Latest Blog Posts

by Rob McCallum

12 Jan 2011


Veiled. Mysterious. Masked. Call Nika Roza Danilova what you will. As Zola Jesus, she has certainly been a shrouded figure since her first release on Sacred Bones Records last year. Carving out a unique space—much in the vein of a young Kate Bush or Björk—to sit in since she shot to the forefront of the blogosphere last year, it’s hard to believe the operatically trained 21-year-old from Wisconsin is such a new figure in the music scene, as she presents a sound with a maturity way beyond her years.

There was an undeniable lack of expectancy for the transition she made from the solitary lo-fi of last year’s The Spoils to the all-enrapturing ethereal pop on this year’s Stridulum EP. It is a transition that seems to signal her ascendancy into the art-pop hall of fame as – backed by her new band – she embarks on a tour later this year with the Swedish songstress of insomnia, Fever Ray. Popmatters finds out more.

Zola Jesus is a stage name. Are you getting into a character when you record/perform your music?
No, that would be dishonest. Zola Jesus is too personal for that.

Do you still write/record all the music alone?
Yes.

by Diane Leach

11 Jan 2011


I heard it on NPR. “You might not know the singer”, Melissa Block announced.  “But you’d know that solo anywhere”.

The swelling saxophone filled my Dodge Caravan. I was driving home from work on a freezing Wednesday afternoon.  More precisely, I was sitting at the red light where the Alameda turns onto Solano Avenue.  From my vantage point I could see all the way to the coast, where the sun lowered into the sea. 

“Baker Street”, I said to the empty van.  “Gerry Rafferty”.

On this chilly, darkening afternoon driving in Berkeley, I piloted my van down the narrow street, carefully avoiding the pedestrians hurrying through the crosswalks, willfully oblivious to traffic as only Berkeleyans can be.  I wove around BMWs threatening to back into the street. A few stores still had Christmas lights up. Melissa Block announced Gerry Rafferty’s death.  He was 63 years old.  She mentioned “Right Down the Line”, and “Stuck in the Middle with You”, made notorious by Quentin Tarantino.  But I was not there.  I was back in Detroit, in my childhood home, where “Baker Street” played through most of 1978, that sax solo you’d recognize anywhere blaring through the custom speakers my father built in our basement.  He had in fact built the entire stereo system, save the Pioneer turntable.  Speakers, tweeters atop them (don’t ask me what they are or why he built them; all I know is they “boosted” the already impressive sound.), receiver, amplifier, pre-amplifier.  The stereo had to be turned on in order, starting with a light switch my father put on it’s own circuit for that purpose.  From there the order had to be followed or you would “blow up” the stereo system.  I could never remember the proper sequence and lived in fear of the stereo, which I never touched.

by Sean Murphy

11 Jan 2011


A considerable component of what made the ‘70s so awesome has, sadly, left the building we call Earth. And so it is on the unfortunate occasion of Gerry Rafferty’s premature passing that I’m compelled to talk about myself. Bear with me, this sentiment is not as inappropriate or solipsistic as it sounds; in fact, it is arguably the highest form of praise. In other words, I am incapable of talking about Rafferty without discussing how large his music loome—and looms—in my own life. I suspect I’m not alone here.

Anyone who drew breath in 1978 knew Gerry Rafferty (if you didn’t you were too young; if you still don’t it’s never too late).

by Corey Beasley

10 Jan 2011


If The Lonesome Crowded West’s default mode is mouth-foaming anger, “Trailer Trash” is the wounded heart at the center of the album. Its laconic despair goes a long way toward expressing the other side of Isaac Brock and Modest Mouse’s vitriol, the place of real, self-lacerating hurt where all that rage actually comes from. Here, for the first and perhaps only time on the record, Brock seems uncomfortable—or at least dejected—in his mantle of the blue-collar prophet. If the song, like so many others, focuses on the story of a failed relationship, it does so in order to bring out the vivid particulars of Brock’s narrative style and characterization. The sense of poverty—the emotional poverty, yes, but also the actual, abject poverty—Brock conveys is just as integral to the song’s impact and vision as the lovelorn imagery he creates. True to Modest Mouse form, both poverties are cycles, seemingly impossible to escape.

Both Brock and Eric Judy spend the majority of the song with their instruments locked in a single chord progression, Brock alternating between scratchy palm-muting and well-placed bursts of power chords and Judy laying down the song’s primary melody in a head-bobbing bassline. That repetition, combined with Jeremiah Green’s tom-heavy beat sitting front-and-center in the mix, gives the track an almost trance-like focus similar to that seen in its emotional counterpart, “Heart Cooks Brain”. The verses’ locked-solid foundation, by virtue of their steady consistency, also points the listener’s attention toward Brock’s lyrics. It’s easy to quickly internalize such a rhythmic piece of music, so our ears are free to actively pick out the details in Brock’s narrative while the rest of our body nods along in reflexive step to the beat.

by Jason Mendelsohn and Eric Klinger

7 Jan 2011


Mendelsohn: I’m completely confounded by Astral Weeks’ place on The Great List. Don’t get me wrong, I like Van Morrison, and I’m not above singing “Brown Eyed Girl” to Mrs. Mendelsohn (because she has brown eyes and she thinks it’s sweet). But Astral Weeks sounds like a couple of beatniks, a folk band, and a gaggle of hippies were involved in some freak transporter accident that left them fused together in some seething, ugly mass that still has enough dexterity to play the flute. What am I missing?

Klinger: That’s a beautiful story about you and Mrs. Mendelsohn. It gives me helpful insight into your marriage. But I have no idea where to begin as far as what you’re missing, because this is quite simply one of the finest albums of the 1960s. Achingly beautiful. I ache.

To help explain the critical acclaim for this album, it’s worth remembering that Van Morrison had previously been the pint-sized head thug for the ruffian R&B combo Them, followed by an abortive stint as a top 40 pop singer (the aforementioned “Brown Eyed Girl” era). The leap from all that to a delicate, graceful musing on romanticism is basically unprecedented. It’s as if Lost in Translation had starred Tony Danza.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

The Specter of Multiplayer Hangs Over 'Door Kickers'

// Moving Pixels

"Door Kickers is not a multiplayer game, but for a while there, I couldn’t tell the difference.

READ the article