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by Sarah Zupko

31 Mar 2016


Photo: AKaiserPhoto

Canadian rock band Sulfur City‘s new album features frontwoman Lori Paradis enjoying a bit of musical ecstasy, an image that evokes a Janis Joplin LP cover. It’s a clever strategy in making that connection as it highlight the band’s greatest asset, their superlative lead vocalist. Thing is, Sulfur City really are a rawk band, not blues/soul band, so Grace Slick is really a better comparison point as Paradis shares Slick’s graceful enunciation and more restrained sense of energy and drama. Did I mention this is a serious rock ‘n’ roll record, something that’s vanishing faster than bees these days? Sulfur City is a really honest to goodness working class rock band, the kind you can unwind to with beers and pool games at the local pub. Paradis even possesses the requisite career history as she’s been a construction worker, house painter and trucker. Those are careers that make you tough and give you the right rock ‘n’ roll mindset.

by PopMatters Staff

31 Mar 2016


Pryor Stroud: With a gossamer brat-pop voice that recalls Like a Virgin-era Madonna, Jessy Lanza sings in slashes and bursts of highly-pressurized air that seem to refract the synthesizers they pass through. In her latest single “VV Violence”, this air not only lends itself to Lanza’s sky-scraping falsetto melismatics, but to the track’s rhythmic qualities as well. Throughout the verses, compacted micro-swaths of breath bounce alongside the skittering 8-bit percussion, but then the bridge surges into being, and this breath becomes a non-linguistic sexual utterance interacting with the shoulder-to-waist synth caresses that encompass it. But what form of sexual interchange, exactly, is Lanza attempting to articulate here? Perhaps she’s inverted the dance floor trial-by-fire in Madonna’s “Into the Groove”—“Get into the groove, boy / You’ve got to prove / Your love to me”—and put the burden of proof on herself, the singer-protagonist, rather than the song’s subject: “Yeah I say it to your face / But it doesn’t mean a thing”, she sings, and since this direct enunciation of her love doesn’t seem to phase him, she turns to the substance beneath her words to do the talking for her—that is, her breath, a substance too carnally expressive to be dismissed or misconstrued. [9/10]

by PopMatters Staff

31 Mar 2016


Photo: Daniel Cooper

Willie and the Giant were named “New Band of the Week” by the Guardian last year… and then they broke up due to creative differences. This happens all the time and it’s often because a lead artist in a group has other ideas they’d like to explore. That’s the case with Birmingham, Alabama’s Will Stewart who has stepped away from his old group to emerge as a compelling solo artist this year with a new EP, Faultline, releasing on April 15th. “Keyhole” appears on the new EP and it’s a banger of a single that rocks hard like a great slice of heartland rock ‘n’ roll. Recorded in Nashville and conceived in Birmingham, Stewart’s new music is super catchy, exciting and energetic.

by PopMatters Staff

31 Mar 2016


Basmala walks the line between hip-hop and electronic music, visiting the realm of avant-garde jazz, all in an effort to create forward-looking, experimental music that he dubs visionary soul. You may know Basmala as Hasan Atiq, the moniker he records under when performing hip-hop vocals or as Autolect, the name he used between 2005-2010 to create five albums. Basmala is a whole new project. “Basmala is the intention behind everything I am doing,” he explains. “When you’re making music, especially in different genres, and writing lyrics, the process can become convoluted. Projects fall apart, and the cohesiveness of what you’re trying to achieve is lost. Basmala brought that wholeness back with focus. It allowed me to remove, or trim, the ego a bit in order to accomplish what needs to be accomplished, multi-project-wise. Basmala is, for lack of a better word, objective, aligned with decree/goals.”

by PopMatters Staff

30 Mar 2016


Photo: Daniel Topete

Jamil Rashad, a/k/a Boulevards, is part of the batch of new indie soul musicians lighting up the music world and bringing some serious grooves back into contemporary popular music. In Boulevards’ case, he is all about the funk, but whereas Dâm-Funk creates a more dreamy, cerebral brand of nu funk, Boulevards goes in for pop-influenced funk party jams that are meant to rock the house and the dancefloor, while putting a smile on your face and lighting your fire. Boulevards perfectly titles his new album releasing this week Groove! with that all-important exclamation point, just in case you were wondering what this music is really about. Not just grooves either, but some serious sultry, sexy, sometimes witty and always fun grooves. Interestingly, Rashad spent his teens listening to metal and punk and he brings a great deal of that visceral energy into his sound with Boulevards. Seriously, tee up the cocktails or a bottle of Hennessy, pop this album on the player, and invite all your friends over… it’s going to be a memorable evening.

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Independent Film Festival Boston 2016: 'The Anthropologist'

// Short Ends and Leader

"Spry and crisp, The Anthropologist is a solid documentary that avoids bearing the weight of the austere pessimism surrounding climate change.

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