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by PopMatters Staff

1 May 2009


1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
That would be Math Without Tears, by Roy Hartkopf. I was boning up on math, because I think it’s so important to be able to add and subtract when I’m on tour. Math is so painful to me; it’s like pulling teeth. But math is also so important to all of our lives. I also saw a commercial on TV several years ago for the Humane Society. It was about what a dog dreams of at night. It dreams of its owner, a very old man. Then you find out that the old man is dead and the dog is now in a cage at a dog shelter. It is very sad.

2. The fictional character most like you?
I would have to say Taras Bulba from that famous story by Gogol. I feel like the members of my band are like Taras Bulba’s sons. And he would do anything for them, just as I would do anything for my sons. If I had any.

by Diepiriye Kuku

30 Apr 2009


Feet don’t fail me now: Theme songs for breaking stereotypes in America

Here’s your chance to make your way out of your constriction

One of the most interesting aspects of being Black in America is dealing with strongly visible, widely circulated racial stereotypes. Retired bad-ass baller Charles Barkley recently said it best with a book Who’s Afraid of a Large Black Man?, whose title says quite a bit. I know of a six-foot-plus middle school Black boy whose school administrators unconscious minds are so thoroughly steeped in stereotypes as to feel so terrorized by him that they escort the child between classes separating him during lunch and other activities. This all further ostracizes the kid and teaches him—albeit fearfully flawed pedagogically—that we live in a society that fears big Black men, despite, and obviously in spite of that particular child’s talents and circumstances. In America, we live in a society that bred richly fertile black wenches and black bucks, but no sooner did we win our liberation did our image of virility turn heavily towards that of social pariah. Death, destruction, dark, violent, the scary-looking Hindu goddess Kali is the “ultimate reality” in some Tantric beliefs, despite the only global incarnation of Tantra is reduced to its sexual connotations—again mirroring the view of the big, sexualized, poverty stricken, scary Black Man.

by Michael Edler

28 Apr 2009


I have a secret. I like Death Cab for Cutie. I’m a 36-year-old, married man, living in Chicago, and I walk my dog two or three times a day (I am a terrible and awful urban cliché) and I really like Death Cab for Cutie. I think Transatlanticism is a very good album with depth and glorious pop hooks, and dynamic depth. I own every Death Cab album and think each has important merit in my love of music.

But have refused to see Death Cab for Cutie in concert. The myriad of 16- through 25-year-old girls, hungry for sensitivity, dragging their boyfriends to play sing along for a two-hour Death Cab show has always prevented me from wanting to see them live.

This time, I would not be deterred. I was going to see Death Cab for Cutie. I was going to buy three or five beers and stomach the high pitched yelps, the desperate sing along, the disappointed boyfriends, and I was going to like this show.

by Mike Deane

27 Apr 2009


What is it about Leonard Cohen that is so timeless? He might be 75 years old, yet he still seems as spry and full of energy as a 30-year-old. He skips and jumps to and from the stage, he’s still quick on his feet, he’s still got the amazing sadness/self deprecating humor and when he smiles it fills a room (or stadium as it were).

by Sean Murphy

23 Apr 2009


Not a ton of people remember Opal (actually, to remember a band, you need to have heard of them in the first place, right?). It’s a shame, although admittedly, this is an acquired taste: think Syd Barrett’s Floyd (circa Piper at the Gates of Dawn) and the Doors, heavy organ action and a certain lysergic vibe (but black-and-white blotter paper, not a technicolor trip), and insert a female vocalist with a subdued style that borders on lugubrious…sounds terrible, right? Well, that is what most folks would probably think. Kendra Smith (vocals) and David Roback (guitar), formerly of Dream Syndicate and Rain Parade, respectively, comprised a sort of Paisley Underground all-star team. Think Velvet Underground cut with a British garage band’s blues affectations (in other words, Piper at the Gates of Dawn). Listen to 1987’s 20-year time warp “Magick Power” below. (If you like what you hear, beg, borrow or steal their lost semi-masterpiece, Happy Nightmare Baby and then, once you’re hooked, call out a favor or find a friend to track down the almost impossible to procure Early Recordings.)

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