Latest Blog Posts

by Sean Murphy

31 Mar 2009


I’ve not said much to say, in print, to this point about John Zorn for a variety of reasons, but it ultimately boils down to two very simple issues. First, there is so much to say it’s both exhausting and intimidating to consider; how to even grapple with an output like this? Second, and perhaps more significant, I’m not at all certain my best efforts would sufficiently convey how important his music is (to me, for starters) and how truly all-encompassing his sensibility has become. And that’s just in the last 12 months…

Consider his Masada songbook: 100 compositions he wrote in the early ’90s, and then recorded over the course of ten albums with the (then acoustic) Masada band, including Dave Douglas on trumpet, Greg Cohen on bass and Joey Baron on drums. The klezmer-meets classic Ornette Coleman Quartet vibe, too often and easily invoked as a way of describing what this music sounds like, nevertheless is an acceptably succinct summation. These tunes were covered by another working band, Bar Kokhba (which brought in Cyro Baptista on percussion, Marc Ribot on guitar, Mark Feldman on violin and Eric Friedlander on cello–all mainstays in the NYC downtown music scene), giving the compositions an augmented grandeur that keeps the material challenging (mostly for the players) and always accessible.  The Masada String Trio (Cohen, Feldman and Friedlander) also recorded and performed this material live.

by Michael Edler

30 Mar 2009


Tornados. Essentially tornados abound in Neko Case’s sixth album Middle Cyclones, a brilliant pop/folk/rock/etc album. Maybe one of the purest displays in Neko’s career, the album is filled with density learned from composing and touring with her side super-band The New Pornographers. These songs are demonstrating growth in Neko’s song writing ability. Neko has constructed songs with limited space, she’s giving us a Neko Case pop sonic masterpiece that takes some time to find a spot to settle into and enjoy, but the album’s main purpose is to drive the idea that we live in a stormy world that we do not even work on our own behalf to enjoy fully. We all struggle, as Neko, to find love and to define it for ourselves, but we also push away those who mean us most joy. We are stormy creatures, afraid to communicate fully in a world filled with the ability to communicate anything to anyone at any time. Middle Cyclone is the love album for the early 21st Century. The songs are richly decorated; they spin the listener into the ground and then spend equal time allowing comfortable recoil.

by Robin Cook

27 Mar 2009


Weirder things have happened. Thursday night at SXSW, the stage at Austin’s Central Presbyterian Church was shared by a Dresden Doll and a legendarily raunchy comedienne. Of course, this being a church, they avoided the four-letter words in favor of a sweet-natured tribute to said comedienne’s dog. The next day, the comedienne (Margaret Cho, of course) and Dresden Doll (Amanda Palmer) talked about that show, Cho’s new venture into music, Palmer’s favorite singers, and the role of humor in music. (Yes, as Frank Zappa would tell you, they DO go together.)

 

by PopMatters Staff

26 Mar 2009


1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
Gran Torino. The sacrifice that Clint Eastwood makes—and his redemption amid the senseless violence—brought a tear to my eye.

2. The fictional character most like you?
Huck Finn. I’ve paddle down any river in search of adventure, even if my boat crashes in the process.

3. The greatest album, ever?
Blood on the Tracks by Bob Dylan. I always loved the record, but I learned the hard way, through heartbreak and despair, just how beautiful it is.

by Robin Cook

25 Mar 2009


PopMatters’ Robin Cook chats with upcoming neo-folk singer Alela Diane at this year’s SXSW. Diane talks about her guitar skills, upbringing and taste in music.

Matthew Fiander called her new album To Be Still “beautiful and subtly splintered and cathartic in an honestly incomplete way. And it is, finally, that rare kind of album: one worth getting close to.”

 

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"Two wide and handsome Italian thrillers of the 1970s.

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