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by Evan Sawdey

25 Feb 2016


Maybe you had to be there—but hell, maybe you didn’t.

At the Hideout, an appropriately-named Chicago bar and venue that is so dubbed for being sandwiched (hidden, arguably) between the Chicago river and one of its great highways, a four-act set was performing that evening for a fun literary and vaguely hipster-y crowd. The opening sets were fine, but by the time that New Jersey’s own Miracles of Modern Science took the stage, with mandolin, double-bass, violin, cello, and a tight drum set, the crowd knew they were in for something special, but after hitting the crowd with instantly-hummable pop hooks, chant-along vocals, some beautiful melodic gestures, and a genuine sense of fun and chemistry, everyone in the room turned into a fan (the group went third, and the act that followed played to half-capacity as so many swarmed the band and purchased merch). Realizing they had about ten minutes left in their set though, the “MOMS” took all their instruments out into the crowd and played one hell of a cover of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” and followed that up with their maniacal, bloody, whimsical gothic horror song that was the secret track off of their first-ever album and was dubbed, tellingly, “Secret Track”. Every band member became a character, their faces and voices stretched into cartoon proportions, and it made for one of the most unique shows that went on in Chicago in 2015.

by Sachyn Mital

27 Jan 2016


Last month, PopMatters hosted the premiere of The Stone Foxes’ live performance video for “This Town” from their September release Twelve Spells. The week before the premiere of their video, The Stone Foxes were in New York City for a sweaty, headlining show at the Mercury Lounge. They also visited a studio to record some tracks for the world wide web. We had a beer and hung out with the guys in between recording sessions and got to know them a little better. Drummer and singer Shannon Koehler co-founder the band with his guitarist/brother Spence and their friends, Brian “The Buffalo” Bakalian on bass, Vince Dewald on guitars and Ben Andrews on guitar and violin, round out the group.

by Evan Sawdey

21 Jan 2016


Photo: Tina Brindel

Maritime’s journey has been one of upsetting people’s expectations.

When the group was formed, the excitement of merging the members of the now-defunct Promise Ring (Davey bon Bohlen and Dan Didier) together with the then-finished Dismemberment Plan (bassist Alex Axelson) was enough to send the writer of your nearest indie-rock Blogspot into a spasm of delight. Yet the group’s first-ever set, Glass Floor, arrived in 2004 with a hushed murmur, as this new band was intent on exploring exploring mellower, acoustic textures that caught fans of both the Ring and the Plan off guard. Despite its somewhat muted reception, Glass Floor contained some rather lovely, beautiful moments, along with “Someone Has to Die”, a song that was soon picked up by The Onion’s A.V. Club as the soundtrack to their long-running Undercover series, which, in an intresting twist, was updated in later seasons to “It’s Casual”, off of 2011’s Human Hearts.

by Evan Sawdey

6 Jan 2016


Someone find Zachary Cale’s birthday candles, please.

No, it’s not for the fact that the Louisiana-bred, New York-based singer-songwriter is about to celebrate his 37th birthday here soon. It’s to commemorate a full decade since Outlander Sessions first arrived in the world, that scrappy little debut album that Zachary Cale famously recorded on a simple four-track with a guitar that actually wasn’t his. As great an origin story as it is, that 10-song wonder proved only to be a sign of things to come, as over the years, Cale’s own guitar mastery continued to grow, soon opening his albums up to more elaborate, flourishing productions, at one point even forming a full-band rock outfit called Illuminations just to take his songwriting to a different place.

by Evan Sawdey

8 Dec 2015


Casual fans refer to Widespread Panic as one of the last truly great jam bands, but in saying so, reveal why they are only casual fans. Only the devout know just how much farther Widespread’s musical grasp stretches.

As influenced as they were by gritty Southern rock music as they were with the more embryonic stylings of the Grateful Dead and The Band, this Athens, GA combo are going to celebrate a full three decades of existence next year, which is an accomplishment for any act, much less one like Widespread Panic, who’ve never had a radio hit to speak of, which, in many ways, is just the way they like it. Much like their ill-compared contemporaries like Umphrey’s McGee, the Panic built up their audience through touring, touring, and more touring, making each show an event in their own right, which is part of the reason that they have nearly as many live albums as they do studio recordings.

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A-WA Throw Wild Album Release Party at Webster Hall (Photos)

// Notes from the Road

"A-WA's debut album Habib Galbi made NPR Music's '30 Favorite Albums of 2016 (So Far)' list.

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