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Thursday, Jun 11, 2009

Over the last three decades, not much has changed in the way of heavy metal music videos. While cutting-edge filmmakers like Michel Gondry, Spike Jonze, Chris Cunningham, and Jonathan Glazer created innovative pieces in the pop, electronic, and indie rock realms, metal videos, on the other hand, have been merely content to stay the course, opting primarily to please the fans as opposed to trying to break new ground in the medium. There have been exceptions, of course, Tool being the most obvious, but for the most part, metal clips tend to fall into three categories: a deliberate showcase of a band’s latest stage show, a straightforward clip of a band performing among its rabid fans, and conceptual stories intercut with simple performance footage.


The latter category has yielded extraordinary results in the past, but it’s been a long time since we’ve seen a metal band embrace the music video quite like Mastodon has done this year in the wake of the release of their excellent album Crack the Skye. Enlisting director Roboshobo, the man behind last year’s spectacular clip for Metallica’s “All Nightmare Long”, Mastodon’s video for “Divinations” involved a caveman trapped in ice, a Yeti, and cannibalism, and the partnership’s follow-up “Oblivion” delves into far more cosmic territory. Typical of the band’s tendency towards rather outlandish, convoluted concepts, the storyline centers on the foursome on a space rescue mission, the sudden appearance of vegetation and butterflies outside of the craft, and the mysterious, blissful deaths of Troy Sanders’s crew. What it all specifically means is open to interpretation (goodness knows Mastodon’s explanations of their concepts tend to complicate things even further), but the joy with which the band throws themselves into the whole video making process, coupled with some actual major label bucks, makes for a terrific visual complement to one of the year’s better hard rock singles.



Tagged as: mastodon
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Thursday, Jun 4, 2009
by PopMatters Staff
The UK's Starsailor recently released their fourth album All the Plans and have been touring the new music. In between, lead singer James Walsh answered our 20 Questions.

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
The last book that made me cry was My Friend Leonard by James Frey. It’s the follow up to Million Little Pieces. I really don’t care how much is fact and how much is fiction, it’s just an emotional read.


2. The fictional character most like you?
Barney Rubble from The Flintstones.


3. The greatest album, ever?
Revolver by The Beatles. You could pick any album really. Anyone who thinks they are not the best band ever is just being contrary.


4. Star Trek or Star Wars?
I prefer Star Wars to Star Trek.


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Tuesday, Jun 2, 2009

Rancid - Let the Dominoes Fall
Rancid have been gone for a regrettably long time, having not put out new studio material since 2003’s Indestructible. Their raw and poppy brand of smart punk rooted heavily in Clash influences has been sorely missed, especially as these tough financial times and torture scandal tinged days imploringly cry out for angry, literate and passionate voices like Tim Armstrong and co. Let the Dominoes Fall is another fine entry to the band’s catalog with its tunes of disillusionment. They pay tribute to soldiers on “The Bravest Kids” and they try their hand at country this go-around with “Civilian Ways”. Yes, everyone seems to be reaching for the dobros these days.


Elvis Costello - Secret, Profane and Sugarcane
Elvis Costello has long harbored a passion for country music and he’s created twang-filled albums before, with 1981’s Almost Blue, recorded in Nashville, being one of the highlights of his distinguished discography. It’s only fitting that a songwriter of Costello’s literary talent would embrace the quite visceral and adult medium of country music. He’s returned in 2009 with another platter full of rootsy tunes, here. The elder Costello inhabits these climes like an old native.


Tagged as: new cds
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Monday, Jun 1, 2009
The soul savior who makes you feel like rock 'n roll is still exciting.

When King Khan AKA Black Snake AKA The Maharaja of Soul, and his Shrines take the stage, there’s an unmistakable excitement in the air. As the lights dim and the droning, mystic music fades in with endless fog and smoke, it seems as if a wizard is mounting the stage. When the lights turn on and front and center is a man wearing a cheetah print sports coat and a feather head dress, carrying some sort of voodoo shaman’s cane, you know it’ll be a show not quite like anything you’ve seen, and it is.


Starting off with “Land of the Freak”, King Khan and the Shrines immediately won over the crowd, every band member seeming 100% into the music and completely genuine in their excitement. Khan as a front man is perfect: rock n roll sneer, soul moves, warm and witty banter and total devotion to the live show. Jumping in and out of the crowd all night, Khan and the guitarist and bassist seemed really excited to be playing and never missed a beat; everything sounded perfect.


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Thursday, May 28, 2009
by PopMatters Staff
Paul Noonan, the lead singer for Ireland's Bell X1, drops by 20 Questions and tells us why the Beatles killed music.

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
I tend to be moved to tears by movies or TV shows a lot more easily in the last couple of years than I used to. I’ve only recently watched The West Wing, at which I cried a lot at the moving speeches -– it was practice for the real thing I suppose. I cried at a recent movie about the hunger strikes in northern Ireland called Hunger. And I cried at The Wrestler.


2. The fictional character most like you?
Oh man, I dunno… maybe a little Ignatius J. Reilly, mostly because I love his name.


3. The greatest album, ever?
Is not Sgt. Pepper’s... In fact, this record killed music. Before this, bands knew what they were doing before going into the studio, and laid it down quick, bish bash bosh. These upstarts decided “to use the studio as an instrument” and spawned decades of bands fluting around, sticking microphones in toilets…and no songs. Ergo, the Beatles killed music.


4. Star Trek or Star Wars?
My only interest in Star Trek is for those armpit-hugging tops. I enjoyed Star Wars pre ’84, as they were an integral part of my early cinema going and all the joy that this has brought. I had an audio tape of The Empire Strikes back, as it was apparently “too scary” for me to see.


Tagged as: 20 questions, bell x1
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