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by Jane Jansen Seymour

24 Jun 2010

Photo: David Reyneke

It was date night for many couples at the New Pornographers concert at Terminal 5 on June 19th, with most of the crowd wearing shorts and sundresses after a warm, blue-sky day in New York City.  Seattle-based group the Duchess and the Duke served up a low-key set, strumming guitars for sparse songs containing cringe-worthy lyrics such as “happy like a clam”.  Friend Oscar Michel subbed for the Duke Jesse Lortz after he sustained a bad hand cut halfway into the tour. Lortz was able to play tambourine, however, and sing along with the Duchess Kimberly Morrison. The group looked like it got its name from all the Renaissance fairs it attended; thankfully, the only thing it has in common with the New Pornographers is some whistling.

Meric Long of the Dodos made a cameo appearance in the first set, playing a drum before his band from San Francisco stepped it up with its signature explosive sound.  With Logan Kroeber at a drum set and Keaton Snyder behind a xylophone and other percussion, the Dodos treated the fuller audience to “a couple of new songs”, as Long said, before ending with “Fools”, a song which made it to the television last summer in a Miller Chill ad.

by Sean Murphy

23 Jun 2010

Who’s afraid of the big, bad Wolf? Plenty of people, and for good reason.

Fortunately for us, we are not sketchy record company executives or anyone else who may have unwittingly crossed his path during the Wolf’s prime. Chester Arthur Burnett was big and he was a bad man (the same way James Brown and Charles Mingus were bad men: they knew they were geniuses and they suffered fools poorly, as geniuses are obliged—and allowed—to do). Unfortunately for us, he is gone and has been for over a quarter of a century. Indeed, he moved on to that great pack in the sky early in 1976—a very appropriate year for this most American of blues legends. June 10, 2010 marked his centennial, and he remains an artist who cannot be imitated and whose unmistakable growl can probably never be adequately explained or understood.

by Jane Jansen Seymour

22 Jun 2010

There are many bands that met in high school and there are also bands comprised of siblings. The Magic Numbers are a band with a happy match of both times two. Siblings Sean and Angela Gannon grew up in Hanwell, London, and became neighbors with Romeo and Michele Stodart when they moved there from New York City. Sean and Romeo formed a band together first, but it wasn’t until their sisters joined them as the Magic Numbers in 2002 that things really started clicking. By 2006, four songs had placed in the top 25 of the UK singles chart and the band had also gained a healthy recognition from the US indie pop scene as well.

So it’s been four years since the last release from the Magic Numbers. The band members took time off to focus on their lives (Michelle Stodart had a baby girl) and put together a studio of their own while learning more about the recording process. Romeo Stodart kept writing songs and by the time things were ready for the next album, there were 30 for the taking. Michele and Romeo worked on the lyrics of some of them before the other brother/sister team was called into the studio, along with Robert Kirby (who helped with string arrangements before he passed away in October 2009). The expanded sound also includes horns and electronic elements, challenging the band to recreate this lush studio sound when it plays live in Australia and at England’s Glastonbury Festival this summer.

by Jessy Krupa

21 Jun 2010

“Every Night” is one of Paul McCartney’s greatest solo accomplishments. For the life of me, I don’t understand why it (or any songs from the McCartney album) wasn’t ever released as a single. It is rare to find a song that paints such a perfect view of romantic love while staying unique, personal, and cliché-free. Several artists have covered it, including Richie Havens, Phoebe Snow, and Claudine Longet, but not as many as you would expect from a song this great. At least McCartney himself seems to hold it in high regard, featuring it on several live albums (Concerts for the People of Kampuchea, Unplugged (The Official Bootleg), Back In The US, and Back In The World) and a greatest-hits collection (Wingspan: Hits And History).

A lot changed for Paul McCartney in the year 1969, and he reportedly didn’t handle it well. The band that his entire life revolved around—the biggest band in the world, the Beatles—was falling apart, and the resulting tangled mess of hurt feelings and legal matters left him sorely depressed. Getting him through this difficult time was his wife, Linda, who suggested that he should start working on his own music apart from the group. “Every Night” became the resulting tribute to his inspiring spouse.

by Evan Sawdey

21 Jun 2010

Photo: Pat Pope

Justin Currie has had one of the most extraordinary second acts one could ever have in a career.

The first act was simple: the Scottish-born singer-songwriter formed a band called Del Amitri with friend Iain Harvie in the early ‘80s, focusing on a power pop sound that resonated well in their homeland, the group soon scoring a seemingly never-ending string of hits in the UK, all while the duo cycled through quite a few members during their two-decade existence. Although the group was moderately successful in their homeland and developed quite the cult audience stateside, it wasn’t until 1995 when the group’s insanely catchy track “Roll to Me” became a Top 10 hit in the U.S., quickly becoming the one thing that the group is immediately identified with even up to this day. Subsequent albums failed to capitalize on the group’s popularity stateside, and after 2002’s Can You Do Me Good?, the group became relatively quiet.

Yet in 2007, Currie re-emerged as a solo artist, and his disc What Is Love For was released to huge levels of acclaim, many people even gravitating towards Currie’s melancholic tunes without having much if any knowledge of his power-pop past. Suddenly Currie was courting a brand-new audience, and feeling reinvigorated about his own career.  With this year’s The Great War, however, Currie has taken a great leap forward with his songwriting, as highlighted by the eight-minute epic “The Fight to Be Human”, one of his most blistering and ultimately cathartic tracks to date. 

Following in that same vein, Currie recently sat down to answer PopMatters’ 20 Questions, and in doing so reveals which Spinal Tap character he is most like, which political figure he would not mind murdering, and how an A&R rep once gave him some of the best advice he ever received ...

//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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