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by Evan Sawdey

23 Nov 2015

!!!‘s biography runs like this: since releasing their first album in 2001, they’ve rocked and partied hard. End of story.

After coming into prominence with 2003’s instantly-iconic groove-jam “Me and Giuliani Down by the School Yard (A True Story)”, lead singer Nic Offer and his merry band of like-minded cohorts have moved away from their hardcore roots to become the de-facto dance-rock of the new millennium. Their songs groove, twist, and surprise, and even with a rotating group of regular members (to say nothing of the tragic passing of drummer Jerry Fuchs), they have slowly amassed an intensely devout cult following of the past decade and a half. Even with the success of “Giuliani”, the band has been touring and recording at a pretty consistent clip, often releasing one new album every three years, often shying away from the showboating controversies that so quickly sink other bands of the dance-rock contingent (whatever happened to, say, Black Kids?).

by Evan Sawdey

18 Nov 2015

We’re kind of done with calling things “chillwave” at this point, right?

After all, the first wave of the bedroom-borne genre of synth-heavy midtempo dance-pop has already crested, even if some of its most notable acts, like Washed Out and especially Neon Indian, are still releasing large-scale albums to this day. Sure, you could argue that Toledo’s John Jagos, who records under the name Brothertiger, is of the same ilk, but even that wouldn’t be totally fair in the long run, as his soundscaping has been a kind that focuses less on tone and more on songcraft outright, nailing the hooks time and time again, which is part of the reason why he already has a sizable audience even after releasing his debut set, the excellent Golden Years, a mere three years ago.

Since then, he dropped sophomore disc Future Splendors in late 2014, and will follow that one up almost to the day with a third album slated for the end of 2015. Yet between recording and touring, Jagos keeps a level head to himself, focusing on making the best damn music possible, honing in on a sound that would work on both dancefloors and private pajama parties all the same. In answering PopMatters’ 20 Questions, Jagos reveals a lot about his influences, ranging from his love of Brian Eno to his obsession with Tears for Fears’ Songs from the Big Chair, to say nothing of the fact that he likes to wear “a baseball hat when I travel; I’m not sure why, but it just feels right.”

by Evan Sawdey

16 Nov 2015

Photo: Ben Telford

It’s been over six years since the last Most Serene Republic album proper, which is the kind of statement that seems to carry the typical critical arc of a band seeking redemption (“Now they’re back and better than ever, guys!”), but when you get right down to it, the six years between the group’s heavily melodic 2009 set ... And the Ever Expanding Universe and this year’s long-overdue Mediac were filled with a strange bit of turmoil.

by Evan Sawdey

22 Oct 2015

Photo: Dustin Senovic

Hether Fortune (neé Hether Fedewa) has probably been in your favorite Bay Area rock act at some point or another, whether it be your affinity for Blasted Canyons, Bare Wires, or Hunx & Hix Punx, Fortune has punched her time card with each one of them, to say nothing about her time with Wax Idols. In his 2013 review of Wax Idols’ sophomore set Discipline & Desire, he admired Fortune’s unique attitude and bravery for evolving from snotty garage rock kid to a post-punk craftsman, noting that debut album “No Future was Hether Fortune sounding angry. Discipline & Desire, her follow-up on Slumberland Records, is the sound of Fortune digger deeper into the root causes of this anger. Remarkably, she’s turned a corner on the morbidly engaging Discipline & Desire and exposed that aforementioned trouble that was originally lurking around the corner. Discipline & Desire may be the title of the record, but what’s heard throughout the record is an unabashed sense of desperation.”

by Evan Sawdey

7 Oct 2015

One of the largest misconceptions about Salt Lake City, UT is that it is entirely run by Mormons (trust me: once I moved out of state, the only question I was asked more than “Are you a Mormon?” was “What’s your name?”). Believe it or not, it’s about a 50/50 split in Utah’s capitol city, and most of the Mormons there are pretty well-adjusted and approachable. The further South you get in Utah, the more dominant Mormon culture becomes, but even back in Salt Lake City, one of the most interesting counter-culture music scenes has emerged, with alternative publications like Salt Lake Underground (a place I used to intern for) showing the fascinating and sometimes downright strange pieces of art that SLC’ers like the great Trent Call make on a daily basis, while hard rock groups like The Animals Know blast their own sun-burnt brand of heavy metal just as the stable of artists signed to local label Pseudo Recordings take conventional pop and rock structures and stretch them out to their very breaking points. Venues like the backwoods-alley Kilby Court and the ever-welcoming Urban Lounge bring like-minded folks together to celebrate the weird and wild that Utah has to offer.

//Mixed media

Because Blood Is Drama: Considering Carnage in Video Games and Other Media

// Moving Pixels

"It's easy to dismiss blood and violence as salacious without considering why it is there, what its context is, and what it might communicate.

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