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by Thomas Britt

31 Oct 2011

Last year, It’s a King Thing released Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo, which was one of the best pop/rock albums of 2010. What’s more, the band made the album available free of charge, only asking listeners to share it with others. Many months later, this set of songs still hasn’t grown old, and new music videos continue to appear. The latest is Vincent DiCostanzo’s video for “Number One Option”. Mainly consisting of one shot, the video is a fitting vehicle for the band’s uncomplicated but effective approach to pop songcraft.

by Steve Jansen

28 Oct 2011

Fancy stepping off pop’s trademark thud and bump and grind for a while? Well, pull yourself up a copy of the self-titled album by A Winged Victory for the Sullen and take a load off.

Serving up seven tracks of stillness and evolving piano motifs not a million miles away from Eno’s Music for Airports, it’s tempting to label AWVFTS’s self-titled album as ambient. But while that often over-intellectualized genre all too often hangs for real as the aural equivalent to floral wallpaper – pretty but flat – AWVFTS contains more of an obvious, more satisfying performance element. It’s classical, but not; hardly electronic, seeing as there isn’t much instrumentation beyond pianos; and in the absence of any drums, it’s not conventional of form. 

Perhaps, given that I’ve been around HMV’s mega-store in London twice looking for this album, checking all the departments—from rock/pop and dance down to classical, across to jazz, even through easy listening—but to no avail, there’s two things which can be said for AWVFTS. One: yes, clearly, it’s a tough one to categorize; and two: the mainstream isn’t yet alerted to the fabness of this release, thus it’s not getting the distribution. A pair of reasons (along with the fact I’ve also had this for a month now as a download, and keep coming back to it) are reason enough to stray beyond the all too familiar that is the mainstream these days, and give something different a whirl. 

One thing’s for sure, A Winged Victory for the Sullen won’t make you angry or want to destroy civilization. Which is more than can be said for Cobra Starship.

by Jane Jansen Seymour

27 Oct 2011

1. “Midnight City” – M83
French musician Anthony Gonzalez formed M83 a decade ago with an unabashed love of electronica to create pop songs with a dreamy feel.  This is the single off the band’s sixth release, Hurry Up We’re Dreaming.

2. “Ritual Union” – Little Dragon
This Swedish-Japanese band gets its moniker from singer Yukimi Nagano’s nickname.  The group of high school pals started playing together in 1996 and this eclectic synth pop tune is the title track of their third album.

by Jane Jansen Seymour

27 Oct 2011

As part of the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s 150th anniversary celebrations, the documentary Beyond This Place will be presented October 30 at 7:30 pm with the original score played live in the Opera House. The film follows director Kaleo La Belle as he attempts to reconcile a relationship with his estranged, drugged out father Cloud Rock. They embark on an ambitious 500-mile tour across the Pacific Northwest, looking for a way to connect after years of emotional distance. It has just been announced that La Belle will also be in attendance for a post-show Artist Talk, moderated by novelist Rick Moody.

Sufan Stevens is a childhood friend of La Belle’s (he and his brother Marzuki are the protagonist in Kaleo’s feature documentary film Crooked River in 2005). He collaborated on the soundtrack with Raymond Byron Magic Raposa, who records under the moniker Castanets. Together they created the soundtrack, capturing the various moods of the film. Sufjan re-recorded his song, “In the Devil’s Territory”, for the opening credits, while Raposa wrote an original song for the end credits called “Beyond This Place”.

by PopMatters Staff

26 Oct 2011

Earlier this week in a review of the three new Joni Haastrup/MonoMono re-issues, PopMattersMatthew Fiander said, “Nigerian multi-instrumentalist Joni Haastrup may not be the household name Fela Kuti is, but he is as indelible a part of Afro-beat and Nigerian music as the Black President is.”

Late last month, Soundway and Tummy Touch and re-released Haastrup’s solo album, as well as two albums of his band MonoMono. Fiander describes the batch of three records as “brief—each clocks in under 40 minutes—but they show a heavier soul mix in Haastrup’s vision of Afro-funk and rock music. If James Brown was a huge influence on Afro-beat in general, then Haastrup is his closest musical student. These are tighter compositions than Kuti’s, but they still manage a similar dichotomy: they are dynamic and shifting and yet build tension and inertia on insistent repetition.”

Those three classic Afro-beat albums are all worth checking out. To celebrate their release, Soundway and Tummy Touch have provided us with an exclusive MP3 of “Adele” in the original 7-inch version to share with our readers. This tune was “cleaned up” for the vinyl re-release, but here you can enjoy the tune in its original glory with no modern varnishes applied.

//Mixed media

Players Lose Control in ‘Tales from the Borderlands’

// Moving Pixels

"This is an interactive story in which players don’t craft the characters, we just control them.

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