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by Sarah Zupko

13 Mar 2017


Photo: Owen Carey

New wave synthpop band Animotion returns to music 26 years after their last work. Both of the original frontpeople of the group, Bill Wadhams and Astrid Plane, are back along with a revamped line-up for their new album Raise Your Expectations, which released 20 January via Invisible Hands Music. Animotion burst onto the fertile new wave back in 1985 with the mega hit “Obsession” (UK: #5 / US #6 on the charts), as well as further hit singles Let Him Go and “I Engineer” from the group’s 1986 release, Strange Behavior. Sadly, the original group broke up after that, and another album appeared in 1989, but with none of the original members.

by Sarah Zupko

10 Mar 2017


Chicago’s JC Brooks attracted major critical acclaim for his band’s soulful music following two superb releases on Bloodshot Records. Now, JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound are working under the title of their frontman and they’ve moved over to Rock Ridge Music for a new album, The Neon Jungle, that ratchets up the rock side of their sound. On “Drive”, we see JC Brooks blending soul and funk with post-punk and rock. It’s a broad sound freely drawing from multiple genres in popular music, you know, kinda like Prince. Heading for Prince territory offers the band a rich terrain to experiment and further develop their unique sound. JC Brooks says, “I feel like we carry that ethos with the genre-mixing blend of soul music we write, and the punk aspect is more about our DIY determination to get out there onstage and engage with our live crowds on a visceral level.”

by Sarah Zupko

10 Mar 2017


Photo: Valerie Fremin

For those who prefer the melodic pop side of rock music, Cotton Mather has surely been a source of much fun over the past 27 years. Austin’s Cotton Mather plays irresistible Beatlesque pop crossed with an early Elvis Costello sneer. Frontman Robert Harrison’s voice has always reminded me a bit of John Lennon, who as my original musical hero makes me instantly swoon when I hear a Cotton Mather track. Cotton Mather’s Kontiki is their 1997 pop masterpiece, and if you’ve never heard it, I highly recommend listening to it right after this track. But what impresses most about Cotton Mather is that they continue to make relevant, exciting, brilliant music to this day.

by Sarah Zupko

10 Mar 2017


Elisee Akowendo hails from the Ivory Coast and grew up singing gospel music, developing a deep love of music that would come to define his life. Elisee traveled to Israel with his church group to perform, and after that, he was set to begin his master’s degree back home. But he took a chance on music, stayed in Israel and hooked up with local beat-maker Tamir Muskat. Together, they collaborated on Elisee’s new single “I Dey Shina”, an addictive banger of a tune that announces the arrival of a major new musical talent. “I Dey Shina” means “I’m Shining” and indeed it does as it’s warm message of love and peace is uplifting and thrilling at the same time.

by Evan Sawdey

6 Mar 2017


Photo: Hans Peter

“Our motivation is to be different than [what] we were,” notes Nuno Gonçalves, and boy he isn’t kidding.

Answering a question asked back in 2011 when PopMatters visited the Gift in Spain, the keyboardist and lead songwriter of Portugal’s the Gift has made it clear that no two albums will sound the same. Amazingly, over the course of two decades, the band has kept this promise.

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Red Baraat Blows Hartford Hall Down Celebrating the Festival of Colors (Photos)

// Notes from the Road

"Red Baraat's annual Festival of Colors show rocked a snow laden Hartford on a Saturday evening.

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