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by Evan Sawdey

10 Jul 2017


Photo: Penny Lane

When PopMatters’ Steve Horowitz concluded his review of Kasey Chambers’ noted 2014 effort Bittersweet, he noted that it “begins by evoking the past and finishes by declaring she [Chambers] is not done yet.”

This very well could sum up Chambers’ entire career, as the Australian native has been releasing stunning material for nearly two decades, her sound deeply rooted in American country and bluegrass/Americana, arguably doing it better and more authentically than some of her States-bred peers. Yet Chambers isn’t one to sit still for long: she’s constantly growing and improving her songwriting skills, growing her list of regular collaborators, and even making significant inroads in the States.

Yet all her talents come to the fore in the form of what may very well be her most ambitious release effort: a double-disc set of new material called Dragonfly. In it, she tries everything she can think of, from the gospel-affected banjo jangle of “Golden Rails” to the quirky story-song stylings of “Talkin’ Baby Blues” to the woozy accordion lament of “Ain’t No Little Girl”. She covers a lot of thematic ground across these 20 songs, and may very well have created her best album to date—a bold statement given this is the same woman who made truly beloved hits like 2001’s Barricades & Brickwalls and 2010’s luminescent Little Bird.

To help celebrate the occasion, Chambers sat down to answer PopMatters’ 20 Questions, revealing an affinity for Friends, an adulation for Lucinda Williams, and the importance of “being real in a very fake world.”

by Evan Sawdey

31 Mar 2017


Photo: Lauren Hillary Voss

You can never fault Beans for being anything less than overambitious.

Known in many circles not only for his work with the heralded Antipop Consortium collective but also for his otherworldly solo career (his first release, 2003’s Tomorrow Right Now, came out on Warp Records), Beans has slowly carved out a unique world for himself, his sometimes-personal, sometimes-outre lyrics melding with a wide range of productions and finding a unique audience every time. There will always be those who love his outsider-art approach to his Warp-era records, and those who will never get enough of the confessional nature of his 2007 set Thorns. He never intended to be the biggest rapper out there: just one of the most distinct ones you’ll ever come across.

So leave it to Beans to release his first set of new material from 2011, and it’s not one but three full-length albums, and a novel to boot. Via his own Tygr Rawwk Rcrds, Beans is unleashing the heavily electronic Wolves of the World, his dark subversion of a loverman rap set Love Me Tonight, and the socially-conscious but surprisingly-funky album HAAST all on the same day. As if that wasn’t enough, the novel Die Tonight comes out at the same time, tracing the life of a record-obsessed teenager who encounters a new album that possess him and makes him kill, only to soon discover an afterlife that is far from what he was expecting.

Amidst so many projects coming out at the same time, how does one celebrate? By answering PopMatters’ 20 Questions of course, with Beans going in great detail about his overt love of Batman, the best advice he ever got from his mom, and the one word he’d say to the current leader of the free world.

by Sachyn Mital

13 Feb 2017


My favorite album so far this year (Run the Jewels 3 dropped in 2016) has been a total left-field selection. Country music doesn’t normally get my attention though the Americana genre being heralded is on my radar. But for whatever reason, when NPR’s First Listen hosted Natalie Hemby‘s Puxico (GetWrucke Productions) I queued it up and found myself hooked. At that time there was little fanfare elsewhere on the web for the singer/songwriter’s debut album but since then she’s been covered by Rolling Stone, The New York Times and more.

by Jonathan Frahm

7 Feb 2017


It’s easy to mistake the Accidentals for a much older group of people in a much older band. For a trio having just hit their 20s—and for one who have only been doing what they do for almost five years—their megaton “genre-bending” talent has already seen them receive a bounty of acknowledgments and accolades.

Spanning SXSW showcases, sold-out shows at renowned theaters like the Ark in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and performances with the likes of respected veterans of the biz like Andrew Bird, the Wailers, and even Joan Baez, there’s no doubting that the precocious Sav Buist, Katie Larson, and Michael Dause are scaling great heights as they continue to quickly charm audiences throughout the States.

by Evan Sawdey

27 Sep 2016


Photo: Laura Crosta

It’s been a long four years for Rachel Yamagata.

For fans of the once theater-bound singer songwriter, the PledgeMusic campaign that helped create her 2011 effort Chesapeake was godsend, having survived two rounds of major label action. “PledgeMusic saved me,” she told PopMatters back in 2011. “It was something that allowed me to make instinctual decisions about how the funding would be used, and I didn’t have to get clearances from anyone. I’m sitting here now writing hand-written lyrics for people who supported the album. I love that fans can support something in advance they would’ve supported anyway. And I get to share behind-the-scenes stuff with them! It’s a great way to get more authentic music.”

//Mixed media
//Blogs

The Bubblegum Noir of ‘2064: Read Only Memories’

// Moving Pixels

"Read Only Memories is a bubblegum-happy, brooding and brutal noir about kidnapping, murder, corruption, revenge, and corporate conspiracies.

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