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by Brice Ezell

3 Jun 2014


If LCD Soundsystem‘s “New York, I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down” is the definitive sad-sack ballad about the Big Apple, then Julian Velard’s “New York, I Love it When You’re Mean” is its optimistic counterweight. Velard’s affinity for old-school singer/songwriters, the kind who play the classic tunes of lyricists like Cy Coleman, is in full display not just in “New York, I Love It When You’re Mean,” but also the entirety of If You Don’t Like It, You Can Leave, his upcoming concept album about that most revered of American cities. Though many in the music press have declared liking Billy Joel an act of supreme uncool, Velard is a reminder of why the music of the Piano Man, whose lineage he falls squarely into, continues to persevere. (If You Don’t Like It concludes with a cover of Joel’s “Where’s the Orchestra?”)

Call it sentimental, call it saccharine, but what Velard does exceptionally well is play music that’s thoroughly fun and equally honest. As fine as LCD Soundsystem’s lamentation is, it would not be crazy to guess that James Murphy feels the same way Velard does about the city. Velard’s heart-on-a-sleeve devotionals to New York are a refreshing reminder to look on the bright side of life, and ideal accompaniment for the now-blossoming summer.

“This was the first song I wrote for the album, and the one that launched this idea of a New York concept album,” Velard says of the tune. “I wrote it with and for someone else, a Japanese-American artist Emi Meyer. Emi was in town for the first time and really falling in love with the city. She wanted to capture the feel of New York in a song. At first I thought that was a ridiculous idea. There are a century’s worth of music and movies about NYC, entire genres that have been shaped by it. But as soon as we started, lyrics pouring out of me. I had 34 years of untapped research on living in New York. I got more experience with the city than I do with romance. The song came so easily, we finished it that afternoon. And that’s when I knew I had a lot of songs to write.”

If You Don’t Like It, You Can Leave is out on June 17th.

by Brice Ezell

3 Jun 2014


Last year, the LA-based dark synthpop duo Night Club—comprised of Emily Kavanaugh and former Metalocalpyse director Mark Brooks—released Love Casualty, a minor but undeniably catchy EP. Hooks on tunes like “Give Yourself Up” are hard to shake off; they, as I put it in my review of the EP, are “are designed to invade brains and stay inside for a long time.”

by PopMatters Staff

2 Jun 2014


Sassparilla has an amazing sound, mixed with vintage blues blended with soulful vocals and down home instrumentation. The band is releasing not one, but two records on June 17th, Pasajero and Hullabaloo. This group is really special and we urge you to check out these tunes, which Sassparilla hand-picked for us as their favorites from the new albums.

by Brice Ezell

2 Jun 2014


Though obviously unorthodox as cover albums go, the past three tribute releases by the 8-Bit Operators name—which cover tunes by Kraftwerk, the Beatles, and Devo—have been wildly fun. Using sounds repurposed from old video game consoles and operating systems, including Game Boys, Atari consoles, and Commodore 64s, a whole gamut of artists under the 8-Bit Operators umbrella have crafted some eccentric and unforgettable tracks. If you think the digital bleeps of video game consoles would be unable to turn the Beatles’ “Because” into a haunting reverie, you’d be forgiven—but also wrong. 8-Bit music is a niche a genre as there is, but there is plenty exciting happening in the field.

by Brice Ezell

30 May 2014


The title of the Portland, Oregon outfit HERS’ latest LP, Youth Revisited, may at first pass suggest a mood of nostalgia. Such a simplistic take, however, all but dissipates as the first notes of the album begin. This first song, “Bad”, finds frontwoman and songwriter Melissa Amstutz hauntingly repeating, “I’ve been so bad.”

As the much-hyped debut LP by Syracuse’s Perfect Pussy has already demonstrated this year, there’s a real power in unflinching emotional examination. However, in contrast to the cut-and-paste sonic of Say Yes to Love, Youth Revisited‘s musical range is far more refined and wide-spanning.

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"Which is better, Cher’s voice before or after Auto-Tune?

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