Latest Blog Posts

by Christian John Wikane

31 Mar 2010

I imagine Russell Taylor sharing a cup of tea with Langston Hughes, or discussing his latest set of lyrics with Billy Strayhorn. Perhaps the night before, he sat in with Duke Ellington or hoofed across the floor at Small’s Paradise. If Russell Taylor had been born four generations earlier, these scenarios would be the stuff of history books. Anyone who knows Taylor, one of the most prominent artists to emerge from New York’s independent soul music scene, knows that he has an affinity for the Harlem Renaissance and the individuals who made “uptown” a destination in the 1920s. Doubtless, he’d be embraced by the literary and musical figures of that creatively fertile era.

It’s the 21st century, however, and Russell Taylor is carving his own niche not just in Harlem and New York, but around the world. From Paris to London to Atlanta to Los Angeles, he brings a fresh take on soul music that began with his pair of Soulstar releases and grew with Somewhere in Between (2006). The artist is still working his latest release, Confessional (2009), and preparing to film videos for two songs from the album, but not before returning to his acting roots, composing songs for other artists, and planning a 2011 release.

As PopMatters learns in this edition of 20 Questions, there’s a well-spring of ideas and thoughts that percolate inside the mind of the man who delivered “Let Me Love U”, one of 2009’s best songs. It’s a good time to be Russell Taylor, or as his friends and fans know him, “RT!”

by Crispin Kott

30 Mar 2010

Cue the jokes about scandalous riders: The Libertines are back, reuniting for this summer’s Reading and Leeds Festivals.

Ever since the Libertines split, the hyperbolic British music weeklies have tipped the reunion to happen, occasionally using “Could be…” quotes from frontmen Carl Barat and Pete Doherty. But outside of a few close calls here and there, the full-on reunion never materialized.

Instead the world has had to make do with Barat’s comparatively dull Dirty Pretty Things and Doherty’s sometimes thrilling musical excursions with Babyshambles and a host of co-conspirators who’d slip in and out of the shadows like something from a Sherlock Holmes mystery.

Doherty has also shown an affinity for falling afoul of the law, regularly appearing in the tabloids due to some combination of drugs, driving and celebrity romance.

But now the Libertines are back, promising readers of the NME “to play the songs people want to hear,” which certainly sounds like a cash-in, even if it’s a fantastic one. 

“Potentially it’s a fucking disaster,” said Doherty in the video, which is part of what makes the whole thing so exciting. It could all go horribly wrong, which is sort of where the band’s brilliance lies. If rock & roll is at its best when it all feels as though it could go wildly off the rails, there are few acts who’ve tapped into that vein as perfect as the Libertines.

Whether they survive the trip to record or play again is almost secondary. The Libertines were always meant to burn bright for a moment, then leave us wondering what the hell had just happened.

To celebrate,

Watch the Libertines exclusive interview on

by Jon Bream / Star Tribune (Minneapolis) (MCT)

30 Mar 2010

You winced — didn’t you? — when ABBA was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this month. Or were you cringing when the Hollies were welcomed into the hall?

We all have our opinions about who should be in the Hall of Fame. Here are mine about some of today’s big stars — those from the ‘90s and ‘00s who have released at least three albums — who have a shot at being inducted someday. (An act is eligible 25 years after the release of its first record.)

For starters, there’s no debate about Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Green Day and Radiohead. They are first-ballot shoo-ins.

Here’s an evaluation of others, in alphabetical order, rated from 0 to 100.

by Sean McCarthy

29 Mar 2010

About a week ago, caught up in the heartfelt obits and the various tributes throughout South by Southwest to Alex Chilton, I ordered Thirdonline. Part of the reason I bought it over the Web was because none of our local record stores had the CD. But a deeper reason was because I didn’t want to hear a record store clerk say “Would’ve been a lot cooler to have sold this when Chilton was alive.”

Sadly, Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse, Teddy Pendergrass, Vic Chesnutt and Chilton have enjoyed some of their biggest sales weeks for the saddest of reasons. It’s a habit that’s easy to predict. An artist dies, triggering an outpouring of obits from the press. Other artists express their condolences in interviews or on their Twitter accounts. For some, this is either a sincere form of tribute or an honest attempt to try to learn more about the artist. For others, it’s bandwagon jumping at its worst.

by Matt Cibula

26 Mar 2010

1.0 Mention that I was up late when I came up with these ideas, kind of a disclaimer. (“Dreamin’ when I wrote this / So sue me if it goes astray,” etc.)

1.1 Note that I was listening to Norah Jones and had an epiphany about her and someone else.

2.0 Note general critical intransigence about Norah Jones, how they started out worshiping her genre-blend of pop jazz country soul, then started to deride her as too soft too slow too unfocused.

2.1 For my money her best work was third album Not Too Late as she flashed a sense of humor, got political, and loosened up a bit.

2.2 But interesting that not much buzz attended last year’s The Fall, mostly just mentioned and ignored.

2.3 Maybe because of its weirdo lead single “Chasing Pirates”; not exactly “Don’t Know Why”; was it soft rock? was it her big pop move?

2.4 Also hard to get hold of. Song about insomnia, confusion, loss of control. Norah Jones not in control?

//Mixed media

20 Questions: L'Anarchiste

// Sound Affects

"To say that L'Anarchiste is one of the best bands to emerge out of Salt Lake City makes for an awfully reductive statement, as their Sufjan-inspired brand of soulful folk-rock needs to be heard to be believed.

READ the article