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by Evan Sawdey

14 Oct 2013


Photo: Sabine Scheckel

Indie-bred space-rock is a subgenre that doesn’t tend to lend itself to “supergroups” all that often, but if there’s any band that comes close, by gods it’s Black Hearted Brother.

The group is a trio of guys who have been friends for quite some time: Neil Halstead can be spotted as an influential member of Slowdive and Mojave 3. Mark Van Hoen is one of the founders of Locust as well as Seefeel, and Nick Holton is best known as the mastermind behind, of course, Holton’s Opulent Oog. This trio of guys, prior to the formation of Black Hearted Brother, played in each other’s bands, produced each other’s albums, and even put out said albums on each other’s labels. It’s a long, convoluted history of camaraderie and great tunes, so the fact that they all got together at long last to record an album doesn’t seem as much as an event as it was an inevitability.

by Jonathan Sanders

16 Jul 2013


Atlanta’s electro-pop duo Sonen has made waves down south for years, becoming both a critical and popular pick for those searching for an electronic revolution. Not that it should surprise that the region’s scene would be pioneering the launch of forward-leaning pop music; just look at what the Athens scene did for bands like REM in the eighties. Still, you’d be easily forgiven for not having heard of Sonen’s debut full-length Inside The Sun, though not as easily forgiven for not giving it a once-over now that you’ve been put on the right track.

Sonen, the brainchild of Keith Evans and Holly Mullinax, has been twice named Atlanta’s “Best Electronic Band” by Creative Loafing. The duo tries to capture the excitement of their live shows on the LP, drawing together a deep appreciation for layered electronic textures while smoothing out the hardest edges via all the synth-fueled melodies you can possibly handle. As a result, Inside The Sun plays effectively as an album of ready-for-the-dance-floor anthems, even as the strong hooks seem likely to propel the band to hit-maker status in the burgeoning EDM scene.

Keith and Holly sat down with PopMatters to take on the “20 Questions” challenge, opening themselves up to a full-scale dissection while exposing their affinity for the Keytar, live performances of electronic music, and plans for a follow-up to their debut even as they recover from the act of its creation.

by Jonathan Sanders

9 Jul 2013


For those of us who bemoan the fact that we weren’t born Canadian, Imaginary Cities adds more fuel to the fire with their blend of pop music, which does more to blur the lines of what makes meaningful music than any of their contemporaries.

Fall of Romance, the duo’s sophomore album, sounds as refreshingly dense and well-developed as most bands’ fifth or sixth record, owed in no small part to Rusty Matyas’ already storied experiences with major label success via his work with the Weakerthans and his band the Waking Eyes. Yet it was Marti Sarbit’s voice which captured Matyas’ attention in the first place, and it’s that same voice which anchors the music on both their studio efforts. The two worked up material for 2011’s Temporary Resident playing music just for the sheer hell of it, and had they not been initially pressured by the Weakerthans’ manager to focus on putting out a full record, we may never have heard them.

by Evan Sawdey

26 Jun 2013


When talking about Bibio, let’s just all do ourselves a favor and drop the word “folktronica” from any conversation, shall we?

In truth, Bibio (real name Stephen Wilkinson) has been pushing the outer limits of what can be done with conventional guitar recording. At times, he’ll furnish his recordings with electronic elements, clipped vocals, and sample manipulations. At other times (especially in his earlier years), he recorded gorgeous, standalone acoustic songs that featured frentic, considered picking style. The emotional undercurrent of his work has resonated with listeners and even advertisers, culimainting in a Google Glass ad where the protagonist learns how to play Bibio’s “Lovers’ Carvings” on the ukelele.

Thus, with the many different phases that his discogarphy has gone through, fans both old and new can find a lot to appreciate on his latest disc, Silver Wilkinson, which meshes all of his previous work together into a cohesive, fascinating whole. From the electronic workout of “You” to the blissful, ‘70s-tinted pop work of “À tout à l’heure”, Silver may very well be his most accomplished album yet. Sitting down with PopMatters, Wilkinson tells us about the greatest Cocteau Twins album of all time, recreating Withnail & I in his daily life, and how everyone, everywhere, should be listening to Alan Watts ...

by Jonathan Sanders

17 Jun 2013


Photo: David Myrick

For those of you who think rock is dead, I give you two words: Nico Vega. The band built its reputation through a series of EP releases before finally getting the opportunity to release an epic, self-titled debut LP in 2009. Since then the group has toured with everyone from Gavin Rossdale and Neon Trees to Metric and Imagine Dragons, showcasing Aja Volkman’s description-defying vocals and the band’s unique ability to merge memorable hooks with songs built upon pounding percussion and emotionally charged riffs. Their song “Beast” received prominent placement in Bioshock: Infinite‘s massive press campaign, and with a new groundswell of support, their forthcoming full-length Lead to Light is currently being readied as a force to truly reckon with.

The band’s unique blend of rock, pop, and modern alternative sounds helps set it apart, but Volkman’s lyrics definitely put Nico Vega in a different league from their genre contemporaries. “It’s important to me that music evokes emotion”, she’s said in the past. “Lyrics have to be honest and true for me.” In that vein, the group has built up the Nico Vega persona to symbolize the warrior within, representing unity and the battle against ego. The band’s passion for exploring all things art and politics has helped fuel songs like “Beast”, which has become all but ubiquitous when the band’s name is spoken: “Stand tall for the people of America, lay down like a naked dead body”, Volkman sing-screams. “Keep it real for the people working overtime ... we are free in the land of America, we ain’t going down like this!”

//Mixed media
//Blogs

A Year in the Life of 'Mario Kart 8'

// Moving Pixels

"With a year having passed since the start of Mario Kart 8, it's time to look back on 12 months of roaring engines, hairpin turns, blue shells, and a whole lot of swearing.

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