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by Evan Sawdey

30 Sep 2014


One would be hard-pressed to find much correlation between the Toronto power-pop institution that is Sloan and famed makeup-metalers KISS, but as of late, that task has become increasingly easy.

Back in 1978, riding a crest of popularity following the fact that KISS’ live albums were making them bigger stars than their studio albums ever were, the band’s manager thought it would be great idea to have each band member release their very own solo album on the same day, each disc counting as half-an-album in their five-album contract with their label. Although such a unique marketing idea had never been tried prior, the stunt itself turned out to have more of a lasting legacy than any of the material that appeared on those discs, but, if KISS gained a reputation for anything, it was being great at marketing.

For Sloan, however, the band has quietly been turning out brilliant pop albums every few years like clockwork, which makes them sound like they exist purely as craftsmen, but their consistently-stunning, quietly-developing style has been the very thing that has endeared them to their fans, which explains why, how after two decades in the business, they are still going strong, with each member (Chris Murphy, Patrick Pentland, Jay Ferguson, and Andrew Scott) proving to be a dynamic, distinct songwriter in their own right.

by Evan Sawdey

3 Sep 2014


Photo: Matt Petricone

For Dark Oceans, a label that’s been completely unafraid of exploring the dark psyche of the modern indie rock landscape, the signing of a band as poppy and joyful as Bishop Allen may at first seem a bit unusual.

However, this long-running project that was initially formed by Justin Rice and Christian Rudder have been making waves ever since their debut album Charm School in 2003. What initially brought them to national attention was their 2006 effort wherein the band recorded a fully-produced EP every month for the course of that year, filled with soaring harmonies, jangle-pop guitars, and a wry sense of wit and wisdom. The best from those sessions helped form their 2007 effort The Broken String, which started the band’s fruitful collaboration with Dead Oceans.

by Evan Sawdey

26 Aug 2014


Photo: Shervin Lainez

Charles Watson and Rebecca Taylor get bored with their own music pretty easily.

That’s not to say they don’t love it or love crafting it or refuse to play older songs at shows, no. However, in their short lifespan, this Sheffield duo have made notable changes to their sound from album to album, as the clap-and-stomp folk-rock of 2010’s Yeah So is notably different from the irreverent, more fleshed-out full-band workouts that made 2011’s great Paradise what it was. Perhaps even more impressive than their discography has been their incredibly notable videography as well, which has featured everything from impressive Daniel Radcliffe cameos to their viral “Two Cousins” concept, stunning in its simplicity but effective nonetheless.

by Evan Sawdey

15 Jul 2014


Contrary to popular belief, Brian Vander Ark was never much of a rock guy.

Oh sure, he was the guitarist and lead singer for the Verve Pipe, who, in 1996-1997, dominated the airwaves with the inescapable, era-defining modern rock single known as “The Freshmen”, but in truth, Vander Ark was a pop purist at heart. Their 1999 follow-up to their breakthrough album Villains featured memorable pop-rock numbers like “Hero”, but by the time they released 2001’s supremely underrated Underneath, they brought on Fountains of Wayne frontman and noted pop-savant Adam Schlesinger as producer, and were focused on crafting pop songs in the most classical of senses. Their commercial prospects never matched the heights of “The Freshmen”, but while that song somewhat defined the band for some people, their hardcore fans knew that the band was capable of so much more.

by PopMatters Staff

11 Jun 2014


PopMatters caught Glenn Tilbrook‘s acoustic set at Nashville’s unassuming, friendly 3rd and Lindsley in September 2013, while in town for the Americana Music Fest. It gave us a thrill, to see the Squeeze man up close in such a laid-back, comfortable setting, far removed from his stadium shows’ past.

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