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by Jane Jansen Seymour

22 Mar 2011


Natalia Yanchak is not just some woman in a band. She joined the Dears back in their beginning stages as the keyboard player, but also as an organizer and visionary. Her vocals add a sweetness to the strong, warm baritone of frontman Murray Lightburn along with a raison d’être for the romantic yearnings that are a hallmark of so many of their songs. They are now married with a young daughter, and the band is as strong as ever. The new release, Degeneration Street, was performed start to finish in a few live gigs last fall, and the group onstage looked like it was having a blast. Before heading out on tour again, Yanchak chatted over the phone from her home in Montreal to update PopMatters.

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When exactly did you join the band and tell me about those early days with the Dears?

I joined the band officially in 1997 or 1998. I had met Murray [Lightburn] at a bar—I was DJing at a local haunt in Montreal, the infamous Biftek, which [is] overrun by students now although it was back then also. That’s what they call a steak in French, biftek, but it’s not a restaurant so I don’t know why it’s called that. Murray had come in and he sat at the bar and for some reason he just poured his heart out to me. It wasn’t like it was love at first sight, I was kind of like “Oh, poor guy”. We had some mutual friends who introduced me to the Dears and to Murray so I went to see them play a show at this hole-in-wall kind of place called the Barfly. They were looking for a keyboard player but after I saw them I was totally skeptical. I was like, “It’s going to be terrible.” But it was amazing—I thought it was great.

by George de Stefano

21 Mar 2011


The languid, suggestive “Red Rooster” fades to the sound of Howlin’ Wolf’s slide guitar, and what comes next is a mood-changer: the ebullient “You’ll Be Mine”. This Willie Dixon-penned rocker is two minutes and 25 seconds of joy, as Wolf pledges lifelong fidelity to his lover. The song’s structure is basic, verse-chorus with a middle eight break, and the lyrics are simplicity itself: “You so sweet / You so fine / How I wish you were mine / Honey, I’ll be your love / You’ll be mine”. Wolf’s so captivated by his darling that, as long as she’s his, it doesn’t matter what she does or doesn’t do: it’s love as total, unquestioning devotion.

by Jason Mendelsohn and Eric Klinger

18 Mar 2011


Klinger: Now here’s a real puzzler of a record for our Counterbalance purposes. Most everything we’ve covered so far has either been an immediate game changer or has had an impact that’s reached far beyond its initial standing. Television’s 1977 album Marquee Moon, although charting modestly in the UK, is an LP that’s seldom discussed outside the realm of critics and rock nerds.

But regardless of its relatively minor cultural impact, Marquee Moon is like nothing else we’ve covered so far musically. Combining the precision and flair of Hendrix, the street smarts of Patti Smith and the Velvets, and the nods to pop tradition of Ziggy-era Bowie and the Clash, Television feels like a culmination of everything that makes albums great. So is it sheer musicality that’s brought Television into these lofty heights?

by Sean Murphy

17 Mar 2011


There must be some misunderstanding. Is he in or out?

(“You’ve got to get in to get out . . .”)

Not the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which Genesis was finally—and correctly—inducted into last March (by a very nervous Trey Anastasio). The question is: has he hung up his sticks forever? Has he set foot on his last stage, never to sing into the mic again?

(“Hello, I must be going . . .”)

It’s tough to say, based on the man’s recent remarks. Earlier this month there were conflicting reports: is he retiring from music to focus on his family, or not? Is it temporary or permanent? And most significant: who cares? Well, I do, of which more shortly.

Last year, due to medical concerns, he disclosed that he was unable to play the drums (inviting smart-ass types to inquire how long it had been since he had played the drums anyway, if he ever did). Due to a dislocated vertebrae in his neck, his hands were affected and presumably that explained the setback. Optimistic fans could assume that once he fully recovered, he could resume his musical aspirations. The bigger question was: does he have any? Considering it was the same year his band was enshrined, it was distressing to see him in various interviews expressing more ambivalence than pride regarding a career where he shares exclusive company with Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney for selling more than a million records with a band and as a solo artist.

by Stefan Nickum

16 Mar 2011


This week I return to bring you a strong trio of electronic gems, as usual in the categories of an official release (album or EP), a DJ mix from the week, and an unofficial, free, or bootleg track, hopefully available to download. There is clear overlap between these three selections, something I make no apologies for—I like what I like, but the influences coming in on these artists music are notably varied, and connecting those dots will, I hope, be the fun part. 

FaltyDL - You Stand Uncertain (Planet Mu)

Brooklyn a la London producer Drew Lustman a.k.a. FaltyDL put out his second LP for the Planet Mu imprint this week, the follow-up to his 2009 debut Love Is a Liability. What was clear from that record—and a series of EPs he put out leading up to that release—was that 2-step and UK garage were the focal point of Lustman’s rhythmic palette. But despite the obvious nod to these sounds in his productions, they always seemed to be informed greatly by avant-garde jazz drums and hip-hop, two great reasons to choose New York as your jumping off point, and even greater reasons to flesh out a UK breakbeat already greatly indebted to hip-hop and its roots.

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