The internet never killed rock ‘n’ roll, but it for sure killed much of the mythology that rock ‘n’ roll existed upon. If the journey into the afterlife is anything as portrayed in Starz’ American Gods, then those who pray to rock gods may be greeted by one Tony Esposito, lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter of White Reaper.
Latest Blog Posts
Let’s talk about John Mayer’s voice. You know the one—those goopy dulcet tones on “Your Body is a Wonderland”, soft and sweet as taffy including all the leftover stickiness that makes you feel like you better go brush your teeth afterward.
Mayer is inseparable from his voice, which might seem like an obvious point to make about anyone other than Mayer. He’s someone who’s spent so long trying to escape his voice—his original teenage swoon instrument—it’s hard to know which one you’re getting these days. Is he the Stevie Ray Vaughan impersonator of John Mayer Trio? The soulful bluesman of Continuum? The detached folk rocker of his last two albums? Jerry Garcia lite with Dead & Co.? Or is it some combination of both, none, and all of the above?
Imagine you are a relatively unknown and unsigned musical artist living in Vancouver, British Columbia, who recorded and posted online a song you wrote when you were 17 years old. And then about five years later, that six-minute introspective and dramatic song gets randomly spotted on YouTube by a member of a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band, and who then later contacts you about wanting to record that song for that band’s upcoming album.
Now two years later, your song ends up being on that band’s recently-released new record that also includes material written by Sia, Johnny Marr, Blood Orange’s Dev Hynes, Charli XCX, TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek, and the Strokes’ Nick Valensi—in addition to the song being mentioned in Rolling Stone.
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.”
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.