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by Brice Ezell

19 May 2015


Following their Grammy-nominated collaborative LP with Bobby Rush last year, Decisions, Laramie, Wyoming’s own Blinddog Smokin’ have readied their next studio outing, High Steppin’. Populated by funk grooves, rock shredding, and a healthy dose of New Orleans style, the LP showcases the well-practiced union of high-energy instrumentation with frontman Carl Gustafson’s vivid lyricism.

On “Bayou Lady”, Blinddog Smokin’ pull off a fine feat: making an eminently danceable tune that also gets you to think. Gustafson’s understanding of the ways in which people overlook their own damage to the environment is on point—and it helps that his point is made with such jubilant music.

by Brice Ezell

18 May 2015


“In general, I’m a nostalgic person,” singer/songwriter Josh Gilligan says in relation to his new record Steady On. However, he qualifies this by also suggesting, “I don’t think retrospective behavior is completely healthy.”

From its homey sleeve art to its gentle, acoustic guitar-led songwriting, Steady On is the kind of album one could mistake for a nostalgia-worshipping hipster who’s imbibed one kombucha too many. The songs he writes, however, paint a different picture: a picture of someone who has taken in and has a deep respect for old-fashioned songwriting. Steady On may be a nostalgic affair, but it’s not nauseatingly so; it’s the sound of how to look into the past without worshipping at its altar, all the while bringing in a new perspective.

by Brice Ezell

15 May 2015


Comprised of Marshall Gallagher (Swing Hero), Kamtin Mohager (Chain Gang of 1974), and Anthony Salazar, Teenage Wrist is an up-and-coming side project that’s already got an EP of tunes ready to share. That EP, Dazed will be out next week; it features six songs, one of which you can stream exclusively here at PopMatters.

“Summer” may seem straightforward on the surface, but it has multiple different components that elevate it from its ostensible indie rock surface. Although the guitars bring mid-‘00s alt-rock to mind, when paired with the vocals—whose layered production brings shoegaze to mind—there’s a nice textural juxtaposition between smoothness and harshness. There’s also a nice and brief clean guitar break mid-way through the tune, whose tone brings to mind the post-rock of Explosions in the Sky.

by Brice Ezell

15 May 2015


If Valentina sounds terribly familiar, don’t worry—it’s supposed to. David Gedge, known best for his work with the Leeds, UK-based indie rockers the Wedding Present, is also responsible for the Cinerama project, where he explores more traditional pop songwriting. Thus, it’s no coincidence that the latter project is now releasing an album called Valentina, when the former did the same in 2012.

With the new Valentina, Gedge takes the Wedding Present’s original LP and re-interprets it through the lens of the Cinerama sonic—and the results are astonishing. Heavy on swanky jazz orchestrations, smooth pop vocals, and Brian Wilson-esque arrangements, Cinerama’s Valentina is a lush pop confection. The electric guitars of the Wedding Present have been traded in for liberally used string sections, Vegas lounge pianos, and an overall air of sophistication that’s infectiously fun. This Valentina may have its roots in a previous recording, but it stands on its own as a fine orchestral pop album that hearkens back to the ‘60s without getting drunk on its own nostalgia.

by Brice Ezell

14 May 2015


Earlier this week, the Manchester-based duo of Bernard + Edith had their debut LP, Jem, released in the United States. Already, other artists have found the young group’s music ripe for interpretation, as the remix you can stream below evinces. This remix, done by the Icelandic electronic trio Samaris, removes the original vocal from Bernard + Edith’s tune “WURDS”, stripping it down to a pulsating electronic instrumental that’s ideal for the darkest hours of the night. In changing what began initially as a somewhat dramatic song into a moody and pensive little number, Samaris highlight both their own creativity and the strength of the material that they were working with.

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