalgic for the heady arthouse sci-fi camp of SubGenius propoganda films. While Neon Indian has a new album, Era Extraña, coming out next month, this is actually a promo for the synth device Neon Indian is marketing. The device is an odd little patch that looks just as homemade and sounds as rough as those mysterious little doodads scattered across the table at basement noise shows across the country (the kind of thing barely known sound mechanics like Howard Steltzer whip out of their pockets at a whim). As a bonus, the PAL 198X, as the video promises, will help you “experienc[e] womb to tomb simultaneously as it transforms you into an undulating snake-lake creature that experiences all times of your life at once “. The downside: the device’s “photo cells do not currently support witch house raves”.

//Mixed media

NYFF 2017: 'Mudbound'

// Notes from the Road

"Dee Rees’ churning and melodramatic epic follows two families in 1940s Mississippi, one black and one white, and the wars they fight abroad and at home.

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