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by Evan Sawdey

2 May 2017


Mack Keane’s upbeat and feel-good can be directly traced to a lineage of soul-pop crooners who were themselves influenced by a whole separate generation of notable soul-pop crooners. Inspiration begets inspiration. While pop music can at times be extremely whim- or trend-driven, soul music is part of a tradition, and one that the 20-year-old Keane felt the need to subscribe to.

Once the irresistible earworm of that staccato key pattern comes in during “I Would”, one of the many dance-ready burners off Keane’s debut 2107 EP, it’s impossible not to hear a touch of Jamie Lidell and Bruno Mars mixed up into his sound. It’s proudly traditional and also undeniably contemporary.

by PopMatters Staff

1 May 2017


Andrew Paschal: Coming from a group rooted in ‘90s shoegaze and post-rock, “Sugar for the Pill” sounds surprisingly timeless. The simple, celestial guitar line sounds like classic rock at its most contemplative, yet the song also wears a certain cosmic weariness, like a less goofy version of the Highwaymen’s eponymous debut single. While hardly surprising given that more than twenty years have passed, it’s nonetheless striking to compare Neil Halstead’s gruff, worn vocals here with the nasal youth of “Alison”. Even more so than the angsty masterpiece Souvlaki or the spartan Pygmalion, Slowdive’s forthcoming LP looks like it may be their most nocturnal and reflective yet. [8/10]

by PopMatters Staff

1 May 2017


Adriane Pontecorvo: Dissonance is the key to “We Go Home Together”, where James Blake’s wandering voice and the looping background melody float in artful disarray. There’s a marionette-like awkwardness to it, something eerie and not quite right. Something intriguing. Keeping the song short was a good artistic choice, as the momentum here is minimal and secondary to the overall mood. Also a good artistic choice: the disjointed imagery of the video, blurred neon lights, still shots moving too quickly. Nothing is quite where it should be in “We Go Home Together”, and that’s the track’s greatest strength. [7/10]

by Maria Schurr

28 Apr 2017

Mark Fernyhough photographed exclusively for PopMatters by
Heike Schneider-Matzigkeit

Those with an interest in particularly dorky pop cultural titles may be aware that the time of predicting 2017’s “Summer Anthem” is fast approaching. British-born, Berlin-based artist Mark Fernyhough’s new single “Steal My Love” is by no means the sort of song one would normally see in the running, nor is it marketed as such. Yet it feels more in line with the true feelings of summer than whatever lowest common denominator radio fodder will inevitably be awarded the ubiquitous summer anthem title. “Steal My Love” is certainly anthemic in the British pop sense, with big, hooky verses and even bigger, hookier, more blinding choruses, but it’s also beguilingly wistful, a sumptuously warm and sunny day belying a doomed summer romance. Luckily, “Steal My Love”’s hooks are gripping enough to outlive any direct pigeonholing, seasonal or otherwise.

by Sarah Zupko

28 Apr 2017


Chris Ingalls: Brooklyn’s Drums have cited the Beach Boys and Joy Division among their influences, and this kind of eclecticism is obvious in their music. “Blood Under My Belt” manages to combine sweet harmonies and pop hooks with a sense of pseudo-goth poses that update the sound nicely. It’s refreshing to hear a band that embraces retro influences from a variety of different sources and eras. Imagine a group of sullen kids dressed in black discovering Pet Sounds, and you’ve got the general idea. [7/10]

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