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by Evan Sawdey

10 Jul 2017


Photo: Penny Lane

When PopMatters’ Steve Horowitz concluded his review of Kasey Chambers’ noted 2014 effort Bittersweet, he noted that it “begins by evoking the past and finishes by declaring she [Chambers] is not done yet.”

This very well could sum up Chambers’ entire career, as the Australian native has been releasing stunning material for nearly two decades, her sound deeply rooted in American country and bluegrass/Americana, arguably doing it better and more authentically than some of her States-bred peers. Yet Chambers isn’t one to sit still for long: she’s constantly growing and improving her songwriting skills, growing her list of regular collaborators, and even making significant inroads in the States.

Yet all her talents come to the fore in the form of what may very well be her most ambitious release effort: a double-disc set of new material called Dragonfly. In it, she tries everything she can think of, from the gospel-affected banjo jangle of “Golden Rails” to the quirky story-song stylings of “Talkin’ Baby Blues” to the woozy accordion lament of “Ain’t No Little Girl”. She covers a lot of thematic ground across these 20 songs, and may very well have created her best album to date—a bold statement given this is the same woman who made truly beloved hits like 2001’s Barricades & Brickwalls and 2010’s luminescent Little Bird.

To help celebrate the occasion, Chambers sat down to answer PopMatters’ 20 Questions, revealing an affinity for Friends, an adulation for Lucinda Williams, and the importance of “being real in a very fake world.”

by Imran Khan

8 Jun 2017


Despite the fact that he’s been working steadily these last 12 years, Black Milk remains one of hip-hop’s most underrated artists. The rapper and producer began his solo career with the decidedly conventional 2005 release Sound of the City, which featured the burgeoning hints of the artist’s tweaked genius throughout. His follow-up, Popular Demand (2007), was another set of squarely hip-hop tunes which were slightly distended by some of the out-there production.

by Evan Sawdey

7 Jun 2017


The digital revolution caught some musicians by surprise. In the ‘60s and ‘70s, owning instruments, much less booking studio time, was very much cost-prohibitive, meaning some amateur songwriters were left with little more than a hobby, not so much a profession. Nowadays, someone can get a studio sheen on everything from vocals to instrumentation without having to exit out of their laptops, leading to profoundly untalented acts like gnash scoring actual Top 10 hits in this day and age.

by Paul Carr

17 May 2017


It’s a rare thing to make a living from music these days.

As traditional revenue streams dry up the majority of musicians are under no illusion that there is no money in music anymore. Just to eke out a living is hard enough with bands ever more reliant on crowdfunding and frugal self-management. Romanticized notions of Lear jets, bountiful supplies of drugs, and extravagant spending seem like distant ideas from a bygone era. However, by the law of averages, some artists do make it. Some bands do manage to build a career on a scale that is totally out of reach of the majority of musicians. No.1 albums, huge festival appearances, and a fervent and dedicated fanbase. That is exactly the position that Scottish rockers Biffy Clyro find themselves in.

Having conquered the charts in the UK and Europe with their latest album Elipsis, and with a huge arena tour, including an all-conquering Reading festival appearance, things couldn’t be rosier for the band. Over the course of seven albums, the band has steadily built the type of following that many bands dream of with a fervent fan base stretching from Chile to Slovakia. However, What happens when a band achieves everything they ever hoped for? How does a group keep those fires burning and retain that passion? In Biffy Clyro’s case, the answer is, rather surprisingly, to become a small band again. The kind of band with nothing to lose who has to convince people all over again. Just them, the music and the stage. What better place to take that giant stride backward than America.

by Danilo Castro

15 May 2017


Tuxedo is doing their part to keep funk alive.

Comprised of soul singer Mayer Hawthorne and hip-hop producer Jake One, the dapper duo (yes, they do actually wear tuxedos) sound as though they’ve come through a time warp to remind the world of the importance of getting down. Their self-titled debut was a perfect thesis for this mission in 2015, melding the buttery-smooth grooves of groups like Chic and Zapp with the rubbery G-funk of Dr. Dre and DJ Quik.

Sprinkle in a playful image and a tongue-in-cheek approach to songwriting, and you get a duo that, even in the wake of retro-funk acts like Daft Punk and Bruno Mars, most organically update the sound for modern audiences. PopMatters caught up with Hawthorne and Jake One as they tour their latest album, Tuxedo II, and got the scoop on how they kept the funk feeling fresh the second time around.

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