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by Corey Beasley

14 Feb 2011


Isaac Brock doesn’t mope. His songs have their share of navel gazing, of minor chords and heart wringing. But you’d be hard-pressed to find a track where Brock sounds indulgent, caught up in the personal mythologizing—the romanticizing of your own private pains—that comes so often with depression. The Lonesome Crowded West is full of songs about being stuck or stalled out. “Polar Opposites” is another one of them. However, like “Heart Cooks Brain” or “Trailer Trash” or the other more overtly melancholy tracks on the album, “Polar Opposites” doesn’t shuffle along, mumbling to itself in a sad-sack reverie. Instead, Brock and Modest Mouse turn frustration into energy, anthemizing listlessness in a way that only the best of rock n’ roll music can do.

As mentioned before in these pages, “Polar Opposites” sees Modest Mouse leaning heavily on its pop sensibilities. On an album as raw and aggressive as The Lonesome Crowded West, this type of songwriting could seem out of place, but the band knows so well how to write a hook, how to use melody and major chords to command attention, that “Polar Opposites” represents just another peak in the album’s trajectory. It’s the track you’d lift from the album and play for your friend who needs to be eased into a record as disarmingly dense as this one. It goes down easy.

by Jason Mendelsohn and Eric Klinger

11 Feb 2011


Mendelsohn: Abbey Road is a little bittersweet, you know? The end of an era, the final dissolution, a grab bag of whatever they had left over before they went on to lives of obscurity and whatnot.

Klinger: Yeah, whatever happened to those Beatle guys?

Abbey Road is, underneath its sheen, a very sad album. I noticed that a lot as I was listening to it this time. You know what it’s like? It’s like when you’re in a relationship that you know is coming to an end, but you both know that you really owe it to the other person to give it one last shot. So you put on your best clothes and head out to really nice place (maybe that place that used to be so special to you). You order appetizers and a bottle of wine and everything. And the thing is you have a pretty good time. The conversation flows freer than it has in months. You reminisce a little, you share a few secrets, and you even laugh a little about the whole situation. But even so, it’s still over. And you both know it. And nothing’s going to make it any less sad. But you have to go on anyway.

by AJ Ramirez

10 Feb 2011


Rock is my favorite style of music by far, and I have to say, a large part of the genre’s basic appeal to me is so instinctive it’s a disservice to try to intellectualize or quantify it. At the end of the day, it’s that gut feeling I get from listening to the music—the primal sensation of “being rocked”—that often endears a rock song to me. Fact: I will never get sick of hearing distorted guitars that bash out killer riffs—indeed, I often teach myself how to play them on guitar so I can play them endlessly to my heart’s content.

This is a somewhat long-winded setup to explain that earlier this week I taught myself how to play Judas Priest’s heavy metal classic “Breaking the Law”, riff and all, because it’s totally awesome you guys. Yes, that is my well-thought out rationale for pursuing the undertaking. And if any style of rock music is duty-bound to adhere to a criteria of being “totally awesome” to determine its intrinsic worth, it is metal. Priest knows how to be awesome: decked out in studded black leather, singer Rob Halford habitually drives onto a concert stage on a Harley Davidson motorcycle, dismounting to whip the crowd into a frenzy as they are attacked by the twin lead guitar assault of Glenn Tipton and KK Downing. We’re long past the point where such stagecraft can be dismissed by haters as silly macho posturing for dimwitted metalheads. Expert showmen and terrific musicians in any case, Halford and Co. know what the audience wants and how to deliver. The leather, the metal, the sonic onslaught: it’s all honed to perfection for the express purpose of making you feel rocked.

by Steve Horowitz

9 Feb 2011


England’s VV Brown came out of the South by Southwest Music Festival smokin’ hot. Between her showcase performance at the Latitude 30 Club, several party appearances that included Perez Hilton’s One Night in Austin and Spinner.com’s Pop-Up at the Gas Pipe, and her gig on KGSR radio’s breakfast program, the word was out. Brown was last year’s SXSW most likely to succeed, following in the tradition of females songstresses of the past such as Amy Winehouse, Norah Jones, and Nellie McKay.

Whether Brown will flame out like Winehouse, soar to superstardom like Jones, or remain a beloved cult artist like McKay remains to be seen. One thing for certain is Brown’s driving ambition. Brown sat down with PopMatters at SXSW and discussed her plans to conquer the world.

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How different is it playing festivals with artists different than you are versus your own tours?

I love it when I am with artists different than me. I stumbled upon a new band yesterday that I fell in love with called the Octopus Project. And I think it’s just so fun to mingle with other musicians. They challenge you and inspire you as an artist, and it’s a great feeling. It’s really boring when you hang around people that are similar to you or doing the same things as you because you don’t grow. And as an artist, I really want to grow so festivals like this are a platform for discovery for me as an artist.

by Stefan Nickum

8 Feb 2011


Every week an avalanche of sound is let go into the world of electronic music. The merchant alleys, virtual pathways, and myriad communities that exchange music are overwhelming in the age of the Internet. That said, electronic music is atomizing and reinventing itself like few other musical sounds, partly because these avenues of distribution are so widely embraced and promoted by the electronic music community.

Yet, to listen to all of these releases and pick out the head-turners would require as many people as there are releases. Sinking into a piece of music is itself a time consuming process, that is if you’re willing to absorb the sounds with the same care in which they were made.

Here at Sound Affects I will regularly choose an EP or album, a DJ mix, and an unreleased single to highlight and say a few kind, endearing words about. Each of these formats is meant to represent the ways in which electronic music is consumed most commonly these days, with DJ mixes being fascinating albums in their own right, and unreleased, self-released, and bootleg singles being extraordinarily rich realms of sample-based possibility. Now that you know what you’re in for, here are my first three!

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Violin Virtuoso L. Subramaniam Mesmerizes in Rare New York Performance (Photos)

// Notes from the Road

"Co-presented by the World Music Institute, the 92Y hosted a rare and mesmerizing performance from India's violin virtuoso L. Subramaniam.

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