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Thursday, May 3, 2012
by PopMatters Staff
Alex Winston is a young singer-songwriter from Detroit who melds the '60s girl group sound with smart and pointed lyrics, turning pop on its head while fully exploiting pop's standard musical tropes.

Alex Winston is a young singer-songwriter from Detroit who melds the ‘60s girl group sound with smart and pointed lyrics, turning pop on its head while fully exploiting pop’s standard musical tropes. Somehow it’s only too perfect that someone from Detroit is the one twisting Motown sounds into a new style. Her debut album, King Con, received praise from notables such as Pitchfork, Spin and Brooklyn Vegan and she looks set to have an artistically satisfying career. Today we bring you a remix of the album tune “Guts” remixed by Swedish electronic duo the Sound of Arrows.



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Monday, Apr 30, 2012
by PopMatters Staff
Portland's Strangled Darlings bring punk intensity to folk pop and completely bust the mold, creating smart, irreverent tunes using classic acoustic folk instrumentation paired with rough, impassioned vocals.

Portland’s Strangled Darlings bring punk intensity to folk pop and completely bust the mold, creating smart, irreverent tunes using classic acoustic folk instrumentation paired with rough, impassioned vocals. The lyrics are more political and confrontational than the rather observational style that you often hear in folk. Think of it rather like the Clash with an indie Northwestern American aesthetic and acoustic instruments instead of Telecasters and Fender Precisions. George Veech and Jessica Anderly lead Strangled Darlings, playing tenor banjo, mandolin, cello, fiddle, and bass, while they bring in friends to add percussion and jazzy horn bits.


The group’s latest album, Red Yellow & Blue releases 15 May via Mudfarm Records. Today we bring you the premiere of the album’s opening track, “Snake & The Girl”, which takes on organized religion in a big way, saying “stand up for yourself… be your own goddamn salvation.”



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Monday, Apr 23, 2012
Robert Francis premieres the beautiful acoustic clip for "Dangerous Neighborhood", off of his upcoming Strangers in the First Place, exclusively for PopMatters.

On May 22nd Robert Francis will release his Vanguard Records Debut Strangers in the First Place, which is a dazzling collection of backroads-style folk songs that took about a year and a half to make. He asked PopMatters to premiere the acoustic live-take video for the closing track off of that album, “Dangerous Neighborhood”. He also offered an interview to shine some light on the record, the song, and his past. After a short talk it became painfully obvious that Francis was born into the world of music.


Talking about growing up with music as a young child Francis frequently spoke out about his mentor at a very early age and most prominent influence, Ry Cooder. “It was always extremely important to learn things firsthand from Ry, whose teacher was Robert Garry Davis. Ry would talk about paying Robert Gary Davis 10 cents to just sit in a room with him and watch him play guitar. Which is the same kind of thing I’ve had the honor of doing with Ry. He really taught me a lot about music and a lot about soul and how important the song is. I really tried to translate that.”


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Friday, Apr 20, 2012
While the easiest way to describe Chicago’s Cains & Abels is to call ‘em a ‘70s folk-rock revival act, there’s something more contemporary to their music than that tag captures.

While the easiest way to describe Chicago’s Cains & Abels is to call ‘em a ‘70s folk-rock revival act, there’s something more contemporary to their music than that tag captures. Certainly, mainman David Sampson’s handiwork has an affinity for singer-songwriters of yesteryear, but the Cains & Abels sound has a current feel to it. PopMatters is premiering the video for the band’s single “Stay Home Tonight” from their recently released album My Life Is Easy, and it’s hard not to notice how its poignant twang, touches of reverb, and off-kilter vocals recall a more contemplative version of an early Band of Horses song.


Cains & Abels will be releasing a limited edition 7” single of “Stay Home Tonight” this Saturday, April 21, exclusively for Record Store Day, which they are marking with an in-store performance at Chicago’s Saki Store (Carrot Top Distribution). The 7” features the title track A-side and a rendition of Harry Nilsson’s “Turn on Your Radio” on the flip side.



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Friday, Apr 20, 2012
by PopMatters Staff
Anathema counts new album Weather Systems as their most musically ambitious effort to date. "The Storm Before the Calm" typifies that shoot-for-the-stars approach, as it plays rather like a mini rock symphony, chock full of leitmotivs and dramatic movement.

You loved our last Anathema premiere so much—it was the most popular MP3 premiere on PopMatters ever—that we’re pleased to bring you another new Anathema tune, “The Storm Before the Calm”. Anathema has a long musical history dating back all the way to 1990 when the band emerged from Liverpool as a figurehead in the death/doom metal genre. Evolving over time, Anathema is now more of a modern progressive rock ensemble, producing far more challenging music than at its origin.


Weather Systems is the new record, releasing next Tuesday (24 April), and Anathema counts it as their most musically ambitious effort to date. Daniel Cavanagh explains, “it feels like we are at a creative peak right now, and this album reflects that. Everything from the production to the writing to the performances are a step up from our last album. This is not background music for parties. The music is written to deeply move the listener, to uplift or take the listener to the coldest depths of the soul.” “The Storm Before the Calm” typifies that shoot-for-the-stars approach, as it plays rather like a mini rock symphony, chock full of leitmotivs and dramatic movement.


Read our review of Weather Systems.



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