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by Jane Jansen Seymour

24 Aug 2011

Coming from Tacoma, Washington seems to give a special something to bands these days.  Recent successes by Fleet Foxes and Telekinesis, among others, have cast a golden glow over the new self-titled debut by Motopony.  The wide range of styles found on the release gives an image of a group that is comfortable with more than a few genres, from the rollicking “Seer” and the jazzy “King of Diamonds” to the wistful tune of “Wait for Me”. Singer/songwriter Daniel Blue has a name ready for a rock star plus the vision and vocals to pull it off.  He now lives in Seattle but treasures his time in Tacoma as a formative period for musical development.  His band is on a national tour in an opening slot that has audiences arriving early to venues and singing along to their songs.  Blue spoke to PopMatters about these latest developments as he sat in a park overlooking Seattle while the band was loading up to drive to Boise, Idaho.  It was just a moment in the sun for a guy in the spotlight . . .

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The songs on your debut release are so varied in style—is this a reflection of your taste or the entire band’s interest as a group?

The songs were written over a long period of time. Being our first release, we had quite a bit of time to gather them together.  I wrote most of the lyrics and melodies for everything, and then Buddy Ross did all the production and instrumentation on everything. Then we went and hired musicians to get what we wanted.  Most everything you’re hearing is a product of him and me.  It kind of came out of our minds and what we wanted to express in the moment.

by Imran Khan

16 Aug 2011

Photo: Kevin Westenberg

You can be forgiven if the name Thomas Dybdahl doesn’t ring any bells. 

Thanks to a lack of distribution, the singer-songwriter has eluded attention on the North American continent for years, though he has been steadily churning out albums for nearly a decade in his native Norway.  Dybdahl may have the misfortune of being labeled a troubadour—a title sure to provoke some unwarranted judgment.  But the Norwegian, in fact, shares a greater musical kinship with space-oddity Annette Peacock than he does with Nick Drake (of whom he is often touted as Norway’s answer to).  While firmly rooted in folk, the singer takes a jazzier approach in his playing, strumming locomotive circles on a creaky, rustic guitar while exploring the more heavenly reaches of pop, cutting swaths through the spacey textures of moody keyboard swells and shuffling percussion.  Over the 14 tracks of his proper North American debut, Songs (an album that samples from his five previous European releases), Dybdahl works some impressive magic alone with his sensuously wine-soaked voice, which occupies a slim musical space that is at once eerie as it is sexy.

by Erin Lyndal Martin

19 Jul 2011

Photo: Jo McCaughey

Ohio’s native sons in Times New Viking have had an eventful career that seems to be arcing forever upward.  The trio formed after meeting in art school in 2004, recording albums like Dig Yourself (2005) and Present the Paisley Reich (2007).  These early albums—the band’s first four—were released by prestigious labels, first by Siltbreeze and then Matador.  Now, Times New Viking has signed with Merge Records for its fifth and most recent release, Dancer Equired.  On the new record, the band continues its tour de force with songs like “Fuck Her Tears”, which made Pitchfork‘s March 16 Playlist. Here, drummer and vocalist Adam Elliott talks to PopMatters about the new record, Dada art, and what it’s like having played over 700 shows.

by Corey Beasley

12 Jul 2011

Photo: Nolan Conway

The Felice Brothers have been at the game for quite a while, and in the most classic fashion: they are a family band, one which got its start busking for change in the NYC Subway system.

That makes the brothers Felice—Ian and James, along with a crew of co-musicians—more salt of the earth than the brothers Gallagher, able to claim more street cred than the brothers Gibb, and just more than those bros in Kings of Leon. James Felice (vocals and anything with keys) speaks with the warmth and confidence of a musician doing what he loves most. On his band’s newest record, Celebration, Florida, he and the group push past their Americana roots and into new territory. This exploration didn’t come purely by chance. As James puts it, “With this record, we came to the table with the intention to make the record that we did . . . previous records were a little more haphazard, just trying things out. We knew almost exactly how we wanted the record to sound, how we wanted the record to feel.”

by AJ Ramirez

26 Jun 2011

Since the ‘80s, British-born/American-based writer Simon Reynolds has been showcasing his analytical, articulate, and occasionally quite humorous approach to music criticism in most any major publication one can name, ranging from Melody Maker and Spin to The New York Times and The Guardian.  He’s also a notable presence on the music section shelves of book stores due to his authorship of tomes including Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984 and Generation Ecstasy: Into the World of Techno and Rave Culture, the former being the definitive and most engaging account of that genre/movement to be found.  His newest book is Retromania: Pop Culture’s Addiction to Its Own Past (released in the UK on 2 June and due out in the US on 19 July), wherein he takes a broad-based yet more personal look at the 21st century’s increasing obsession with retro sounds and signifiers in lieu of the futurism and stylistic innovation that so motivated pop styles in previous decades.

In this interview, PopMatters and Reynolds not only chat about the origins of and questions posed by Retromania, but touch upon other subjects including the modern state of pop futurism, the changing nature of music criticism in the era of digiculture, and just what exactly one of the music press’ foremost proponents of post-punk and electronica thinks about alternative rock’s retro-adoring standard-bearers from the ‘80s.

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