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Wednesday, Dec 17, 2014
by Max Qayyum
As the guitarist for A Rocket to the Moon, Nick Santino was worried if fans would follow his solo endeavors. As his 2014 album Big Skies and a recent UK tour has proven ... yes, yes they will.

Nick Santino is well known from his days of being lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist in American pop-rock band, A Rocket to the Moon. In 2013 they called it a day, and Santino carried on by himself.


While the split may have come swiftly, Santino moved on. He released a couple of EPs last year, and then released his first solo, full-band album, Big Skies, in May of this year. The record continued where A Rocket to the Moon left of, yet left Santino in a position to add new influences here and there, while expanding his musical career.


Now, being signed to 8123, Santino is touring with the UK on the label’s own tour, supporting alternative-rockers The Maine and indie-pop group Lydia. The tour has been a major success, and PopMatters caught up with Santino in Nottingham to talk about the transition from touring in a big rock band to gracing the stage with just a guitar.


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Wednesday, Nov 19, 2014
Mark Springer's Piano is an album to remind listeners of the possibilities on offer when one is open to chance and emotion.

Possibly the only punker during the UK’s post-punk revolution in the early ‘80s to have a serious understanding and appreciation of Chopin and Stravinsky, Mark Springer was always an outsider amongst the outsiders. As a member of Rip, Rig and Panic, a post-punk band that melded the incendiary attitude of punk with the free-flowing good vibes of funk and jazz, Springer added to the proceedings the unlikely element of classical music. His unusual contributions made him at once an appreciated and welcome colour in the dreary landscape of post-punk, as well as an alienated affiliate.


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Friday, Jun 13, 2014
Ultraviolence benefits not only from stronger song craft, but also from tasteful production that sustains a mood befitting Lana Del Rey’s postmodern Nancy Sinatra shtick.

Lana Del Rey’s debut Born to Die suffered from a crisis-of-authenticity, the outrage and barrage of think-pieces as manufactured as the singer’s found-footage videos and pouting sexuality. But beyond all the hipster handwringing, Born to Die simply didn’t have many great songs, and even standouts like “Video Games” and “Blue Jeans” were marred by a limping production style.


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Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014
An exploration of love in the time of political unrest, Light Sweet Crude is Vanessa Daou’s musical thesis on regained emotional ground, a desire line carved from the departure point of doubt to the destination of self-made reality.

Vanessa Daou assumed her place on the dance music throne during the height of the cresting electronica scene in the 90’s rather reluctantly. The New Yorker’s music was never destined to be a staple of radio and, moreover, it required listeners to do two things at once: dance and think—two functions that don’t necessarily jibe well on a dance floor. Her heady brew of electronic beats and poetic implorations have both fascinated and mystified listeners alike; aiming at both the head and the feet, Daou’s music has never sought to be accepted as a genre defined by a playlist or the same marketing ploys used to sell lingerie.


Instead, the singer spent her time and resources wisely, mining the library for books to feed and supplement her musical diet. Take Zipless (1995), her first solo outing into lounge-hopping culture, where she would spark the curiosity and desire of both the literati and club-goers. Zipless, her proper debut, was the congealed lava of still heated emotions, cooling slowly over the bedrock of smooth, percolating beats. The sonic dressing, courtesy of producer and then-husband Peter Daou, furnished the music with the sweaty, carnal atmosphere of two lovers locked in an overheated sauna and deliriously happy about it. At the core was Daou’s voice, a haunting, diaphanous whisper that divulged only the most clandestine secrets in the listener’s ear. Zipless was so over-the-top in its impassioned femininity and, yet, so understated in its approach and intent that you might have missed what was the album’s most sensual cue: Erica Jong’s erotic poetry, of which Daou’s lyrics were based upon. Her association with Jong alone made Daou the talk of feminist circles amidst the album’s release; meanwhile, her tracks were doing time in the swankiest of underground cells, giving DJs a run for their wax and honey.


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Wednesday, Nov 6, 2013
Bassist and songwriter Chris Zasche of the wildly popular group the Head & the Heart speaks on the new record.

Four years after the self release of the Head and the Heart’s self titled debut, the Seattle sextet returns with their greatly anticipated sophomore release, Let’s Be Still. Two years of relentless touring after the release combined with 10,000 units moved directly from the back of the van and industry chatter to influence regional powerhouse Sub Pop to take on the group as clients and release The Head and The Heart under their own brand label.

Success met success with this venture. The Sub Pop exposure led to high visibility touring slots, and the album continued to render healthy sales figures. There is very little reason to wonder why. Four years of touring covering roughly 40 minutes of music meant H&H were an act not to be missed at any regional summer mega-festival. Their self-titled album could be considered a bit lopsided in that its strong suits more than make up for tracks that shouldn’t be described as filler so much as middle of the road. The Head and the Heart might have been better labeled the Hot and the Cold. Where they work, they kill, but they aren’t without faults.


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